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HomeON THE HORIZONON THE HORIZON – Mar 2024

ON THE HORIZON – Mar 2024

PANDA-INSPIRED FAMILY

Fiat Goes Global (Again)

Unveiled in the 1990s, the Palio, Fiat’s first so-called global car family, did not fare so well worldwide. Now, the Italian automaker aims to be ahead of the curve in the constantly changing global mobility market by unveiling a new family of Panda-inspired concepts.

Consisting of a City Car, Pick-Up (did your ears prick up?), Fastback, SUV and Camper, the new family of vehicles will share the same philosophy and technology, a single global platform where the new models can be manufactured on a local relevance basis. 

According to Fiat, the new family can be produced anywhere globally and reach customers everywhere. The unique multi-energy platform will also allow the next Fiat models to be equipped with multiple types of powertrains (electric, hybrid, and ICE) and will feature an efficient use of space together with sustainable materials. 

Each of the new models, according to Olivier Francois, CEO of Fiat and Stellantis Global CMO, will be a unique and original interpretation of the inclusive, accessible, and ingenious spirit that has allowed Fiat to create vehicles with modular interiors, unique looks, and bold personalities.

The new City Car is a sort of “Mega-Panda” with a design inspired by the brand’s birthplace: the iconic Lingotto building in Turin with its famous rooftop test track, while the Pick-Up concept, validated by the Strada pickup, the bestselling vehicle on the Brazilian market, will have the functionality of an LCV and the comfort of an SUV in a size that is suitable to urban environments all over the world.

The sportier Fastback (kudos to Fiat for not using the crossover moniker) aims to follow in the tyre prints of the Fiat Fastback in Brazil and the Fiat Tipo in the Middle East and Africa. The fourth concept, a spacious family SUV, is a sort of “Giga-Panda”. In contrast, the Camper concept is the ultimate do-it-all vehicle, featuring the new Dolce Vita style and paying homage to the “Fun-ctionality” of the Panda from the 1980s.

The first new product in the Panda-inspired global family will be revealed in July, during the 125th-anniversary celebration of Fiat, and this will be followed by the launch of a new vehicle every year until 2027.

ID.4

VW’s Vision for Sustainable Driving

As announced during a recent event at the Volkswagen Group Africa plant in Kariega, Eastern Cape Province, the new, fully electric ID.4 is set to be introduced locally as a test fleet in the first half of 2024. As Wolfsburg’s first fully electric SUV, the ID.4 embodies Volkswagen’s commitment to sustainable mobility. 

The ID.4 is an all-around talent that can be driven in a sporty, easy, and comfortable way. Its battery stores up to 77 kWh of energy and enables ranges of up to 520 km. The battery is installed below the passenger compartment, guaranteeing a low centre of gravity. The electric drive motor, positioned at the rear axle, generates 150 kW – enabling the SUV to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.5 seconds and deliver a top speed of 160 km/h.

The ID.4’s exterior has athletic proportions for an ultra-modern appearance. Its clear, flowing design is inspired by nature and guarantees good aerodynamics with a drag coefficient of only 0.28 Cd. The ID.4 is equipped with interactive IQ.Light LED matrix headlights which welcome drivers with swivelling lens modules and generate an intelligently controlled main beam.

The headlights are paired with the new 3D LED taillight clusters. Their light signature is particularly homogeneous and light up with an intense red colour. More details on the ID.4 will be available closer to its test fleet launch date.  

Recently, the Kariega plant and the Volkswagen Group Africa production team also celebrated a milestone when the 1.5-millionth vehicle built for export in South Africa – a Polo GTI destined for the United Kingdom – rolled off the line. According to Niels Wichmann, Head of Brand, Volkswagen Passenger Cars, the company’s commitment to excellence is evident in its comprehensive lineup of vehicles, such as the new T-Cross, new Tiguan, new Touareg, and ID.4. 

INEOS’S “NINETY” MODEL

Fusilier

INEOS Automotive has unveiled its third model line – the Fusilier – and if the Grenadier can be compared to the Land Rover 110, then this new, smaller derivative in the range can, for all intents and purposes be viewed as the 90 model in the INEOS lineup, also consisting of the Quartermaster bakkie version of the Grenadier.

Unveiled in London by Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the Fusilier emulates a mini-G-Class and, besides world-class performance on- and off-road, will offer two powertrain options to meet global consumer needs: an all-electric and a range-extender electric.

Slightly smaller than the INEOS Grenadier, the Fusilier was also developed in conjunction with industry-leading automotive supplier, Magna, and alongside the previously announced all-electric powertrain (BEV) for INEOS vehicles, a low-emission range-extender electric is in development to ensure the Fusilier meets the broadest range of global consumer needs whilst pushing towards decarbonisation.

No details were supplied, but the range-extender option consists of a small petrol engine (possibly a 1.5-litre petrol engine from BMW) that powers a generator to maintain the battery charge level when external charging isn’t available. Confirmation of the alternative powertrain details and launch timings are expected later this year.

Sir Ratcliffe said INEOS is beginning to understand the limitations of battery electric in certain situations. “We believe the addition of a range extender electric to our lineup will offer our customers a very low emission drive without the range anxiety drivers of electric vehicles experience today.”

Building on the Grenadier’s DNA with a modern direction and distinctive identity, the new 4×4 will be slightly shorter and lower in height. It will be built on a bespoke skateboard platform with a steel top hat and underbody, and aluminium doors and closures.

Magna produces several conventional ICE, hybrid, and electric vehicles for various automakers, and the development process for Fusilier included rigorous testing on Austria’s Schöckl mountain, close to Magna’s complete vehicle assembly facility in Graz, where the Fusilier will be produced. No detail was given on when the Fusilier will be market-ready.

THE ICON ELECTRIC

Renault 5 E-Tech

Fun, iconic, innovative and in tune with modern times, the Renault 5 is back, reinvented to bring some sparkle to the world of compact electric vehicles. Faithful to the 2021 concept car, the Renault 5 E-Tech electric harks back to this glorious past and the enduring love affair it shared with many. 

Yet it is also the epitome of modernity, with an all-electric AmpR small car platform and cool, new technology that includes Reno, the avatar who is ready to partner with one on every journey, and a unique charging indicator on the bonnet. The original Renault 5 sold over 5.5 million units from 1972 to 1985. It was the first car to achieve consumption below the symbolic five litres/100 km at 90 km/h and was even available in an electric version as far back as 1974.

The 5 E-Tech electric fuses evocative design cues from three models, the Renault 5 and Supercinq for their overall look, and the Renault 5 Turbo for its wing extenders and road-ready attitude. It has large 18” wheels, minimal overhangs in a car only 3.92 m long, and wide tracks (1.55 m at the front and 1.53 m at the rear). It stands 1.50 m tall, just six centimetres higher than the Clio.

Inside, the seat design is inspired by the iconic R5 Turbo, with its H-shaped feature, and the denim upholstery made from recycled plastic makes a stylish contribution to the fun nature of the 5 E-Tech electric. Dual horizontal 10” screens give the interior a contemporary, high-tech look, and the underfloor battery allows for a boot capacity of 326 litres.

The geometry of the AmpR platform allows the integration of two lithium-ion battery sizes, the larger (52 kWh), giving a range of up to 400 km (WLTP). The second 40 kWh unit has a range of up to 300 km (WLTP). Both use NMC (Nickel Manganese Cobalt) technology.

The electric motor, weighing just 105 kg, is available with two power ratings: 110 kW or 90 kW. The 110 kW motor is paired with the 52 kWh battery, and the 90 kW motor is paired with the 40 kWh battery. With 110 kW power, the Renault 5 E-Tech electric accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in under eight seconds.

The Renault 5 E-Tech electric will be soon introduced in Europe and is planned to arrive in the United Kingdom early next year. There is no indication of whether this funky little electric Renault is under consideration for local introduction, but given the popularity of the original, one can only hope it will be made available here.

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