Some positive news to start. The US economy continues to drive the US vehicle market and production up. GlobalData’s world Light Vehicle (LV) production forecast remains broadly on track for 2024 (+0.9% YoY) with pricing actions, incentives and lower interest rates expected to help to mitigate recent hesitancy in the wider demand environment. Global light vehicle production is forecast at 91.6 million units in 2024 and 94.7 million units in 2025.

In data: US resilience sends global vehicle production up in 2024

Next time you look through a vehicle windscreen, just consider where your eyes are and how much information you need, the efficiency of the Human Machine Interface. We interviewed Harman and learnt of some innovations that go beyond the standard HUDs that have been around a while now.

Bridging the gap between virtual and reality with your windscreen

There were signs this week that Europe’s low-cost EV battleground is heating up. Volkswagen Group said it is launching a project to bring affordable EVs into the European market. The project, dubbed ‘ID.1’, will aim to bring electric cars priced in the range of around €20k, with a world premiere planned for 2027.

Oliver Blume, CEO Volkswagen Group said: “It’s about entry-level electric mobility from Europe for Europe. In doing so, we combine a clear commitment to Europe as an industrial location, a European industrial policy and ultimately act in the interests of European customers.”

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Volkswagen Group sets out low-price EV plan to take on China

That’s it for combustion engines then? Not quite. As the industry grapples with slower than expected take-up of BEVs, there’s clearly life in ICEs – either in their own right or with hybrids. China’s leading new energy vehicle (NEV) manufacturer BYD unveiled its latest, fifth-generation dual mode (DM) plug-in hybrid drivetrain system this week which it claims can offer a driving range of up to 2,100 km – posing a significant threat to traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.

BYD unveils latest plug-in hybrid technology

Toyota, Subaru and Mazda agreed to collaborate in the development of “new engines tailored to electrification and the pursuit of carbon neutrality”.

The automakers confirmed in a joint statement “with these engines, each of the three companies will aim to optimize integration with motors, batteries and other electric drive units. While transforming vehicle packaging with more compact engines, these efforts will also decarbonize internal combustion engines (ICE) by making them compatible with various carbon-neutral fuels”, which it describes as fuels with net zero CO2 emissions across their lifecycles – from manufacture to usage. These include e-fuels such as liquid hydrogen, synthetic fuels and biofuels derived from biomass.

Toyota, Subaru, Mazda collaborate in new engine development

Renault and Geely also got in on the flexible powertrains offerings act. They have announced the official creation of their new JV, Horse Powertrain Limited. It will be headquartered in London.

Luca de Meo, CEO Renault Group said: “Partnering with a leading company like Geely to create a new player with the capability and expertise to develop ultra-low emission internal combustion engines and high economy hybrid technologies is key for the future.”

Renault Group and Geely said they believe a combination of various powertrain technologies is necessary, including highly efficient internal combustion engines (ICE), lower carbon e-fuels, and hydrogen, to achieve a successful decarbonization in a world where more than half of vehicles produced are expected to still rely on combustion engines by 2040. So take that, BEVs!

Renault Group, Geely form JV

In another sign of current difficulties for actual BEV volumes versus plans, Stellantis also said it will build a hybrid version of the Fiat 500 in Italy.

There is little doubt though that the Chinese OEMs are posing a considerable competitive threat around the world when it comes to electrified vehicles: Chinese EVs challenge Europe’s auto Industry: BYD’s Seagull to undercut local brands. They are making considerable progress in overseas markets, as illustrated in Brazil: BYD Brazil opens 100th dealership. Or how about Nepal? China’s GAC enters Nepalese market.

For all the talk of EVs for the future and the energy transition ahead, there was an interesting wake-up call from the International Energy Forum that looked at global copper needs: EV transition targets mean huge ramp-up in copper mining needed – IEF.

Some impressive work goes on in labs working on new bio-based materials. There are plenty of drivers for that, of course, but this application intrigued me – an alternative to carbon and glass fibre.  

CUPRA brand hails bio-composite material in seats

In other news, car output was down in the UK, there was news of a battery gigafactory in northern France, as well as talk of a huge IPO in India.

Finally, I’ll leave you to ponder the rather bold design execution of the new GAC M8’s front grille. ‘Lion-like’: GAC launches flagship M8 MPV for Middle East

Have a nice weekend.

Dave Leggett, Editor, Just Auto