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Get ready for a Ferrari SUV

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2023 Ferrari Purosangue test mule spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

An early tester for Ferrari’s Purosangue SUV has been spotted again.

It may look like a Maserati Levante that’s been slammed, but there are a number of clues that reveal it as a test mule. For instance, the rear doors are dramatically shorter than on the Levante. The instrument cluster’s hood is also different, and the section from the tester’s A-pillar forward looks to be wider and longer. We also spot large carbon-ceramic brake rotors. Previous test mules used modified Ferrari GTC4 Lusso bodies to hide the new mechanicals, the model the Purosangue will directly replace.

Ex-Ferrari CEO Louis Camilleri revealed the Purosangue name for the SUV in 2018, which is Italian for “thoroughbred.” He said at the time the vehicle won’t reach the market in 2020 like his predecessor, Sergio Marchionne, had envisaged. Instead, Camilleri stressed the need to make the controversial addition to Ferrari’s lineup absolutely “perfect,” meaning its development won’t be rushed.

2023 Ferrari Purosangue test mule spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Underpinning it will be a new front mid-engine platform Ferrari is developing for its future grand touring models, like replacements for the Portofino, Roma and 812 Superfast. The platform will complement a new mid-engine architecture also in the works.

Both platforms will incorporate hybrid technology but the front mid-engine platform will also allow for the possibility of a non-electrified all-wheel-drive system and two rows of seats for a maximum of four seats. The front mid-engine platform will also feature a transaxle transmission, specifically a dual-clutch unit, for better weight balance and packaging.

A V-12 engine, likely with some form of electrification, is expected to be offered in the Purosangue in addition to a base V-8 that’s also electrifed. Interestingly, there are rumors Ferrari’s first battery-electric car due around 2025 will also be an SUV, perhaps a variant of the Purosangue.

2023 Ferrari Purosangue test mule spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2023 Ferrari Purosangue test mule spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

It isn’t clear what the Purosangue will look like but we’ve previously heard it will come with four doors. The rear doors might end up as suicide-style doors similar to those used on the Mazda RX-8 sports car, which would allow Ferrari’s design team to preserve a sporty coupe-like side view.

Since we’re only at the test mule stage, it could be another six months to a year before the first prototypes wearing the Purosangue’s actual body hit the road. The reveal should take place in 2022, meaning the vehicle will likely end up on sale as a 2023 model.

The Purosangue is just one of several models Ferrari will introduce by the end of 2022, some of which will be powered by a new V-6 engine. Beyond this date, Ferrari will finally introduce its successor to the LaFerrari—which may already be out testing.

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Toyota begins construction of its smart city

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Toyota's Woven City

Just before the coronavirus pandemic hit, at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show, Toyota announced an ambitious plan to build an entire city in Japan as a showcase for futuristic tech. Despite everything that’s happened since that announcement, Toyota is still going ahead with this scheme.

Toyota held a groundbreaking ceremony for the project, dubbed Woven City, Tuesday at a construction site adjacent to one of its former factories. The automaker didn’t give any other updates on construction, or on its efforts to recruit people to live in the city.

Woven City will be built from the ground up on 175 acres of land at the base of Japan’s iconic Mt. Fuji. At its CES 2020 press conference, Toyota said the city would allow for testing and development of autonomous vehicles, robotics, smart-home systems, and other future tech in a real-world environment.

The name Woven City comes from the use of designated streets for three types of traffic: faster vehicles, mixed usage for lower-speed personal mobility devices (such as scooters), and pedestrians, as well as pedestrian-only zones. There will also be one underground road to transport goods, according to Toyota. The name also refers to Toyota’s roots in the textile industry.

Toyota’s Woven City

Toyota previously said it would deploy working versions of its e-Palette and LQ concepts in Woven City, plus an assortment of scooters and mobility aids for the pedestrian-only areas. The e-Palette is a reconfigurable box-shaped autonomous vehicle designed for both ride-sharing and delivery services, while the LQ is a small hatchback with an AI interface and some degree of autonomous-driving capability.

Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, whose team designed Google’s Mountain View headquarters, was commissioned to design the city, which will be built from sustainable materials and powered by renewable energy, including hydrogen fuel cells (a Toyota favorite) and rooftop solar panels.

Toyota also previously said homes would have robots and sensors to monitor occupants’ health, and that all buildings, vehicles, and people would be connected through a citywide network managed by AI.

Initially, Woven City will have just 360 residents, mostly older adults, families with young children and inventors. Toyota plans to eventually house more than 2,000 people, including some of its own employees, in the futuristic city.

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Tesla won’t maintain growth as industry catches up

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Incoming BMW CEO Oliver Zipse

Tesla humbled the established German luxury automakers by leading the way for electric cars, but the rest of the industry is catching up, BMW’s chief executive believes.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Tesla’s 2020 deliveries were up nearly 36% from 2019, at just under 500,000 cars, the automaker said in its year-end financial results call. Tesla is also expanding, with new factories in Germany and Texas scheduled to come online, alongside its existing California and China plants, in 2021.

“It won’t be easy for Tesla to continue at that speed because the rest of the industry is moving ahead big time,” BMW CEO Oliver Zipse told Bloomberg Monday during the DLD All Stars tech conference, a gathering of tech visionaries.

Established automakers were not prepared for the Tesla Model S when it launched in 2012, and they are still struggling to match Tesla, which is now planning to launch a version of the Model S with more than 500 miles of range. Most German luxury brands are just beginning to roll out high-volume EVs and they are struggling to hit 300 miles of range.

Incoming BMW CEO Oliver Zipse

The Texas factory will build the Cybertruck, targeting the most popular vehicle segment in the U.S., and CEO Elon Musk has teased an entry-level $25,000 EV as well.

However, German automakers are finally beginning to ramp up production of EVs. BMW has several new models in the works, including the iX SUV, i4 sedan, and an electric version of the next-generation 7-Series. They’ll join the iX3 (which isn’t sold in the U.S.) and Mini Cooper SE, both of which debuted last year. The automaker plans to launch 25 electrified models by 2023, with more than half all-electric.

Mercedes-Benz plans to have eight EVs under its new EQ sub-brand by 2022. That includes the EQC crossover and EQV minivan already on sale in Europe, the upcoming EQA and EQB compact crossovers, as well as larger EQE and EQS models—each in sedan an SUV body styles. The EQS sedan starts production in Sindelfingen, Germany, later this year, while the SUV version, along with the EQE SUV, will be built in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, starting in 2022.

The Volkswagen Group may already be ahead of Tesla in Europe at least. It sold more EVs than Tesla in that market last year, and delivered 231,600 globally—more than triple its 2019 total. VW is adding the ID.4 crossover to its lineup in both Europe and the U.S. this year. Audi will get its own version, dubbed Q4 E-Tron, along with the Porsche Taycan-based E-Tron GT this year.

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None of Jaguar’s current model lines will remain after EV transformation

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Thierry Bollore

Jaguar Land Rover CEO Thierry Bollore last week made the shock announcement that Jaguar’s full lineup will consist exclusively of electric vehicles as soon as 2025.

But the automaker doesn’t plan to simply redesign current models like the XF sedan and F-Pace crossover with battery-electric power. Instead, it plans a full reboot that will see new model lines introduced and the lineup likely pruned.

The reboot could also see the Jaguar brand repositioned as a more premium offering. Citing people familiar with Bollore’s plans, Automotive News (subscription required) reported this week that Jaguar will ditch the premium market dominated by the German brands and target the luxury market where brands like Aston Martin, Bentley and Maserati operate.

Thierry Bollore

The claim is backed by comments made by Bollore in a press conference following last week’s announcement, where he said, “we will reposition completely the Jaguar brand.” He also said in the conference that the repositioning is why plans for an electric XJ originally due in 2020 have been scrapped.

Key to the repositioning will be the development of a battery-electric platform exclusive to Jaguar. Land Rover will have two platforms of its own, both of them designed to support hybrid and battery-electric vehicles.

At this point Jaguar doesn’t have much to lose with a reboot. Last year it managed to sell slightly more than 100,000 vehicles. That’s only one fifth of what Tesla sold, despite Jaguar having two more model lines.

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