Fast Lane: BMW's new 7-series limo, electric Lexus to arrive in May

The new BMW 7-series limousine is bigger all around, boasting a wheelbase of 3,215mm. PHOTO: BMW

BMW launches new 7-series limo

BMW has unveiled its seventh-generation 7-series limousine, which will have two firsts - an all-electric model offering a range of up to 625km and an M plug-in hybrid variant with 571hp and 800Nm.

The flagship variant is an electric i7 M70 with more than 600hp and 1,000Nm driving four wheels, to send the car to 100kmh in under four seconds.

The new car is bigger all around, boasting a wheelbase of 3,215mm (5mm longer than its predecessor), touchscreen controls on rear doors and a panoramic sunroof lit by LEDs. There will be an option for a theatre system for rear occupants.

Most combustion-engined variants will have inline-sixes. The only V8, which may not be available in Singapore, is a 4.4-litre twin-turbo 760i mild hybrid with 544hp and 750Nm. It hits 100kmh in 4.2 seconds.

The new 7 is expected to arrive here by the end of 2022.

Electric Cupra to have audio alerts to warn pedestrians, cyclists

Cupra's electric Born will come with an audible alert which is perceptible to pedestrians when the car is travelling above 40kmh - exceeding regulations which require electric cars to be audible at less than 20kmh.

It will also have an exit warning - which chimes when a car door is about to open - to help reduce accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists.

Electric Lexus due here next May


The Lexus RZ450e is the second electric Lexus after the UX300e. About the size of the Lexus RX sport utility vehicle but lower-slung, it is powered by two motors and an adaptive all-wheel-drive program which can vary each motor's output from zero to 100 per cent.

The front motor makes 150kW, while the rear produces 80kW. A by-wire yoke steering system, to be available at a later stage, allows the driver to make U-turns by turning no more than 150 degrees of the wheel.

The car - at 4,805mm long, 1,895mm wide and 1,635mm tall, with a 2,850mm wheelbase - is estimated to have a range of 360km on 18-inch wheels. Because of the inherent quietness of electric drivetrains, it will be better insulated against external noises.

It is expected to arrive in May 2023 - after the Toyota bZ4X, a smaller electric crossover sharing the same platform, lands in June this year.

Ferrari 296 GTS due next year


The Ferrari 296 GTS is a convertible sharing a 830hp V6 hybrid powertrain with the 296 GTB coupe. Its retractable hardtop takes 14 seconds to deploy and fold away.

The plug-in hybrid two-seater is also available with the more extreme Assetto Fiorano package. Deliveries in Singapore are expected to start in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Wind-cheating electric Merc covers more than 1,000km on single charge


The Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX electric concept has covered more than 1,000km on a single charge.

Travelling from Sindelfingen, Germany, across the Swiss Alps and northern Italy to its destination of Cassis on the French Riviera, the car maintained speeds of up to 140kmh on the German autobahn.

The battery's state of charge on arrival was about 15 per cent, amounting to a remaining range of about 140km, and the average consumption was a record 8.7kWh/km.

Its performance is aided by a world-beating drag-coefficient (Cd) of 0.17, which makes it significantly more aerodynamic than the Mercedes-Benz EQS, an electric limo with a Cd of 0.20.

Massive Audi concept for Chinese cities


Audi has unveiled yet another concept car with Level 4 autonomous capability, allowing the car to drive by itself in most situations.

The Audi urbansphere concept was designed with the traffic environment of Chinese megacities in mind. In these metropolitan areas, where personal space is in short supply, the urbansphere offers the largest interior space of any Audi to date.

The development process took place in close collaboration between Audi's design studios in Beijing and its headquarters in Ingolstadt. For the first time, feedback from potential customers in China was also incorporated.

The lounge-on-wheels is more than 5.5m long, 2m wide and 1.8m tall, with a wheelbase of 3.4m. In autonomous mode, its steering wheel and pedals are hidden to free up even more space.

Electric Merc SUV to seat up to seven


Behold the EQS sport utility vehicle, an electric vehicle based on the Mercedes-Benz EQS limousine.

The unimaginatively named SUV has room for up to seven passengers in an "avant-garde, luxurious interior". Two motors drive both axles and the car is equipped with an "intelligent offroad mode... for tackling light terrain with ease".

It shares a long wheelbase (3,210mm) with the EQS Saloon, but is more than 200mm taller at 1,718mm. The boot can accommodate up to four golf bags.

Smaller batteries needed to address raw material shortage

Commodities research firm Fastmarkets has issued a statement on the limited supply of raw materials for electric-vehicle batteries, echoing several similar warnings by industry players recently.

Mr William Adams, head of battery and base metals at Fastmarkets, noted that lithium, cobalt and nickel are "small markets that need to grow fast, but it is extremely difficult for producers to keep up with year after year of high compound average growth rates".

EV manufacturers, he said, may have to use smaller battery packs, while governments invest "a lot more" in ramping up charging infrastructure so cars can be charged faster. "You can build a new battery or EV factory in one to two years, but new mines can take five to 15 years."

Beefy variant of Range Rover Velar launched


The Range Rover Velar HST, a high-performance variant of the Velar, will be available with a 400hp petrol or 300hp diesel six-cylinder Ingenium engine aided by a mild-hybrid system. It rides on adaptive air suspension and 21-inch wheels.

Meanwhile, the lesser Range Rover Velar Edition is now available with a 250hp petrol engine and 20-inch wheels.

Japanese firms study more efficient ways to recycle lithium-ion batteries

Japanese power generation company Jera and Sumitomo Chemical are working on more efficient ways of recycling lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.

The current roasting method of recycling not only emits carbon dioxide, but also oxidises and degrades the raw materials.

The project, in collaboration with several leading Japanese universities, will involve developing a method for separating and collecting battery materials by using a patent-pending high-voltage pulse technology. This will allow lithium to be recycled without returning it to metal.

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