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Car of the Year 2023: the seven finalists


NEWS – Two French models are among the seven cars qualified for the most renowned prize in the automotive industry.

Who will succeed the Kia EV6 voted “Car of the Year 2022”? One certainty: the sixtieth “Car of the Year” will be an electrified model. Among the twenty-three vehicles in the running for the final, the jury of sixty-one European journalists, who participated in this election, including a member of the editorial staff of Le Figaro, favored hybrid, rechargeable hybrid or electric vehicles. The results revealed at the Brussels Motor Show on January 13, 2023 will reward one of the seven finalists, which are the Jeep Avenger, the Kia Niro, the Nissan Ariya, the Peugeot 408, the Renault Austral, Volkswagen ID.Buzz and the duo Subaru Solterra-Toyota bZ4X.

Once again, the list is intended to be a snapshot of the market, favoring SUV architecture, apart from the Peugeot 408 which tries a new approach, halfway between the sedan and the leisure vehicle.

Renault Austral. @GREG

If the Renault Austral, the family SUV that succeeds the Kadjar, is the only model not to be offered with an electric powertrain, only with the French manufacturer’s E-Tech Hybrid technology apart from the conventional petrol versions, the Kia Niro is the only offer to be available with the three electrified technologies: hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric.

For its part, the Peugeot 408 marketed at the beginning of next year in a Pure tech 130 petrol version and in a rechargeable hybrid (180 and 225 hp) will be enriched in 2024 with a 100% electric version. Also from the Stellantis group, the Avenger is the first electric Jeep in history. It borrows its technology from the DS3 e-Tense but will also be available in a four-wheel drive version.

Volkswagen ID.Buzz. Volkswagen AG/Volkswagen AG

As for the Volkswagen ID.Buzz, it plays on the springs of nostalgia, wanting to be the Combi of the 21st century. Pending an extended version that can accommodate 7 or 8 people, this vehicle appears to be the first electric minivan on the market. Finally, the last two finalists are also electric vehicles. The Ariya is Nissan’s first electric crossover. It shares its Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance CMF-EV platform with the Renault Mégane E-Tech Electric. Its range is more extensive than that of the French compact.

Last model in the running: the Toyota bZ4X and its cousin Subaru Solterra. These two SUVs do not shine with their autonomy but can flatter themselves with real crossing capacities. The games are therefore open for this 60th election. Verdict on January 13 in Brussels.

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The master of smelling car interiors


JapanRyunosuke Ino is known as the “nose of Nissan” who sets the standard for interior odors in new cars.

The auto industry can be comprised of many different occupations because the car is a really complex product. And like many other automakers, Nissan has its own team of experts who evaluate the interior of new cars led by Ryunosuke Ino.

The Japanese automaker has other teams in Europe and the US because customers in each region have their own taste in scents, and the leaders are all under Ino. This man sets the standards based on customer feedback around the world.

According to Nissan, humans can perceive hundreds of thousands of different types of odors. Being a master of smell is not an easy task as you will need to check every tiniest part of the cabin, from the steering wheel, sun visor, glove compartment, dashboard, leather seats, headrests, drawers. cup holders, door panels and even floor coverings.

The assessment is carried out in a closed laboratory with special lighting equipment to control temperature and humidity because vehicle odors are very sensitive to sunlight and weather conditions. The goal is for all materials, adhesives and paintwork to meet Nissan’s standards and help customers feel comfortable in the vehicle.

Odor masters need to act quickly when assessing and within minutes of nose sensing odors. To “reset” his nose and restore sensitivity to all kinds of smells, Ino would sniff around his elbow – a trick he learned from a coffee maker. “It’s a familiar smell, and that’s in preparation for smelling a new scent,” says Ino.

Since doing this, Ino has been very careful not to interfere with the odor assessment, such as not using bleach when washing the clothes he wears to work, as well as not smoking, and not eating foods that contain harmful chemicals. garlic or food that had a strong taste the day before.

America – England (follow Carscoops)

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Nissan Concept Max-out, an electric roadster


NEW – As part of its Ambition 2030 plan to decarbonise its range, the Japanese firm presented an original concept of zero-emission convertible.

Does switching to an electric vehicle mean giving up the many pleasures that driving can provide? Nissan wants to prove the opposite with the presentation of several concepts of zero emission vehicles which heralds a major product offensive. After a slump, the Japanese manufacturer gets back in the saddle, increasing the number of announcements and concepts. One way to ensure that he will have to be reckoned with in the future. Nissan has just unveiled its Ambition 2030 vision, which is based on the launch of 23 new electrified vehicles, including 15 100% electric models.

Nissan

To whet our appetites, the Japanese brand, which is an essential part of the Alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi, presented several prototypes exploring many market segments. One of them will have particularly caught our attention since it takes on the architecture of a roadster, a genre that has not yet converted to electric propulsion. At this point, not much more is known but so far most industry experts agreed that the roadster formula was not suited to the passing electric drivetrain, in most cases. by integrating the battery pack under the floor, thereby imposing a raised crossover-type architecture. According to the sketches, the engineers and architects seem to have found a solution. Originality of the Max-Out concept: the passenger seat can disappear into the floor, transforming this roadster in a way into a single-seater.

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Our list of the best electric cars under 40,000 euros


EXCLUSIVE – We have ranked the 34 most affordable 100% electric models available on the French market, according to their performance.

Driven by the ecological transition, 100% electric vehicles are sweeping the French market. Difficult to navigate in the kilowatt-hour jungle. However, fans of the thermal car will have to take an interest in it sooner or later. The sale of diesel, gasoline and hybrid cars is scheduled for 2035, but some large cities want to take the plunge long before.

SUVs, family cars, city cars or road cars … Manufacturers are offering models at increasingly lower prices. They also promise wonders when it comes to their engines: more range, charging speed, more performance and energy savings. To find out who are the good (and bad) students of this new generation of vehicles, Le Figaro decided to compare

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Nissan Z, the imprint of the 240 Z


NEW – For the moment reserved for the American market, the new generation of Nissan’s sports coupe remains faithful to a concept crowned with success.

Is the decision irrevocable? For the moment, Nissan has no plans to market in Europe the seventh generation of its sports coupe born under the sign of the Z. It is a shame as this coupe, which marked the spirits, has many enthusiasts. As an unmistakable sign, the latest generation for Americans has just been unveiled in Brooklyn, a stone’s throw from the place that saw the debut of the Datsun 240 Z in the fall of 1969. From this sporty coupe, the line of the last Z is largely inspired without going into the neo-retro. But we find the typical codes of sports cars: long hood, cockpit thrown back to the rear, short overhangs and receding roof line.

Nissan

The long hood with LED lights whose shape recalls those of the famous 240 Z houses a new 3-liter twin-turbo V6, instead of the naturally aspirated 3.7-liter V6. This new engine delivers power of 400 hp at 6,400 rpm, an increase of 68 hp, and torque of 475 Nm from 1,600 to 5,600 rpm, which represents an increase of around 30 % compared to the older generation. Nissan announces performance up by around 15% for the 0 to 100 km / h fiscal year. Sophisticated, this block adopts electronic variable valve timing (e-VVT). It is associated with a six-speed manual gearbox fitted with the SynchroRev Match® system activating the electronic throttle on downshifting. A 9-speed automatic transmission is also available as an option.

The absence of hybridization would have been right for the marketing of the new Z in Europe. In view of the overly restrictive regulatory requirements in terms of pollution control and the taxation that has become punitive for this type of vehicle, the level of CO2 would be too high to guarantee sufficiently large volumes.

Nissan

Despite the presence of 12.3-inch digital instrumentation associated with a central touchscreen, the Z cabin retains a scent of nostalgia with its three dials that sit at the top of the board, its analogue display meters and its mechanical hand brake.

The new Nissan will go on sale in the United States from spring 2022.

Larry Chen

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2000s: electronics take the wheel


THE AUTO TAKES THE WORD (5/6) – The introduction of the precautionary principle and the security screwdriver guide advertising. Performance fades in favor of services.

Every day, Le Figaro makes you relive the changes in French society over the last decades through the major automobile advertising campaigns.

Phew! The year 2000 bug, which was supposed to make electronic chips run wild, did not happen. See no link, but in the last days of December 1999, France was crossed by two storms of rare violence. Are these the beginnings of climate change? These hurricanes wreak havoc.

The world has gone mad. On September 11, 2001, he woke up groggy. Terrorists hijack airliners; two of them fit into the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center. On that day, the developed countries lost their ingenuity. Nothing will ever be the same again. At the same time, a wind of panic spreads to the aisles of the Frankfurt Motor Show where, in the presence of all the players in the automotive sector, the first press day is being held. BMW presents its new 7 Series there. This model

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Some automakers have to stop production due to lack of chips


Nissan, Honda will cut production at some North American assembly plants due to the shortage of semiconductors to produce chips globally.

Honda and Nissan are car manufacturers directly affected by the shortage of semiconductors around the world. Honda’s motobike production will be discontinued throughout the US and Canada, possibly lasting for a few weeks.

Honda said that in addition to the lack of chips, the impact of the pandemic caused congestion of goods. The company also did not elaborate on the damage caused by the production stoppage. Honda in the US and Canada produce about 30,000 vehicles per week and the production stoppage could affect supply in this region.

The production area that has not been affected so far is Mexico. Honda says its Mexico operations are normal and has not announced a production cut.

A Honda manufacturing plant in the US. Image: Honda’s motobike

Nissan Assembly of the Rogue, Maxima and Leaf models was halted at the factory in Smyrna, Tennessee, and also halted production of the Murano until March 22. In another development, the Japanese automaker halted Altima’s production line in Canton, Mississippi and canceled overtime work on the NV commercial truck weekend. Nissan also builds the Titan and Frontier at this facility, but production of these two models will not be affected. In addition, the company also discontinued production of the Versa and the Kicks at the Aguascalientes, Mexico site until March 23.

“We continue to work closely with our supply partners to assess the impact of problems in the supply chain and minimize disruptions in deliveries to our customers,” said Nissan spokesman Brian Brockman. agents and customers “.

This is not the first time Nissan has found it difficult due to the lack of chips. In early January, the company reduced Note production at its Oppama plant in Japan and is said to have produced 10,000 fewer units in January than originally planned. Nissan also halted production of the Altima and pickup trucks earlier this year.

Automakers around the world are facing problems. Earlier this month, General Motors announced it had to extend the cessation of production. The situation is so serious that the company is building a pickup model without active fuel management, resulting in a lower fuel economy rating. Ford also had to cut production of the popular F-150 pickup truck. Both are expected to lose $ 2-2.5 billion in earnings.

Global semiconductor shortages are affected by a number of factors, increased demand for electronics last year and slumping demand for new cars have led carmakers to cut chip orders. As demand for new cars rapidly recovered, many brands found themselves inadequate for a supply of semiconductors.

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Nissan Qashqai, to come back to the fore


NEW – Already sold 3 million units in Europe, the Japanese manufacturer’s bestseller is completely renewed.

Despite a name to sleep on, the Qashqai (pronounced kachkaï) has defied all predictions since its launch in 2007. Leader of modern SUVs, the Japanese crossover has already sold 3 million units in Europe, including 300 000 in France alone. Faced with intensified competition, Nissan’s bestseller had lost its luster.

Neither quite the same, nor quite another, the Qashqai reinvents itself entirely at the time of opening the third chapter of its history. The silhouette has retained the family resemblance but the lines have gained in tension. Widened V-shaped grille, led lights, high body line, marked shoulder, the Qashqai makes a strong impression. Especially when it adopts the big 20 inch wheels. Inaugurating the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance CMF-C platform that allows the wheels to be positioned at all four corners, the Qashqai widens by 29 mm, is raised by 35 mm and lengthened by 31 mm (4, 42 m) including 19 mm just for the wheelbase. Roominess benefits greatly with a rear knee room increased by 28 mm and headroom increased by 15 mm. Above all, the platform made it possible to improve rigidity by 48% and to lighten the bodywork by 63 kilos by using aluminum to make the front fenders and openings, with the exception of the rear hatch in composite material.

Nissan

The CMF-C platform also provides access to the latest refinements in connectivity, driver assistance and electrification. To regain its rank, the Qashqai takes care of its interior with more refined materials and a dashboard incorporating customizable digital instrumentation, a 9-inch touchscreen infotainment screen and a large head-up display.

Nissan

Nissan has also taken care of the daily life of motorists by promoting accessibility to the rear seats thanks to a greater opening angle of the doors (85 degrees) and by offering an additional trunk volume of 70 liters (504 liters) thanks to a floor modular lowered by 20 mm and a new design of the rear suspension. This will be multi-link with the four-wheel drive versions. Traction models will be satisfied with a torsion bar axle.

Nissan

In tune with our times, which require manufacturers to reduce their carbon footprint and toughen regulations, the new Qashqai skips diesel, offering only electrified engines. The first is a 1.3-liter 4-cylinder light hybridization unit combining an alternator-starter and a 12-volt battery. To grab a few drops of gasoline, during freewheel braking, at a speed of less than 18 km / h, the heat engine turns off and the stored energy is used to power the vehicle’s electrical equipment. This engine will be available in 140 and 158 hp versions. The latter can receive all-wheel drive. At the top of the range, neither plug-in hybrid nor electric, but a new E-Power version whose technical solution is already used by a Note in Japan. E-Power technology is based on the principle of the Chevrolet Volt. A 158 hp 1.5-liter 3-cylinder with variable compression ratio acts as a generator. It is used to power the 190 hp electric motor which drives the wheels. Nissan ensures that the driving pleasure and sensations are close to an electric vehicle. The new Qashqai will be launched at the end of the first half of 2021.

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Nissan gradually pulled out of Europe


The Japanese automaker is reducing its presence in the European market, eliminating its distribution systems in 30 major countries in Eastern Europe.

Eastern European countries where Nissan will cut distribution systems including Hungary and Poland, while in Western Europe and the Netherlands are part of its plan. Nissan continues to sell vehicles using the sales network of partners Renault and local importers.

Nissan’s target markets in Europe will be Germany, France, UK, Italy, Spain, and Northern Europe, where electric cars are becoming more and more popular.

Micra – hatchback model of Japanese company is currently manufactured by Renault. Image: Nissan

Also in the plan, Nissan will close factories in Avila, west of Madrid, Spain. This place produces NT400 and NT500 light trucks until the end of 2019. The factory has been converted to manufacture components for both Nissan and Renault from 2020.

The Japanese automaker once announced it would stop operating its factory in Barcelona, ​​but the plan was postponed until 12/2021 after negotiations with the union and local politicians.

With the closure of these two factories, all production lines for commercial vehicles in Europe will rely on Renault.

Renault currently produces a Micra small hatchback for Nissan at its factory in France, as well as other Nissan van models. Under the new global alliance strategy, the French automaker will be primarily responsible for the development and sales of models in Europe.

The move is part of Nissan’s global restructuring plan, which will shift its operations from Europe to focus on markets such as China, the US and Japan.

The Nissan factory in Sunderland, England, where the makers of Juke, Qashqai and Leaf, are not mentioned. Nissan has warned that Brexit could make its UK business impossible to continue. But a trade agreement signed on December 24 with the EU could ensure the factory escapes the death penalty.

The factory in Sunderland used to produce more than 500,000 vehicles per year, but dropped to 350,000 by 2020 and possibly lower by 2021. Nissan plans to invest $ 543 million in the Qashqai production line in Sunderland and is now pouring Most of the money is on the factory.

Nissan is expected to face a record loss of 3.25 billion USD in the fiscal year to 31/3. The company is slashing global production and car models by 20 percent, aiming to cut operating costs by $ 2.9 billion over three years. Europe accounts for most of Nissan’s losses.

Its sales in Europe, the UK and EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) fell 28% to 260,133 vehicles in the first 11 months of 2020. Nissan’s market share also dropped from 2.5% to 2, 4%.

America – England (according to the Yomiuri Shimbun, Reuters)

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