Weekly Update

Audi is launching an electric version of the A3, Airbus is unveiling an electric flying taxi

Post from March 15, 2024

Post from March 15, 2024

Topic overview

Germany is one the leading cycling nations, Audi A3 is to be launched as a compact electric model, Airbus presents its full electric CityAirbus NextGen prototype, Results of the ADFC Cycling Travel Analysis 2024 are out, the comeback of buttons and much more – these are our headlines in the eleventh week of the year 2024.

Germany is one the leading cycling nations, Audi A3 is to be launched as a compact electric model, Airbus presents its full electric CityAirbus NextGen prototype, Results of the ADFC Cycling Travel Analysis 2024 are out, the comeback of buttons and much more – these are our headlines in the eleventh week of the year 2024.

Topic overview

According to the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV), around 80 percent of all households in Germany own at least one bicycle. In 30 percent of these households, there are three or more bicycles. This totals up to 78 million bicycles that are increasingly being used. Over 80 percent of Germans use their bicycles regularly, with 55 percent considering it an indispensable mode of transportation. This positions Germany as one of the leading bicycle nations, alongside countries like Denmark and the Netherlands.

More and more people, especially for distances less than 15 kilometers, are opting to leave their cars at home and cycle instead. This shift is a positive trend as cycling reduces environmental impact and promotes personal fitness. At the same time, bicycles are becoming increasingly important as a technology platform, leading the way in electric propulsion and becoming more attractive through digital advancements. The BMDV is committed to vigorously promoting the development and improvement of bicycle traffic, with a particular focus on safety, both within towns and in rural areas.

(c) AdobeStock

Starting in 2027, the Audi A3 will be produced as an all-electric model. About a year after announcing a new entry-level electric vehicle, Audi's CEO Gernot Döllner recently confirmed this at an Audi company meeting. Döllner is now also in charge of the brand's development division. According to German publication "auto motor und sport," the Audi E-A3 was originally supposed to be based on the SSP (Scalable Systems Platform), which has been delayed from 2026 to 2028. Instead, the electric successor to the A3 will be built on the modified Modular Electric Drive Matrix of the group (MEB Evo). This modular platform is expected to allow for a range of up to 700 kilometers. It is also anticipated to support charging speeds of 175 to 200 kW. Unlike the SSP, the MEB Evo will continue to use 400-volt charging technology instead of an 800-volt architecture. The exact start date for production is currently unknown.

(c) Audi Produktion

Airbus has presented its full electric CityAirbus NextGen prototype to the public, ahead of its maiden flight later this year. The two-ton class CityAirbus, with a wing span of approximately 12 meters, is being developed to fly with a 80 km range and to reach a cruise speed of 120 km/h, making it perfectly suited for operations in major cities for a variety of missions. The unveiling coincided with the opening of the new CityAirbus test center in Donauwörth, which will be dedicated to testing systems for electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles (eVTOLs). The center will be now used for the remaining tests required before the prototype’s maiden flight later in the year. These tests cover the electric motors with their eight rotors as well as the aircraft’s other systems such as flight controls and avionics. At the same time, Airbus is expanding its global network and partnerships to create a unique ecosystem that will foster a successful and viable Advanced Air Mobility market.

(c) Airbus Helicopters - Christian Keller

The German Cyclists Association (ADFC) has released the findings of its annual bicycle travel survey, providing insights into the cycling travel habits of Germans. The survey revealed that in 2023, 37.4 million people used bicycles for vacations and excursions. The study closely examined four different areas of bicycle tourism: bike trips lasting three nights or more, short bike trips with one to two nights, day trips on bicycles without overnight stays, and cycling as part of a vacation where cycling is not the main activity. For the first time, the bicycle travel survey provides data on the daily expenses of cyclists. Additionally, the analysis addressed the most traveled long-distance cycling routes and cycling regions. There were few changes in this area. As in previous years, the Weser Cycle Route, the Elbe Cycle Route, and the Baltic Coast Cycle Route remain the favorites.

You can find all further results (in German) of the ADFC bicycle travel survey here:

ADFC bicycle travel survey
(c) ADFC/April Agentur

The EU safety organization NCAP is cautioning automakers against adding more features via touchscreen. In fact, safety experts are even threatening to deduct points from developers who burden drivers with excessive touchscreen usage.

This stance is based on multiple proofs that touchscreen interactions can distract drivers significantly, thus increasingly becoming a cause for accidents. Many drivers prefer buttons for operating features. To use a touchscreen, one must look at it to successfully complete the desired action. This is not the case with traditional buttons, which can be found and used "blindly" just as well. Automakers like Volkswagen are already responding to customer preferences by reintroducing more buttons and switches to the dashboard. The EU safety organization NCAP wants to further encourage this trend. NCAP stands for the European New Car Assessment Programme, an organization based in Brussels consisting of members from European transport ministries, automobile clubs (including ADAC), and insurance associations. The consortium's goal is to continuously increase vehicle safety. It awards the well-known star ratings for car safety. NCAP announced plans to develop suggestions for more traditional switches and buttons. While these suggestions are not mandatory, they motivate developers to pay attention, as ignoring them could lead to future deductions in their star ratings.

(c) EuroNCAP (Tesla Model S)

There are various concepts for harnessing ocean wave movements to generate electricity. The Swedish company Corpower Ocean is capitalizing on this idea and has been testing a wave power plant in the Atlantic off the Portuguese coast since last August.

After six months, the initial phase of operation was successfully completed. For maintenance, the wave power plant was towed to the port city of Viana do Castelo, about 70 kilometers north of Porto. The wave power plant looks like a standard buoy: it has a pear-shaped floating body on the water, anchored to the seabed. The current model, C4, is nine meters in diameter. The floating body is 19 meters tall. Inside, there is a complex mechanism that converts the buoy's vertical movements into rotational motion. This motion drives generators that produce electrical power, which is then fed into the Portuguese electrical grid.

(c) CorPower Ocean Boje

There's news and restructuring happening at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR): Starting in 2025, the company will completely shift to electric models. Despite a global slowdown in electric vehicle sales, Jaguar plans to transform into an exclusively electric brand by the middle of next year. The first of three new models will be a four-door Gran Turismo. This yet-to-be-named model aims to compete with the likes of the Audi e-tron GT and the Porsche Taycan and will be based on the newly developed Jaguar Electric Architecture (JEA) platform. The electric range is expected to be around 700 kilometers, with prices starting at over 150,000 euros. Another significant decision made at JLR is that Jaguar and Land/Range Rover will no longer share platforms in the future.

(c) Jaguar iPace

More and more customers are willing to switch their car brand. In a stagnant market environment with new competitors, including those from China, it's challenging for automakers to keep their customers loyal to the brand. At the same time, these manufacturers naturally want to attract new buyers. Last year, three brands did particularly well in this regard: Dacia, Cupra, and Tesla were each awarded a “Car Loyalty Award” by Dataforce and the German automotive trade magazine Automobilwoche.
Since 2022, the number of privately owned cars has plateaued. The competition for these customers is intensifying. It's becoming increasingly difficult for car manufacturers to find the right balance between retaining loyal customers and attracting new ones. A manufacturer can only grow by taking customers away from competitors while also retaining a large portion of its existing buyers.

However, the challenge of this is evident in the trend of customer loyalty: While it was at an average of 64 percent in 2013, it has dropped nearly 10 percentage points by 2023. With the introduction of new manufacturers and brands, as well as the discontinuation of traditional model lines, even more consumers may consider switching brands in the future. Data from Dataforce indicates that the shift towards electric mobility has even further increased customers' willingness to switch.

(c) Dacia
  • Bosch/Microsoft: Working together for greater safety on the roads: Bosch and Microsoft are developing new possibilities with generative AI. This technology will enable vehicles to assess situations, respond accordingly, and thus offer even better protection to all road users.

  • Specialized: Specialized introduces the Porto Cargo E-Bike, designed specifically for family needs. This cargo bike can transport up to 160kg. It stands out from other cargo e-bikes with features like a Garmin radar system, which alerts the rider when other road users are getting too close.

  • Ikea:The Swedish furniture giant Ikea has announced plans to expand its electric vehicle charging stations in Germany. By 2028, the company aims to install more than 1,000 charging stations across its 54 locations in Germany. For the implementation of these plans, Ikea is partnering with the Norwegian charging station provider "Mer." The expansion is set to begin with the stores in Bielefeld, Bremen, Chemnitz, Freiburg, Kaarst (near Düsseldorf), and Mannheim starting in early 2025.

  • BMW/Mercedes: BMW and Mercedes have launched a joint venture in China: The JV between the two German automakers is named 'Beijing Ion Qi New Energy Technology Co., Ltd' and is headquartered in the Chaoyang district of Beijing. The company's goal is to establish a high-speed charging network for the Chinese market.

  • Volvo: Volvo is investing in the British software startup Breathe Battery Technologies. The Swedish company aims to achieve charging time optimization for the next generation of its electric vehicles. The startup's software is expected to reduce the charging time of electric cars by up to 30 percent.

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