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19 June

Renault launches new D-segment model at Paris air show

Credit: Renault

Renault launched a second new D-segment vehicle at the Paris air show – after the Espace reboot, this one was the Rafale SUV.

Rafale is a French word that evokes wind, and is also an aeronautical reference. Aviation has played an important part in Renault’s history: the Caudron-Renault Rafale, which flew at a record-breaking 445 km/h in 1934, is an example. The automaker said the Rafale was the first production vehicle designed according to the new visual language Gilles Vidal brought in as head of design.

Renault Rafale is built on the Alliance’s latest-generation CMF-CD platform. Its 200 hp E-Tech full hybrid petrol powertrain, combined with its Renault claims the multimode automatic transmission put its range among the longest and its CO2 emissions among the lowest in its segment.

The company also says you can drive in electric mode 80% of the time in cities and use 40% less fuel than with an equivalent internal-combustion engine with the full hybrid powertrain.

9 June

GM to adopt Tesla Supercharger Network in North America

General Motors has announced it will be collaborating with Tesla to integrate the North American Standard (NACS) connector design into its EVs, beginning in 2025. It follows Ford’s surprise announcement earlier this year that it would be adopting Tesla’s supercharger network. GM EV drivers will have access to 12,000 Tesla Superchargers, in addition to more than 134,000 chargers already available to GM EV drivers.

Tesla’s Supercharger Network will be accessible to GM EV drivers as early as 2024 but will require an adapter.

The earlier announcement of Tesla’s collaboration with GM arch-rival Ford raised questions about a national US charging standard, with commentators noting the adoption of NACS could diminish the value of smaller auto start-ups offering the rival Combined Charging System (CCS). Ford CEO Jim Farley has spoken of the need for more automakers to collaborate in charging infrastructure.

16 June

Mercedes-Benz to use ChatGPT to enhance MBUX voice assistant

Mercedes-Benz says it is further expanding the use of artificial intelligence and integrating it into the voice control of its vehicles. By adding ChatGPT, voice control via the MBUX Voice Assistant’s Hey Mercedes will become even more intuitive, the company claims. An optional beta programme began in June in the US for over 900,000 vehicles equipped with the MBUX infotainment system. Customers can participate via the Mercedes me app or directly from the vehicle using the voice command “Hey Mercedes, I want to join the beta programme”. The rollout of the beta programme will happen over the air (OTA).

Mercedes-Benz is integrating ChatGPT through Azure OpenAI Service, ‘leveraging the enterprise-grade capabilities of Microsoft’s cloud and AI platform’. It says the move combines the ‘best of both worlds’, enhancing the validated data of MBUX Voice Assistant with the more natural dialogue format of ChatGPT. Mercedes says participants who ask the Voice Assistant a question will now receive a more comprehensive answer.

20 June

Stellantis and Foxconn JV to sell chips in 2026

Automaker Stellantis and Taiwan-based Hon Hai Technology Group (Foxconn) have announced their semiconductors joint venture (JV) SiliconAuto. To be headquartered in the Netherlands, it will design and make semiconductors supplying Stellantis and other automotive industry customers starting in 2026.

SiliconAuto is the product of a December 2021 agreement between Stellantis and Foxconn. Chips from SiliconAuto will support the future semiconductor needs of Stellantis, Foxconn and other customers. This includes Stellantis’ ‘STLA Brain’ – its new electrical and software architecture.

Stellantis Chief Technology Officer Ned Curic said: “Stellantis will benefit from a robust supply of essential components, which is critical to fuelling the rapid, software-defined transformation of our products.

“Our goal is to build vehicles that seamlessly connect with our customers’ daily lives and deliver class-leading capabilities years after they leave the assembly line. With this joint venture, we can create purpose-built innovations with an efficient partnership.”

14 June

Aston Martin unveils ‘ultra-luxury flagship, Q New York’

Aston Martin has opened  the doors to Q New York, its first ‘ultra-luxury flagship’ on 450 Park Avenue, in New York City.

It says the new location brings the ‘highest levels of the iconic British brand’s bespoke service, Q by Aston Martin to North America’ for the very first time, providing the ‘most sophisticated luxury specification experience available anywhere in the world’.

Aston Martin says the location forms a key pillar of Aston Martin’s ultra-luxury brand strategy, with the ‘commitment to provide the very best possible environment for its most discerning clients to create their own intimately personal Aston Martin’.

The new location will serve as a showcase and launch venue for Aston Martin’s latest products.

Lawrence Stroll, Executive Chairman of Aston Martin said: “The opening of our first flagship Q location, in our largest commercial market, is the latest distinct expression of Aston Martin’s shift to an ultra-luxury brand.”