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Old 01-03-2022, 06:09 AM   #2
AVANTI R5
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The semiconductor crisis will eventually ease...



It has to, doesnít it? I mean, with order books for some models reportedly closing in on two years, the car industry is going to have to find a way to deal with the shortage of all-important chips to put in its cars. And there are signs it has: some firms have been able to source more supplies, while others are producing simpler versions of some models with fewer chips so they can actually get cars to buyers quickly. The truth is that there are no easy solutions: it isnít feasible to dramatically ramp up semiconductor production or build cars devoid of them, but both chip producers and car firms are finding ways to increase output. It could be years until the shortage ends, but expect the impact to ease gradually in 2022.

...But the magnesium shortage will replace the chip crisis

The semiconductor crisis easing may be a ray of sunshine, but that bubble of optimism could be about to burst. Magnesium isnít the first metal you think of when it comes to cars, but itís a crucial raw material in the production of aluminium, which in turn is used in everything from chassis structures to seat frames. Most of the worldís magnesium comes from China, which ordered 35 of its 50 aluminium smelters to close in October due to an energy crisis. That lack of magnesium coming down the supply chain will have a huge impact on 2022ís aluminium production capacity, so donít hold your breath if youíre hoping 2022 will be better than 2021.

Car buyers will receive cars within three months of ordering

Remember when you could order a car and receive it in less than 12 weeks? Thanks to the chip crisis, such delivery times are a pipe dream. Itís expected to continue into next year, but maybe, as 2023 heaves into view, those lead times will once again become the norm. Hereís hoping...

We'll know if Mercedes-AMG's One matches the hype



Sir Lewis Hamilton has raved about it, Mercedes-AMG has been publicising it since it emerged at the 2017 Frankfurt show (yes, four years ago) and in 2022, with a bit of luck, we might Ė fingers crossed, touch wood etc Ė get to experience the Mercedes-AMG One in full flight, because it is scheduled to begin production mid-year.

We know the car, limited to a run of just 275, has been a phenomenally tough thing to develop. Using F1 tech on the road is never an easy task Ė just ask Red Bull and Aston Martin Ė and Mercedes-AMG has struggled to adapt the complexities of the F1-derived hybrid powertrain for the vagaries of what normal traffic might throw at it. Hamiltonís F1 car has engineers poring all over it and still needs mid-season engine changes; the One will to have to cope with normal people.

For instance, the F1-based engineís natural idle speed is 5000rpm, and engineers who were tasked with making the unit tick over properly at 1200rpm described it as a ďtremendous challengeĒ.

Legislation has thrown a few curveballs, especially given the carís long gestation period. WLTP only became mandatory in 2018 and the engineers have apparently struggled to meet emissions targets using a petrol particulate filter without compromising performance. When that performance includes targets such as 0-124mph in six seconds, every little help or hindrance has enormous consequences.

Does any of this matter? With 1000bhp-plus, four-wheel drive, a 1.6-litre V6 taken from Hamiltonís 2017 title-winning car and the man himself helping with development, weíve no doubt the delays will melt away as soon as anyone sits in it. Letís just hope that happens in 2022.

Solid-state batteries will make some progress

The hype surrounding solid-state batteries for automotive use is long-standing, but thus far there is little to see for it. The pace of development, however, is accelerating: Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis recently announced partnerships with solid-state battery specialist Factorial Energy, and more car makers are expected to follow. Mercedes is aiming to test prototype cells within the next 12 months.

Subscription-based motoring will boom


Itís unavoidable: as EV adoption grows, the average cost of a new car is getting higher and higher. Many car owners have also realised they are driving less now that working from home is more widely accepted. As our habits change and prices creep up, thereís sure to be a greater demand for alternative ways to buy and run one.

Subscriptions and ride-sharing havenít gone down well with Brits so far, but it has been warmly embraced on the Continent, and for many it might become the only affordable way to drive a premium model. Marques such as Volvo have got involved in a big way, and third- party brands that specialise in EV-only fleets are gaining in popularity. It seems inevitable that weíll be renting more.

The shortage of EV charging points will get worse

You can see it with your own eyes, as you escape from London, heading for the M4 motorway.

A bank of charging points at the bottom of the Hammersmith flyover used to be deserted but is now permanently full, not least because a fast-growing fleet of LEVC range-extender black cabs calls in there at all hours of the day and night. Itís now routine to wait for charging points in the busier parts of the country, and probably to have to negotiate (hopefully politely) with other users to get plugged in.

The SMMT has measured the change, noting that the number of battery-electric and PHEV cars potentially sharing every charging point grew from 11 to 16 vehicles between 2019 and 2020. Only one new charger is being installed for every 52 cars sold, a dire situation given that one in six of every new cars registered is an EVor PHEV. Britainís ratio of plug-in vehicles now places the country among the worst of the top 10 EV markets. At 16:1 weíre well behind the likes of the Netherlands (5:1) and France (10:1) but marginally ahead of Germany (17:1). South Korea (3:1) is best.

Tesla loses its supercharger edge...

Teslaís cars have traditionally been easier to charge than their rivals, courtesy of Teslaís extensive charging network and the speed of its devices, all of which has been a big draw for buyers of Models S, X and 3. But in Norway, Tesla recently opened up its chargers to cars from other brands for a monthly fee, which if rolled out to other markets could bring in a significant new stream of revenue and turn Supercharger into a stand-alone network operator while losing its Tesla exclusivity.

The roll-out of 800V charging to mainstream cars (the Porsche Taycan was first; Hyundai and Kiaís bespoke EVs will offer it) means rapid charging is no longer the preserve of Tesla, and plans for an expansion of the UKís network means other operators could soon be just as prevalent. For now, Teslaís fastest chargers remain 66% quicker than the next most powerful devices in the UK.

...While Tesla's rise will begin to be undermined by the actions of Elon Musk and competition from legacy brands



What other challenges does Tesla face? The competition is crowding in, and as more traditional buyers overtake the early adopters as the most prolific EV customers, itís clear that established car brands are going to be making hay, especially at the more affordable end of the market. Then thereís the man at the top of Tesla: Elon Musk. The entrepreneur clearly has a knack for success, yet there are signs in his recent erratic and eccentric tweets that heís only ever 140 characters away from creating chaos in his own ranks.

Motorsport predictions

Hybrids will prove a hit in the WRC and BTCC

Both series adopt hybrid tech in 2022, and for the WRC itís about time as the simplified, less expensive Rally1 era kicks in and management of the hybrid boost will create a new dimension. The same goes for the BTCC, in which the use of power boost calls time on the successful weight ballast system. Itíll be different but not worse Ė and no less tightly fought across the 32-car field.

George Russell won't beat Lewis Hamilton over a season

Mercedes-AMGís young signing will win a hatful of GPs and match and maybe even beat Hamilton on one-lap pace. Russell now has the chance to capitalise on what we saw at the end of 2020 when he subbed for a Covid- positive Hamilton. Only bad luck robbed him of a sensational win, and now he gets the car he deserves. This is it, George. What have you got?

Elfyn Evans will win the world rally championship



The Welshman is the real deal in the WRC, as his stunning performances have proved. He left himself with too much to do to stop Toyota team- mate Sťbastien Ogier from taking his eighth WRC title in 2021, but Ogier looks unlikely to commit to a full campaign as he eyes a future in endurance racing. The WRC door is open and Evans is placed to steam right through it.

Ferrari will start winning again in Formula 1

All-new regulations for 2022 offer a significant reset for every Formula 1 team. This past season has been something of an interim as the fresh rules were delayed for 12 months because of the pandemic, and it has allowed teams extra time to develop their new cars. Ferrari in particular should gain. It froze work on its 2021 challenger to put everything into the new contender, which has been built to rules designed to make the racing better. The team hasnít won a grand prix since 2019, when Ferrari had a power edge that may not have been entirely legal... Itís time now to stop wasting the significant talent of Charles Leclerc.

What should happen... but won't

Someone will make a manual gearbox work with an EV

Please let it be: a manual gearbox with an electric car, a guilt-free way of indulging in some driving interactivity. The Opel Manta concept we drove in November had one, but it wasnít quite the slick- shifter we hoped for. Hopefully some engineering genius is beavering away on a better solution.

Manufacturers will be obliged to show buyers lifetime CO2 analysis of each new car

Polestar won acclaim in 2020 when it revealed the total climate impact of its 2 EV. Transparency like that is more informative to an increasingly eco-savvy market than unachievable WLTP figures, so letís have more of this sort of thing. Your car doesnít stop harming the environment after you buy it, or even after you stop driving it.

EV chargers will get even faster



Forget adding more electric charging points Ė just make the ones we have a lot faster. We already have 350W rapid EV charging, but few cars support it even though it cuts the average 20- 80% recharge down from 40 minutes to around 10. It puts EVs on par with petrol for ease of use, but while adding the infrastructure remains expensive, donít expect it to become the norm for anything other than premium electric cars.

National highways will end its experiment of removing hard shoulders from motorways

Our poll, admittedly unofficial, has failed so far to identify any drivers who feel safe if their car conks out unexpectedly on a Ďsmartí motorway. We would love to think this message would reach even our mulish road authorities but fear too much money has already been spent.

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