Renault Shows New EV, BMW Piles on Battery Orders: Munich Update

(Bloomberg) — Munich plays host this week to IAA Mobility, where mostly European automakers and their suppliers will be unveiling wares together for the first time since before Covid.

When Germany last held such a forum two years ago, it would have seemed odd to promote a car’s ability to shield passengers from viruses. Semiconductors weren’t on the tip of every executive’s tongue. Electric vehicles weren’t selling so briskly, and supply chains were functioning just fine.

On Monday, Bloomberg News will speak with the chief executives of Volkswagen AG, BMW AG, Daimler AG and Renault SA, as well as leaders of suppliers including Robert Bosch GmbH and Continental AG, about these topics and more.

Key Stories:

  • BMW orders up $24 billion of battery cells
  • VW-backed Argo AI expands its autonomous vehicle test footprint
  • Mercedes unveils the E-Class’s electric sibling
  • Auto CEOs have some wheeling-and-dealing to do

Renault Unveils ‘Megane’ EV in Quest for Renewal (9:30 a.m. Monday)

Renault unveiled the electric Megane to replace the aging Zoe EV that has lost its top spot in Europe to rivals pushing newer, snazzier models.

CEO Luca de Meo said the Megane was the manufacturer’s attempt to reinvent itself and “play in the major league” by attacking the all-important C-segment that accounts for around 40% of the European market.

The Megane will have a range of as much as 470 kilometers (292 miles) and can be fast charged for 300 kilometers in about half an hour.

BMW Boosts Battery Orders to Meet EV Demand (8:49 a.m. Monday)

The prospects for EVs are running ahead of expectations, judging by BMW AG’s decision to significantly raise orders of battery cells. The German carmaker has lifted contracted volumes to over 20 billion euros ($23.7 billion), up from 12 billion euros previously, according the Chief Executive Officer Oliver Zipse. 

Trying to overcome supply-chain vulnerabilities is the main focus for the car industry as it gets hammered by chip shortages. BMW has fared better than others, but expects the bottlenecks to continue for “many, many months,” Zipse said in an interview. 

Valeo Promotes Its Premium Air Filters (8 a.m. Monday)

Concerns about Covid-19 and air pollution are feeding demand for premium air filters for cars, according to Valeo SA. The French parts maker forecasts the market will grow by a third every year between 2020 and 2023, with half of all new autos fitted with the technology within five years.

Valeo says its filters will block 99.4% of viruses and 96% of allergens as well as ultra-fine particles, gases, fungi and mold. Starting next year, a premium German automaker that the supplier won’t name will outfit one of its models with Valeo’s air-quality diagnostic technology designed to detect pollution. Sensors analyze fine particles both inside and outside the car and activate an air recycling system when concentrations are too high.

VW’s Self-Driving Partner Talks Testing (8:30 p.m. Sunday)

Argo AI, VW’s partner developing self-driving technology, is just a few months away from starting to test autonomous vehicles on public roads in Germany, Chief Executive Officer Bryan Salesky said.

At an event hosted by VW CEO Herbert Diess, the two debuted a test vehicle prototype. They’ve equipped the ID.Buzz — an electric iteration of the famed microbus VW was known for in the 1960s — with cameras, radar and lidar sensors that can detect objects more than 400 meters (437 yards) away.

Mercedes Unveils the Electric EQE (6:30 p.m. Sunday)

Fresh off starting sales of its new flagship electric sedan, the EQS, Mercedes-Benz is following up with its second serious plug-in car: the E-Class’s battery-powered brother.

The EQE, launching in mid-2022, is the second Mercedes built off a new dedicated electric-vehicle platform, rather than underpinnings converted from a combustion model. The ground-up approach results in better range — up to 660 kilometers (410 miles) — and a roomier interior than the E-Class.

Ahead of the EQE unveiling, Daimler Chief Executive Officer Ola Kallenius cautioned that the global semiconductor shortage may not entirely go away next year and could take until 2023 to be resolved.

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