Continental board signs off on cutting or shifting 30,000 jobs

Continental’s supervisory board approved a reorganization plan that the German car supplier said earlier this month will affect 30,000 jobs worldwide.

The supplier said it’s considering asset sales as it deepens a restructuring started last year. Measures to revive profits were rendered insufficient when the COVID-19 pandemic pummeled global car production and weighed on prospects for the industry.

Continental said Sept. 1 it planned to cut or transfer as much as 13 percent of its workforce to reduce costs by at least 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) a year. Some 90 percent of the restructuring measures, which could affect 30,000 jobs, should be implemented by 2025.

The company’s domestic operations will be hit hard, with about 13,000 positions moved to other areas or eliminated. Continental employs about 232,000 people worldwide, including 59,000 in Germany.

The supplier has been reluctant so far to provide an outlook for the full year, citing persistent market uncertainty. It doesn’t anticipate the global market returning to 2017 levels until the middle of the decade and has shelved plans to spin off of its powertrain division Vitesco Technologies until markets improve.

Continental ranks No. 4 on the Automotive News list of top 100 global suppliers, with fiscal 2019 sales to automakers of $35.3 billion.

Oh Yes, The 2021 McLaren 765LT Is Something Very Special Indeed

The first reviews of the McLaren 765LT have just hit the web some seven months after the vehicle’s unveiling prior to the canceled Geneva Motor Show in March.

This is the third Longtail model in the McLaren line-up, joining the 675LT and the Sports Series-based 600LT. McLaren claims it can hit 124 mph (200 km/h) in just 7 seconds and 186 mph (300 km/h) in 18 seconds, meaning it is actually 0.8 seconds quicker to that mark than the lighter and more powerful McLaren Senna.

The key reason behind the car’s extraordinary performance is its twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 that has been modified to now deliver 754 hp and 590 lb-ft (800 Nm) of torque. This engine is coupled to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission driving the rear wheels. Further adding to the performance of the British supercar is the fact that it tips the scales at just 1,229 kg (2,709 lbs) dry.

Read More: Limited-Run 2021 McLaren 765LT Coming To America Priced From $358,000

In addition to adding power and removing weight, McLaren has fitted the 765LT with a host of new aerodynamic parts, including a revised front fascia, new side skirts, a roof scoop, an enlarged rear wing, rear canards, and a new diffuser.

All of these reviews were conducted on the racetrack as road tests of the car have yet to be conducted by journalists. Nevertheless, an argument can certainly be made that the racetrack is where the 765LT is most at home so this is the perfect starting point.

As you would expect, the reviews below are full of praise for the car but the car is not without its faults. The review from Top Gear is particularly critical and asserts that it is not quite the driver’s car the 675LT was.

Preview: 2021 BMW 4-Series Convertible is a conspicuous drop-top

Preview: 2021 BMW 4-Series Convertible is a conspicuous drop-top

The reveal of the redesigned 2021 BMW 4-Series coupe in June was, for lack of a better word, a bit jarring due to the radical new look introduced for the car’s grille. (BMW also shook things up by making the 4-Series longer than the 3-Series sedan, with which it shares a platform and powertrains.)

Now that the same look has been applied to the redesigned 2021 BMW M3 sedan and M4 coupe, we’re starting to become accustomed to it, so much so that it almost looks entirely normal on the redesigned 2021 BMW 4-Series Convertible unveiled late on Tuesday. The new drop-top is due at dealerships in March 2021.

2021 BMW 4-Series Convertible

2021 BMW 4-Series Convertible

2021 BMW 4-Series Convertible

2021 BMW 4-Series Convertible

2021 BMW 4-Series Convertible

2021 BMW 4-Series Convertible

2021 BMW 4-Series Convertible

2021 BMW 4-Series Convertible

BMW has gone with an evolutionary look for most of the vehicle, though up front is that now familiar oversized grille with the iconic kidneys stretched vertically instead of horizontally. The design actually links the 4-Series with sporting BMWs of the past like the pre-war 328 and 3.0 CSi of the 1970s.

The new looks extend to the roof which is now a soft-top instead of a retractable hard-top like on the previous generation. The simpler, sleeker soft-top not only improves the way the 4-Series Convertible looks but also makes it lighter and takes up less space both when stretched over the cabin and folded in the trunk. BMW said the soft-top is approximately 40% lighter than the previous generation’s hard-top. It also results in 0.2 inches of extra headroom in the cabin when up, and 1.2 cubic feet of extra storage in the trunk when folded.

2021 BMW 4-Series Convertible

2021 BMW 4-Series Convertible

2021 BMW 4-Series Convertible

2021 BMW 4-Series Convertible

2021 BMW 4-Series Convertible

2021 BMW 4-Series Convertible

The interior will be familiar to anyone who’s been in a modern BMW. A fully digital instrument cluster with a 12.3-inch screen is available (an analog cluster with an integrated 5.1-inch screen is still standard), and next to this sits a large infotainment screen (8.8 inches standard and 10.25 inches available). Sport seats and a leather-lined sport steering wheel are standard.

Standard electronic driver-assist features include forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with steering correction, blind spot warning, and rear cross traffic alert. A worthy option is the parking assistance package which adds a surround-view camera.

At launch there will be 430i and M440i variants, with rear-wheel drive standard and all-wheel drive available from July 2021. The sole transmission is an 8-speed automatic.

2021 BMW 4-Series Convertible

2021 BMW 4-Series Convertible

The 430i packs a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 delivering 255 horsepower and 294 pound-feet of torque. The M440i has a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 and mild-hybrid system good for 382 hp and 364 lb-ft. The mild-hybrid system temporarily boosts output by 11 hp. It consists of an integrated starter motor and generator that is able to recover energy under braking.

The M440i is the quickest of the bunch, needing 5.0 seconds to reach 60 mph and topping out at 155 mph (electronically limited). Performance fans can look forward to an M4 Convertible which will have a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-6 with as much as 503 hp.

Pricing starts at $54,095 for the 430i Convertible, and at $64,995 for the M440i Convertible. All-wheel drive is a $2,000 premium. Sport-tuned suspension and adjustable dampers can also be added at extra cost.

The expansion of BMW’s 4-Series family isn’t over. A redesigned 4-Series Gran Coupe is in the works, and it may spawn an M4 variant this time around. There will also be a new battery-electric sedan dubbed the i4, and it will offer up to 523 hp. Both of these 4-Series members are due in 2021.

For more on the BMW 4-Series, read the in-depth reviews at The Car Connection.

Nissan to bring carbon-fiber to the masses

TOKYO — Nissan has long reserved costly carbon-fiber components to such applications as the hood and roof of its low-volume, high-performance GT-R sports car. But thanks to a production breakthrough, Nissan says it will soon deploy the lightweight material in mass-market models.

The new manufacturing process slashes the time and cost needed to make parts out of carbon fiber. Deploying it will help Nissan trim about 176 pounds, on average, from future vehicle weights.

Company executives say Nissan needs to broaden its use of carbon fiber to help it meet increasingly stringent fuel economy rules. Lighter vehicles require less energy to be propelled, and slimming down is an important way to offset the weight of heavy batteries as automakers electrify lineups.

“In the past, we used to apply [carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic] to a limited number of models. But going forward, we would like to apply it to mass production,” said Hideyuki Sakamoto, executive vice president for manufacturing and supply chain management. “And now we have visibility to do that.”

The advance comes in the molding process of carbon-fiber components, reducing the time needed from the current 10 minutes to about 2 minutes. And the use of better computer simulations halves development time to create part dies, adding to the cost savings and timesavings.

Nissan plans to use the manufacturing technique to make carbon-fiber B-pillars for a large SUV that will hit the market in 2024 or 2025, Sakamoto said. He did not name the product, but a redesign of the Armada large SUV is expected around then. Nissan has said it needs to lightweight its heavier vehicles to better comply with future emissions standards.

The new approach, called compression-resin transfer molding, speeds the process by allowing the resin that flows into the woven carbon fiber to more quickly and thoroughly permeate the material when it is being pressed between two dies in the mold.

The old way compressed the two dies very closely while injecting the resin, relying on the suction of a vacuum to spread the resin.

The new method does not compress the two dies initially. Instead, it keeps a gap of a couple millimeters between them that allows the resin to spread.

The resin is necessary because, after it hardens, it lends stiffness and shape to the carbon fiber, which is actually a fabric of woven carbon fiber strands, each thinner than a human hair.

Using compression-resin transfer molding also delivers better-quality parts with less wrinkling and fewer weak spots, which are caused when the resin hardens before it completely permeates the carbon fiber sheet.

Even though Nissan has already developed the technique, Sakamoto said he wants to further refine the process and reduce costs before leveraging it in the upcoming production vehicle.

Ford cuts Mustang Mach-E prices ahead of launch

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. is lowering the price of its Mustang Mach-E crossover between $1,000 and $3,000, depending on the trim, as it prepares to launch the vehicle later this year.

In a memo to dealers, Ford said the Premium trims will get a $3,000 price cut, with the all-wheel-drive version dropping to $50,800 and the rear-wheel-drive model falling to $48,100. The California Route 1 rwd trim price will decrease $2,000 to $50,900.

The most expensive Mach-E, the sold-out First Edition model, will get a $1,000 price cut to $59,400. The Select trim, the vehicle’s least-expensive variant, will also see a $1,000 price cut, with awd model prices falling to $46,695 and rwd models falling to $43,995.

All prices include $1,100 in shipping fees. Customers also are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit.

Ford, in the memo, said all price changes go into effect today but will apply to those who have placed orders or made a reservation since the vehicle was unveiled. Ford did not announce any price changes for the GT variant, which will go on sale next spring.

“Exceptional value has always been a hallmark of the Mustang brand,” Ford said in a statement. “In addition to its great all-electric driving range and performance, we’re adjusting Mustang Mach-E pricing to remain fully competitive in a segment that is seeing dynamic price changes.”

The news was first reported by the Mach-E Forum on its website earlier Tuesday.

The Mach-E will face a number of competitors, including Volkswagen’s recently unveiled ID4 crossover, which will start at $41,990, including shipping, and get up to 250 miles on a charge. The Mach-E’s range will start at 230 miles, with more expensive trims getting up to 300 miles.

The Tesla Model Y, out now, starts at $49,990 and gets 316 miles on a charge.