Byton K-Byte electric saloon concept
Our reporters empty their notebooks to round up this week’s gossip from across the automotive industry
MINI DESIGN FREEDOM: Mini design chief Oliver Heilmer feels more freedom designing for the brand than he did in his previous role at BMW. He said: “BMW was a much more serious brand. I did the 5 Series and there was so much pressure. [Mini] feels like a release to me. I’m aware of the icons, but there is a lot we can change.” Heilmer said that although the design of the Mini hatch was relatively established, he could push the design boundaries with cars such as the Countryman SUV.
BYTON’S FOCUS ON CHINA: Byton boss Carsten Breitfeld said that the firm is focusing on China with its M-Byte SUV initially because the country is leading the way in investment in infrastructure for electric cars. “There’s a strong political will to make this happen,” said Breitfeld. “We don’t have to do it on our own. The government is doing it.” He added: “Public charging stations are in a good way. Every new building with parking spaces has this ability, or sometimes obligation, to install charging points.”
THE END FOR MANUAL: The increases in power and torque produced by high-performance car engines are likely to spell the end of the manual gearbox in such machines, rather than a lack of consumer demand, according to the boss of the Volkswagen R division. “If powertrain performance gets to a point that developing a manual [capable of handling the torque] costs too much, manufacturers won’t do it,” Jost Capito said, hinting that the Golf R‘s successor could be offered exclusively in DSG form. The current model recently dropped its manual version due to a lack of demand.