Car Design News compiles some of the stories that may have gone under the radar during the festive break 

We’re back after a short break over the festive period with a quick roundup of what you might have missed. There are new production models, new technology and a surprising entrant into the robotaxi game. 

Q8 is Dakar for off-roading

Audi has given the Q8 e-tron the off-road treatment, with full-on Dakar livery, automatically-adjusting suspension, all-terrain tyres and raised ground clearance over the standard Q8 advanced 55 e-tron quattro. Full release here


Audi Q8 e-tron Dakar edition 

A special F-Type

A specially-curated series of six Jaguar F-Types has been created for a collector in Taiwan. Inspired by Yushan, the country’s highest mountain, these models use a bespoke gold, crimson and orange colour palette and are inscribed with the coordinates of the peak. 

Zeekr 007 launches

The Zeekr 007 has officially launched following its public debut in November. It is the first model to carry Zeekr’s in-house active safety and audio systems, not to mention its own batteries. Based on the CLTC testing procedure, it has been verified to run up to 688km on a charge. 

Zeekr 007 Stargate screen

Zeekr 007 with Stargate light bar

…and teases Zeekr M-Vision

A heavily camouflaged Zeekr M-Vision has been spied in pre-production form on Chinese roads. This MPV sports double sliding doors and is planned for the US market in 2024. It is reportedly based on the CM2E prototype developed for Waymo’s robotaxi service, albeit with a totally different face – dominated by the brand’s impressive ‘Stargate’ light band also shown on the 007.  

More Ypsilon 

Talk about a build up. Lancia has shared another new image of the upcoming Stratos-inspired Ypsilon, set for a February 2024 reveal in Milan. This is the best look yet but still gives us very little to go on. 


Rear end of the upcoming Ypsilon re-launch

Rimac throws hat in the robotaxi ring

Well, that was unexpected. Super-hyper-mega car maker Rimac has shared plans to develop a robotaxi service that would begin operations in 2026. This will surely be unfamiliar territory for a brand that has built exceptionally fast cars for the super rich. This is perhaps why it has partnered with Kia for the Project 3 mobility project. Indeed, this does in fact build on an earlier study in 2020 through which a handful of Kia Stingers were equipped with self-driving tech in partnership with Rimac.

Screenshot 2024-01-02 at 17.30.45

Rimac is building on its partnership with Kia

Nio ET9

Revealing a car two days ahead of Christmas at a time where much of the industry logs off or shuts down seems an interesting choice. Regardless, the ET9 was launched at the 2023 Nio Day on 23 December, designed for “high-end business users” and described (confusingly) as an “electric executive flagship.” In more conventional terms, it is shaped like a full-size crossover in a similar mould to the Tesla Model Y. Full release here.

VinFast launches two at CES 

At CES 2024, VinFast will introduce a new EV concept alongside the ‘mini’ eSUV VF 3, available across its global network soon. 

Vinfast VF3 mini SUV

The Vinfast VF 3