This week’s round-up includes news from Audi, Dacia, DS, HiPhi, Lotus, Opel, Renault, VW and Zagato 

There’s plenty to catch up on away from the main headlines, so let’s get straight into it.

It’s looking like a Dacia Spring

Calls for cheap EVs are being answered, and the all-new Dacia Spring is described by the brand as the best value fully electric car in Europe. Value for money is subjective of course, but with an estimated RRP of £16-20k, a smart exterior and well-specced interior, it certainly makes a fair case. Dacia is quickly becoming one of the most progressive brands on the design front, and it is satisfying to see the intentions showcased by the Manifesto concept shining through in production models. 

Full release here

Q2 facelift in Q1 2024

Audi’s compact SUV, the Q2, has been given a mid-cycle refresh, led by an upgraded infotainment system. Visually it does not seem to be an enormous step up from what came before (see gallery), but Audi says there has been a ”comprehensive technology update” to the virtual cockpit and central control unit for the MMI. 

Full release here

A low moment for HiPhi

EV start-up HiPhi will be halting production at the factory it uses in Shanghai for six months. We will have to wait and see how temporary this move is, as unless there is excess unsold inventory to work through, the impact to sales would surely be dire. The brand seemingly appeared out of nowhere and has been broadly well received, anecdotally winning favour with many top designers CDN has spoken with over the last year or so. 

HiPhi at Shanghai740

HiPhi appears to be in a spot of difficulty 

Touring a grand estate 

Europe loves a wagon, but the EV market has generally been a little underserved in this respect. The Volkswagen ID.7 Tourer remedies the issue and combines a sleek exterior with tonnes of usable space. The silhouette combines the conventional format of the Passat estate with the Arteon’s more dynamic shooting brake-style design (a true shooting brake has only two passenger doors, remember). 

Full release here

Opel’s electric transportation box 

Good things come in twos, and the Astra Sports Touring is another electric wagon to choose from. In-house marketing copy describes it as ”a voluminous transport box” but this perhaps does a disservice to the exterior design, with a long bonnet, raking windscreen angle and geometric rear body styling. 

Full release here

Even more ChatGPT

DS first introduced ChatGPT as an option for its IRIS infotainment system, but will now feature the AI system as standard following a “successful trial” in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. 

Full release here

DS Automobiles Chat GPT

That’s total DS: ChatGPT becomes standard

Zagato Twin Tail

Zagato and Polish distributor La Squadra have worked together on a custom-bodied Alpine A110 with a removable boat tail. The car will be limited to 19 units and is inspired by the Alpine A220 Le Mans racer. Not much more to add here, just observe and enjoy.

Renault’s funky concepts at Geneva

To support the launch of the new Renault 5 E-Tech, the stand at Geneva will also showcase a foosball table, snow skidoo, electric scooter and other ‘non-car’ forms of transport.

Full release here

Lotus Tech goes public

The luxury EV arm of Lotus is going public and will today ring the bell at the New York Stock exchange. Not necessarily a design story, but something to keep an eye on as the iconic brand moves into new territory. 

Full release here

Lotus Tech - Emeya and Emira

Lotus Tech will IPO as a separate company