Car 2024, from BYD in Italy to the Geneva Motor Show

It was already understood that 2024 would be a special year for the automotive market last December, with the first “backtrack” on the actual possibility of respecting the 2035 target set by the EU to stop producing internal combustion engines. To greatly simplify everything that happened in this regard, between January and February we first witnessed Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares crying, then the threat to close production in Italy, then a meeting between John Elkann and President Mattarella, finally to the statement by the CEO of Renault, Luca De Meo, to reiterate that manufacturers have now invested billions in electrification and that therefore there is no going back.

All this while Mercedes claims that only electric will fail and Toyota, which is focusing on hybrids, announces the arrival of an engine that captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (at the bottom of the article). Perhaps one day someone will write the history of the automobile of the new millennium and the current decade will be identified as that of indecision and self-destruction of the supply chains that produce components, a problem to which the Meloni government appears to be throwing a lifesaver, having contacted the manufacturer Chinese Byd (but also others), to consider the opportunity of producing in Italy.

This was confirmed in Geneva, in what was once the Motor Show (and now a series of stylistic works), by Michael Shu, general director for Europe of the Chinese brand. The idea is to bring a second manufacturer to our country together with Stellantis, which in the meantime, we recall, has acquired 20% of the Chinese brand Leapmotor for 1.5 billion euros. Mister Shu, who sells Chinese cars in Europe for a living, is cautious and underlined that the convenience of opening another production site in the Union after the Hungarian one will depend on how many cars will be sold by 2028, since the plant is in Hungarian soil, paid for by the Orban government, it will open in 2027 and is expected to assemble at least 200,000 vehicles a year. Therefore nothing that can happen in the short term, but in an appropriate time also to understand how the European elections will go and what the new Commission wants to do with the diktat that Frans Timmermans and his companions left us.

To the press, on the sidelines of the visit to Ilva in Taranto, Minister Urso declared: “We have contacts with various car manufacturers. I can't name names, but we must welcome in the best possible way all those who want to make a productive investment in Italy; we have been working since the beginning of the legislature to improve the instrumentation and attractiveness of the country system as regards foreign investors who want to focus on our country today”, also explaining that: “The largest American investment fund said in a recent report that Italy, at the moment, is the most attractive country in the EU and we obviously want to seize this opportunity also in the automotive sector because we are the only country in the Union to have a single car manufacturer”.

BYD, which stands for Build Your Dream, surpassed Tesla in production in 2023, therefore today it is the largest producer of electric vehicles. However, we allow ourselves a different point of view from the media chorus: to say that Stellantis is the only manufacturer in Italy is not correct: in Italy, in addition to the niches for the lucky few such as Pagani, Ferrari and Lamborghini (which is from Volkswagen), there are also DR Automobile Group (just over 32,000 units sold per year). But DR operates by assembling Chinese Chery components in Italy, and this reveals that with our costs of labor (seven times those of China) and energy (double those of the Chinese and almost three times those of the USA), it is better for us to make quality products. 'high range that guarantee a good profit margin and not utilitarian.

Meanwhile, BYD is certainly not looking at Ferrari and Lamborghini, and has recently presented a sports car, obviously battery-powered, called Yang Wang U9, with over a thousand horsepower and a cost equivalent to 214,000 euros. It should do from zero to one hundred in 2.3 seconds and have a top speed of 309 km per hour. Where he can go then in the country that has 10% of continental speed cameras installed and 30 mph speed cameras installed in cities is a mystery. Therefore, the idea of ​​following the Di Risio model (precisely DR) is not far-fetched: the advantages are bringing jobs to the homeland and overcoming the problem of importing entire cars from Beijing which so alarms Brussels and European manufacturers, but having only certain ones arrive components. The chapter of our history is therefore enriched by the latest statements by Luca De Meo in Geneva, who revealed the existence of a dialogue with Volkswagen to collaborate on the construction of an economical but entirely European electric car.

Luca De Meo is absolutely right about one thing: the European Union with an Ursula majority does not have an industrial strategy on the automobile, but rather the habit of imposing rules upon rules by fining those who do not respect them within the times defined by the bureaucrats. And the recklessness of doing it without knowing where battery technology will arrive in less than five years.

Toyota doesn't leave the endothermic, they clean it up

The Japanese giant presented the prototype of the new engine, now installed on a Corolla GR, capable of cleaning the air from carbon dioxide. It's called Cce, from Carbon Capture Engine, it burns hydrogen and captures CO2 while the car is moving. The project was done in collaboration with Kawasaki Heavy Industries and can be applied to any type of piston engine that burns gasoline. With this product, based on the use of ceramic filters installed in front of the car, Toyota would soon be able to produce engines that will have “negative” emissions thanks to the heat that can eliminate carbon dioxide molecules by dissolving them in a special, non-polluting liquid . To do this it will have to clean more CO2 than it emits and at the moment the data collected, although positive, are modest, around one hundredth of the engine's emissions. The problem of the size and life of the filters then remains to be resolved. But as happened at the end of the nineteenth century with engines, it is only a matter of time.