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Autocar confidential: Small cars in the crosshairs, T50’s Ultima bodyshell and more

In this week’s round-up of automotive gossip, we hear small cars are a catch-22 for Renault, check in on Gordon Murray’s T50 supercar and its retro modified Ultima bodyshell and more.

Small cars in the crosshairs

Renault boss Luca de Meo said the Clio and Captur make very good profit margins but warned that small cars are in the firing line, due to stricter laws. He told Autocar: “We know with [upcoming] regulations, the price to pay will be small cars. That’s something that most regulators don’t understand. This race for regulation will penalise small cars unless you turn them into EVs but, on the other hand, you don’t have battery cost going down [yet]. It’s a bit of a catch-22.”

The Ultima-te bodyshell?

Gordon Murray Automotive will start building its landmark T50 supercar in January 2022 but is still using a modified Ultima bodyshell for powertrain development work. “I can’t believe they’re still making them!” Murray said of the Leicestershire firm’s no-frills sports car. “The good thing about the Ultima is that it has such a butch, heavy chassis that you can chop tubes out to fit the [T50’s] V12 and it still hangs together.” The Murray-designed McLaren F1 of 1992 was also developed using a pair of Ultima mules.

ICE over or just on ice?

The new Fiat 500 will be offered with only an electric powertrain – but the platform that it has been based on could accept a conventional combustion-engined or plug-in hybrid powertrain. Fiat boss Olivier François said there are currently no plans to offer ICE versions of the new 500 but didn’t completely rule it out. Today’s petrol-powered 500, which has been on sale since 2007, will continue to be sold next to the EV as a value offering.

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