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For now though, Biermann sounds like he wants to turn the fire-breathing RM19 into an ultra-performance halo car that could be sitting in dealerships within a few years.
"It's possible to build a production version, but it would be expensive and in small numbers," he said. Perhaps, he added, it would better after the "N community" grows with new product and visibility.
The performance offshoot was established in 2015 and its philosophy is that N vehicles must have the performance and durability for sustained driving on a racetrack. One step down is the N-Line, with performance and appearance upgrades, but not track-level ability.
So far, the only N car in the U.S. is the Veloster, but Biermann said a crossover will get the N treatment shortly. It will have a new eight-speed automatic transmission that will also make its way into the Veloster N, currently sold only with a manual.
The RM19 prototype is rear-wheel drive with the motor sitting where the back seat would be in a regular, front-wheel-drive Veloster N. The RM19 has a more powerful version of the Veloster's turbocharged, 2.0-liter engine, making 390 hp. It also has a racing transmission that uses a clutch and paddle shifters.
Biermann said the next iteration of the RM19 is moving toward a new turbocharged 2.5-liter engine with the eight-speed automatic. Basic versions of those components can be found in a Sonata N-Line going on sale in fall 2020 that was previewed to the media this month.
Biermann admits the RM19 would be a pretty wild ride for street use — but it's headed in that direction.
"At this point, there's no decision this car will ever go to the marketplace," he said. "But we are getting closer now."
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Great Wall Motor Co., the only major domestic Chinese light-vehicle maker that has maintained sales growth this year, continues to build new production capacity in China.
It broke ground for an 8 billion yuan ($1.1 billion) vehicle assembly plant in Taizhou of east China’s Jiangsu province on Monday, the company said.
The factory, Great Wall’s eighth production site in east China, is slated to start output in Dec. 2020. It will build traditional and electrified vehicles for Haval, the company’s brand for mass-market crossovers and SUVs.
Earlier this year, Great Wall kicked off construction of plants in Pinghu of east China’s Zhejiang province and Rizhao of east China’s Shandong province. Both factories are expected to become operational in late 2020 or early 2021.
Great Wall now assembles vehicles in Baoding and Xushui of north China’s Hebei province, the north China municipality of Tianjin and the southwest China municipality of Chongqing.
It also expects to partner with BMW Group to build battery electric vehicles for its proprietary brands and the Mini brand in Zhangjiagang of east China’s Jiangsu province. But the joint venture agreement, signed in 2018, still needs to be approved by regulatory bodies in China.
In June, Great Wall opened its first overseas assembly plant in the Tula Oblast region of central Russia.
In October, the company’s sales rose 4.5 percent year on year to top 115,000 vehicles thanks to its expanded product mix.
For the first ten months, its deliveries rose 6.7 percent to approach 840,000. The number includes 687,884 crossovers and SUVs as well as 114,270 pickups.