+++ CADILLAC sales have continued to surge in China, accounting for most of the brand’s 24-percent global growth last month. Sales in the world’s largest auto market were up by more than 93 percent in August, nearly doubling to 9,914 units.
Deliveries in the US grew by less than four percent in the same period. US sales for the first 8 months of the year have fallen by 6.2 percent to less than 104,000 units, as China numbers climb by more than 31 percent to nearly 64,500 units. If the trends continue, China could soon become Cadillac’s most important global market in terms of sales volume. “We are seeing consistent progress on our mission to grow global volume while simultaneously building brand prestige”, says Cadillac head Johan de Nysschen. Growth is currently being driven by the new XT5 crossover, which is already the brand’s best-selling nameplate with 8,523 sales in August. Sales of the ATS sedan are up by 18 percent in August, but down by around 2 percent for the first 8 months of the year. +++
+++ FORD has nearly halved its investment in its Wales-based engine plant in Bridgend. The amount Ford will invest in the plant has been reduced from 181 million Pound to 100 million Pound, according to a report from the BBC. A Ford spokesman said none of the jobs held at Bridgend are at risk but they cannot be guaranteed due to the fluctuating nature of the car industry. The cut in investment is not only due to “falling predicted global demand for low-CO2 downsized petrol engines”, according to the Ford spokesman, but also partly down to a sharp rise in demand for 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engines and the overlap between these and the other small petrol engines on offer. It was also said that the reduction in investment was not related to Brexit, that the fluctuation in demand was detected before Brexit and that the investment amount was likely to change if such a fluctuation would have decreased the merit of the investment. The plant currently produces the 1.25, 1.4, 1.6 and 1.6-litre Ecoboost four-cylinder petrol engines that are found across the Ford model range. Diesel units are produced at Ford’s Dagenham plant. As it stands, the Ford spokesman added, production remains stable, so Bridgend will continue to employ its workforce with no planned job losses. Capacity can be increased quickly if required, too. Employees and unions have been notified of the change in investment. Ford also invested 190 million Pound, including 8.9 million Pound from the government, in its Dagenham plant in 2014. +++
+++ Since a fully autonomous vehicle is supposed to know how to respond in all traffic situations, GOOGLE went as far as to patent an emergency vehicle detection system meant to work together with their self-driving tech. The patent, according to CNET, was submitted back in 2014 but was only published this month. The system itself is said to recognize unique flashing patterns from emergency lights, which in turn tell the self-driving car that a certain action needs to be taken. This action would usually involve simply pulling over and stopping until the emergency vehicle has passed. Naturally, the way the system works will end up being a lot more complex than that since not all emergency lights mean that you need to pull over. For example, if your self-driving car comes across a police cruiser that just pulled over another motorist on the highway, stopping would not be the right thing to do. Then there’s also the issue of people putting colored lights on their own cars. Most municipalities currently have laws regarding what types of lights you can put on vehicles; for example, you’re not allowed to add certain colors like blue or red. I’d imagine these laws would need to be enforced even more once regular autonomous vehicles will start relying on recognizing emergency lights. +++
+++ Following a 3 billion dollar investment made by KIA and suppliers, the automaker has officially opened a new manufacturing facility in the northern Mexico state of Nuevo Leon, in Pesqueria. The factory, which was completed in 2 years, currently operates at just 25 percent of its maximum capacity, producing around 100,000 cars per year (one every 53 seconds). It employs a single shift, but second and third ones will be added in 2017, when the brand will up production to 300,000 units once the fourth-generation Rio hits the assembly lines. By the end of 2017, an additional 14,000 workers will be employed by the Kia Motors Mexico plant and supplier firms, and one year later, the facility will operate at full capacity, meaning that 400,000 vehicles will be built annually, backing up Kia’s targeted market share in Mexico of 5 percent by 2020. Approximately 80 percent of the factory’s production is destined for the numerous countries in the region across Latin America and North America, and includes the United States as well. “The new plant here in Mexico represents the next step in Kia Motors’ ambition to become one of the world’s leading automakers. The innovative design and world-class quality possessed by the cars produced at the Kia Motors Mexico plant will be embraced by our valued customers not only here in Mexico but also in export-bound countries of Latin America and North America”, said Hyundai Motor Group’s chairman, Mong-Koo Chung, who was present at the opening ceremony, along with other Hyundai and Kia officials, and Mexican representatives. +++
+++ This is officially the end of the line for the iconic Japanese sports sedan as MITSUBISHI announced they will auction the No.1600 car, the last of the Evolution Final Editions, with proceeds going to charity. The auction will take place on eBay on September 8 at 9 a.m. PT and will conclude Thursday, September 15 at 9:00 a.m. PT. All proceeds from the auction will go to Feeding America Riverside | San Bernardino and Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County. The final example of the Mitsubishi Evo will sport a Diamond White Pearl paint finish with a contrasting black-painted roof. A set of dark-chrome Enkei alloy wheels, a matching front grille surround and bi-xenon HID headlights complete the differences. As for the cabin, there is now a gloss black center console box with a serial number plaque reading ‘US1600’, red stitching on the sports seats, steering wheel, shift knob, console lid, floormats, and e-brake handle and a black headliner. Power is provided by the turbocharged 2.0-litre MIVEC engine that makes in this occasion 303 hp and 410 Nm of peak torque paired to a 5-speed manual gearbox. Final Edition models come also with Bilstein shock absorbers and Eibach springs with the front axle utilizing Brembo 2-piece rotors. Better get ready for some good bidding, if you want to have the keys to the final Mitsubishi Evo. +++
+++ Audi and Mercedes-Benz have been busy adapting their European vehicle production footprints to steadily increase their model lines as both aim to be the world’s top-selling PREMIUM automaker by 2020. Audi’s plant in Ingolstadt, Germany, started output of the new Q2 in July, making the Volkswagen Group subsidiary the first premium brand to offer a subcompact-sized crossover. Production of the Audi Q2 will be gradually increased to approximately 450 units a day. It is the 13th model series offered by Audi. Audi announced other big moves this year that will affect its output in Belgium, Hungary and Spain. Starting in 2018, Audi will start volume production of an electric SUV in Brussels and move assembly of its A1 subcompact model line from Belgium to sister brand Seat’s plant in Martorell, Spain. At the same time production of the Q3 crossover will move from Martorell to Audi’s factory in Gyor, Hungary. Mercedes announced in July it would build a second plant at its site in Kecskemet, Hungary, to make front-wheel- and rear-wheel-drive cars. Production at the new factory is set to start by the end of the decade, Mercedes said without being more specific. It currently makes the Mercedes B class, CLA and CLA Shooting Brake compact-sized front-wheel-drive cars in Hungary. In late June, Mercedes expanded its factory in Bremen, Germany, to 10 models with the addition of the GLC Coupe. It was the second all-new model to be launched in Bremen this year after the C-class cabriolet, which Mercedes started assembling in mid-June. Mercedes also makes the C-class sedan, station wagon and coupe, the E-class coupe and cabriolet, the GLC as well as the SL and SLC in Bremen. Audi and Mercedes have said they want to pass BMW brand by 2020 to become the world’s top-selling premium automaker. Overall, Volkswagen Group and Renault-Nissan continue to have the largest production footprints in Europe. The 2 companies have a combined 42 vehicle assembly plants in Europe and Russia, according to data from Automotive News Europe. +++
+++ VOLKSWAGEN will resume producing cars in Kenya by the end of the year as it looks to sell more vehicles across the East African region. After a 4 decade pause in production by the German carmaker in Kenya, VW will establish an assembly plant to initially produce its Pilo Vivo model, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Thomas Schafer, Volkswagen South Africa’s chief executive, said. Emerging market production is familiar territory for VW, whose familiar Beetle model was a favorite on the streets of Mexico, but Kenya’s car market is dominated by low-priced second-hand imports from countries such as Japan. VW, which assembled cars in Kenya in the 1960s and 1970s, will join other brands already being put together in the country, including Isuzu, Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi. “Volkswagen South Africa will now again establish an assembly plant to produce motor vehicles at the Kenya Motor Vehicle Manufacturers limited in Thika”, Kenyatta said on Wednesday after meeting Volkswagen South Africa executives. Kenya mostly assembles trucks, pick-ups and buses from kits supplied by foreign manufacturers, although data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics showed that the number of vehicles assembled between January and April was down 31 percent year-on-year to 2,258 vehicles. The Kenya Vehicle Manufacturers Association (KVMA) attributed the slowdown to tough economic conditions for buyers, including high interest rates and cuts in government spending, while VW said it saw opportunity in the market. “We believe that Kenya has got the potential to develop a very big fully-fledged automotive industry. The East African Community has got the potential, and today is the first step in this direction that we want to take with our passenger cars”, Schafer said. VW is the second-biggest auto maker by sales in South Africa after Toyota with its vehicles sold domestically as well as exported to the rest of Africa. Kenyatta said that VW’s assembly plant would begin with the Polo Vivo and expand to a range of vehicles, with the first car expected to be rolled out before the end of the year. Neither Kenyatta nor Schafer said how much VW was investing or what the plant’s production capacity would be. +++