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+++ Uber and Lyft have joined a lobbying group that aims to ban privately-owned AUTONOMOUS cars from cities. Founded by former Zipcar CEO Robin Chase, the “Shared Mobility Principles for Livable Cities” organization aims to guide city planners to “discourage the use of cars, single-passenger taxis, and other oversized vehicles transporting 1 person”. To achieve its goals, the group says it is ‘critical’ that autonomous vehicles in dense urban areas “should be operated only in shared fleets” and cities should begin removing parking spaces for private vehicles. Such regulations would essentially force urban dwellers to choose between public transportation, bicycling or a corporate-owned car fleet. The group also hints at subsidization of “shared transportation services” to ensure they can be used by people of all incomes, while traditional privately-owned cars appear to fall under a separate principle that calls for penalty fees based on a vehicle’s “social costs”, “use of curb space” and pollution. “Shared fleets can provide more affordable access to all, maximize public safety and emissions benefits, ensure that maintenance and software upgrades are managed by professionals, and actualize the promise of reductions in vehicles, parking, and congestion, in line with broader policy trends to reduce the use of personal cars in dense urban areas”, the organization says. The list of signatories includes a handful of NGOs and more than dozen private companies from across the globe. +++

+++ A report claiming that BMW might follow in the footsteps of the Range Rover Evoque Coupe and Cabriolet, with similar versions of the smaller X2, emerged earlier this week. However, since it seems highly unlikely that the automaker would tap into that niche of the compact segment for crossovers, I reached out to the brand’s Media and Public Relations Manager for X-Models, xDrive, Accessories and Acoustic, Christophe König. “Regarding a BMW X2 3-door or convertible, these are only rumors and speculations, which we can’t confirm”, König said. At a first glance, the statement appears to dismiss such versions of the X2, but rather than denying them flat out, the BMW official just said that they ‘cannot confirm them’. This leaves a very small door open for possible future derivatives of the crossover, although we wouldn’t bet on BMW actually making them. In other related news, BMW doesn’t appear to be interested in challenging the likes of the Mercedes-Benz X-Class either, with their very own pickup. Despite the “never say never” statement of the brand’s Australian Managing Director Mar Werner almost 2 years ago, when asked about such a vehicle, König commented that “same goes for a BMW pickup”, namely rumors and speculations that they can’t confirm. +++

+++ Carmakers that try to CHEAT vehicle emissions tests could face unlimited fines and criminal charges under proposals set out on Thursday by the British government. The announcement is aimed at addressing criticism that the government was toothless in dealing with Volkswagen after a scandal that affected 1.2 million cars in Britain. The German carmaker admitted in 2015 to using software to cheat diesel emission tests in the United States and has since paid out compensation to U.S. motorists, but has refused to do so in Europe, arguing the software was not illegal there. “We continue to take the unacceptable actions of Volkswagen extremely seriously, and we are framing new measures to crack down on emissions cheats in future”, said junior transport minister Jesse Norman in a statement. “Those who cheat should be held to proper account in this country, legally and financially, for their actions”. Under the proposals, companies could face criminal charges and fines for selling new vehicles that contain software designed to deceive British emissions tests. If implemented, any changes could not be applied retrospectively. The new rules could also be extended to importers of vehicles found to cheat emissions standards. The proposals will be put forward in a government consultation, giving the auto industry and other interested parties a chance to give their views before any policy is formed. The consultation will also look at the need for more rigorous tests on fuel economy claims, improving the environmental performance of specialist and modified vehicles, and stricter rules for the sale of stock vehicles that do not meet current emissions standards. The head of British car industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said the government already had powers to enforce the law and check vehicles. “There are already severe penalties for any manufacturer involved in any kind of misconduct in the type approval process conducted here in the UK and the government is now looking to extend this to all vehicles wherever they have been approved”, said SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes. +++

+++ FARADAY FUTURE is suing a startup company founded by its former chief financial and technology officers, accusing them of stealing technology secrets and poaching employees. According the complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Faraday Future sues former CFO Stefan Krause and former CTO Ulrich Kranz for poaching at least 20 employees to their company called Evelozcity. The lawsuit also claims that some of these former employees brought technology secrets with them. Evelozcity said that it did not have nor need technology from Faraday Future, Bloomberg reports. “This complaint continues Faraday’s pattern of hurling false and inflammatory accusations against us”. the startup said in a statement. “We will respond to the many recklessly inaccurate allegations in this desperate lawsuit at the appropriate time”. Faraday Future hired Krause to raise funding and oversee its finances. A few months later and after meetings with investors, Krause was demanding Faraday Future’s founder Jia Yueting to step down and give them operational control of the company, according to the filing. Much of the dispute revolves around the date of Krause’s departure. He’s said he quit last October while Faraday Future claims he asked on November 6 the then-head of human resources to back-date his resignation by 2 weeks. The rival Evelozcity was founded the next day, on November 7 according to Faraday Future. It also released a statement on November 10, saying that it had terminated Krause’s employment over “malfeasance” with immediate effect, without citing a date. According to the lawsuit, employees who left Faraday for Evelozcity were encouraged to download thousands of confidential documents and trade secrets, with Faraday calling for a jury trial. +++

+++ FERRARI has presented its 2017 financial report which gives us a glimpse at what the automaker has in store for the future. Last year was another record setter for the company as shipments climbed by 384 units which was driven by a 25.1% increase in sales of V12-powered models. This occurred despite the fact that the California T and F12berlinetta were phased out and the F12tdf finished its limited production run. Ferrari expects the success to continue in 2018 as deliveries of the Portofino will commence in the second quarter and it will eventually be joined by the J50 which was introduced in late 2016. If everything goes according to plan, Ferrari will deliver over 9,000 units this year which would be an increase of over 600 units. Revenues are also expected to climb but capital expenditures will grow as company is focusing on expanding their lineup and adding hybrid models. By 2022, Ferrari expects its adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to nearly double to 2 billion euro. The automaker also plans to be debt free by 2021. The report was free of major revelations but Reuters says a Ferrari hybrid will arrive in 2019. The publication also notes the company’s first crossover is expected to be launched by late 2020. Speaking of the latter, CEO Sergio Marchionne said the crossover will have traditional Ferrari styling and be designed for “the selected few”. However, those fortunate enough to buy the model shouldn’t expect to tackle Moab as the executive confirmed it won’t be “able to climb rocks”. Marchionne also said Ferrari was open to downsized engines and that its eventual electric vehicle will have “both sound and handling that are reflective of Ferrari’s heritage”. He added that current electric vehicles fall “substantially short of that”. +++

+++ MERCEDES is considering introducing fuel economy and emission bands that provide an even clearer indication of the real-world figures drivers will achieve according to different driving styles, according to company boss Dieter Zetsche. Talking ahead of this evening’s A-Class reveal, Zetsche highlighted the benefits of the new emissions test cycles, Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) and Real Driving Emissions (RDE), which are being phased in this year, but admitted that there were internal talks within Mercedes as to whether more could be done to help car buyers find accurate information. “The new regulations significantly address the issues of the old ones”, said Zetsche. “Under the old system, the focus was on CO2 and the tolerances for other pollutants were high. WLTP enforces a much smaller window of tolerance and tests across a much wider and more realistic range. But we can still see that the range is not the entirety; it does not take things like driving style into account. As a result, internally we are looking into the possibility of offering bands, for instance, that do give more realistic information on how driving style will affect your economy and emissions”. Meanwhile, Zetsche refused to be drawn on the latest scandal involving diesel fume testing on monkeys, declining to comment on that or whether he blamed Volkswagen for the current pressure the car industry is under. “There is nothing I can say that can help”, he said. +++

+++ PEUGEOT is looking to build on the strong success of its 2008, 3008 and 5008 SUVs with a sportier, sleeker fourth model. Likely to be named 4008, it’ll offer a more coupe-like design to take on cars such as the Toyota C-HR, and will arrive early in 2020. The new Peugeot will be inspired by the success premium German brands such as BMW have enjoyed in the coupe-SUV sector and will be based on the existing 3008. As a result, we can expect the ‘3008 coupe’ to have a curvier exterior, with a sloping roofline and reduced side glass area. It’s set to feature a number of unique styling details, including blade-shaped LED running lights, a more aggressive grille and a distinctive single-piece light bar at the rear. The more elegant profile would allow the 4008 to offer an edge over less style-focused mainstream SUVs, while competing with high-end crossovers. Peugeot CEO Jean-Phillipe Imparato said there would be “other things” to come from its SUV range. “Remember when we said 2 years ago we would launch 5 new SUVs in the coming 2 years? We did it: 3 in Europe and 2 more in China”, he told. “It’s time to come back to our DNA, and then we will maintain the growth of our SUV range in the future because the market is strong”. Imparato also insisted that all Peugeot models would feature the company’s innovative i-Cockpit, with high-set digital instruments and a small steering wheel. The 4008 would therefore adapt the 3008’s cabin with a lower, sportier driving position. Despite the roofline, the 4008 is set to be offered in full 5-seat form. As with the 3008 and 5008, the car will sit on PSA’s latest EMP2 modular platform. However, engineers are aiming to make the 4008 more engaging to drive than its siblings with a unique suspension set-up. The engine range will kick off with the 3-cylinder PureTech turbo petrol engine, plus 1.6 and 2.0-litre 4-cylinder BlueHDi diesels. The 1.6-litre THP engine from the DS 7 Crossback will also transfer over. 2 plug-in hybrid variants will support the range, too. Both will use the 1.6-litre THP engine, with one using a single front-mounted electric motor to make around 240 hp. The second, likely to be dubbed GT instead of GTi, will feature electric motors on both axles for 4-wheel drive, and could produce up to 300 hp. +++

+++ The PORSCHE Mission E is inching closer to production but the model is still a year away as the company’s production boss, Albrecht Reimold, has revealed the first vehicle won’t roll off the assembly line until 2019. Reimold said the company will soon begin installing equipment for the Mission E at its Zuffenhausen plant but production isn’t slated to begin until next year. The plant has been designed to have a capacity of around 20,000 Mission Es annually but Reimold said there’s a “little leeway to increase that”. Porsche has been testing prototypes for months and Reimold confirmed members of the production team are actively involved in the “pilot production phase so that experience can be gained at an early stage”. He went on to say everything has been “going pretty well” but they’ll likely find ways to optimize things closer to launch. While Porsche is focused on getting the car into production, Reimold said the company is already considering a handful of derivatives. The production boss also hinted the Mission E could have a relatively short lifecycle as he noted they normally last between 5 and 7 years but “we are seeing a trend towards shorter cycles these days”. A lot of questions remain about the Mission E but reports have suggested the model will have 2 electric motors and 3 different outputs. The entry-level model is expected to have around 402 hp while range-topping variant could boast 670 hp. There could also be a mid-level model with around 536 hp. Porsche is believed to be targeting a range of 482 km and the car is slated to have an advanced charging system that could deliver an 80% charge in 20 minutes or less. This would be a notable accomplishment as same feat takes the Jaguar I-Pace around 45 minutes. +++

+++ Nissan and Toyota both started 2018 off with ace SALES numbers in the United States, but as it turns out a large number of those orders may have been fleet sales. As Bloomberg reports, Toyota’s fleet sales jumped 69 percent in January, which translates to 24,281 cars, compared to the same time period in 2017. Over the same period Nissan had a smaller increase at 48 percent, but actual numbers were much greater, a whopping 41,550 cars. Fleet sales are typically discounted volume orders delivered to rental car firms, taxi companies, government organizations or businesses. They are considered a “quick and dirty” way to boost sales numbers, but they often end up hurting the brand in the long run, especially as they flood the used car market and depress new car sales and turning existing owners off by lowering the resale values of their cars. According to Bloomberg, “all but a few thousand were to rental-car companies” which typically are the most eager to dump the cars after a short usage period. It also hurts brand perception when potential customers see a particular marque dominating rental lots. General Motors, once the darling of rental companies, said in 2016 they will resist fleet deliveries, even if it hurts their overall sales figures. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has pledged to do the same. +++

+++ TESLA may have entered the automotive industry with a bang thanks to its electric vehicles that are packed with tech features, but the automaker has had quite a few build quality issues. Munro & Associates, an engineering consultant firm in Michigan, is set to tear a Model 3 down in the near future, but have already found some glaring drawbacks. The Model 3, as some have already found out, is a great car. It sure is fast, comfortable, and is an ideal vehicle for an automaker looking to grow significantly in the coming years. However, while the first few impressions of the Model 3 were positive, the electric sedans has flaws; a lot of them. Autoline Network got to join Sandy Munro, the CEO of Munro & Associates, as he reveals all of the quality issues with Tesla’s entry level model. We’ll admit that some of the things that Munro points towards are a little nitpicky. Munro, for instance, doesn’t like the way the door handles open, as they require using two hands instead of one. Other than that, though, he points towards some pretty big quality issues. When closing the door, something inside of it rattles. That problem is confined to just the two front doors. Munro claims that the Model 3 has gaps that you can see from Mars. At the end of the day, Munro is surprised to see that Tesla actually released the vehicle in this state. It is possible that they have gotten their hands on a dud, which is known to happen in the industry, especially at the beginning of a car’s production, until the automaker irons out all the imperfections. If that’s not the case, Elon Musk should have known better than to release a product that’s not ready. +++

+++ TOYOTA aims to sell 1.4 million vehicles in China in 2018, nearly 9 percent more than it sold last year, but 2 insiders at the Japanese automaker said production constraints and other hurdles make it a tough target to meet. The sales goal announced by Japan’s biggest automaker comes at a time when the world’s biggest auto market is experiencing a slowdown in overall vehicle sales growth. The 2 people said the target is more a “stretch goal”. It is a target that is not the baseline sales forecast and one that executives acknowledge will be difficult to achieve, they said. They declined to be identified as they were not authorised to speak to reporters. A big factor that makes selling 1.4 million vehicles this year more of a challenge is Toyota’s manufacturing capacity which the two individuals said remains strained. “If we could resolve this capacity issue, it would be easy to make the 1.4 million target. With sufficient capacity, we can possibly sell 1.5 million vehicles”, 1 of the 2 people said. Toyota’s forecast for 2018 is relatively more upbeat than the previous few years in part because it expects to launch a couple of potentially high-volume subcompact SUVs later this year, the people said. They said Toyota plans to launch 2 China-market versions of the C-HR in a June-July time frame. Those variants are smallish crossover SUVs that others, most notably Japan’s Honda, have leveraged to grow sales significantly in China. A Toyota spokesman said that though the 2018 sales target was not one that can be easily achieved due to the highly competitive market environment, the recent launch of a redesigned Camry and the planned introduction of 2 subcompact SUVs later this year would enable Toyota to challenge the previous year’s numbers. China’s overall vehicle market growth was the weakest last year in at least 2 decades, increasing just 3 percent year-on-year to 28.88 million vehicles, pegged back chiefly by a phasing out of tax breaks on smaller-engine cars that begun in 2017. According to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), 2018 will another weak year. It predicts the country’s vehicle market will grow 3.5 percent in 2018. Toyota said its sales in China in January rose 24.5 percent from a year earlier to 127,500 vehicles. Smaller rival Honda’s sales in China, meanwhile, rose 10.9 percent in January to 126,174 vehicles. Honda, which last year sold a total of 1.44 million vehicles in China, did not provide a forecast for volumes for this year. +++

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