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+++ Former AUDI boss Rupert Stadler has been released from custody. Stadler was arrested by German authorities in June for his alleged role in Volkswagen’s Dieselgate scandal. Although Stadler has been freed from jail, the former executive is far from out of the woods. Stadler is facing charges of fraud and false advertising related to VW’s diesel emissions coverup. Authorities arrested Stadler in June over fears that he could tamper with evidence critical to their case. Although Stadler was arrested in June, he remained on as Audi CEO and VW board member until earlier this month. On October 2, VW cut all ties with Stadler. “Mr. Stadler is leaving the companies with immediate effect and will no longer work for the Volkswagen Group”, VW said in a statement. Stadler started with Audi in 1990 and was named company CEO in 2010. +++

+++ General Motors’ CRUISE division is reportedly struggling to refine its autonomous driving software, raising doubts that the company will meet its 2019 launch target for public service. Current and former Cruise employees tell the company’s autonomous driving platform is still failing to recognize pedestrians and has difficulty determining whether objects on the road are stationary or moving. In practice, the deficiencies allegedly make the autonomous Chevrolet Bolts behave erratically and hesitate or stop when passing by parked motorcycles and bicycles. Sources also suggest Cruise has used open-source robotics software that creates an excessive delay between sensor inputs and autonomous maneuvers. “Early in development I’m sure there were phases where we were putting systems together where they didn’t meet the requirements we needed for launch, and that’s part of the testing and development process”, Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt said in a response. “Safety is our measure for launching, and so we certainly will resolve that by the time we will release cars on the road without drivers”. A report circulating earlier this year claimed Cruise is still a decade away from bringing a viable product to market. The company has allegedly blacklisted some streets and intersections that cause trouble, adding up to 20 minutes to a trip compared to a human driving a more logical route. Vogt’s latest comments admit that a group of 10 engineers can “bolt a bunch of sensors onto a car” and “get it to drive around the block”, but a commercial product is “about 10,000 times harder”. Cruise has been viewed as one of the leading autonomous development companies. The latest report provides more evidence that the company (and other initiatives spearheaded by established automakers) may be far behind apparent leader Waymo. +++

+++ The Austrian government has announced a series of incentives that it hopes will convince motorists to buy an ELECTRIC car. One of them raises the speed limit on some of the nation’s busiest highways. In Austria, some highways are classified as IG-L roads, an acronym that stands for means Immissionsschutzgesetz Luft (“air pollution control law” in German). These roads are limited to 130 km/h in normal conditions but the speed limit drops to 100 km/h when the level of air pollution rises above a pre-determined threshold. The temporarily lower limit is announced via electronic signs and is strictly enforced. Members of the Austrian government argued air pollution restrictions shouldn’t apply to electric cars because they don’t contribute to the problem. As of October 2018, EV drivers can speed through the 100 zones at 130 without getting pulled over. “This exception we’re making for electric vehicles is an advantage we want to give motorists”, the government explained in a statement. “The road to achieving our climate goals does not lead to prohibitions but incentives”, it added. The law makes a clear distinction between electric and gasoline or diesel powered cars but it doesn’t mention plug-in hybrids. As of writing, it doesn’t sound like motorists who own a plug-in hybrid car will be able to drive faster. Similarly, the government made no mention of hydrogen cars. Officials are also opening the bus lanes in major cities like Vienna to electric cars and giving motorists who ditch gasoline free parking. Norway has offered these two incentives for over a decade; they’ve helped significantly boost the number of electric vehicles on the road in and around major cities like Oslo and Bergen. +++

+++ Ford Performance’s next move will be to introduce the FOCUS ST , continuing a 16-year tradition of hot versions. Its debut is planned early next summer. The new Focus ST looks likely to be the final Ford hot hatchback to rely solely on internal combustion power alone: the next RS, due in 2020, could go hybrid. A likely option for the next ST would be for Ford to carry over the 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine used in the Mustang and the outgoing Focus RS, though in a suitable state of tune for it to directly rival the likes of the Volkswagen Golf GTI, the latest Renault Megane R.S and the Peugeot 308 GTI. While the 2.3-litre unit produced 350 hp in the standard Focus RS, and up to 375 hp in the run-out Focus RS Heritage Edition, the amount of power it could feature in the next Focus ST is much more likely to mirror the output of the latest EcoBoost powered 4-cylinder Mustang. Without any mechanical revisions that would place 290 hp under the bonnet, giving it a slight power advantage over its main adversaries. Power will be sent to the front wheels via a snappy 6-speed manual gearbox, but an automatic ST is coming too. When it goes on sale late next summer, it could be priced pretty competitively. +++

+++ FORD has confirmed it will not be attending next year’s Geneva motor show; the second major European show it has skipped after Paris earlier this month. A spokesperson for the company claimed that the timing of its 2019 product launches, such as the Focus ST and facelifted Mondeo, doesn’t tally with the Swiss show’s opening in March. “We looked at all the things we had to do in 2019, and we’ve got a lot of stuff coming”, he said. “But the way our product cadence works, we didn’t feel that the Geneva timing met our requirements. Rather than go to Geneva with relatively small news, we would rather do something later that would give us more bang for our buck. I don’t anticipate this will be a regular thing, though”. Traditional motor shows have been under scrutiny for a number of years by car makers, who often struggle to justify the multi-million-pound cost of even a relatively modest show stand weighed up against dwindling visitor numbers. However, Ford still considers Geneva, alongside its home show in Detroit, as an ongoing priority for the future. Ford cites the Goodwood Festival of Speed as being “a more worthwhile event”, allowing it to engage with the media and public in a more interactive way. Detroit motor show organisers recently announced that the 2020 show would move to the summer, allowing for more outdoor activities and events to revive the format. There were a number of notable absentees from the 2018 Paris motor show, raising questions about the event’s future; Ford, Opel, Volkswagen, all the FCA brands, Volvo, Mazda, Nissan, Bentley, Rolls-Royce and McLaren all failed to display anything. +++ 

+++ GENERAL MOTORS stepped up efforts to cut costs in response to tariff and market pressures, even as it reported third-quarter profit that blew past Wall Street expectations. The No. 1 U.S. automaker said it is offering buyouts to salaried employees with 12 or more years of service, as Chief Executive Mary Barra told them in an email: “Our structural costs are not aligned with the market realities”. GM had previously promised investors it would cut $6.5 billion in costs this year, and the buyouts would add to that total, a company spokesman said. The Detroit automaker said in a separate statement that it would consider layoffs after it sees the impact of the buyouts and other cost cutting efforts. About 18,000 of the company’s 50,000 salaried employees in North America are eligible for the buyouts, the company spokesman said. They do not affect the hourly workers on GM’s production lines. GM’s move to cut staff stood in contrast to an upbeat profit outlook and its recent success in raising prices, which boosted profit before tax by $1 billion overall in the quarter, mostly in North America. In her email to employees, Barra focused on the fact that GM has burned through $300 million in cash in its automotive operations during the first 9 months of 2018. She also noted that the company’s stock price is still stuck near the $33 a share price at which it debuted in 2010 after a bankruptcy restructuring. For Detroit’s automakers, rising materials costs caused by new tariffs on foreign metals imposed by the Trump administration are converging with a slowly deflating U.S. market and a sharper falloff in China, the world’s largest auto market. GM and rivals Ford and Fiat Chrysler have all in recent weeks forecast substantial hits from steel and aluminum costs driven by tariffs. In the third quarter, GM said it was able to raise prices by $900 million in North America, in part because it is launching a new generation of its large pickup trucks, the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. Ford, however, has an older product line, and said its net pricing in North America fell by $318 million in the third quarter. The pricing gains are “absolutely sustainable”, GM Chief Financial Officer Dhivya Suryadevara said. GM said it still sees a full-year profit in the range of $5.80 to $6.20 a share, but said it now expected to finish at the high end of the range with potential to finish even higher. It cited a favorable tax rate and its strong performance. Wall Street has been expecting $5.88 per share, according to I/B/E/S data from Refinitiv. In July, GM lowered its full-year forecast, citing higher steel and aluminum costs due to tariffs. The company said it still expects about $4 billion in free cash flow for the year before the impact of $600 million in pension contributions. Excluding the effect any cost cutting it achieves, GM’s Suryadevara reaffirmed GM’s commodity costs in 2019 will increase by $1 billion over 2018. Ford has said it expects tariffs to reduce profits by $1 billion in 2018 and 2019, and Fiat Chrysler has warned rising metals costs could cost it 850 million euros ($963 million) this year and next year. The rise in materials costs is increasing pressure on automakers to cut costs ahead of a predicted decline in U.S. vehicle demand after an unusually long bull market. Earlier this month, Ford said it would cut its 70,000-strong global salaried workforce by an unspecified number and hoped to complete the cuts by the end of June 2019. This week, the No. 2 U.S. automaker is holding three days of meetings to discuss ways to flatten the structure of its salaried workforce and get managers to oversee larger numbers of employees. GM has cut production at car plants over the last 2 years and its hourly workforce fell by 4,000 workers last year, according to GM’s annual report. In addition, GM in June ended the second shift at its Lordstown, Ohio assembly plant, cutting 1,500 jobs. In China, GM’s largest market by vehicle sales, the automaker said it booked a record $500 million in equity income from its joint ventures. That result was in spite of the sharpest industry sales drop in nearly 7 years during September. The impact of the sales drop hit harder in China’s interior, and demand remains strong in larger cities and for luxury vehicles, including GM’s Cadillac models, Barra said on a conference call with analysts. GM reported third-quarter net income of $2.53 billion, or $1.75 a share, compared with a loss last year of $2.98 billion, or $2.03 a share. Last year’s quarter included a charge related to Europe. Excluding one-time items, GM earned $1.87 a share in the third quarter, easily beating the $1.25 average analyst estimate, according to I/B/E/S data from Refinitiv. Revenue in the quarter rose 6.4 percent to $35.8 billion, above the $34.85 billion analysts had expected. +++ 

+++ Spanish car-maker HISPANO-SUIZA will return from the dead at the 2019 Geneva auto show. The company, which stopped making cars in the 1950s, will leap back onto the automotive stage to make high-end electric cars. The revival project is being funded by a Spanish conglomerate named Grup Peralada. Production will take place in Barcelona. Some of the heirs of the company’s founders are involved in the project, too. “When Hispano-Suiza started, it built an electric car, but the prototype was never industrially manufactured. Now, 119 years later, in March 2019, Hispano-Suiza has its first 100% electric car”, said Suqué Mateu, the great-grandson of one of the company’s founders. Additional details about the yet-unnamed Hispano-Suiza will trickle out over the coming months. While nothing is official yet, I expect the car that will make its debut in Geneva will arrive as a limited-edition model with a price tag pegged well into 6-digit territory. This isn’t the first time someone has tried to revive Hispano-Suiza. The name appeared at the 2010 Geneva auto show on a low-slung coupe powered by a V10 engine borrowed from the Audi R8. At the time, Hispano Suiza (it dropped the hyphen for the 2010 concept) announced plans to make up to 25 cars priced at nearly $1 million each. These plans never came to fruition. +++

+++ HYUNDAI and KIA are set to introduce solar charging to many of its new cars. The technology, which will first feature as early as 2020, will be applied to electric, hybrid and combustion-engined vehicles to improve efficiency. The solar panels will be applied to the roofs of a variety of new models, supplementing the existing power sources. The new tech will be introduced in 3 different set-ups. The first introduction of the technology will be applied to hybrid models. Weather permitting, the silicon panels are capable of adding between 30 to 60 % of charge to the car’s battery over the course of a day. The next generation of panels will be introduced to traditional combustion models, and these will be designed to help the bulk of Kia and Hyundai’s ranges comply with ever-tightening emissions regulations. The most interesting feature of the second-gen panels is that they’re semi-transparent, allowing them to be applied on top of sunroof-equipped cars. This will be, according to Kia and Hyundai, a world-first application for the technology. The third generation of solar tech will be applied to the brands’ fully electric models. This system is still under development, but will be eventually be applied to both the bonnet and the roof of EVs to keep the battery topped up. The electricity from the panels can be used in 2 ways: either to directly charge the battery, or sent directly to the car’s AC generator to reduce load. Speaking of the new tech, Jeong-Gil Park, Executive Vice President of the Engineering and Design Division of Hyundai Motor Group, said: “In the future, we expect to see many different types of electricity-generating technologies integrated into our vehicles. The solar roof is the first of these technologies, and will mean that automobiles no longer passively consume energy, but will begin to produce it actively”. +++ 

+++ JAGUAR LAND ROVER is to make savings of €2.85 billion over the next 18 months following another dip in profits and sales. The company recorded a pre-tax loss of more than €100 million during the third quarter of 2018. During July to September of this year JLR sold 129,887 vehicles worldwide, a decline of 13.2 % year-on-year. JLR cited diminishing diesel sales and ‘challenging market conditions in China’ where demand for vehicles has dropped due to changes on import duty. Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover CEO, said: “In the latest quarterly period, we continued to see more challenging market conditions. Our results were undermined by slowing demand in China, along with continued uncertainty in Europe over diesel, Brexit and the WLTP changeover”. While no job loses have been announced business analysts have suggested it will be difficult for the firm to cut €2.85 billion in spending without a reduction in workforce. Of that overall figure around €1.15 billion will be axed from investment alone. JLR has named its cash saving programmes ‘Charge’ and ‘Accelerate’. The former focuses on stripping costs and reassessing investment plans, while the latter centres around adjusting long term operating efficiencies. The news follows a string of setbacks for JLR who recently axed 1,000 jobs at its Solihull manufacturing facility, while workers at Jaguar’s plant at Castle Bromwich were reduced to a 3-day working week because of falling sales. +++

+++ LAND ROVER is set to add a hot V8-powered Range Rover Velar SVR to its line-up before the end of the year. It will feature Jaguar-Land Rover’s ubiquitous supercharged 5.0-litre. It’s the same unit used in a number of SVR cars across both brands, boasting 575 hp in the recently refreshed Range Rover Sport SVR. With this engine on board, the Velar looks set for a significant boost in power over the current range topping P380 model, which makes use of a 380 hp 6-cylinder petrol. Expect a 0-100 km/h time close to the 4-second mark. Alongside V8 power and slightly sportier looks, the Velar SVR’s suspension will be revised, with adaptive dampers featuring an SVR-specific mode. A beefed-up exhaust will provide a racy soundtrack, and inside figure-hugging sports seats will lift the cabin. +++ 

+++ MERCEDES-AMG has been constantly tweaking its GT sports car line since its introduction in 2014, and it looks as though another change is just around the corner. A new “budget” GT model known as the GT53 will be introduced next year. Like AMG’s other 53-badged models, the GT53 is expected to use a turbocharged 3.0L inline-6 engine with Mercedes’ EQ Boost mild hybrid system. Under the hood of the recently unveiled E53, that system is good for 435 horsepower and 520 Nm. Visually, there will be a couple of things that separate the GT53 from the standard GT. The first of which is badging, or rather a lack thereof. It will be missing the GT’s typical V8 Biturbo badging. The other difference is at the back of the car where round tailpipes will take the place of the rectangular units that typically adorn the rear fo the GT. The less powerful GT53 will be significantly less expensive than the standard GT. +++ 

+++ In the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation into MERCEDES-BENZ ‘ recall practices. The agency says it has uncovered “recurrent recall reporting and execution lapses” that may have violated several regulations. The German automaker allegedly waited too long to sent out recall notification letters and failed to send copies to the NHTSA in a timely manner. The investigation notice also says the company’s database does not supply “responsive information” to the NHTSA’s VIN lookup tool, potentially preventing owners from accessing information about open safety recalls. “The NHTSA’s Recall Management Division also has questions concerning the company’s process and cadence for making recall decisions and notifying NHTSA about them”, the agency says. Mercedes-Benz could face fines if the investigation leads to an enforcement action. +++ 

+++ Tesla has fallen in Consumer Reports’ latest reliability rankings. The magazine says the Model S has dropped to below average reliability due to suspension problems and other issues such as its extending door handles. The Model 3 has average reliability in its first year of availability. The MODEL X was considered the problem child in Tesla’s lineup with “much worse than average” reliability. It was among the 10 worst cars in the entire survey, with a wide range of problems including in-car electronics, body hardware, noises and leaks. Overall, Tesla fell to the 27th spot; the third worst ranking, ahead of only Cadillac and Volvo. At the other end of the spectrum, Japanese automakers held the top spots. Lexus topped the list, followed by Toyota, Mazda and Subaru. An American brand does not appear on the chart until Ford at number 18. +++ 

+++ Ford has allegedly told dealers that it is working on a 4-door MUSTANG variant. The company has already confirmed plans to build an all-electric SUV inspired by the Mustang. It was initially teased as the Mach1 but will arrive under a different name. The company claims to be developing a Mustang-based sedan with a turbocharged V8 engine. It would be positioned as an American rival to the Porsche Panamera. Ford is among several automakers shifting away from the sedan segment as buyers continue to gravitate toward high-riding models. A Mustang fastback sedan would seem to go against Ford’s SUV-focused roadmap. The company may feel that a high-performance model will not suffer the same fate as its mainstream sedans, however. +++

+++ Daimler’s city car-focused SMART brand is not long for this world, according to a recent report. The automaker will allegedly take a one-way trip to the history book when the current-generation Fortwo and Forfour reaches the end of its life cycle. Smart teamed up with Renault to share the not-insignificant cost burden of developing the current Fortwo and Forfour. It shares a platform and many mechanical components with the third-generation Twingo. Renault isn’t interested in developing a new model with Smart and Daimler doesn’t want to design a new Smart on its own. If that’s accurate, the Smart brand’s future looks murky beyond 2026. Daimler would likely fill the gap by adding an entry-level model to the Mercedes-Benz line-up that would cost 15 % less than the A-Class. It’s tentatively called U-Class, a letter which represents urban and universal. The U-Class line-up would include at least 3 models. First, it would arrive as a normal passenger car that would replace the Fortwo and the Forfour. Second, it would spawn a shuttle used for ride-sharing programs. Third, it would also be offered as a panel van for urban deliveries. Every model would come exclusively with electric powertrains. Smart’s saving grace might come from China’s Geely, which recently made a sizable investment in Daimler. Geely could replace Renault in the partnership and help fund the development of a 4th-generation Smart. Daimler hasn’t commented on Smart’s future. +++ 

+++ TESLA a week ago purchased a plot of land near Shanghai to build its Chinese plant. The plant, which will be 100 % owned by Tesla and have the capacity to build 250,000 vehicles annually initially, will start off building the Model 3 and upcoming Model Y. The information was detailed in a filing by the environmental assessment firm conducting a feasibility study for the project. A timeline for the start of production of Tesla cars in China is yet to surface. Production of the Model 3 is already underway at Tesla’s plant in California. The Model Y, a small crossover SUV based on the same platform as the Model 3, is due for a reveal in 2019 and is expected to start production in 2020. It isn’t clear if Tesla will build the Model Y in the United States but the company has been looking at potential sites for a new plant to support the crossover. Tesla CEO Elon Musk in May said the Californian plant was already at capacity with the Model S, Model X and Model 3. One possibility is using space at the Nevada plant where Tesla assembles batteries and other powertrain components. News of production of the Model 3 and Model Y in China comes just as Tesla returned to profit after years of heavy losses. The company posted its third-quarter earnings Wednesday, with a net profit of $312 million, by far its largest ever. Since it went public in 2010, Tesla has posted a profit in only 2 quarters: once in 2013 and again in 2016. During that time it’s burned through more than $6 billion. During a conference call detailing the third-quarter earnings, Musk reiterated Tesla’s plans to offer an automated ride-hailing service to rival similar services being readied by the likes of GM Cruise and Waymo, as well as existing ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft. To be called the Tesla Network, plans for the service were first announced during 2016’s reveal of Part 2 of the Tesla Master Plan. As Tesla’s self-driving technology matures to the point where the cars can operate on their own, Tesla owners will be able to add their cars to an automated ride-hailing fleet. Musk said Tesla would add company-owned cars to the fleet during periods of high demand. Musk described the Tesla Network as an Airbnb-style service but with self-driving cars instead of homes. It will likely be years before the technology (and regulatory environment) is ready for such a scenario. However, Tesla has already been selling cars with all of the hardware required for fully self-driving capability. Once the software is ready, owners will then be able to upgrade their cars instead of having to buy new. +++ 

+++ TOYOTA has confirmed a reveal date for its all-new Supra. One of the most keenly anticipated cars of next year, and one with one of the most drawn-out gestation periods, will be shown to the public for the first time at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, which runs from 14 to 27 January. In addition to the confirmation of the car’s public debut, Toyota added that it expects the Supra to go on sale worldwide in the first half of 2019 priced at roughly €100,000 in The Neterlands. +++

+++ Volkswagen’s chief operating officer has confirmed that the T-ROC Cabriolet will be revealed next year ahead of going on sale in early 2020, and says it will be the “emotional highlight” of the firm’s SUV range in Europe. The 2-door model is set to be the only convertible in Volkswagen’s range: the Golf Cabriolet was axed in 2016 and the open Beetle has also been dropped. Volkswagen has said the car will go into production in time for early 2020, and COO Ralf Brandstätter said at the launch of the new T-Cross small SUV that it would be revealed early in 2019. The T-Cross completes Volkswagen’s mainstream European SUV line-up (alongside the T-Roc, Tiguan, Tiguan Allspace and Touareg) ahead of the introduction of both Convertible and R variants of the T-Roc. Brandstätter said that the firm’s SUV strategy was built on a series of global models, such as the T-Roc and Touareg, that were adapted for each market, alongside a number of individual vehicles for those markets. The T-Roc Cabriolet is likely to be aimed largely at the European market due to the relative popularity of soft-tops here, with Brandstätter adding that “it will be our emotional highlight for Europe”. The car will be one of the only convertible SUVs on the market when it goes on sale, but Andreas Krüger, Volkswagen’s head of product line (small), said that the success of the standard T-Roc meant it made sense. “If you have a strong model you can base a derivative on, such as the T-Roc, you can already justify a second model because the first model sells in six-digit numbers”, he said. “It was the same with the Golf Cabriolet. It is a project that’s worth doing”. The recently spotted prototype sported a surprisingly modest design, given that the car is more than a year away from production, showing its thin window line with a fabric folding roof in place up to the rear. The T-Roc Cabriolet is to be built at the Osnabrück plant – formerly the home of coachbuilder Karmann, which produced the Golf Cabriolet and original drop-top Beetle. Currently, the facility oversees part-production of Porsche’s Cayenne and 718 Cayman, the Skoda Fabia and the Volkswagen Tiguan, which is finished in Wolfsburg. At its peak, around 20,000 T-Roc Cabriolets will be made per year, representing an investment of around €80 million in Osnabrück targeting logistics and modernising of production and assembly technology. More than 40,000 orders for the regular T-Roc have been placed since its launch late last year, although convertibles tend to be slower-selling for Volkswagen. However, SUVs are increasingly important for the brand. It plans to launch 20 before 2020, and the firm estimates the high-riding machines will account for half of its sales by 2025. The T-Roc Cabriolet is part of a new, more ‘emotional’ strategy as the brand introduces cars that steer away from its traditionally rational approach. The dramatically styled Arteon was the first example. The concept designs for the machine were so good that a production run was approved by Volkswagen’s board even though it didn’t make “rational sense”, according to company sales boss Jürgen Stackmann. He said: “It’s a car we all wanted to make. There isn’t a huge market for it. That sort of car is only popular in a small number of countries. But we felt passionately we should do it”. Volkswagen boss Herbert Diess added: “Volkswagen is evolving into an SUV brand. The T-Roc is already setting new standards in the compact SUV segment. With the cabriolet based on the T-Roc, we will be adding a highly emotional model to the range”. A T-Roc R model is also in development, although Volkswagen remains tight-lipped about it. +++

+++ VOLKSWAGEN chief executive Herbert Diess has doubled down on the company’s promise to beat Tesla and become the new dominant force in the electric vehicle segment. Diess said VW has already spent €30 billion on electromobility and is confident its upcoming vehicles will serve as direct rivals to Tesla’s lineup at a much lower cost. “We will come in 2020 with vehicles that can do anything like Tesla and are cheaper by half”, he said. Another executive a year ago claimed the company would undercut the Tesla Model 3 by at least $7,000. The latest comments hint at a much cheaper model that costs around $17,500 before federal incentives. VW’s secret weapon is believed to be a small Golf-like hatchback inspired by the ID Concept that first appeared in 2016. “Tesla comes from a high-priced segment, however they are moving down”, Diess said last year. “It’s our ambition, with our new architecture, to stop them there, to rein them in”. Tesla is preparing to build its second assembly plant, located not far from VW’s own EV factory in the Shanghai, with an output capacity of 25,000 vehicles annually. By the time VW prepares its electric hatchback for market, Tesla may already be building the Model Y crossover if the project doesn’t fall behind schedule. +++

+++ The Volkswagen Group and WAYMO are reportedly in talks over partnership in the area of mobility services in Europe. The 2 firms are interested in working together and that VW Group CEO Herbert Diess had even suggested purchasing a 10 % stake in Waymo for $13.7 billion but had his idea dismissed by the rest of the board for being too expensive. Waymo is one of the leaders when it comes to self-driving technology. The company has promised to launch the first commercial service involving fully self-driving cars later this year, with the service expected to operate initially in Phoenix, Arizona before spreading to other cities in the United States. Waymo CEO John Krafcik in June said the company will eventually enter the European market, but instead of going it alone in the Old Continent will likely partner with a local firm. VW Group is already linked with several firms involved in self-driving cars, including Aurora Innovation which is developing a self-driving system and was founded by a former Waymo executive. The Volkswagen Group is also thought to have attempted buying Aurora Innovation. It could also be linked with Apple. In May it was reported that vans from VW Group’s Volkswagen brand could be used by Apple for a self-driving shuttle service. +++

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