+++ California’s Department of Motor Vehicles released its annual report outlining how frequently humans had to take over driving responsibilities from each company’s autonomous prototypes while testing on public roads. As you might expect, if you measure the number of miles per disengagement, Google’s Waymo is at the top. But you might not expect APPLE to be at the bottom of the list. The very bottom of the list. Waymo’s prototypes were able to travel 11,000 miles between disengagements, with GM’s Cruise coming in a distant second with 5,200 miles. And Apple? Apple’s autonomous prototypes clocked in at an incredibly brief 1.1 miles per disengagement. That means Waymo’s vehicles travel 10,000 times farther than Apple’s before encountering a situation they couldn’t handle without human help. To be fair, miles per disengagement isn’t the only metric that matters when it comes to developing autonomous technology. A mile of highway driving is a lot less difficult than a mile of city driving, and you’ll probably see a lot more disengagements in poor weather testing than you will when it’s clear and sunny. One company may have different standards than another for deciding how much risk it’s willing to take to avoid disengagements. But the fact that Apple’s prototypes have been disengaging every mile is still concerning. The news coincides with Apple’s decision last month to lay off 200 people working on its self-driving car project, known internally as Project Titan. It’s also a great reminder that autonomous cars still have a way to go before they enter the mainstream. +++ 

+++ BMW will soon offer an Touring version of its hybrid 3 Series, according to product manager Stefan Horn. It’ll be the brand’s first plug-in hybrid estate car, and will follow shortly after the standard 3 Series Touring launches later this year. With BMW’s plug-in push set to include hybrid versions of everything from the 2 Series to X5 and X7, an electrified 3 Series Touring is thought to be a priority for the German car maker. When asked about why BMW has never offered a 330e Touring, and whether such a car might appear in the revised model range, Horn told: “We will have a solution for that in the future”. He emphasised BMW’s desire to make electrification “the norm”, as well as an appetite to offer electrified options in every new car segment in the future. BMW will remove all hybrid-specific styling cues from its electrified cars in 2019; iPerformance badges will be dropped, while the subtle blue accents will be replaced with body-coloured trim. However, there will be no fully electric 3 Series: “The i4 will do that”, Horn told me. +++ 

+++ France will invest €700 million over the next 5 years into projects to boost the European ELECTRIC car battery industry and reduce its carmakers’ reliance on dominant Asian rivals, said French presidency officials. In a speech to the Paris-based International Organisation of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers, president Emmanuel Macron will unveil his strategy to help the French car industry fend off competition on electric vehicles (EV) and autonomous cars from Asian and U.S. tech giants. The plan comes after Germany in November set aside €1 billion to support battery cell production to reduce dependence on Asian suppliers and shore up jobs at home that may be at risk from the shift away from combustion engines. French officials said the 2 European countries will work on Franco-German initiatives, at a time when their countries’ carmakers are waking up to the threats posed from relying on Chinese suppliers in an age of international trade wars. “For a long time, European carmakers considered it was not up to them to develop battery production”, a French official said. “Now, those advocating for an international division of labor are forced to realize that trade war exists”, added the official. While some carmakers assemble battery packs, Europe has no significant production of their constituent cells; currently dominated by a handful of firms including China’s CATL and Korean rivals LG Chem and Samsung. “China has a very aggressive strategy to eventually dominate the electric vehicle universe by starting from electric batteries all the way up the value chain”, the official said. PSA threw its support behind efforts to create a European manufacturer of electric car batteries in March last year. Domestic rival Renault, which sources electric-car batteries from LG Chem, also said it could buy cells from a European supplier as production of electric vehicles ramps up. “We’re noticing a realization among carmakers that tomorrow’s competition will require a local battery industry”, the French official said. Macron’s plan will also include facilitating the construction of electric vehicle (EV) charging points, giving more visibility to carmakers about electric vehicle bonuses for consumers and increasing the government’s EV purchasing targets. +++ 

+++ FERRARI is planning an all-new, mid-engine supercar with a hybrid drivetrain. It is expected to debut before the end of 2019. A source with knowledge of the project told that the hybrid supercar will pair a mid-mounted V8 gas engine with an electric motor. Exact power figures were not revealed, but the hybrid will reportedly top the 710 hp mark set by the 488 Pista. The new model would represent Ferrari’s second hybrid offering. The firm’s first hybrid model was known as the LaFerrari and paired an F1-style KERS system with a V12 engine. Ferrari’s upcoming hybrid will use a more conventional hybrid system, which promises lower CO2 emissions and better fuel economy. Following its 2019 unveiling the new Ferrari hybrid is slated to go on sale in early 2020. Ferrari CEO Louis Camilleri previously stated that the new car will be a regular production model rather than a limited edition offering. That means it should stick around the Ferrari lineup for a few years with incremental improvements made along the way. +++ 

+++ FORD and Volkswagen are at odds over how much the German automaker will invest in the No. 2 U.S. automaker’s self-driving vehicle unit, with Ford seeking at least $500 million, people familiar with the negotiations said. Analysts and investors have focused on the potential savings their alliance could generate, so any sign of problems in the negotiations is not welcome news. VW has resisted agreeing to invest in Ford’s autonomous vehicle unit, instead preferring to announce the companies will simply work together in that area, according to the people familiar with the talks, who asked not to be identified. Some of the hesitation centers around questions about Ford’s technology, one person said. Ford, on the other hand, wants VW to invest at least $500 million after earlier seeking $1 billion, eyeing deals its larger rival General Motors reached with Japan’s SoftBank Group and Honda that raised $5 billion combined and valued GM’s Cruise self-driving vehicle unit at $14.6 billion, the sources said. In January, the companies announced they would join forces on commercial vans and pickup trucks, and also signed a memorandum of understanding to work together on electric and self-driving vehicle technology, actions meant to save the automakers billions of dollars. The companies first disclosed they were discussing such a deal in June 2018 and subsequently said it would expand beyond that. VW Chief Executive Herbert Diess and Ford CEO Jim Hackett both voiced optimism last month that the deal involving electric and autonomous vehicles would be finalized, but provided no timeline. Another issue in the talks is how the companies value VW’s autonomous technology assets that will be added to the joint effort, the sources said. Meanwhile, the companies also have been negotiating Ford’s use of VW’s MEB platform, including the volume involved, where VW would provide it and how much Ford would pay for its use, the sources said. However, Ford cannot use the platform until 2024 at the earliest, the people said. Ford’s president of global markets, Jim Farley, suggested there were challenges around the use of VW’s electric vehicle platform, saying the MEB was primarily designed for use in Europe and China, and for different consumer needs. The talks around teaming up on EVs (Electric Vehicles) and AVs (Autonomous Vehicles) have advanced together so far, but are not necessarily linked, the sources said. Ford would walk away from a deal it felt was unfair, a second person said. The discussions have dragged on for months, but there is no deadline and a third person said they could be resolved shortly. Sources previously said the framework of a deal would include VW investing in Ford’s AV operations, including its Argo AI business. VW, Europe’s largest automaker, has earmarked $50 billion to develop electric cars, autonomous driving and new mobility services by 2023. The efforts by VW and Ford to expand their alliance highlight the growing pressure on global automakers to manage the billions of dollars necessary to develop electric and self-driving vehicles, as well as technology to meet tougher emissions standards for millions of internal combustion vehicles they will sell in coming years. There has been significant investment activity in the industry over the past year around autonomous vehicles, a segment in which Alphabet’s Waymo self-driving unit is considered the leader. VW has been open about its desire to work with other companies around self-driving cars and when the Ford alliance was announced Diess said teaming up with an American company made sense given the more advanced U.S. regulatory environment. Interest in the sector remains high. On Feb. 7, startup Aurora, whose CEO earlier led Alphabet’s self-driving program, raised more than $530 million in funding, including from Amazon. Aurora has contracts to help VW, Hyundai and China’s Byton to develop AVs. SoftBank bought its stake in GM’s Cruise unit for $2.25 billion in May 2018 and last October SoftBank and Toyota said they would jointly develop self-driving car services. Honda followed SoftBank last October, agreeing to invest $2.75 billion in Cruise. +++ 

+++ As sedan sales continue to slide, HYUNDAI apparently has big plans to make its Sonata more attractive to a shrinking group of buyers. The company’s design head, SangYup Lee, suggests the new Sonata will bring a bolder design that aims to help the entire brand shift its image toward a sportier image. “The new Sonata is quite challenging for us obviously just because we all know that market is shrinking and taken over by SUVs”, he told. “We will make big statements this year”. The design boss has indicated the 2020 model will have a coupe-like profile and an overall design language inspired by the Le Fil Rouge concept that debuted 1 year ago. The company might sell the 2020 edition in Europe als the successor to the i40. +++ 

+++ JAGUAR LAND ROVER blames its latest quarterly loss largely on “challenging market conditions in China”. These include a rare decline in industrywide sales and the trade dispute between China and the United States. But those challenges are only part of the problem facing the company. What has rattled JLR’s business in China most are persistent woes with reliability and dependability. New-vehicle sales in China last year fell for the first time in the past 28 years. But the luxury market continued to grow, with sales rising 8 % to top 2.8 million. Germany’s Big 3 (Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW) as well as Cadillac, Lexus and Volvo all posted impressive sales growth in China last year. JLR has never shipped vehicles from the U.S. to China. It is a stretch to say the trade tensions between the 2 countries have exerted any significant impact on local sales. What’s really behind the 22 % slide to 115,000 units in JLR’s China deliveries last year? It is lax control on product quality. Weak product quality has long been a problem with JLR, dating to the time when the UK luxury automaker was still in the hands of Ford. The problem has lingered since Tata Motors acquired the brands in 2008. In 2014, JLR started production at a joint venture with Chery Automobile in the east China city of Changshu. From 2015 to 2017, 5 locally assembled products (the Land Rover Evoque and Discovery, and the Jaguar XFL, XEL and E-Pace) were launched. Local production allowed JLR to modify vehicle interiors and exteriors to local tastes. It also enabled buyers to avoid paying the 25 % tariff that Chinese customs levied on imported vehicles back then. As a result, JLR’s China sales surged to 146,399 in 2017 from 92,474 in 2015. Yet, because product quality was never effectively addressed, the number of defects reported by owners increased in tandem. In China, as well as in the U.S., both brands routinely rank well below the industry average for new and 3-year-old vehicle quality and dependability, based on owner surveys by J.D. Power and Associates. In 2017 alone, JLR carried out 13 recalls in China for defects with components ranging from engines, instrument panels and airbags to batteries. The recalls covered some 106,000 vehicles, which was equivalent to more than 70 % of its local sales during the year. Since August, Jaguar and Land Rover owners have regularly protested in front of JLR’s China headquarters in Shanghai to bring attention to widespread quality problems they allege with their cars and SUVs. Local dealers, burdened with a 60-day or larger supply of unsold new vehicles, have offered steep discounts to ease inventory pressure. Some dealers last year started selling imported Jaguar models at discounts of up to 30 %. The move spurred the creation of a catchphrase “Jaguar at 70 % price”. The problems have dented the brand image of Jaguar and Land Rover in China, rendering their products even less attractive to local consumers. In June, JLR’s joint venture with Chery completed an expansion that raised annual production capacity from 130,000 to 200,000 vehicles. The next month, JLR’s China sales began a steady decline, forcing the joint venture to idle output. JLR has other challenges. It must integrate sales and distribution of locally built products and imported models. It also needs to roll out more electrified vehicles to meet local regulatory requirements. JLR’s dealer network in China is also a work in progress. The company says only 18 % of its stores are in so-called major cities such as Shanghai and Beijing, and more than one-third have been open for 3 years or less. The company says it’s also streamlining commercial policies to help compensate for retailers’ losses, and is launching extensive on-site training programs to improve customer experience as well as operations. But first and foremost, it must improve product quality to win back customers. After posting a quarterly loss of $4.4 billion, JLR needs to raise $1 billion within 14 months to service debt. Capital and debt reduction is indeed important for a cash-strapped company. But unless JLR can move fast to fix nagging product glitches, there is no guarantee the money will be well spent. +++ 

+++ The number of car owners who are at least 90 days late on their auto LOANS has reached a record 7 million borrowers, despite seemingly strong economic and jobs indicators in the United States. The boom in car sales has been associated with strong increase in new auto loans, with $584 billion in new loans and leases appearing on credit reports last year; the highest level in the nearly 2 decades of record keeping, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The growth was primarily driven by loans handed to the most creditworthy individuals. Unsurprisingly, however, previous increases in ‘subprime’ lending to borrowers with poor credit scores has created a mix with a larger number of borrowers at high risk of delinquency. “Borrowers with credit scores less than 620 saw their transitions into delinquency exceed 8 % in the 4th quarter (annualized as a moving sum), a development that is surprising during a strong economy and labor market”, the NY Fed wrote. The transition into serious delinquency appeared to be worst among buyers in the 18-29 age group, hinting at economic troubles for younger citizens. The report notes that there were more than 1 million more troubled borrowers last year than at the end of 2010, when the rate of delinquency peaked amid the recession. “The substantial and growing number of distressed borrowers suggests that not all Americans have benefited from the strong labor market and warrants continued monitoring and analysis of this sector”, the NY Fed concluded. +++ 

+++ MERCEDES-BENZ says 2019 will be its ‘year of the plug-in hybrid’, with plans to hugely expand its EQ Power-branded range as part of a massive €10 billion electrification strategy. The German firm has already launched plug-in versions of the C-Class, E-Class and S-Class, which feature a hybrid system with a 122 hp electric motor capable of around 50 kilometres of electric-only running. The hybrid system is offered with both petrol and, on the C-Class and E-Class, diesel engines. Mercedes will expand its PHEV range to 10 model variants by the end of this year and more than 20 by the end of 2020. The next-generation S-Class, due in 2020, will be powered by a range of plug-in hybrid engines, alongside a fully electric version. The GLC and GLE are both confirmed to receive the powertrain during 2019, and the firm also says it will launch its first compact plug-in hybrid model. That will be an A-Class PHEV designed as an Audi A3 E-tron rival, featuring a version of its petrol-electric powertrain developed for compact cars. Set to use a 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a 90 hp electric motor, it will also be offered on the B-Class and forthcoming GLB. The focus on plug-in hybrids for 2019 is part of the firm’s plans to electrify its entire model range by 2022, with the goal to launch more than 130 electrified vehicles in order to reduce emissions levels to meet increasingly tough CO2 targets. The strategy involves 3 strands: EQ Power plug-in hybrids, EQ Boost 48V mild hybrids and the EQ range of pure electric vehicles. Mercedes-Benz chiefs believe that, as well as offering reduced CO2 emissions compared with pure combustion-engined cars, plug-in hybrids can help showcase the benefits of fully electric powertrains to customers. That is because PHEVs can be used for short journeys using electric-only power. Claus Ehlers, the firm’s powertrain strategy boss, said plug-in hybrids were “an important step in the move towards e-mobility, because they enable the majority of customers to do many daily short drives without producing any local emissions”. Mercedes-Benz experts forecast that EVs and PHEVs combined (referred to as xEVs by the firm) will account for around 40 % of its total sales by 2025. Depending on the speed of adoption, it expects fully electric vehicles to account for between 15 % and 25 % of total sales by then. Ehlers said the uncertainty over the speed of EV uptake among customers means that combustion-engined cars will still “play a major role” in the future, which is why Mercedes-Benz is also pushing 48V mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid systems. Ehlers added that Mercedes-Benz has developed its electric car architecture and powertrains to allow it to rapidly adjust its car production to changing demand, including the ability to build EVs on the same production line as combustion-engined cars. For example, the 3 versions of the GLC (mild hybrid, PHEV and hydrogen fuel cell) along with the related electric EQ C can all be assembled on the same line. Mercedes-Benz has sold out of its first EQ C production run through the end of the year. The all-electric SUV was available for pre-order since last year, though it will not begin rolling off the assembly line until later in 2019. “We are sure that we will not be able to meet the demand in 2019 and probably not by 2020”, chief Dieter Zetsche said recently. “But we do everything we can to achieve the maximum capacity”. The German automaker has not said how many units will be built in 2019 or 2020, leaving some uncertainty surrounding the claim of strong demand. +++ 

+++ NISSAN has signed a joint venture agreement with an Algerian private partner to build a car assembly plant at a cost of $160 million. The plant, near the western city of Oran, is due to start production in the first half of 2020 with a capacity of 63,500 vehicles per year, Peyman Kargar, Nissan’s senior vice president and chairman of operations in Africa, Middle East and India, said at a signing ceremony in Algiers. Nissan’s partner, Hasnaoui Group, will hold a majority stake in the project, which is expected to create 1,800 jobs. Algeria has banned car imports as part of an attempt to cut spending due to lower oil and gas earnings, the main source of state finances. “We want to help diversify our economy”, said Hasnaoui Group’s owner Sofiane Hasnaoui. The North African country, an OPEC member, has been trying to attract foreign investment and develop the non-energy sector, which accounts for just 6 % of total export revenues. “Algeria is a big country for us. Thanks to government’s support, we managed to conclude this deal”, said Kargar. “Our top priority is to meet local demand but we will think about exporting our product later”, he added. The deal also includes training of the plant’s employees by Nissan staff, Hasnaoui said. +++ 

+++ OPEL could make a return to Australia in a move that would see the Insignia (sold as the Commodore) and the Astra vacate Holden showrooms and leave it with a range of SUVs and pick-ups. The bold plan is 1 of 2 confidential proposals reportedly being discussed with General Motors and independent importer Inchcape, a UK-based firm which distributes Subaru, Peugeot and Citroen cars in Australia. Inchcape is going to take over distribution of all Holden cars in Australia. One option would see Inchcape re-establish the Opel brand in Australia. Opel was axed locally in August 2013 after selling just 1.500 cars through 20 dealers over 11 months. The Insignia and Astra will be joined by selected models from the extensive Opel range. If the proposal goes ahead, Holden would initially be left with a purely SUV and pick-up line-up: Trax, Equinox, Acadia, Trailblazer and Colorado. As said, Inchcape already distributes Peugeot and Citroen in Australia. General Motors sold Opel to the Peugeot-Citroen group in March 2017. While the deal was a clean break for Opel in Europe, it left General Motors in the unusual position of buying cars from Peugeot-Citroen for Holden. Adding Opel to Inchcape’s distribution portfolio in Australia would help bolster its local operations after weak sales of the French brands in 2018. Peugeot and Citroen sold a combined total of 3.300 cars in Australia last year. By comparison Holden sold approximately 9.000 Insignia and 6.000 Astra cars. With these 2 models and a selection of other offerings, Opel could become the second-biggest automotive brand for Inchcape in Australia, behind Subaru. Inchcape, which distributes 35 automotive brands in 32 countries, says one of the company’s key objectives is to be a “trusted partner” of major car companies. “As they seek to develop in new territories and as they increase their global offering, so do we”, says the Inchcape annual report. +++

+++ British PORSCHE customers are being asked to sign documents that will leave them liable to pay 10 % extra for their cars if the UK leaves the EU without a trade deal, and fresh import tariffs are imposed. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) warned as far back as November 2017 that a no-deal Brexit could lead to import tariffs pushing the cost of new cars up significantly, but Porsche’s request to new customers is the first concrete example of potential price hikes being passed directly on to customers. If the UK leaves the EU without a trade deal in place, import tariffs of 10 % that have hitherto not existed will be applied to cars built in the EU. The SMMT warned that such a scenario would increase the cost of a new car by around €1,700 on average, but the list prices of Porches means buyers could be left having to pay as much as €23,000 more, depending model. A Porsche spokesman said that the company tries to keep customers “informed with as much information as possible”, and that this includes “any changes outside of our control that may affect the price of the car they’re interested in purchasing”. The company stressed that while the charges are purely hypothetical at present, “there is a possibility that a duty of up to 10 % may be applied to cars imported into the UK by us after March 29”. In light of this, Porsche has “chosen to inform customers whose cars are likely to arrive after Brexit occurs to warn them that they may be affected by this tariff, allowing them to be fully informed at the point of sale and, if they wish, to adjust their order accordingly”. Customers who placed deposits before January 17 2019 will not be affected by the potential new charges. +++ 

+++ RENAULT set a weaker full-year profit goal, citing currency challenges and market uncertainties, as the French carmaker presented annual results without its recently ousted CEO Carlos Ghosn for the first time in 13 years. Under new leadership since Ghosn’s forced resignation last month over financial misconduct allegations, Renault targeted profitability of “around 6 %” in 2019, compared with a 6.3 % operating margin recorded last year. Revenue and profit both declined as expected on the combined effect of currency setbacks, a withdrawal from Iran and a diesel sales collapse that hit engine production for Renault’s alliance partner Nissan and affiliate Daimler. The results nonetheless met Renault’s own targets, including revenue growth before currency effects and an operating margin above 6 %, on the way to its mid-term objective to exceed 7 % in 2022. “2018 was clearly a challenging year in which we faced expected as well as unexpected difficulties”, new chief executive Thierry Bollore said, adding that the results “demonstrate the group’s resilience”. Bollore, formerly Ghosn’s deputy, was promoted to CEO on Jan. 24, with outgoing Michelin boss Jean-Dominique Senard taking over the departed leader’s role as chairman. Ghosn faces trial in Japan after a Nissan internal probe uncovered evidence of misconduct including failure to declare more than $80 million in deferred income, straining relations with 43.4 % owner Renault. Ghosn denies wrongdoing. Renault said it had blocked €30 million in deferred and severance pay to Ghosn, who had served as its CEO since 2005, and as chairman for almost a decade. Underscoring challenges to alliance cooperation, Renault’s sales to Nissan and other partners fell by €946 million in 2018, reflecting collapsing diesel demand. A further negative impact is expected this year, the company said. Nissan’s contribution to Renault earnings came in at €1.51 billion, a 46 % decline from 2017, when the Japanese carmaker’s profit was inflated by one-off gains. Renault’s own cost-saving efforts in purchasing and manufacturing contributed €421 million to profit. Overall revenue fell 2.3 % to €57.4 billion, while recurring operating profit dropped 6.3 % to €3.61 billion. Net income amounted to €3.3 billion, down sharply from the €5.31 billion recorded in 2017, partly reflecting the exceptional year-earlier gain from Nissan. Excluding currency effects, revenue would have risen 2.5 %, Renault said. The carmaker said it saw no need for any financial provisions in relation to the scandal and ongoing investigation into Ghosn’s conduct and executive payments by Renault and the jointly owned Renault-Nissan BV alliance management company. +++ 

+++ SKODA said its global deliveries dropped 1.1 % in January to 102,600 cars. “The main reason behind this trend is the overall decline in the passenger car markets of China and Central Europe”, Skoda said. Deliveries in China dropped 11.7 % and central European shipments dropped 11.6 %, mainly due to a 19.7 % drop on the Czech market. It said west European shipments rose 6.2 %, led by Germany with an 8.1 % rise, while Russia jumped 23 %. +++ 

+++ A confidential Commerce Department report due to be sent to Donald Trump is widely expected to clear the way for the U.S. president to threaten TARIFFS on imported autos and auto parts by designating the imports a national security threat, auto industry officials said. The report’s recommendations may bring the global auto industry a step closer to its worst trade nightmare: U.S. tariffs on millions of imported cars and parts of up to 25 % that many in the industry fear would add thousands of dollars to the cost of vehicles and potentially cost hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout the U.S. economy. The contents of the report are expected to remain classified while Trump considers its recommendations, leaving the industry and major car exporters Japan, the European Union and South Korea in the dark about its consequences. Auto industry officials said they expect the report to recommend at least some tariffs so that the administration can use the findings of the probe as negotiating leverage during negotiations this year with Japan and the EU. The report is the result of an investigation started by the Commerce Department in May 2018 at Trump’s request. Known as a Section 232 investigation, the probe’s purpose is to determine the effects of imports on national security. The final version will be sent to the White House to meet a statutory deadline, a Trump administration source told. Confidential draft versions of the recommendations have circulated to the White House and other government agencies for review since last November. Automakers and parts suppliers are anticipating its recommendation options will include broad tariffs of up to 20-25 % on assembled cars and parts, or narrower tariffs targeting components and technologies related to new energy cars, autonomous, internet-connected and shared vehicles. “Nobody I’ve talked to in the industry thinks the report won’t recommend tariffs” in view of the Trump administration’s stated trade priorities, said an automotive official who spoke on condition of anonymity. “And there’s not much chance that Trump decides not to impose them”. Administration officials have said tariff threats on autos are a way to win concessions from Japan and the EU. Last year, Trump agreed not to impose tariffs as long as talks with the 2 trading partners were proceeding in a productive manner. The Commerce Department alluded to a focus on emerging vehicle technologies when it opened the probe. A report from the well-respected Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, showed that its worst-case scenario of a 25 % tariff would cost 366,900 U.S. jobs in the auto and related industries. U.S. vehicle prices would increase by $2,750 on average (including U.S.-built vehicles), reducing annual sales by 1.3 million units and forcing many consumers to the used car market, the think tank’s report said. Major automaker groups said last year that the cumulative effect for the United States would be an $83 billion annual price increase and argued that there is no evidence auto imports pose a national security risk. Canada and Mexico each won duty-free access to 2.6 million vehicles as part of a new North American free trade deal even if the administration moves ahead with the tariffs. Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, recently introduced legislation that would shift responsibility for Section 232 investigations from Commerce to the U.S. Defense Department. The law containing the provision was passed in 1962 to keep U.S. industries healthy to meet Cold War defense needs. “There is no way that MPVs from Canada are a national security threat”, Portman told. Under the statute, Trump has 90 days to consider the report and act on its recommendations. Trump said that tariffs protect industry and also help win trade agreements. “I love tariffs, but I also love them to negotiate”, he said. +++ 

+++ VOLKSWAGEN ’s first mass-produced electric vehicle, the ID Neo, will be the world’s first carbon neutral vehicle when it launches at the end of the year, the German firm has claimed. VW has invested €10 billion into the development of a fleet of electric vehicles vehicles with a target to be a completely carbon neutral company by 2050. Over the average car’s lifetime, it emits a total of 44 tonnes of CO2. Around 65 % of that amount is fuel consumption, while the production process and supply chain accounts for around 15 %. In the case of the ID Neo, a variety of measures to help reduce the CO2 output during production have been implemented, including converting factories to run on natural gas and greater use of renewable energy resources such as solar and wind power. VW has also tasked its vast supplier base to prove they now use green energy and minimize their carbon emissions. To offset areas of the business that cannot yet use green energy, VW is also engaging in ‘social and ecological projects’ in Asia and Brazil, to help some of the most vulnerable ecosystems in the world. Carbon neutral recharging solutions for customers are also being developed, which include VW’s Elli wallbox charger and the Ionity rapid charging network across mainland Europe. Both are refueled by green energy solutions that could enable electric cars using them to become effectively carbon neutral in the usage phase. The transport and automotive sector accounts for 14 % of global greenhouse gas emissions and remains one of the only sectors in recent years where emissions have not fallen. VW hopes that its ID. will set an example for the rest of the industry in terms of how a truly carbon neutral car can be achieved. +++

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