+++ AUDI wants to sell its stakes in 2 development service providers. The Volkswagen subsidiary faces overcapacity in development and wanted to shed its 49 % stake in PSW Engineering, which has 1,000 workers, and divest its subsidiary CSI Entwicklungstechnik, which has 700 staff. Audi didn’t rule out other changes. In a statement, Audi says that its active portfolio management can lead to adjustments in ownership structure. +++ 

+++ Volkswagen will use Chinese software developers to help design a global AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE architecture thanks to the prevalence of qualified programmers which carmakers are struggling to hire elsewhere, senior executives said. As carmakers scramble to develop advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous driving functions, carmakers are struggling to find qualified engineers to build the software algorithms needed to teach cars the right reflexes. Volkswagen has 4,000 engineers in China, with an average age of 29, spread over 5 research and development sites and a rapidly growing number of software engineers. “In a short period from now they will be able to do 15 to 20 million lines of programming code on an annual basis”, Volkswagen China’s passenger cars chief Stephan Wöllenstein said. The prevalence of software engineers, combined with the country’s willingness to roll out the infrastructure for connected and self-driving cars, will make China one of the first markets in which autonomous cars gain widespread acceptance, VW managers said. As a result, Chinese suppliers will help Volkswagen Group to design a global autonomous vehicle architecture, he said. “Part of the software development work can be done for instance in Chinese facilities out of Volkswagen Group China”, Wöllenstein said. For connected vehicles technology China will become a leading global research and development center, said Sven Patuschka, Head of Volkswagen Group China’s research and development. “We will further strengthen our capabilities to develop in China for China and for certain technologies for the rest of the world. We find excellent talents here and are ready address customer requirements in this fascinating market”, Patuschka said. Volkswagen is reviewing whether to change the structure of its joint ventures with FAW and SAIC as well as JAC to improve research and development capabilities. “We are in discussions about how to broaden and deepen cooperation with our partners”, Woellenstein said, declining to comment on whether VW was seeking to change the ownership structure of its joint ventures. Volkswagen’s Spanish Seat brand is working with Chinese partner JAC to develop a second smaller electric vehicle architecture. “JAC Volkswagen and SEAT have taken the project lead”, VW Group Chief Executive Herbert Diess said. +++ 

+++ British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt is seeking to reassure Toyota that the UK government is focused on avoiding a no-deal BREXIT from the European Union and ensuring tariff-tree trade between the UK and the EU. “We recognize that Japan has many investments employing hundreds of thousands of people in the UK. We want strong cooperation to continue”, Hunt told. Toyota builds its Corolla in Burnaston, England. The company has announced plans to also build a new car for Suzuki there. Japan is one of Britain’s biggest foreign investors, building cars and other products in a country it has viewed as a gateway to the broader European market. Britain’s decision to leave the EU has raised concern in London that Japanese companies will shift operations elsewhere if tariff-free trade ends with the rest of the European bloc. Honda has said it will close its UK plant near Swindon by 2021 while Nissan canceled plans to build its X-Trail at its factory in Sunderland, northeast England. +++ 

+++ Germany’s motor vehicle authority KBA is investigating DAIMLER on suspicion that 60,000 Mercedes cars were fitted with software aimed at tricking emissions tests. A spokesman for Daimler, owner of Mercedes-Benz, said the carmaker was reviewing the facts and fully cooperating with the KBA. The KBA is looking into suspicious software in Mercedes-Benz GLK 220 CDI cars produced between 2012 and 2015, after tests showed they only meet emissions limits when a certain function is activated. Since rival Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to cheating U.S. emissions tests, the scandal has spread to other carmakers. Daimler has ordered the recall of 3 million vehicles to fix excess emissions coming from their diesel engines. The KBA found that the function it had discovered had been removed during software updates carried out by Daimler. The Daimler spokesman said the company had complied with a process agreed upon with the KBA and German Transport Ministry when updating software for the 3 million recalled vehicles. “The allegation that we wanted to hide something with the voluntary service measure is incorrect”, he said. This month European Union antitrust regulators charged BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen with colluding to block the rollout of emissions-cleaning technology. +++ 

+++ Rene-Christopher Wollmann, head of Mercedes-AMG’s €2.75 million Project One supercar program, has moved to a job at Automobili Pininfarina in a sign that innovation in high end ELECTRIC SPORTSCARS is shifting toward small start-ups. Wollman’s move, which has not been made public, comes at a time when big carmakers, like Volkswagen and Mercedes, have been blindsided by stricter and costly emissions tests, forcing them to focus resources on mainstream electric models and on cleaning up their combustion engines. Meanwhile advances in virtual engineering allow even small teams of engineers to develop roadworthy vehicles using software to design, engineer and test prototypes. This dynamic has already helped Tesla and China’s Nio steal a march on much larger rivals in the premium electric sportscar segment. “Large companies take time to transform. And I am good at hypercars. I just did Project One, and now this opportunity came”, 37-year-old Wollmann told about his reason for joining Automobili Pininfarina, a Munich-based electric carmaker that launched last year. Project One, which has a modified Formula One engine, was due to go on sale this year but has been delayed by problems getting road worthiness certification following the introduction of WLTP emissions test standards, according to sources familiar with the matter. Premium or high-performance electric sports cars are equivalent to the Ferraris and Lamborghinis of the conventional auto world. These so-called supercars can cost anything from about $100,000 up into the millions of dollars and include Tesla’s upcoming Roadster Founder Series, which will sell for over $200,000 and the Rimac Concept Two, priced in the region of $2 million. The emerging role of start-ups in the development of the premium electric market harks back to an era over a century ago when talented engineers like Gottlieb Daimler and Ferdinand Porsche were able to launch sportscar brands on modest budgets. Players leading the way include the likes of Automobili Pininfarina, Croatia’s Rimac, China’s Nio and Italian engineering shop Italy’s Maniffatura Automobili Torino (MAT). But because of the high initial investment needed, with no guarantee of success in a niche market, boutique supercar manufacturers face significant risks if they try to develop more than one vehicle or shift to becoming mainstream carmakers. Wollmann was hired because he also helped develop an electric version of the AMG SLS, a skill that will help Automobili Pininfarina, owned by India’s Mahindra, develop its own zero-emissions vehicle. “I did the first electric hypercar for AMG so this was the perfect fit”, he said. Since its 2018 launch, Automobili Pininfarina has hired a raft of top-flight German engineers. Christian Jung, Porsche’s chief engineer of E-Mobility systems, and Peter Tutzer, a former technical director at supercar brand Bugatti, are part of the team. They are designing the Battista, an electric supercar with a top speed of at least 300 km/h and acceleration from 0 to 100 in under 2 seconds. Around 150 will be built, costing €2.3 million each, the company said. “Rene Wollmann came to us because he said it was difficult to realize projects like these at a large company”, Michael Perschke, Automobili Pininfarina’s Chief Executive told. Another start-up electric carmaker, Rimac, will provide the Battista’s electric motor and battery pack. Rimac has built up expertise in high-performance electric vehicle powertrain and battery systems. It already has 500 developers in Croatia and made an electric sportscar capable of speeds of 400 km/h. Its expertise led Porsche to take a 10 % stake in the carmaker last year. “Powertrains with 700 kilowatts of capacity are a niche product. Porsche focuses on the high volume stuff. They don’t have the capacity to deal with every niche”, 31-year-old company founder Mate Rimac told. There are 2 ways to make battery-driven vehicles: to use a clean-sheet design like Tesla, or to take a conventional vehicle platform that can also accommodate an electric version. For now, Daimler and VW have taken the latter approach, building electric cars on the same assembly line as their conventional vehicles, allowing them to scale up production without having to build dedicated electric car factories. VW has however started development of a fully dedicated electric car, the ID, which is due to hit showrooms next year. Daimler engineers say the trend towards multi-powertrain platforms is likely to persist thanks to improvements in battery technology which allow even multi-powertrain designs to spawn electric cars with an operating range of over 400 km. But critics counter that combustion-engined cars have less space for large batteries, resulting in vehicles with a compromised design that have a shorter operating range than cars designed as electric cars from the ground up. “8 years later and Tesla still has the better car than the Audi e-Tron or the Mercedes EQ C”, Rimac said. “It is not because the Germans are stupid. It is because they are not ‘all-in’. They work from the basis of the combustion engine toward electrification. I started electric only”. Start-up carmakers are better able to compete with large established players thanks to advances in virtual engineering and the prevalence of consulting firms that specialize in software and IT systems, like Germany’s Ferchau Engineering and Italy’s Danisi Engineering. Automobili Pininfarina is testing the effectiveness of its advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) virtually, using a driving simulator program provided by Modena-based Danisi, drastically cutting down development and fine-tuning costs. “You do 80 % of chassis development this way and reduce development time by 6 to 8 months. The rest is validation and fine tuning”, Automobili Pininfarina’s chief product officer Paolo Dellacha said. Before joining the start-up carmaker, Dellacha held various testing and engineering roles at Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa Romeo. Meanwhile Daimler’s AMG Project One, launched in September 2017, with 1,000 horsepower and a top speed exceeding 350 km/h, will not reach customers until next year. “There are some details we need to sort out with the vehicles”, AMG spokesman Jochen Übler said, when asked about the certification problems. +++ 

+++ FORD made the new Kuga more car-like than its predecessor. The shift was necessary because the firm is gradually getting rid of sedans. The Blue Oval will cater to buyers who want a crossover that’s a little bit more rugged by releasing an Kuga based model with more off-road prowess. Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s executive vice president of product development and purchasing, told that the yet-unnamed soft-roader will be boxier than the Kuga and taller thanks to additional ground clearance. Its windshield will be more upright too. It sounds a lot like the so-called baby Bronco Ford has talked about before, but the firm might have several off-road-inspired models in store. The model will share its platform with the Kuga and the newest Focus. There’s no word yet on where production will take place. Technical details remain under wraps, too, though we’re not expecting anything bigger than a 4-cylinder engine. Ford’s mysterious crossover will arrive in showrooms about 6 months after the Kuga. The Kuga is scheduled to arrive in the fall of 2019, so its more adventurous sibling could start appearing on dealer lots in the spring of 2020. If that time frame is accurate, it will make its debut before the long-awaited born-again Bronco. +++ 

+++ GENESIS announces that something new is around the corner. Whatever the company is previewing, we’ll see it in the metal next week during the 2019 New York auto show. Genesis already confirmed it will travel to the event to unveil an electric concept. It might be a follow-up to the futuristic Essentia concept displayed during the 2018 edition of the show. Genesis could surprise by showing something else, too. The premium brand from Hyundai is in the process of expanding its portfolio of models and the next addition to its range will be an SUV. The timing would certainly be spot-on; the design study made its debut at the 2017 New York auto show. +++ 

+++ Japan massively changed the car game between the sixties and the eighties. China will bust out of its 10-million-square-kilometre ‘local’ patch to perform on the world stage proper from 2020 to 2050. But if you’re looking for the nation that’s rocked the car design / manufacturing / retail scene more than any other between the nineties and today, look at The Land of Morning Calm: South Korea. When, in 1987, I first parachuted into the country, which is about the size of Scotland, it was rebuilding after the triple trauma of the Japanese occupation, the Korean War and the assassination of its president. South Korea wasn’t just rough around the edges during my first visit. It was rough all over, apart from where the 1988 Olympic venues were being built. Back then, South Korean cars were as pretty as Mike Tyson, funnier than Jim Carrey and nastier than a Liam Neeson character. And HYUNDAI ’s Ulsan plant, which was tasked with building most of them, had machine guns on its perimeter walls. Honest. To say that the Korean car industry has changed since 1987 is the automotive understatement of the century. I’ve subsequently visited the place dozens of times and have witnessed Hyundai-Kia become a global top 5 manufacturer, while South Korea has made it as a world top 5 car-making country. Hyundai-Kia has run out of land, citizens and self-generated energy to expand on home soil, so now builds most of its cars abroad, thereby putting itself on course to catch and overtake imploding General Motors and troubled Renault-Nissan as world number 3 behind Toyota-Lexus and the Volkswagen Group. South Korean vehicles have morphed from comedic, cosmetically challenged, not fit for purpose and unpredictable, to serious, often handsome, world-class and highly reliable. Its industry has transformed from shy, naive and almost apologetic, to credible, highly capable and confident. And little sister Genesis is threatening to become Korea’s Jaguar, while the launch of a 4th brand, one to rival Land Rover, is being mulled over. Alternatively, it may be quicker and cheaper for the cash-rich Hyundai-Kia empire to buy skint Jaguar Land Rover. It’s not until 2019 that Hyundai-Kia has felt it’s truly arrived on the world stage, able and willing to beat the strongest European and Japanese rivals, plus the weaker Americans. That’s why World Car Awards/World Car of the Year jurors were summoned to Seoul to see and drive the all-new petrol, hybrid, hydrogen and pure-electric vehicles in the pipeline for overseas buyers. Why now? Hyundai-Kia told me days ago in Korea that it’s taken this long (about a third of a century) to get its products for international buyers absolutely spot on. The cars are now as good as, if not better than, those from Japan, Germany and Britain, the argument goes. Deep down, the likes of Nissan, Volkswagen and Ford know this to be true. The Koreans, Japanese, Germans and Brits are the statistical favourites to grab most or all of the gongs at the World Car Awards ceremony in New York on 17 April. And, since these are the most talented car-producers on Earth, that’s the way it should be, right? +++ 

+++ When MAZDA developed its Skyactiv-X Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) engine, it perfected one of the most elusive concepts since Nikolaus Otto’s first thumper clanked into life nearly 150 years ago. Why? Getting petrol to ignite in the same way as a diesel by compression instead of a spark had been an engineering holy grail for a long time. Auto Ignition, Combined Combustion System and Gasoline Compression Ignition are all names used for similar past projects by others attempting to perfect the same concept. The proper name for the underlying concept behind all of these (including SPCCI) is Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI). With HCCI engines, the fuel is evenly (homogeneously) mixed in the combustion chamber. It’s lean, too, with extra air supplied by a supercharger-like pump. Compression ignition exploits the fact that if you squeeze air enough, it gets hotter (try closing the end of a bicycle pump with your thumb). It’s how sparkless diesels work and why they need a much higher compression ratio than petrol, and it’s why some billed the HCCI concept as the merging of petrol and diesel engine technology. But why bother and what are the advantages? Plenty, according to many industry gurus. When fired by HCCI, the fuel air charge ignites as a whole throughout the combustion chamber. In a conventional spark-ignition petrol engine, fuel is ignited at the spark plug and then spreads along a flame front. The benefits of doing it the HCCI way include reduced fuel consumption and CO2 emissions and fewer oxides of nitrogen (NOx). Back in 2001, Lotus Engineering developed a system where the fuel was ignited by hot exhaust gases re-ingested into the engine, to achieve much the same goal as Mazda. Ricardo also produced research engines, and in 2007 Volkswagen demonstrated its prototype Gasoline Compression Ignition engine based on a FSI petrol engine. Like the Lotus concept, it used high levels of exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) to ignite the fuel. HCCI using hot exhaust gases could only work when the engine wasn’t under much load, because of the smaller amounts of fuel used. For starting and full power, it needed a conventional spark, and a smooth switch between the 2 proved difficult to achieve. SPCCI might sound like a cheat; after all, it still involves a spark. But the difference is the spark is used to ignite a small, fuel-rich ‘detonator’ charge injected directly around the spark plug. The rest of the chamber contains a lean charge brought to the brink of igniting by high compression. When the detonator charge is ignited by the spark, the expanding fireball from it increases enough extra pressure on the main charge to make it spontaneously combust. The pay-off is that SPCCI works when the engine is at full gallop and not just a gentle canter, so during most normal driving. The difference between this and the earlier concepts is that combustion is guaranteed and stable. You might say it’s a spark of genius. Lean burn simply means lots of air and less fuel. In a petrol engine, the perfect mixture to achieve complete combustion of the fuel is 14.6 parts of air to one of fuel (14.6:1). The Skyactiv-X engine has a Rootes-type supercharger on the front of the engine, not to boost power but to provide enough air to burn much leaner at over 29.4:1. +++ 

+++ Daimler chief executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said MERCEDES-BENZ will add a new compact SUV to its lineup later this year. He unveiled what he called a concept for the GLB with seating for 7 and rugged off-road tires at an event in Shanghai. Zetsche said the GLB would not remain a concept for long, and promised the unveiling of a production version by this summer. In China, Mercedes has declared 2019 the “year of the SUV”, reflecting the growing popularity of such vehicles in the world’s largest car market. +++

+++ Sweden’s Veoneer expects to gain from a commercial delay in SELF-DRIVING CARS , betting that rising demand for its radar and camera-based systems as the industry ramps up to autonomy will boost its market position. Forecasts on when autonomous vehicles will become a commercial reality have been receding, with most analysts now expecting broad-based adoption to take another decade as accidents in early testing have raised fresh concerns about regulation, technology and cost. Veoneer, seen by many investors as a play on autonomous driving, has suffered as a result. Weak car markets, delayed 2020 targets and cash concerns also contributed to a 36 % drop in Veoneer’s stock over the past 6 months. Chief Technology Officer Nishant Batra, however, said that by being more selective following its investment and product portfolio review, Veoneer could position itself to scale up more efficiently and set the foundation for the future. He said increasing requirements for active safety features to get top ratings in car safety assessment schemes such as the European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP) would be the big market driver for the coming years. Veoneer’s base case is that the market for its active safety products will soar to $24 billion in 2025, from $7 billion in 2018. “We have always focused on getting the portfolio ready for attacking that demand”, Chief Technology Officer Nishant Batra said. He added that the bigger role in the market for camera and vision systems coupled with software for combining data from different sensors was a “sweet spot” for the company. Some analysts are skeptical. UBS repeated its “sell” rating on Veoneer in a note, citing worries over the company’s growth as well as capital concerns. Loss-making Veoneer kept its $4 billion sales target for 2022 intact and reported a 95 % jump in active safety order bookings last year, but the delay of its 2020 targets increased concerns it might run short of capital before sales kick in and be unable to keep up with better-capitalized rivals. While Veoneer and rivals Continental and Bosch all have mono- and stereo camera systems with internally developed software, U.S.-based Aptiv has focused on mono cameras with much success, sourcing algorithms from vision software market leader Mobileye, owned by Intel. Deutsche Bank, which rates Veoneer a “sell”, said in February the company faced “big near term challenges” from high investment costs, adding it had longer-term questions about the differentiation of Veoneer’s technology, a risk to its competitiveness and margins. Veoneer believes driver monitoring will be an important area, with sensor fusion between the inward-looking and outward looking camera underway, and Batra said thermal imagery and camera fusing was also being increasingly discussed. He said the move from the so-called level 1 to level 2 opened up the market for sensor fusion software, which can be monetized through added advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). Cars are classified on a 0-5 autonomy scale, with level 2 partially automated, level 3 conditionally automated, and level 4 highly automated and capable of performing all driving functions under certain conditions. “This market has suddenly come alive for us. When you go from level 1 to level 3, some of the centralization of computing already starts”, he said. Batra said Veoneer’s main driverless push, Zenuity (the ADAS and autonomous drive software joint venture with Volvo) should be seen as self-sustaining with its software used for both sensor fusion and Level 4 products. “This also helps the carmakers get ready for the eventual journey toward level 4, so we see this market take off and we have won some good initial contracts in this space”. +++ 

+++ TOYOTA has agreed to sell electric car technology to Singulato, its first deal with a Chinese electric vehicle startup, allowing the fledgling firm to speed up development of a planned mini EV. In return, Toyota will have preferential rights to purchase green-car credits that Singulato will generate under China’s new quota system for all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. It will also gain a bird’s-eye view into how Chinese EV startups operate and the strategies they pursue in a fast-changing marketplace, said Singulato Chief Executive Shen Haiyin and 2 sources at the Japanese automaker. “With electrification, autonomous driving and car-sharing shaking up the industry, old ways need to be re-examined”, one of the Toyota sources said, declining to be identified as he was not authorized to speak on the matter. “We have a century’s lead in automotive technology, but we also need to be humble enough to learn from newcomers”, Singulato will acquire a license to use the design of Toyota’s eQ (a battery electric microcar). The deal is due to be announced later this month at the Shanghai auto show, where Singulato will unveil a concept car based on the eQ. Singulato plans to redesign the car, tailoring it to local tastes to come up with a model by early 2021 that is more affordable and offers a longer driving range. “This deal gives us a way to save on time and costs to develop a reliable car and focus on what we excel in”, Shen told. Financial terms are not expected to be disclosed. A Singulato source said the startup agreed to pay “several tens of millions of dollars” for eQ’s design. Toyota said it was taking various measures to accelerate its business in China, a key market, but it would not comment on specific steps. The agreement is a vote of confidence by Toyota in Singulato’s prospects, said Shen. Founded in 2014 and backed by Intel and Japanese trading house Itochu, Singulato is one of at least 50 Chinese EV startups seeking to survive in a competitive market. It plans to sell its first self-developed battery electric car called the iS6 this year, competing with models from rival startups like Nio and WM Motor as well as those from global automakers. Singulato’s version of the eQ will be a so-called connected car offering young buyers a host of entertainment, safety and navigation features. The car, which will be called the iC3, will also feature some self-driving technology. Toyota sold about 100 eQ cars in 2012 and then discontinued it due to concerns over the limits of EVs, including their high price tags, short driving range and long charge time. But Singulato believes technological advances, especially in batteries, have made the car much more marketable. Shen said the iC3 should be able to go as far as 250-300 km on a single full charge and will be priced around $15,000. Singulato aims to sell 200,000 units over 5 years. According to the 2 Toyota sources, the deal is part of efforts to share more technology with China as the Japanese automaker seeks more growth in the world’s largest auto market by beefing up manufacturing capacity and distribution channels. The deal dovetails with Toyota’s announcement this month that it would be offering automakers and suppliers free access to nearly 24,000 patents for EV technologies. Executive vice president Shigeki Terashi told the Japanese automaker intended to become a tier 2 supplier of hybrid systems and that it had already received more than enquiries from more than 50 companies. The green-car credits are also an important part of the Singulato deal. Keen to combat smog, jump-start its own auto industry and lower reliance on imported oil, China is aggressively pursuing the adoption of electric cars. Under a production quota system taking effect this year, automakers are required to produce and sell a certain number of new-energy vehicles in proportion to their overall sales volume. A carmaker that fails to achieve its quotas will have to acquire NEV points from an automaker with surplus credits or face penalties. Toyota has said that initially it won’t be able to meet its quotas without buying credits from others. It has also agreed to produce and help sell a car for GAC Motor, a joint venture partner, to generate credits. According to the Toyota sources, the deal with Singulato has already yielded intriguing glimpses into the thinking of Chinese EV startups and their non-traditional approach to engineering. One such example was Singulato’s idea to look at linking headlights with satellite, cellular network location data and the driver’s planned trip. That could help turn the headlights along the driver’s route for enhanced visibility and driving safety. It might not something Toyota would consider but as an idea, “it was eye-opening”, one of the sources said. +++ 

+++ VOLKSWAGEN wants to broaden its base of battery cell suppliers in China beyond CATL and is reviewing 5 companies to see whether they can meet quality and volume requirements for the multi-brand group. “We are working with 5 battery cell suppliers qualifying them to group level. With one or two of them it may lead to more close cooperation. In China we have chosen to do this with Chinese players”, Stephan Wöllenstein (55), CEO of Volkswagen China Passenger Cars said. The push to broaden the company’s supplier base reduces VW Group’s dependency on CATL as its main supplier, Wöllenstein said. Volkswagen needs 160 Gigawatt hours of battery cell capacity as part of a mass production push into electric cars, Wöllenstein said. +++ 

+++ The VOLKSWAGEN CORE BRAND expects its global sales this year to be in line with the 6.24 million level that it achieved in 2018, even though China sales dipped in the first-quarter, the company said. “We expect sales in the Chinese market to be on the same level as last year. Worldwide we expect sales to be in line and are optimistic that we can even post some growth”, Jürgen Stackmann, the VW brand’s board member responsible for sales, told. Sales in China fell in the first quarter but government incentives are expected to boost demand in the second half of the year, leading the VW brand to expect stable sales on a full year basis, Stackmann said. +++ 

+++ VOLVO TRUCKS is said to be looking to form closer ties with Geely in the Chinese market. Geely became the Swedish truck manufacturer’s largest shareholder back in December 2017 with a $3.3 billion deal. At the time, the Chinese automaker asserted that it was looking to contribute expertise in autonomous driving, electrification and connectivity. “We see a lot of areas where we feel that Geely can add both insights and competence”, Volvo Group chief executive Martin Lundstedt told, adding that they could help Volvo in China and with “certain technologies”. Volvo has yet to detail any projects it could collaborate with Geely on. At the same time, it’s worth noting that Geely boss Li Shufu is also the largest shareholder in Daimler, and the 2 have agreed to work together on car-sharing and ride-hailing services for the local market. Lundstedt refused to detail specifics about talks, other than saying “experience and what has been expressed has been very positive”. Beyond its car business, Volvo is a leading truck manufacturer and also operates a construction-equipment division. Last year, the latter contributed a third of operating profit for the entire Volvo Group and generated a 13.4 % margin on revenue, easily exceeding the 10.5 % return on sales at the Volvo truck division. Alongside its introduction of new electrified passenger cars, Volvo has developed a series of “green” trucks and, in February, kicked off deliveries of its very first all-electric models. Volvo intends on commencing series production of the FL Electric and FE Electric trucks in the second half of this year. +++

+++ Former Volkswagen boss Martin WINTERKORN has been charged with fraud by German prosecutors investigating the Dieselgate scandal, as have 4 other executives. Volkswagen admitted in 2015 that it fitted hundreds of thousands of diesel-engined cars with ‘defeat devices’ that allowed them to beat US emissions tests. The German firm was then forced to recall hundreds of thousands of cars. Prosecutors in the city of Braunschweig investigating the scandal claim Winterkorn violated competition laws by not disclosing the manipulation of diesel engines and failing to prohibit the installation of further engines featuring the illegal software. They also claim Winterkorn approved a software update, at a cost of €23 million, that was “useless” but served to “continue obscuring” the use of the defeat device systems. If found guilty, reports suggest Winterkorn faces between 6 months and 10 years in prison. The 71-year-old German was also charged with fraud by American prosecutors last year. The 4 other unnamed Volkswagen executives have all been charged with a variety of fraud charges relating to the scandal. The Braunschweig prosecutors say the indictment covers 692 pages, with an additional 300 file volumes featuring 75,000 pages, to explain the charges. Prosecutors are continuing to investigate 36 more defendants and have yet to decide whether to charge them. +++

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