+++ BMW will buy cobalt, a key component for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, directly from mines in Australia and Morocco to ensure they are not produced by child labor, an executive said. The announcement came as the London Metal Exchange (LME) launched an initiative under which it could ban or delist brands that are not responsibly sourced by 2022 to help root out metal tainted by child labor or corruption. Andreas Wendt, BMW board member responsible for procurement, told that the new supply of cobalt would be used in the carmaker’s next generation of EVs in 2020. A spokesman for mining and trading firm Glencore told his company would supply BMW with cobalt from its Australian Murrin Murrin mine, which last year produced 2,900 tonnes of cobalt. The world’s largest known reserves of cobalt are found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the raw ingredient is often mined by small, artisanal operations and supply chains are not strictly monitored. BMW said last year it was exploring ways to improve working conditions for mining cobalt in Congo through a pilot project. +++ 

+++ CHINA will push ahead with the development of China’s hydrogen energy and fuel cell vehicle industry, a government official said, as part of wider efforts to promote green energy in the world’s largest auto market. “Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and pure electric vehicles with lithium batteries are important technical routes for new energy vehicles”, said Huang Libin, a spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Pure electric vehicles are more suitable for urban and short-distance passenger travel, while hydrogen fuel cells are more suitable for long-distance and large commercial vehicles, Huang said. “We believe that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and pure electric vehicles will coexist and complement each other for a long time to meet the needs of transportation and people’s travel”, Huang said. Senior industry executives and academics in China have urged the government to support hydrogen fuel cell technology due to its suitability for commercial vehicles. Toyota plans to supply fuel cell components to China’s commercial vehicle makers after launching a joint research institute with Tsinghua University last week. +++ 

+++ FORD says that its coming broader range of hybrid models will permit it to comply with stricter European Union emissions targets set for 2020-21 without the risk of paying fines. Many other automakers (led by the region’s largest player, the Volkswagen Group) are preparing an offensive of battery-powered vehicles that comply to meet the EU’s latest CO2 emissions reduction targets. Ford will take a different route, counting more (like Toyota) on hybrids rather than battery electric vehicles. Ford of Europe will not need big numbers of full-electric cars to comply with the new EU target because of its offensive in hybrid vehicles, Steve Armstrong, the automaker’s regional chairman, told. Ford is ramping up its launch of hybrids with a special emphasis on plug-in hybrids such as the new Kuga, which the company said emits 29 g/km of CO2 under the NEDC testing regime. Under an EU credit system favoring plug-in vehicles, any car emitting less than 50 g/km of CO2 will count as 2 vehicles in 2020, 1.67 vehicles in 2021, 1.33 in 2022 and 1 by 2023. Ford surprised the industry with the Kuga plug-in hybrid’s particularly low emissions level. The Kuga is closer to midsize cars such as the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid, which emits 28 g/km, than a similarly sized SUV, such as the Peugeot 3008 plug-in hybrid, which emits 49 g/km. To help tackle climate change, the EU has mandated automakers selling cars in Europe to reduce industrywide fleet CO2 emissions to 95 grams per km by 2021 from 120 g/km last year. Each automaker has a different target based on the average mass of its vehicles. Ford of Europe’s 2021 target is 95.4 g/km, according to calculations by PA Consulting. Before the release of the Kuga plug-in hybrid emissions data, PA Consulting had estimated that Ford of Europe in 2021 could pay €430 million in fines as it forecast average emissions at 99.8 g/km; 4.4 grams above Ford’s target. The fine is €95 per gram of CO2 over the limit, multiplied by the number of cars sold in 2020 and 2021, although 5 % of the highest-emission vehicles will not be counted in 2020. In 2018, Ford sold 1,007,846 units in the EU plus countries in the European Free Trade Association. PA Consulting said that although it had not yet reassessed Ford’s emissions forecast to include the Kuga plug-in hybrid, it remains dubious that the automaker could close the gap entirely just with plug-in hybrids. “With other SUVs increasing their share in the portfolio, Ford will face both a slightly higher CO2 target as well as a higher CO2 emission across their entire fleet. This means that Kuga plug-in hybrid could make a small positive impact depending on CO2 performance under the EU’s new WLTP test cycle conditions and sales volume, including the multiplier as part of regulation,” said Michael Schweikl, an automotive expert at PA Consulting and an author of the company’s annual report on automakers’ progress toward emission targets. For the Kuga plug-in hybrid, Ford chose a large-displacement engine of 2.5 liters, turning to the highly efficient Atkinson cycle. Toyota follows a similar route with the Prius plug-in, which has a 1.8-liter Atkinson engine. In contrast, the Peugeot 3008 is powered by a traditional a 1.6-liter gasoline engine. The Kuga is part of a Ford plug-in hybrid offensive in Europe that also includes a plug-in hybrid version of the Explorer and the Tourneo Custom. “Plug-in hybrid is a very expensive technology, so it makes sense on heavier, bigger, higher-CO2 vehicles where it does more for CO2 reduction and the premium is not as big as small cars”, Roelant de Waard, Ford of Europe’s head of sales and marketing, told. “The Kuga is the smallest, but still a pretty sizable vehicle”. Ford also will offer mild hybrids and hybrid variants on more mainstream models such as the Fiesta and Focus. Ford already sells full hybrid versions of its Mondeo. De Waard said Ford expects 40 % of Kuga sales to be electrified from the start but said it is hard to predict the exact share of mild, full and plug-in hybrids. “I’m happy with the choice of electrified drivetrains in the Kuga because it’s hard to predict policy and we can respond anywhere”, he said. Ford does not think it should need to persuade customers to buy into plug-in hybrids. “It’s not so much that we have to persuade”, de Waard said. “In some countries, the tax system persuades them. In Germany, the tax for plug-in hybrids is half. In France, a very steep CO2 taxation curve will generate a lot of demand. Then there are countries where there is no such thing, and customers will be less interested and they may be better off with a full hybrid”. Armstrong said the company will need only small volumes of full-electric cars to comply with the coming EU emission targets. A full-electric version of the Transit will be launched in 2021, Ford said, making it the second all-electric vehicle to be announced by the company for Europe. The first full-electric car will be an SUV, likely to be named Mach E, which will go on sale next year. Armstrong said the Mustang-inspired SUV will have a 600 km range under the EU’s WLTP test cycle. This Ford EV is expected to be unveiled by year end and positioned to compete with Tesla’s Model Y, which the automaker says will enter production in early 2021. Ford sold a full-electric version of its previous Focus but dropped it because of slow sales. +++ 

+++ French president Emmanuel Macron and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed the future of the Renault-Nissan alliance and the investigation in Tokyo into alleged financial misconduct by its former boss Carlos GHOSN , Macron’s office said. “This industrial partnership has shown its resilience”, a French presidency official said in a statement. “It is now up to the industry leaders in charge to make the alliance even more solid so that it can face up to the technological disruptions underway in the auto industry”, he added. The official said France respected Japan’s judicial system and that France was closely watching to see that Ghosn’s rights were respected. Japanese prosecutors indicted Carlos Ghosn on another charge of aggravated breach of trust. The charge came on the day that Ghosn’s latest detention period was set to expire. +++

+++ HUAWEI Technologies launched what it said was the world’s first 5G communications hardware for the automotive industry, in a sign of its growing ambitions to become a key supplier to the sector for self-driving technology. Huawei said in a statement that the so-called MH5000 module is based on the Balong 5000 5G chip which it launched in January. “Based on this chip, Huawei has developed the world’s first 5G car module with high speed and high quality”, it said. It launched the module at the Shanghai Autoshow. “As an important communication product for future intelligent car transportation, this 5G car module will promote the automotive industry to move towards the 5G era”, Huawei said. It said the module will aid its plans to start commercializing 5G network technology for the automotive sector in the second half of this year. Huawei has in recent years been testing technology for intelligent connected cars in Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Shenzhen and Wuxi and has signed cooperation deals with a swathe of car makers including FAW, Dongfeng and Changan. The company, which is also the world’s biggest telecoms equipment maker, is striving to lead the global race for next-generation 5G networks but has come under increasing scrutiny from Washington which alleges that its equipment could be used for espionage. Huawei has repeatedly denied the allegations. +++ 

+++ HYUNDAI unveiled a promising outlook for sales at home and in the United States, and also reported its first rise in profit in 5 quarters, in an early sign of recovery even as it battles a slump in China. This comes as Hyundai’s heir apparent Euisun Chung tightens his grip and reshuffles top management to revive stalled growth at the automaker; once hailed as a star performer during the global financial crisis about a decade ago. Hyundai is now rolling out a full line-up of SUVs this year, after a consumer shift to the segment took a toll on its sedan-heavy line-up. In the quarter ended March, Hyundai raked in a better-than-expected 24 % rise in net profit to 829 billion won ($722 million), versus an 8-year low plumbed a year earlier, its first year-on-year rise since end 2017. That beat an average estimate of 758 billion profit from 15 analysts polled by Refinitiv. Its operating profit rose 21 % to 825 billion won and revenue climbed 7 % to 23.99 trillion won, as its South Korea sales hit a 17-year high and U.S. sales rose for the first tine since 2016. “We will try to sustain our profit improvements driven by new models”, CFO Choi Byung-chul said on an earnings call, adding Hyundai is aiming for an operating margin of more than 4 % this year versus 2.5 % last year. He also said Hyundai had decided to suspend its oldest plant in China to better manage its massive overcapacity there and respond to Beijing’s efforts to tackle pollution. “The Chinese market is not in a favorable condition”. Hyundai’s first-quarter sales in China slumped 19 % to the lowest since 2009, hit by the lack of attractive models and strong branding amid competition from local and global rivals. An overall slowdown in auto sales in China in the quarter, after contracting in 2018 for the first time in almost 3 decades, further pressured Hyundai’s sales in the world’s biggest car market. The Chinese gloom was, however, offset by improving business in Hyundai’s 2 other key markets during the first quarter. At home, its sales rose 9 % to the highest since 2002 with its Palisade large SUV selling better than expected, even as its rivals such as General Motors, Nissan, Mercedes Benz and BMW struggled with falling sales. Hyundai, which with affiliate Kia is the world’s the No.5 automaker, expects to exceed this year’s sales target of 712,000 vehicles for the domestic market, driven by upcoming models such as its Genesis G80 sedan and GV80 SUV. In the United States, the third-biggest market for Hyundai after China and Korea where it is slowly catching up with the shift to SUVs, the automaker’s sales rose 2 %. The automaker said it aims to turn around its U.S. sales and profits this year. Just last week, Hyundai hired former Nissan executive Jose Munoz to oversee its Americas operation, replacing William Lee, who has held the position for less than a year. The appointment comes at a time when Hyundai and Kia are facing U.S. regulatory investigations into the timeliness of recalls involving defective engines and thousands of fires connected to their vehicles. Then there is also a threat of U.S. import tariffs. Hyundai said it is “sincerely” cooperating with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration probe, adding it is difficult to predict when the investigation will be over. U.S. President Donald Trump, who has threatened to levy tariffs of some 25 % on imported vehicles and auto parts on national security grounds, has until about May 17 to act on any tariff recommendations made by the Commerce Department. Hyundai imports around half of its vehicles sold in the United States from South Korea and Mexico. +++

+++ JAGUAR LAND ROVER is facing stiff headwinds in the UK and in China but the automaker sees the U.S. as a relative oasis. Plummeting China sales, Brexit tremors and tightening European emissions rules forced JLR parent Tata Motors. to take a record $3.9 billion writedown last year. But while global deliveries fell 4.6 %, Jaguar Land Rover’s 2018 sales in the U.S. rose 7.3 % to a record of almost 123,000 vehicles. JLR’s top executive in the U.S., Joe Eberhardt, is aiming for a repeat performance this year. “If we can keep our volumes around where we were last year, I would be more than happy”, Eberhardt, head of the company’s North America business, said in an interview at the New York auto show. “We focus on the things we can control”. The U.S. is JLR’s single biggest market, and the company is betting on continued demand for SUVs such as the Jaguar E-Pace and redesigned Range Rover Evoque, even as industrywide vehicle sales are expected to dip. The automaker also is counting on a new version of the Land Rover Defender to boost sales when it arrives on U.S. shores in 2020. “There is always room for further growth and the growth will have to come from new product”, Eberhardt said. Maintaining that momentum in the U.S. is critical as the British automaker struggles to adjust to falling sales elsewhere. In January, JLR announced plans to cut 4,500 jobs worldwide (roughly 10 % of its workforce) as part of a $3.2 billion push to reduce costs and boost cash flow through 2020. Eberhardt said North America has done its part to contribute to cost savings, without elaborating. Tata Motors is said to be exploring strategic options for Jaguar Land Rover, including a potential stake sale in the struggling automaker, Bloomberg reported in March, citing people familiar with the matter. Tata needs to raise $1 billion in 14 months to replace maturing bonds and is also burning cash on an investment program for electric cars. +++ 

+++ Declaring that a pure electric vehicle is necessary for China and Europe, LEXUS international president Yoshihiro Sawa said last week that the luxury brand is working on its first EV. But exactly what it will be and when it will appear, the Toyota marque is still trying to figure out. “Definitely here we need an EV in the future”, Sawa said in an interview at the Shanghai auto show. “But I cannot say when or how”. China’s strict emissions controls and mandates for electric vehicle credits are driving automakers into EVs. And Lexus will also need them in Europe, where certain cities have strict EV requirements, Sawa said. Launch timing will hinge on the course of regulation, he added. Toyota, and by extension Lexus, is a latecomer to the industry’s pure EV push. Toyota instead continues to leverage the gasoline-electric hybrid technology it pioneered with its Prius. The Japanese manufacturer is now the world’s biggest maker of hybrids. But the Toyota brand will start selling an all-electric version of its C-HR in China next year as part of a push to introduce “more than 10” battery electrics globally by 2025. Lexus introduced its first hybrid in 2005 and now has 11 hybrid offerings worldwide. About 26 % of the 698,330 vehicles it sold globally last year were gasoline-electric. Lexus is working on plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles in addition to EVs, Sawa noted. But plug-ins do not fulfill some regulatory requirements. “It’s a transition era”, Sawa said. “We are studying several possibilities”. +++

+++ Electric carmaker LUCID MOTORS named Peter Rawlinson, former chief engineer of Tesla’s Model S, as its chief executive officer, effective immediately. Rawlinson, who joined Lucid in 2013 and held the role of the chief technology officer, will be replacing Sam Weng, who is also the company’s co-founder. Rawlinson, who will also retain his role as CTO, was the Model S engineering chief for 3 years from 2009. Lucid Motors, which has more than $1 billion investment from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, said Weng has retired following his 11-year long tenure with the company. Based in Newark, California, Lucid Motors was founded in 2007 as Atieva by Weng and Bernard Tse, a former Tesla vice president and board member. +++

+++ NISSAN slashed its full-year profit forecast to its lowest in nearly a decade due to weakness in the United States, just as it adjusts to life without Carlos Ghosn and charts its future with alliance partner Renault. The Japanese automaker expects operating profit for the year ended March to drop 45 % versus a year earlier to 318 billion yen ($2.84 billion), from a previous forecast for 450 billion yen, on expenses related to extending vehicle warranties in the United States, its biggest market. Nissan also blamed the arrest of former Chairman Ghosn for tarnishing its brand and contributing to the decline in profit to the lowest since the year ended March 2010. This is the second cut to the automaker’s operating profit forecast in 2 months, and adds pressure on Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa just as he works to draw a line under Ghosn’s legacy by overhauling corporate governance and seeking a more equal footing with Renault, Nissan’s biggest shareholder. At its full-year results on May 14, the automaker will book a 66 billion yen provision for costs related to extending the warranty on its continuously variable transmission system installed in about 3 million Sentra and Altima sedans and Versa subcompact models between 2012 and 2017 for the U.S. market. Following complaints that the key powertrain component made excessive noise and vibrations with age, the automaker said it decided this week to extend their warranty to 7 years from 5 in hopes of building brand loyalty in a market where it has been struggling for the past 3 years. Falling profit has been a headache for Nissan since before Ghosn was first arrested in November on allegations of financial misconduct. Currently in jail after his 4th arrest, Ghosn, who denies wrongdoing, could learn as early as Wednesday whether he will be released on bail for a second time. The once-feted executive has repeatedly accused Nissan executives of mismanagement since his ouster, which he has characterized as a boardroom coup. Now the automaker is saying that Ghosn’s arrest has hurt business. “Everyday, there are many reports of the case”, Nissan CFO Hiroshi Karube said, referring to the scandal. “Non-Nissan users are hesitant to buy our cars”. The biggest blow, however, to Nissan’s bottom line has come from the costly sales incentives in the United States. For years it has relied on heavy discounting in its biggest market to sell its Rogue (X-Trail) and Altima to expand market share, under aggressive targets Ghosn set during his time as chief executive. Saikawa, who took over as CEO in 2017, has pledged to focus on improving profit margins, but it has been a slow process as Nissan continues to resort to discounting to shore up sales. “Sales volumes were lower than expected, so we were unable to realize our cost-reduction plans”, CFO Karube said, adding that overall dismal U.S. performance will wipe 43 billion yen from Nissan’s bottom line in the year ended March. “We didn’t make as much progress on volumes and improvements to incentives as planned”, he added. Analysts warned that Nissan’s troubles could weaken its footing with partner Renault, which has been pushing for a closer merger, but which many at Nissan have opposed. “To maintain its stance against closer ties with Renault, Nissan must improve its financial performance so it can hold its position”, said Satoru Takada, managing director at securities research company TIW. +++ 

+++ PORSCHE is exploring joint projects with Chinese technology giants including Tencent Holdings, Alibaba Group and Baidu to expand digital offerings in its largest market and bolster sales. Country-specific features for voice recognition, navigation and integration of the ubiquitous WeChat messaging service will be developed locally, Porsche CEO Oliver Blume said in an interview in Shanghai. The automaker also signed an agreement to expand its research cooperation with Tongji University. “We want to have the right partnerships in place in each individual region”, Blume said. “It’s a misconception to believe all this can be developed in Germany”. The move builds on efforts by Volkswagen Group’s most profitable brand to cater to the Chinese, who overwhelmingly use Alibaba-backed AutoNavi and Tencent’s WeChat instead of Google Maps and WhatsApp. China’s emergence as the world’s largest electric-car market also gives it a key role for Porsche’s plan to boost its lineup of electrified vehicles. The company’s first full-electric model, the Taycan, is due to come out later this year and will be followed by a more spacious Cross Turismo version. Other China-specific features in the works include interior illumination or softer suspension to meet local tastes. But despite the country’s growing importance, Porsche seeks to maintain a balanced global sales footprint to avoid becoming too dependent on one market, Blume said. North America, China and Europe currently each account for roughly a third of global deliveries. The automaker faced a bumpy start to the year as worldwide sales fell 12 % in the first quarter, triggered by production bottlenecks in the wake of more complex emissions tests in Europe, the brand’s decision to cull diesel engines and model changeovers. Still, Porsche expects full-year sales to rise to a record this year, even as the economic outlook weakens in some key markets. The luxury brand is particularly exposed to trade tariffs as it produces all its vehicles in Europe. But it has more leeway to adjust prices for its well-heeled buyers than mass-market automakers. Porsche predicts a slight rise in revenue this year, helped by the introduction of the latest iteration of its iconic 911 sportscar. The 911 shaped the brand’s cachet for decades and has a loyal fan base in the U.S. and Europe. Customers in China have mainly opted for its Macan and Cayenne, but Porsche’s efforts to promote its sportscars in China, including building a race track outside Shanghai, are making “steady progress”, Blume said. The country has become the biggest sales region for the 2-seater 718 Boxster and Cayman, he said, which are less expensive than the 911. +++ 

+++ Nissan will reject a management integration proposal from partner RENAULT and will call for an equal capital relationship. Nissan’s management feels the Japanese company has not been treated as an equal of Renault under existing capital ties, and a merger would make this inequality permanent. The outlook for the alliance, one of the world’s top automaking partnerships, has been in focus since the arrest in November of its main architect, Carlos Ghosn, for financial misconduct. The former Nissan and Renault chairman has denied the charges against him and has said he was the victim of a boardroom coup by Nissan executives opposed to closer ties. Renault saved Nissan from the brink of bankruptcy 2 decades ago and under their current capital alliance, the French company holds greater control over its much larger partner. Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa declined to say whether the company had received such a proposal from Renault. “Now is not the time to think of such things”, he told a group of reporters outside of his house in Tokyo. “At the moment we are focused on improving Nissan’s earnings performance. Please give us time to do that”. Renault has argued in its proposal that an integration would maximise synergies within the French-Japanese alliance. The alliance between Renault and Nissan was first set up in 1999 and was expanded in 2016 to include Mitsubishi. +++ 

+++ Didi Mobility Japan, a joint venture by China’s Didi Chuxing and SoftBank, said it would expand its TAXI HAILING SERVICE to 13 cities across Japan. The app was first rolled out in September in Osaka, a popular destination for Chinese tourists, where it has tied up with 40 taxi firms in an increasingly crowded market for such apps that includes rivals backed by Sony and Toyota. It is expanding into Tokyo and Kyoto first, with a further 10 locations to follow in the current financial year. Despite SoftBank’s oversized presence in the global ride-hailing industry, such services are effectively banned in Japan, leaving SoftBank portfolio companies like Didi and Uber limited to offering services that match taxis with customers. Didi is among a growing number of SoftBank Group Corp-backed companies launching JVs with SoftBank’s domestic Telco. Other startups doing so are shared co-working firm WeWork Cos and Indian hotel startup OYO. As part of SoftBank’s efforts to drive synergies between its portfolio companies users will be able to access the taxi-hailing service through Yahoo Japan’s route-finding app and pay via PayPay, an app that uses tech from India’s Paytm. +++ 

+++ TESLA , struggling with delays in delivery of its higher-priced Model S and X luxury cars, said it will bring back lower-priced options for those cars and roll out upgrades to improve their driving range and re-charging speed. The company, striving to improve margins and post a profit later this year, has laid off workers including about half of the team hired to deliver cars in the United States, and said it would close stores to lower costs. Tesla has since said it will keep higher-volume stores open, while announcing a 3 % price increase on some models. The upgrades include a new drivetrain design and a new adaptive suspension system, increasing each vehicle’s driving range, the company said in a blog post here ahead of its first-quarter results. With the upgrades, the long-range version of Model S and X can now travel 600 and 530 kilometres, respectively, on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cycle. Estimated delivery of both cars was set for May. Earlier in April, Tesla reported fewer-than-expected vehicle deliveries in the first quarter, with figures for the Model S and Model X more than halving compared with the preceding quarter. The Silicon Valley carmaker has faced a range of challenges over the past year as one of the leaders in electric vehicle technology sought to ramp up production, deliveries and sales of the Model 3 sedan seen as crucial to its long-term profitability. +++ 

+++ TOYOTA and Kenworth have revealed a new hydrogen-powered semi, referred to as a fuel cell electric truck (FCET). With an improved range of more than 480 kilometres per tank, hydrogen provides far shorter range than the thousands of kilometres that a traditional semi can drive from a few hundred gallons of diesel. The FCET is consequently focused on short-haul ‘drayage’ logistics, starting with the Port of Los Angeles. The California Air Resources Board spent $41 million on the project, drawing from its cap-and-trade funds. The initiative is expected to reduce emissions by over 500 tons of greenhouse gas, approximately equal to the typical emissions from a fleet of just 20 consumer cars over the course of 5 years. Hydrogen has continued to receive significant attention as an alternative fuel for transportation, though it is becoming increasingly clear that fuel-cell tech is not living up to Toyota and other automakers’ growth expectations. Pure battery-powered EVs represent the biggest threat, offering similar range and an established charging infrastructure that dwarfs the handful of hydrogen refueling sites located in a few California cities. +++ 

+++ German prosecutors are investigating a possible breach of fiduciary duty by VOLKSWAGEN over bonus payments made to an executive who was suspended over the carmaker’s emissions cheating scandal. Regulators blew the whistle on Volkswagen (VW) in 2015 after the German company was caught using software designed to cheat emissions tests on diesel engines. VW has argued the cheating was the work of a handful of engineers who acted without the consent or knowledge of members of the management board, which at the time included VW’s current chief executive Herbert Diess and chairman Hans-Dieter Poetsch. Prosecutors in Braunschweig, in VW’s home region of Lower Saxony, said they were now investigating why one VW manager received bonus payments while suspended. The manager received €866,000 in bonuses between 2016 and 2018. The prosecutors declined to identify the manager. The manager is among 5 VW executives, including former chief executive Martin Winterkorn, to face criminal charges for conspiring to cover up the carmaker’s diesel emissions cheating scandal. Prosecutors have said that between November 2006 and September 2015, Winterkorn and 4 other managers failed in their duty to inform authorities about systematic emissions cheating. The VW managers could face up to 10 years in prison. The carmaker has argued that although it was informed about the use of software to help pass emissions tests, lawyers advising the company had cautioned against informing the authorities because it was unclear the software was illegal. Regulators later said that VW had crossed the line from using legitimate software programs to protect engines from damage, known as Auxiliary Emission Control Devices (AECD), to using an illegal ‘defeat device’ which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines as software which “reduced the effectiveness of the emission control system”. VW has said it also stopped short of informing shareholders about the software before the regulatory announcement because it felt potential fines would not exceed €150 million. So far the scandal has cost VW more than €29 billion. +++ 

+++ WAYMO said it had chosen a factory in Detroit to mass produce self-driving cars, looking to the historical heart of the auto industry to build the vehicles of the future. The company’s chief executive, John Krafcik, said that Waymo would partner with American Axle & Manufacturing to lease and repurpose an existing Detroit facility that will be operational by mid-2019. Waymo said in January it had chosen Michigan for its first production facility, adding it would receive incentives from the public-private partnership agency, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and create up to 400 jobs over time exclusively related to self driving. In a sea of rivals, Waymo is generally thought of as ahead in the self-driving race. It already operates a robotaxi service in Arizona that it plans to expand geographically over time. Global automakers, large technology companies and startups are all engaged in self-driving efforts, but experts expect it will be years before systems are ready to be rolled out in all areas, with software and regulations among the many challenges. Waymo is competing with rivals General Motors and Uber Technologies to deploy such vehicles for the masses. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also announced the company plans to launch a robotaxi service in 2020. Waymo, which has been working on self-driving technology for a decade, provided few new details.It currently retrofits the Chrysler Pacifica to use in its robotaxi fleet. In March 2018, Waymo said it would diversify the fleet, partnering with Jaguar to produce up to 20,000 I-Pace vehicles by 2022, able to conduct about 1 million trips per day. American Axle, with which Waymo is partnering for its Detroit facility, was formed in 1994 when an investment team purchased 5 plants that General Motors had put up for sale. GM plans to end output at its last Detroit factory next year, after announcing in November a plan to halt production at 5 North American assembly plants and cut about 15,000 jobs. Fiat Chrysler, however, said in February it would invest $4.5 billion in 5 plants and create 6,500 jobs in Michigan. In January, Waymo said it planned to hire engineers, operations experts, fleet coordinators and others to retrofit vehicles with its self-driving technology. Both GM and Ford have said they will build autonomous vehicles at Michigan factories. +++

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