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+++ German chauffeur service BLACKLANE is planning an initial public offering (IPO) in the next 3 years, its chief executive told, as it strives to build its position in the fast-growing premium taxi market. Any flotation would follow those of larger ride-hailing rivals. Lyft listed last month with a valuation of $24.3 billion, while Uber is planning an IPO that values the company at $80.5-$91.5 billion. “This would be a natural evolution of our business model and our traction to IPO in the next years to come. That’s pretty realistic”, Blacklane CEO Jens Wohltorf said in an interview on the sidelines of a tourism fair in Dubai. He declined to provide any details. Blacklane, which competes with the likes of British premium car service Addison Lee and UberBlack, the ride-hailing app’s luxury arm, caters to business customers in 300 cities in 60 countries. Uber, by comparison, says it is available in more than 600 cities worldwide. Blacklane is expanding into 20 cities in the Middle East this year, including Cairo, Wohltorf said. It will invest $10-$20 billion in the expansion, financed by the company and its shareholders, which include German premium carmaker Daimler and Abu Dhabi-based Al Fahim Group, he added. Wohltorf said Blacklane’s core driver service was profitable, but that overall the company was not because it was expanding in areas such as airport express services. “If we decide we don’t want to grow 120 % year over year anymore, but slower, we could immediately turn it around”, he said. Blacklane currently does around half of its business in Europe, with about a third in the United States and the rest in the Middle East and Asia. +++ 

+++ Daimler’s incoming chief executive Ola Källenius says partnering with BMW on a number of technology projects “was a clear case for a win-win”. He was asked why Daimler decided to partner with BMW to develop autonomous driving technology and mobility services. “In terms of mobility services, to be able to create even bigger critical mass and grow faster, we saw a strong complementary and partially overlapping portfolio within BMW. With regard to autonomous driving, you have 2 strong technology leaders in discussions. We see an opportunity to pool our technological resources”, Zetsche responded. “We can do more, we can get there quicker, and we can share investments for the second generation of driving assistance systems. We will have higher volumes, getting better variable cost. There was a clear case for a win-win”, he added. Earlier this year, Daimler and BMW announced a joint ride-hailing, parking and electric car charging business. The relationship between the two automotive giants quickly deepened and in late February, it was revealed that they would expand their alliance to share development costs for highly automated driving technologies. According to Källenius, working with BMW will be “ideal” for the development of autonomous technologies in the premium luxury segment. Daimler is then working with Bosch to develop its truly autonomous systems. “Part of the driving experience will be fully autonomous. The premium luxury segment is ideal for this partnership with BMW. Then you have the robo-taxi, Level 4 and 5 autonomy. We are developing this with Bosch, and we’re in discussions with BMW should we want to expand the partnership. It is possible”, he said. +++ 

+++ Subsidies are speeding up a turnaround at BYD . The electric-vehicle maker reported a stupendous 632 % increase in first-quarter net profit. It will be tricky to pull off a similar manoeuvre next time, as government grants helped to buoy the bottom line to 750 million yuan ($111 million). But investors nonetheless have cause for cautious celebration. Clean-car makers cannot depend on policymakers’ generosity in the months and years ahead. Beijing is clearly committed to promoting new energy vehicles, and BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu predicts rapid reform: he has forecasted that every vehicle in China will be electric by 2030. But the country is gradually phasing out subsidies in favour of a quota system, and specifications to qualify for the scheme are ever-more demanding. Strip out the chunky extraordinary gains, which made up around half the company’s bottom-line growth, and adjusted earnings still expanded by 225 %. That was, in part, a statistical recovery from an extraordinarily bad 2018. But stronger sales in green vehicles delivered genuine support. A shift to cleaner cars has been a common refrain in automakers’ recent reports, and at industry powwows like the Shanghai Auto Show. The sector provided a bright spot after the China overall car market contracted for the first time in decades last year: the country’s new-energy vehicle sales grew by around 60 % despite the downturn. But BYD takes the trend to new extremes. Wang’s marque shifted 73,172 electric-vehicle units in the first quarter, compared with less than 30,000 a year earlier. Management expects half-year net profit as high as 1.65 billion yuan, more than triple the same period last year. The next test will be whether BYD can build on its head start. Last year Chinese drivers had a choice of more than 100 electric models, more than any other country, according to Nomura. Local startups are already rampant, and foreign giants are determined to get a piece of the action too. For now their share of the local market is modest, but regulations and emissions standards are forcing the likes of Volkswagen and Toyota to double down on the new technology. Grants won’t fuel fast and furious growth for much longer. But BYD investors, including Warren Buffett, who has held a minority stake since 2008, could still enjoy this ride. +++ 

+++ France and Germany have asked the European Commission to approve state subsidies for a CROSS BORDER BATTERY CELL CONSORTIUM including carmaker PSA with its German subsidiary Opel and French battery maker Saft, a German official said. The 2 countries have earmarked €1.7 billion to support company alliances to help reduce European carmakers’ dependence on Asian suppliers and protect jobs at risk from the shift away from combustion engines. The economy ministries of both countries sent a letter of intent to the European Union’s executive body asking it to give a provisional go-ahead, a German economy ministry spokeswoman said, without giving a sum for the planned state funding. “We’re now waiting for Brussels to give us the green light”, the spokeswoman said. German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier will meet French counterpart Bruno Le Maire in Paris to discuss the matter, aiming to make progress with forging further battery alliances. The PSA / Saft alliance was planning to convert an Opel factory in the western city of Kaiserslautern close to the French border into a battery cell production site. Among the more than 30 companies that applied for state funding at the German Economy Ministry are carmakers Volkswagen and BMW, as well as German battery maker Varta and Swedish battery manufacturing startup Northvolt. Saft, a 100-year old French company owned by energy company Total, produces a range of batteries for industrial applications. It has joined forces with German industrial group Siemens, electronic components specialist Manz, Belgian chemicals group Solvay and Belgian material group Umicore to develop a new generation of batteries for electric vehicles. +++

+++ As DAIMLER ‘s incoming CEO, Ola Källenius will soon be making decisions on where to reduce costs as the automaker adjusts to the headwinds of trade tensions, plateauing sales and a pricey electrification strategy. The new boss reportedly is looking for about $6.75 billion in cost savings and efficiency gains by 2021 at Mercedes-Benz car plants. “When you are in transformation, you are investing at the highest level in company history” Källenius (49) said on the sidelines of this month’s Shanghai auto show. “At the same time, you have to gain the best efficiencies to be able to free up cash flow”. Daimler will be “very selective” with its investments, Källenius said. “We are not targeting just one cost category”, he said. “It’s really across-the-board efficiencies that we are looking for”. Speaking to a media roundtable during the Shanghai show, Källenius elaborated on Daimler’s electrification strategy, the fragmentation of the product portfolio and whether he thinks we have reached “peak car.” Edited excerpts follow. Mercedes has about 40 models. That’s not counting the EQ family of electric vehicles planned over the next few years. Are you concerned with product proliferation? “We have an unbroken trend over 20 years, where we have gone for more variants. The key to doing that successfully is intelligent architectures and modules. On our new compact car architecture, we are launching 8 different vehicles that all look totally different. The sharing of architecture in models is very, very high. So with a sensible investment you can provide more choice. Customers have shown us that they are more willing to experiment. People have decided what is the budget they are going to spend, and within that segment they experiment. We have a little more than 40 models now. I can see consolidation in the future of a model or 2”. So you don’t think we’ve hit ‘peak car’? “We are on track to grow over the next 10 to 15 years. Asia, and particularly China, is the biggest opportunity given the combination of population growth, wealth growth, economic growth. We sold roughly 650,000 units in China, which makes it our biggest market by a wide margin. Even in mature markets like Europe and America where you have a flat overall market, you still have wealth growth and more people coming into the range where a Mercedes becomes more relevant. So even in a mature market I see opportunities for luxury to gain market share in the long term”. What is Daimler’s electrification strategy? “There’s no 2 ways about it, the world is going toward zero-emission in the long term. For us, in the next 5 to 10 years, battery electric vehicles play an absolutely crucial role to go there. Our strategy toward electrification is based upon 3 pillars. Every single combustion engine that we will have will get a 48 volt mild hybrid system. Then, we will have plug-in hybrids in every segment. And we will have a full family of EQ battery electric vehicles. We don’t have full hybrid vehicles in the planning right now. We believe that plug-in hybrid at this point is a better use for the customer because you can truly drive electric up to a certain distance”. High-cost electric vehicles are expected to put pressure on automaker margins. How do you manage that? “The cost structure of electric vehicles in this first generation or 2 are definitely higher than what we used to have on the combustion engine side. It’s one of the main tasks as we scale and further develop the technology, primarily on the battery side, to drive that cost down. That will take many years. It is our goal to be a profitable business. The business case with the electric vehicles has to be profitable, as well”. What effect will rising trade tensions between the U.S. and Europe and China have on production at Mercedes’ Alabama plant, a major export hub? “We have a production footprint which more or less matches our sales in every one of the relevant regions. We still rely on global trade. Good trading relations between countries is something we rely on. We believe it’s an absolute growth factor for the economies around the world. So we’re very much pro-free trade. We have to see what the results are of the negotiations, particularly with regard to our factory in Alabama, between the U.S. and China. We are hopeful that in this case, the mindset of promoting trade prevails. But we don’t know the results of these talks”. +++ 

+++ EUROPE ’s new car market declined by another 3.6 % last month; the 7th consecutive monthly fall, with factors such as the diesel city ban, falling consumer confidence and Brexit uncertainty blamed. Figures released by analysis firm Jato Dynamics show that 4.13 million new cars were registered across the continent in the first quarter of this year, down 3.2 % year-on-year. 19 of the 27 countries listed posted declines. Diesel demand is down significantly again, with a 31.2 % market share in March. That’s down from the same month last year (36.2 %) and much lower than March 2017 (44.8 %). There is good news, however, as last month saw registrations of electrified vehicles (BEVs, PHEV and traditional hybrids) passing the 100,000 mark for the first time, with 125,400 registered. Demand grew by 31 %, driven by demand from Holland, Spain, Norway and Germany in particular. The Tesla Model 3 claimed top spot as the market share winner, with 15,755 registered in March. That’s more than 3 times as many as the next most popular EV, the Renault Zoe. A surprising trend in last month’s figures was a decline in SUV segment growth. It’s still the most popular market sector, with over 650,000 registered in March, but growth in the compact and small SUV segments was cancelled out by mid-size and large SUVs, which posted declines for the first time in a while. The Volkswagen Golf remains the most popular new car in Europe, despite an imminent replacement and a volume drop of 14 %. The Opel Corsa, a car much older and closer to replacement than even the Golf, also posted strong growth across the UK, France and Germany. +++

+++ FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES is a “house of brands” and that ensures it will be one of the few traditional automakers to survive the disruption the car industry is facing from the rise of electric and self-driving cars, CEO Mike Manley said. Manley’s vision, like that of his iconic predecessor Sergio Marchionne, is based on the view that distinctive brands such as Jeep, Alfa Romeo and Maserati give the Italian-American company an advantage over mass-market producers. Manley, 55, who succeeded Marchionne in July a few days before he died, is under pressure to deliver a turnaround of the automaker’s unprofitable Asia business and revamp its European operations amid massive investments needed to guide Fiat Chrysler into the era of self-driving electric cars and new mobility services. “I’m 100 % sure” that Fiat Chrysler will be able to survive because “we are fundamentally a house of brands”, Manley said in an interview last month at the company’s Turin headquarters for a new biography of Marchionne. In his last sit-down interview in January 2018 at his mansion in Michigan, Marchionne predicted that automakers have less than a decade to reinvent themselves or risk becoming commodities amid a seismic shift in how vehicles are powered, driven and purchased. The industry will divide into segments, with premium brands managing to hold onto their cachet while mere people-transporters struggle to cope with the onslaught from disruptors such as Tesla and Google’s Waymo, Marchionne said at the time. He warned that the namesake Fiat brand is the one more at risk of being “commoditized” inside its portfolio of products. “I don’t think that we have any brand that will fit into a bland character”, Manley said in the interview. He believes the Fiat brand has a future, citing the success of its iconic 500, which posted record deliveries after a decade on the market. “Our brands have shown they will be able to survive”. Pietro Gorlier, who leads Fiat Chrysler in Europe, echoed Manley’s outlook in a separate interview for the book at his Mirafiori office in Turin. He sees the Italian brand having a bright future in Europe with its 500 family, which also includes the 500X, and by developing the “concept of mobility”. At the Geneva auto show in March, Fiat unveiled the Centoventi prototype, a battery-powered electric car that can be fully customized by clients and could be Fiat’s answer for urban mobility services such as robotaxis or ride-hailing providers. Manley has signaled in the last few weeks that Fiat Chrysler is open to explore ways to cooperate or even merge with other automakers. Fresh talks with PSA Group  have begun for joint investments, people familiar with the matter have said. When asked if Fiat was holding talks with the French carmaker for a deal, Manley declined to comment. The Fiat Chrysler boss spoke in a joint interview with Chief Financial Officer Richard Palmer for the book “Sergio Marchionne”, which will be published April 30 in Italian by Sperling & Kupfer. The book revealed that Palmer and Manley were the 2 candidates that Fiat Chrysler chairman John Elkann had planned to propose to the board of directors July 21, after he discovered that Marchionne was never going to come back after a surgery he underwent few weeks before. In those dramatic hours, Palmer took himself out of the race, clearing the way for the head of Jeep, Fiat’s most valuable unit. So Elkann proposed Manley, who had led the revival at Jeep, where sales rose to more than 1.6 million in 2018 from 300,000 in 2009. Palmer declined to comment on the matter. Palmer, who stayed on as CFO and was appointed to the board, is working closely with both Manley and Elkann on Fiat Chrysler strategy. He also has a new responsibility for mergers and acquisitions. Palmer said everyone who worked with Marchionne was “enriched” by the experience. “Marchionne didn’t think of himself as an executive, he considered himself as a fixer. He hated long decision-making for an issue, he just wanted to solve it”. For the CFO, Marchionne’s legacy is an inspiration. “He used to say that leadership is a privilege and he felt the responsibility for the performance of the team and for all the organization”. +++

+++ German auto supplier Bosch said it had reached a licensing agreement with Powercell Sweden to jointly mass produce HYDROGEN FUEL CELLS for electrifying heavy-duty commercial vehicles. European Union rules call for trucks to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 15 % by 2025, and 30 % by 2030 which will force the industry to adopt hybrid and electric powertrains. Hydrogen fuel cells take less time to refuel than electric car batteries, making them more suitable for use in vehicles that need to stay on the road for prolonged periods of time. 1 liter of hydrogen contains as much energy as about 3 liters of diesel, Bosch said, adding that hydrogen fuel cells will power around 20 % of electric vehicles by 2030. Under the agreement, Bosch and Powercell will work jointly to develop a polymer-electrolyte membrane fuel cell for mass production, Bosch said. Bosch said it had made an investment of mid-double-digit million euros in the agreement with Powercell. +++ 

+++ With consumers shifting to SUVs and crossovers in droves, HYUNDAI is questioning the need for conventional sedans altogether. Simon Loasby, Hyundai’s new global design chief, has only been on the job for 6 months and already the 51-year-old is shaking things up inside the Korean automaker, and not just on the design front. In addition to plotting Hyundai’s next-generation design language, he’s also questioning the need for a conventional vehicle lineup. “Do we need conventional sedans anymore?” Loasby asked rhetorically in an interview. “A serious question: How many more petrol-engine, diesel-engine cars do we need?” Although SUVs are increasingly displacing sedans, Loasby’s questioning of the conventional passenger car also has to do with an autonomous and electric future. Driverless and electric vehicles present the opportunity for a clean slate redesign of what the automobile should be, and Loasby, along with the rest of the industry, is grappling with that challenge. “What excites me about the new job is the whole move toward EV platforms, autonomy, drones, robotics”, Loasby said. “What’s next: that will be the challenge for us”. +++

+++ In the United States, new car sales dipped slightly during the first quarter of the year but, even with that hiccup, the overall industry remains strong. However, mounting INVENTORIES suggest there could be trouble on the horizon. The industry started April with 4,188,200 new vehicles in inventory. That’s the highest level in nearly 2 years and not far off from the industry’s record of 4,302,500 vehicles in inventory set in May 2004. At least so far, the industry’s bulging inventory hasn’t hurt automakers’ bottom lines. However, the same can’t be said for dealers. Storing excess inventory can be a strain on a dealer’s budget, especially when you factor in rising floorplan interest rates. It also doesn’t help that most vehicles are now higher priced SUVs and pickups. “You can afford to make a lot of mistakes when your floorplan interest rate is only 1.5 or 2 %, but the room for error grows a lot tighter when you’re paying 5 or 5.5 %”, Marc Ray, co-owner of Charlie’s, which operates a pair of Chrysler / Jeep / Dodge / Ram dealerships in metro Toledo (Ohio) told. Ray added that his dealership’s carrying costs are up $500,000 so far this year. The Detroit Three account for the bulk of the new car glut. General Motors leads the way with 835,500 vehicles in stock, followed by Ford (715,600) and FCA (666,700). Toyota (464,900) and Honda (430,400) round out the top 5. In terms of days supply, FCA and Volkswagen are tied for tops in the industry with each possessing a 90-day supply of vehicles. Automakers have been far more disciplined about discounting new vehicles in the years since the great recession, but mounting inventories have the potential to change that. In order to clear out extra stock, car makers might have to resort to incentives, which could erode the industry’s profitability. +++ 

+++ JAGUAR LAND ROVER (JLR) is launching new ‘Smart Wallet’ technology that will allow drivers to earn cryptocurrency rewards as they drive. The system, which is currently being trialled at the company’s engineering base in Shannon, Ireland, enables cars to automatically report traffic congestion and poor road conditions. The British fim claims that ‘Smart Wallet’ rewards earned by providing the information can then be used to pay for coffee, toll roads or parking fees, as well as charging tariffs for all-electric vehicles, eliminating the need for loose change or multiple payment accounts. Drivers will also be able to top-up the ‘Smart Wallet’ using conventional payment methods, such as a debit or credit card. Jaguar Land Rover’s latest software development forms part of its ongoing Destination Zero strategy, which aims to achieve zero emissions, zero accidents and zero congestion. Connected vehicles will act as data gatherers for the cause, with the collected information being used to limit the amount of idling traffic and offer drivers alternative routes. JLR claims its ‘Smart Wallet’ system will provide drivers with an incentive to work towards its ‘Destination Zero’ goals. Russell Vickers, Jaguar Land Rover’s Software Architect, said: “In the future, owners could choose to participate in a sharing economy: earning rewards from sharing useful data such as warning other cars of traffic jams”. The British manufacturer speculates that payments to drivers could be issued by navigation providers and local authorities, both of which could use the information gathered by the scheme to improve their services. To ensure the payments to and from the ‘Smart Wallet’ are secure, JLR has partnered with the Iota Foundation, latching on to its ‘distributed ledger’ technology. The system allows payments to be processed quickly without the need for third-party verification, and is forecast to include around 75 billion connected devices by 2025. The company has not given a date for introducing the technology to customer vehicles, but it is being trialled with a fleet of Jaguar F-Pace and Range Rover Velar test vehicles that have been equipped with the smart wallet functionality. Jaguar and Land Rover drivers will also be able to top up their virtual wallet by more conventional means. This new scheme marks another step towards the firm’s ambition of achieving “zero emissions, zero accidents and zero congestion”, by allowing vehicles to play a part in the data-gathering process. By enabling drivers to alert others to heavy traffic and poor road surfaces, JLR says, the new technology could encourage freer-flowing traffic, thereby reducing overall tailpipe emissions. Russell Vickers, JLR software architect, said: “In the future, an autonomous car could drive itself to a charging station, recharge and pay, while its owner could choose to participate in the sharing economy”. JLR recently unveiled plans to develop a system that will project a vehicle’s direction of travel onto the road ahead, while an initiative detailed late last year could soon equip JLR models with software that helps them to avoid red traffic lights. +++ 

+++ All next-generation MERCEDES-AMG models look set to feature 4-wheeldrive as standard, including the AMG GT supercar, according to AMG boss Tobias Moers. Engine downsizing is also on the cards as Mercedes-Benz ramps up its brand-wide electrification strategy. Moers said in response to the idea of pure rear-wheel drive dying out in future: “Customers have given us the answer, and most want four-wheel drive. Back in the days when we had an AMG E-Class as rearwheel drive and with 4-wheeldrive as an option, over 90 % chose 4WD. In the new E63 with drift mode, you have a real rear-wheel-drive car but with four-wheel drive also”. When asked if even the AMG GT flagship would adopt such a system, Moers said: “When I ask customers about the GT, they ask me about all-wheel drive. Regarding our competition, this is the downside of the AMG in terms of usability. People in Munich, for example, always, always ask for 4-wheeldrive; I think it’s for safety and stability”. The latest E63 AMG uses a clutch-based 4-wheeldrive system that’s able to send up to 100 % of engine torque to either axle. The E63 S’s Drift mode can disengage the front driveshafts entirely allowing a traditional rear-drive system, if requested. Moers confirmed that the trademark AMG V8 would go hybrid in its next generation, stating “we are not going to push the performance output of the V8 in future” beyond the 639 hp it currently offers. To go further, the system will be mated to a plug-in hybrid with an electric rear axle. Such a system will first debut on a hybrid version of the AMG GT 4-Door, Moers confirmed, setting it up as a rival to the Porsche Panamera S-E Hybrid. It is due to arrive next year. Moers also revealed that there will be no more V12 engines in Mercedes-AMG’s range beyond the S 65 Final Edition, revealed at the Geneva show: “We’re still responsible for V12s; maybe Maybach is going to use them in the next-generation S-Class, but not AMG. Having a high-powered competitive V12 would be a new engine, and in the new times there is no room to do that”. The impending emissions regulations mean that the future of the V8 in some smaller variants is under threat, with the next C 63 looking more likely to use a downsized turbocharged 6-cylinder unit. When asked about that, Moers paused and said: “There is room for speculation there”. Despite previous plans to revive the SLC as a Porsche Boxster-rivalling sports car, Moers said Mercedes-AMG “is not able to do so”. “I know companies trying to exercise approachable sports cars in that €40,000 segment; they are not doing so well. It’s a question mark for the future”, he said. AMG is instead focusing its resources on the next-generation SL, which Moers confirmed will be developed by the performance division and share its platform with the next AMG GT. “We are focused on SL for the future”, he said. “Totally different car: it’s a sports car. The company has been running at full throttle for 2 years on that programme. It’s a shared platform between GT and SL”. +++ 

+++ We haven’t heard that much about the second generation ROADSTER ever since Tesla first previewed it approximately 1,5 year ago, but Elon Musk made an interesting comment on Twitter about it. The outspoken boss was asked if the autonomy of the Roadster is “still going to be 1000 km”, to which he responded the “range will be above 1,000 km”. That is extremely impressive, especially considering the new Roadster’s performance, which falls in true hypercar territory. Naught to 100 km/h) will take a mind-blowing 2.0 seconds, while top speed will exceed 402 km/h. The company’s test driver admitted that the finished car is going to be even faster (!), thus bringing on the heat to some big names like Bugatti and Koenigsegg. The new Roadster won’t be cheap, but considering its hypercar-beating performance, it’s actually a bargain. The base model is expected to start from $200,000 and the Founder Series, that will be limited to 1,000 units, should be $50,000 more expensive in the United States. Reports speak about a possible price increase of around 10 % or a little bit more when it finally goes on sale, which is still hugely more affordable than the multi-million machines it competes with. +++ 

+++ TESLA has admitted that it may be preparing to raise additional capital as the company pushes forward with multiple development projects and factory construction in Shanghai, speaking to analysts following Tesla’s disclosure of a $700 million loss for the first quarter of the year, CEO Elon Musk acknowledged “there is some merit” to raising more funds. “It’s probably about the right time”, he added. Tesla currently holds more than $2 billion in cash, falling short of its capital expenditure forecast for the next 2 years. The company has not detailed which type of fund-raising strategy it will likely employ. +++

+++ VOLKSWAGEN American vice-president Scott Keogh has confirmed 3 potential pickup strategies that the company is considering for the US market. The company recently brought its South American Tarok pickup to the New York auto show, highlighting one possible route that would involve a tiny budget-focused pickup based on the flexible MQB platform architecture. “The question we have is, could something like this make sense, with modifications, in the U.S. market?” Keogh recently pondered. “The theory is quite straightforward: It’s an A-segment sized vehicle. There’s no pickup truck in the U.S. market that is quite that size at all”. Another option centers around VW’s collaboration with Ford, which could be expanded to include a VW-badged body-on-frame midsize pickup sharing the Ranger platform. Finally, the German automaker is also considering a midsize unibody ‘lifestyle’ pickup derived from the Atlas crossover. This option was already previewed via the Tanoak concept presented at the 2018 New York auto show. VW appears increasingly certain to launch a pickup in the US, once the company makes a final decision on which route to take. +++

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