Newsflash III

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+++ Another month, another sales dip. AUSTRALIA ’s new vehicle market declined in April by 8.9 %, making it 13 successive months where sales were lower than the equivalent month, in the preceding year. Data submitted by car makers recorded 75,550 sales; down from 82,930 in April of 2018. The April 2019 tally is the lowest April sales result since 2011, when 74,214 new cars were sold. Year-to-date sales sit at 344,088 units; down 8.1% on 2018’s tally. SUVs totalled 33,190 sales for 43.9 % market share, passenger vehicles totalled 23,816 sales for 31.5 % share, and light commercial vehicles totalled 15,601 sales for 20.6 % share. “The results for April are in line with trends for year-to-date 2019. We have seen a decrease of around 8 % across the first 4 months of the year”, said CEO of the FCAI industry peak body, Tony Weber. “This decrease is the result of a number of factors in the Australian market, including the downturn in the housing market, the tightening of lending practices, environmental factors such as drought and flood, and, of course, the imminent Federal Government election. With all these elements currently present in the market, it is no surprise that Australian consumers are conservative in their approach to major purchases at the moment”. Market leader Toyota dipped 9.1 %, with Corolla (down 18.5 %) battling, and the RAV4 and HiAce well down as they transition over to new-generation models due soon. Second-place Mazda tracked about steady, down just 1 %. Hyundai fell 9.3 % (down almost 13 % this year) as Tucson and Accent battled. Ford tracked about even with Ranger 4×4 growth offsetting declines from Ranger 4×2 and Mondeo, while Mitsubishi had its first negative month in quite some time, falling 14.4 % thanks in large part to the ASX’s dip after high March registrations. Kia came back to earth but still grew by 0.4 %, while Volkswagen fell 10.5 % as the Tiguan 5-seater and Golf had shockers, offset in part by Tiguan Allspace. Holden was next, falling 23.8 % on the back of down months for Colorado, Astra and Barina, and Acadia failing to equal last year’s Captiva performance. Rounding put the top10 were Nissan, which managed to track about steady, and Subaru which continues to battle supply issues due to the backlog from a factory glitch earlier this year, falling 25.2 %. Positions 11-15 were occupied by Honda (down 12.8 %), Mercedes-Benz (-15 %), Isuzu (up 9 %), BMW (-1 %) and Suzuki (-5.1 %). Among the very few brands to show some growth over April 2018 were Volvo Car (up 20.8 %), Skoda (up 38.3 %), MG (up 126.7 %), Porsche (up 9 %), Ram (up more than 800 % thanks to the ‘new’ 1500), Haval (up 263.6 %) and Great Wall (up 114.9 %). The top 2 sellers as per usual were the Toyota HiLux on 3621 and Ford Ranger on 3011, ahead of the Toyota Corolla on 2429 and Mazda 3 on 2195. This latter pair of small hatches are more expensive in their new generations, but still popular enough. Next in line were the Hyundai i30, Mazda CX-5, Kia Cerato, Toyota Prado, Hyundai Tucson and Isuzu D-Max. So from the top 10 there were 3 pickups, 4 small cars, 2 mid-sized SUVs and 1 large SUV. Passenger segment top-sellers were: Micro: Kia Picanto (409), Fiat 500 (60) and Mitsubishi Mirage Space Star (47). Light: Hyundai Accent (998), Toyota Yaris (678) and Mazda 2 (648). Small: Toyota Corolla (2429), Mazda 3 (2195) and Hyundai i30 (1910). Premium Small: Mercedes A-Class (346), Audi A3 (225) and BMW 1 Series (181). Medium: Toyota Camry (1274), Mazda 6 (205) and Skoda Octavia (154). Premium Medium: Mercedes C-Class (371), BMW 3 Series (192) and Audi A4 (129). Large: Holden Commodore (629), Kia Stinger (160) and Skoda Superb (104). Premium Large: BMW 5 Series (109), Mercedes E-Class (106) and Mercedes CLS (18). People Movers: Kia Carnival (495), Volkswagen Multivan (107) and Honda Odyssey (92). Sports < $80k: Ford Mustang (422), BMW 2 Series (76) and Toyota GT86 (43). Sports $80k – $200k: Mercedes C-Class (211), Mercedes E-Class (55) and Audi A5 (42). Sports > $200k: Porsche 911 (70), Aston Martin 2-doors (13) and Ferrari 2-doors (11). SUV segment top-sellers were: Small: Mazda CX-3 (1071), Hyundai Kona (1030) and Mitsubishi ASX (1009). Premium Small: Mercedes-Benz GLA (229), Volvo XC40 (204) and Audi Q2 (186). Medium: Mazda CX-5 (1827), Hyundai Tucson (1355) and Toyota RAV4 (1238). Premium Medium: Mercedes-Benz GLC/GLC Coupe (612), BMW X3/X4 (460) and Volvo XC60 (324). Large: Toyota Prado (1473), Toyota Kluger (851) and Subaru Outback (759). Premium Large: BMW X5/X6 (297), Range Rover Sport (191) and Lexus RX (115). Upper Large < $100k: Toyota LandCruiser wagon (1177) and Nissan Patrol (114). Upper Large > $100k: Lexus LX (47), Audi Q8 (38) and Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen (33). +++ 

+++ As the auto industry shifts gears to meet increasing demand for ELECTRIC vehicles (EV), industry giants and budding start-ups alike gathered at Korea’s largest electric auto show, EV Trend Korea, to share the latest offerings for an electric future. The electric motor show was at Coex in southern Seoul. It hosts 419 exhibition booths, including those by Hyundai, BAIC Motor and Porsche. Hyundai Motor unveiled the electric version of its eco-friendly Ioniq for the first time at the auto show. The new electric model has a driving range of 271 kilometers; a 35.5 % increase from the previous model thanks to its 38.3 kWh lithium/ion polymer battery. Meanwhile, Hyundai’s sister company Kia Motors is featuring its electric offerings such as the e-Soul and the e-Niro. China’s BAIC Motor also took to the stage, unveiling 3 EV models, the first time a Chinese brand has done so in South Korea. The Beijing-based automaker introduced the EU5 mid-size sedan, EX5 mid-size SUV and EX3 small SUV at the show. BAIC plans to launch the models in South Korea next year. While Chinese brands have yet to make a significant impact in the Korean market, BAIC Motor said it is banking on its EVs. “We will gradually introduce not only passenger EVs but also commercial vehicles to the Korean market”, said James Koh, BAIC Korea CEO. The automaker will release its electric bus models as soon as it receives registration approval from the Ministry of Environment, which is expected to be completed this month. Meanwhile, Porsche is showcasing its Mission E concept car for the first time in Korea. The concept will be launched as a production model called Taycan, which is expected to go on sale next year. The working performance EV concept has a driving range of 500 km and boasts up to 600 hp. The Germany-based performance brand said through its charging system, the concept’s battery can be charged to 80 % of its capacity in 15 minutes. Porsche is also exhibiting its hybrid models such as the Cayenne E-Hybrid and the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid. The automaker has previously said it will invest €6 billion to develop EVs by 2022. The auto show also features a string of electric motorcycle makers such as MBI. Headquartered in Cheongju, North Chungcheong, the company is featuring its motorcycles which have a driving range of 110 km. Korea’s top 2 battery makers, LG Chem and Samsung SDI, are also taking part in the show, showcasing their EV battery systems used by automakers. LG Chem is displaying a concept platform for Chevrolet’s Bolt (Opel Ampera-e), while Samsung SDI is featuring BMW’s i3 and i8. Besides the exhibitions, the 4-day auto show also offers visitors test drives in electric cars such as Kia’s e-Soul and Nissan’s Leaf. +++ 

+++ A FIAT based on the Peugeot e-208 makes for an interesting proposition. With its electric vehicle push only just beginning to take shape, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles could be looking to other automakers to help it catch up as tougher emissions regulations start to take hold. FCA CEO Mike Manley said in an investors call he would, “absolutely consider using PSA’s electric-vehicle architecture as the automaker works to meet tougher emissions rules” in Europe. That would be part of a deeper collaboration with the French automaker that controls Peugeot, Citroen, DS, Opel and Opel brands. It also puts the Italian-American auto conglomerate in the spotlight for more partnerships or a full-on merger with other automakers as it tries to be less dependent on U.S. pickup and SUV profits. At the 2019 Geneva Motor Show in March, FCA showed a wide range of plug-ins, from the Jeep Compass and Renegade PHEVs, to the Fiat Concept Centoventi that has more than a few stylistic roots in Fiat’s iconic small car designs and echoes an electric future for that brand best known for the Cinquecento. Alfa Romeo and Maserati have already been earmarked for plug-ins in the next few years, while the U.S. market still gets the Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid and the low-volume Fiat 500e. But even with all of this, FCA in April said it would pool emissions credits from Tesla to satisfy its group CO2 average within the European Union. It’s done the same thing in the U.S. for years, since the bulk of its business comes from large Jeep and Ram pickups. And then there’s the issue that even the Jeep and Ram business isn’t propping up losses in Europe and Asia, as well as Maserati as a whole. The fact FCA has to shell out another $2 billion-plus just to be compliant with various emissions regulations globally over the next several years is adding to their burden and fuelling rumours of more tie-ups with PSA and even Jaguar Land Rover. FCA’s next couple of years will certainly be interesting to watch. But they could do worse than a small electric city car than basing it off of the Peugeot e-208. +++ 

+++ FIAT CHRYSLER Automobiles (FCA) says it has completed the sale of components maker Magneti Marelli to Japanese supplier Calsonic Kansei, allowing a special dividend to shareholders for the first time in a decade. The Italian-American carmaker said that the deal delivered €5.8 billion to the balance sheet. The Fiat board also approved an extraordinary cash dividend of €1.3 per share, for a total payout of some €2 billion euros. FCA boss Mike Manley said the sale “recognizes the full strategic value of Magneti Marelli, improving our financial position, delivering value to our shareholders and allowing us to enhance our focus on our core product portfolio”. Magneti Marelli would remain a key supplier for the automaker. +++ 

+++ HAVAL has outlined its ambitions for an autonomous future by targeting Level 4 self-driving capability in its models by 2023, with the introduction of its new i-Pilot system in production models from 2020 to lay the groundwork. Developed by its research and development centres in China, the US and India, the Haval i-Pilot system is currently capable of SAE Level 3 autonomy, and is undergoing testing for use in road cars. However, the first production-ready iteration, called i-Pilot 1.0, will be made available next year. No timing has been given for the arrival, but customers can expect to see the system debut in the all-new Haval H9, which is set to land locally in 2021. Given the H9 shares a platform with the all-new Great Wall pick-up, there is also a possibility that the technology could find its way onto the pick-up at some point during the vehicle’s lifespan. i-Pilot 1.0 will be capable of performing certain on-road tasks independently, such as navigating highways and ramps, and dealing with traffic conditions such as roadworks, traffic jams and tunnels. At the same time, the brand will also be working on developing the second iteration of the system called i-Pilot 2.0, designed to provide autonomous driving in urban environments, and will be designed to support functions such as remote vehicle car sharing. The i-Pilot 1.0 and 2.0 systems are expected to carry through until around 2023, at which point the updated 3.0 system is expected to arrive, complete with vehicle-to-infrastructure capability. Haval says the i-Pilot 3.0 system will feature full-time autonomy, which “will be able to achieve unmanned driving in broader environment”. The 3.0 system will mark Level 4 autonomy for Haval, and is the system that the car-maker envisages will be equipped in its Vision 2025 concept car. Revealed at the Shanghai motor show, the Vision 2025 represents a study of what the brand hopes to achieve in design, technology and powertrains by the year 2025. The last iteration of the Haval i-Pilot system will predictably be called 4.0, and will be released sometime after 2025. According to the Chinese brand, “it’s expected that Haval SUV can fully achieve autonomous driving under normal road conditions” when equipped with the 4.0 system, and that “in non-emergency situations, no driver intervention is required”. Haval’s autonomous research and development will conclude with the end goal of developing a completely unmanned SUV. +++ 

+++ While the JAGUAR I-Pace has garnered a lot of attention from critics and awards, it hasn’t been exactly tearing up sales charts in many markets. But the CEO of its parent company said in a recent interview he isn’t worried about that. It’s battery supply and prices that are to blame. Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth told that the I-Pace is, in fact, in demand around the world. He points to Germany, especially, where demand outpaces supply. “When it comes to electric vehicles, the question isn’t how many cars I can build but rather how many batteries I can buy”, Speth said in an interview. Battery supply is hardly a new problem for automakers getting into the EV game. Even Tesla with its Gigafactory has pointed to slower-than-expected production there as the culprit for missed production targets of its Model 3. But it’s a problem that is only expected to grow as more EV models hit the market. Speth pointed to that and charging infrastructure hurdles that are keeping electric vehicles, “for people with deep pockets”, for the most part. The I-Pace certainly skews to the higher end of Jaguar’s current lineup and it doesn’t sound like the company is in any place to change that soon, as he predicts battery prices to rise in the coming years due to demand. Jaguar Land Rover is also banking on higher-margin EVs because of the £3 billion write-down of the company and general belt-tightening across the company. But it wouldn’t hurt if the I-Pace were selling a bit more strongly, especially since it had a months-long head start over models such as the Audi e-Tron and upcoming Mercedes-Benz EQ C, which will probably make its life harder. +++

+++ MARUTI SUZUKI , India’s dominant car maker, will eliminate diesel engines from its passenger car range starting from April next year. Maruti Suzuki chairman’s R.C. Bhargava confirmed the move. He did leave a little bit of wiggle room, though, stating “if we find there is a market for diesel cars after the new emissions rules take effect, we will develop it in a reasonable amount of time”. In order for India to meet its obligations under the Paris climate change accord and improve air quality in its major cities, the government of prime minister Narendra Modi decided in 2016 to jump from the current Bharat Stage IV emissions regulations straight to Stage VI. Coming into effect from April 2020, the new stricter emissions code mandates an 80 % reduction in particulate matter and an almost 70 % drop in oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions. The sulphur content of the nation’s fuel will also be reduced from 50 parts per million (ppm) to 10ppm. According to reports, the changes required for most petrol engines to meet the new requirements are minor and will result in a slight price increase. Diesel engines compliant with the new stricter standards, which are very similar to the Euro 6 regulations, are estimated to cost at least 80,000 rupees ($1650) more, putting them out of reach of many of the country’s more price sensitive buyers. Vehicles under 4.0 metres in length attract lower taxes, but packaging a diesel particulate filter into these cars is also said to be either difficult or impossible. It will be interesting to see how the move affects Suzuki’s sales in India, not to mention air quality. Suzuki dominates the Indian new car market, and is responsible for over 50% of all passenger car sales. +++

+++ MASERATI will move into the world of electrification, but its range will never be fully electric. That’s according to Maserati USA boss Al Gardner, who confirmed the current range will be completely overturned by 2022. Gardner said Maserati is a “brand that needs combustion engines. It needs that raw emotion”. Step one in the brand’s turnaround will be a new sports car, set for a Geneva motor show reveal next year. A mid-sized crossover will come to slip below the Levante in the range, too. According to Gardner, a full range of hybrids, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles are on the table for 2022. Down Under, the brand has gone through its range and slashed prices this year. The range-topping Levante models now cost less than before, as Maserati looks to weather the tough luxury car market. With 149 American sales year-to-date, it’s down 45.5 % on 2018 at the moment. Globally, FCA saw profits drop 29 % during the first quarter. Although Maserati is one of the pain points, the company saw sales drop in China and Europe, while the transition from old-generation to new-generation Wrangler saw US production numbers drop. +++ 

+++ Tesla chief executive Elon MUSK personally owes $507 million to Wall Street banks involved in Tesla’s stock and debt sale, backed by his stake in the electric car maker, a company filing shows. The lending was disclosed in Tesla’s prospectus to raise up to $2.3 billion with new shares and convertible debt, and it was $117 million less than the personal loans to Musk disclosed in Tesla’s previous prospectus in 2017. Still, Tesla said that if the price of its stock falls and the banks force Musk to sell some of his shares, that could create additional pressure on the stock. Tesla jumped over 4 % after Tesla disclosed capital raising plans, which soothed investors’ recent concerns about the Palo Alto, California company and pulled its stock up from 2-year lows. Musk, who owns 20 % of Tesla, has taken personal loans from Wall Street banks for years. A Tesla 2017 prospectus showed $624 million in loans to Musk. The filing showed Musk owed money to 3 banks working on the capital increase. The Goldman Sachs Group has $213 million in loans outstanding to Musk, while he owes Morgan Stanley $209 million, and another $85 million to Bank of America. Goldman was not mentioned as a personal lender to Musk in the 2017 filing. Those loans are backed by Musk’s shares in Tesla, currently worth a total of around $8 billion. If Tesla’s stock declines, then Musk could be forced to sell some of those shares under terms of the loan, according to the Tesla filing. Mark Williams, a professor of finance at Boston University, said that investment banks can run into conflicts of interest with their deals with companies, their founders and CEOs, testing their rules to keep different businesses separate. “This is particularly true in the case of Tesla where you have an aggressive and vocal CEO who is prone to pushing the legal limits and gain terms that might run counter to Goldman’s conflict of interest policies”, Williams said. Goldman and Citigroup, the top-line book runners in the capital raise, both have “sell” ratings on Tesla’s stock, which is unusual but not exceptional on Wall Street. At the end of 2018, Musk and his trust had 13.4 million Tesla shares pledged as collateral for personal debts, according to another filing. That is down from 13.8 million shares at the end of 2017. Tesla, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs declined to talk about the loans. Tesla has a policy that caps executives’ borrowings at a quarter of the value of the shares pledged as collateral. With Tesla repeatedly pushing back forecasts for turning a profit, its stock has dropped 27 % year to date. Musk plans to buy another $10 million worth of shares as part of the sale. +++

+++ If and when there’s another NISSAN Z or a new GT-R, don’t expect the automaker to get it done with much outside help. “We collaborate with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance all the time; it’s built in”, said Natalie Roe, Nissan’s chief marketing manager in North America in an interview. It’s one thing to work within an established alliance versus a one-off project, but beyond that Nissan seems intent to keep things in the family. “It’s in the Nissan DNA and its heritage to keep everything in house”, chimed spokesperson Kyle Torrens. It seems to buck the notion that automakers, particularly of the Japanese kind, need to partner with another car company to produce a niche performance vehicle. Such examples include Toyota and Subaru to achieve the GT86/BRZ twins, Mazda and FCA to launch the MX-5 and Fiat 124 Spider. Most recently, Toyota hooked up with BMW on the all-new Supra, to admittedly mixed responses from Supra fans. And while it’s not sports car-related, Honda has signed a memorandum with General Motors to develop hydrogen fuel cell technology. Nissan’s past, present, and future was on full display during the 2019 New York Auto Show. As for the future of electrification at the company, Roe admits that Nissan performance enthusiasts open to electrification are mixed. “I think you have both, a ‘purist’ and an ‘EV’ performance car. I don’t think we’re going to completely get away from the internal combustion engine, at least for a while”. There’s little that can be done to sway the mind of a purist. “You still have a very large group of individuals and that’s what they want”, explained Roe. “And they still want manual transmissions. And if you want to keep them, you have to figure out ways to make that happen”. +++

+++ As many as 12 million Brits could be reliant on technology such as sensors and cameras to help them PARK their cars, new research has revealed. A study of more than 2,000 people by car dealer group Peter Vardy found that 44 % of people rely on their car’s on-board gizmos when they park up. Assuming the sample is representative of the general population, that could mean as many as 12 million of us struggle to park without the aid of technology including parking sensors, reversing cameras and even automatic parking systems. But despite these figures (and the bewildering array of parking tech on offer in modern vehicles) the research found that British drivers still take an average of 2.3 attempts to parallel park. With that in mind, perhaps it’s no surprise that Peter Vardy’s respondents deemed that manoeuvre the most daunting they face, with 42 % saying it was their least favourite method of parking. In contrast, just 21 % said they feared reversing into a perpendicular parking bay, while 17 % said they disliked driving forwards into an angled bay. Just 9 %, meanwhile, said they liked driving forwards into a perpendicular bay least. Claire Rogan, digital marketing manager at Peter Vardy, said the results were surprising, and could show a worrying erosion of driving skill as cars get more technologically advanced. However, she also advised drivers to choose their car based on their driving ability, recommending smaller, more tech-heavy models for those who struggle to park. “Anyone who has successfully passed their driving test will remember the initial panic when first attempting to park a car into a tight space, however we were shocked to see how many British drivers carry this fear onwards into their driving lives”, she said. “It is clear from the research that drivers found the most problems in cramped parking environments such as city centres, supermarkets and shopping centres, but it was heartening to see that drivers were taking their time to ensure they were positioned properly when parallel parking, even if it meant more than one attempt. Whilst it could be a worry that overall parking skills could be diminished over time due to an over reliance on parking technology, it is important that drivers choose a car which best supports them and their motoring skills. Whether that be a smaller car with better manoeuvrability or a vehicle with the most up to date parking technology assistance, drivers should ensure they utilise everything that’s on offer to ensure a safe and secure experience”. +++

+++ PORSCHE is demonstrating confidence ahead of the launch of the all-electric Taycan this year that brand loyalists won’t go screaming, or if they do, it’ll be almost silent. “We would never come to market with a new car unless we were convinced it lives up to the Porsche crest”, the marketing head of Porsche Cars North America, Pedro Mota, told. Mota insists the level of performance on the model set to launch later this year will give customers similar performance satisfaction as a corresponding petrol-powered model, such as a 911 or Panamera. It’s also part of the Electrify America charging network in the U.S., which aims to be up and running in most states by the end of the year and aims to give owners peace of mind when traveling longer distances. And if you haven’t been convinced yet, Mota says that for at least the next decade, Porsche will offer traditional engines, plug-in hybrids, and electrics in its lineup. But it hopes to win you over with electrics in that time. The level at which Porsche understands it only has one chance to impress its faithful with electrics is significant. It’s also had the benefit of several years getting its customers familiar with the idea of a car with the plug, but Mota says the company is trying to do more than that. Considering how long we’ve been hearing about the Taycan, it needs to. +++ 

+++ SMOKING in your car can “easily” reduce its resale value by as much as €2,500, a vehicle valuation expert has said. Fernando Garcia, the consumer director of leading vehicle data and valuation specialist HPI, said smoking in a vehicle can cause physical damage to the interior, as well as leaving a smell. However, HPI says smokers are often either unaware of the smell, or under the impression that air freshener will solve it. “Smoking is not only bad news for health but also for our finances”, said Garcia. “Smoking in cars is very bad news as far as vehicle resale health is concerned. The first thing a car dealer will do when looking at a car being sold by a smoker is to knock down the price of the part exchange. That’s simply down to the fact that a car for part-ex has to be made fit for resale and this becomes considerably more difficult and expensive when that car was previously driven by a smoker. In the majority of cases, there is often no obvious damage however, the smell of smoke is a major problem for motor dealers. Smoke becomes ingrained in the fabric of the car and climate control system, requiring a professional valet and specialist tools to clean the air conditioning. Many of the tobacco smoke pollutants from cigarettes attach to surfaces and build up in the internal systems from where they can be released back into the air over days and weeks after smoking. Opening the windows to let the smoke out is not the answer”. The firm says cleaning up a smoker’s car can cost up to €200, and comes with “no guarantee” that the cabin will “smell sufficiently fresh”. And cleaning a car won’t always repair damage caused by marks, stains and cigarette burns. In severe cases, the company claims the only way to get rid of the smell and damage is to strip out the interior; a process that can cost hundreds or even thousands of euros. “Some dealers tell us they won’t even buy cars from smokers because of the time and expense of cleaning up a car and removing unpleasant smells”, continued Garcia. “Unless consumers want to see the residual value of their vehicles literally go up in smoke I’d urge them to try to quit or at the very least refrain from smoking inside the car when driving”. +++

+++ SOUTH KOREA ’s exports of used cars jumped 43 $ in the first quarter from a year earlier, data showed, as local automobiles became more competitive due to the weaker won. According to the Korea International Trade Association, Korea shipped 107,321 units of used cars in the January-March period, the second-highest quarterly shipment number. The current record was set in the second quarter of 2012, when the figure reached 107,573 units. Passenger cars accounted for 86,000 units, while other larger vehicles, including trucks, took up the remaining number. By countries, Libya was responsible for half of Korea’s exports of used cars, doubling from the same period a year earlier. Other major importers of Korean used cars were Cambodia, Ghana, Chile and Jordan. Industry watchers said the weaker Korean won against made local used cars more attractive in terms of price. Annual shipments of used cars may hit 400,000 units for the first time in 2019 considering the robust January-March performance, industry watchers said. The current record was set in 2012, when the figure reached 373,000 units. Korea, however, needs to make efforts to diversify its export destinations as being dependent on a single country poses risks in the long run, they added. The country’s outbound shipments of new cars came to 582,075 units in the first quarter, up 1.4 % from a year earlier. +++

+++ VOLKSWAGEN looks set to drop standard versions of the Golf in the United States when the 8th generation model goes into production. Non-performance versions of the compact hatch won’t be available in the next generation, with only the GTI and R hot hatch variants to soldier on. Some 48 % of Golf sales in the US in 2018 were GTI and R models, with the GTI outselling the core range by a rate of nearly 3 to 1. Just 6642 regular Golf models were sold in 2018, which accounts for less than 2 % of Volkswagen’s overall sales in the region. The current e-Golf won’t be renewed in Mk8 guise, either, meaning the US will have to make do with the new ID.3 hatchback due to be revealed at this year’s Frankfurt motor show, while a cloud of uncertainty hangs over the Golf Alltrack Variant. It’s believed the stationwagon won’t be returning Stateside in the next generation, either, so the Alltrack’s future “looks dim”. +++

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