Newsflash IV


+++ Google has previewed an updated version of its ANDROID AUTO smartphone integration system. The update features a darker color theme and new color accents that are claimed to make it quicker and easier for a driver to see content on a car’s central display. Developers have also improved Android Auto’s notification system and human interactions, streamlining how drivers receive and respond to messages and calls. A new navigation bar provides control over directions, media, and calling/messaging all on the same screen. As an added bonus, the system will resume playing previous media when reconnected and automatically start the driver’s preferred navigation app. Introduced in 2015, Android Auto is now supported in more than 500 vehicle models from 50 different brands. The new features are expected to begin rolling out this summer. +++

+++ BMW ‘s first-quarter profit slumped after car sales in key markets slowed and the automaker revised a provision for a potential fine for alleged collusion to €1.4 billion. Earnings before interest and tax declined 78 % to €589 million compared to a year earlier. BMW last month made a provision of more than €1 billion for a potential anti-trust fine from the European Union’s investigation into alleged collusion on cleaner-emission cars. Earnings were also weighed down by a 36 % jump in spending on property, plants and equipment. The company’s automotive division swung to an operating loss for the first time in a decade. Excluding the provision, earnings at the automaker’s main unit fell by 42 % to €1.1 billion and delivered an operating margin of 5.6 % in the first quarter, BMW said. By contrast the return on sales at Mercedes-Benz passenger cars fell to 6.1 %, down from 9 % a year earlier and rival Volkswagen Group said the return on sales for its passenger cars business will be at the lower end of its 6.5 to 7.5 % margin target this year. In addition to the fine, BMW said in a statement that price competition in some markets and spending on new technology shrank profit. Deliveries of BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce cars rose by 0.1 % to 605,333 in the quarter. BMW is experiencing a weak start to the year due to pricing pressure, trade tensions and trouble from new WLTP emissions tests in Europe that started last year. The company has announced a €14 billion savings plan, culling models and cutting development time by as much as a third. The automaker will also cut engine and gearbox combinations by 50 % starting in 2021 in a transition to flexible vehicle architectures. The second half of the year should brighten with sales of the revamped 3-series sedan getting underway, as well as the full-size X7. BMW in April reduced an already-lowered automotive margin target to as low as 4.5 % because of the EU provision. Trade tensions are on the rise again, after U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday threatened more tariffs on Chinese goods that could prompt retaliatory actions. BMW exports SUVs from its plant in the U.S. to China that are already hit with increased tariffs. BMW said it will contest the European Commission’s allegations that its participation in industry working groups amounted to anti-competitive behavior. The Commission last month told German automakers they face hefty fines for alleged collusion in the area of emissions-filtering technology. “The participating engineers from the manufacturers’ development departments were concerned with improving exhaust gas treatment technologies. Unlike cartel agreements, the whole industry was aware of these discussions”, BMW said. BMW did not make secret agreements to the detriment of suppliers or its customers, it said. +++

+++ CHINA commerce ministry has started allowing exports of second-hand cars, marking the country’s latest move to drive domestic sales and promote trade in the world’s biggest auto market. The move comes after sales in China contracted last year for the first time since 1990s. Amid worries of a further decline, Beijing handed out tax cuts earlier this year to spur consumer spending. In its latest bid to prop up the auto sector, the Ministry of Commerce said it had started allowing used-car exports from ten Chinese cities and provinces including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong, and that it would offer more support to the sector. The ministry will start identifying companies that can handle such exports and has also called for the development of tests to ensure the quality and safety of second-hand car exports, it said in a statement. It described the potential for used-car exports from China as “huge”, saying that in most developed countries exports account for roughly 10 % of used-car sales. Such exports can “stimulate the vitality of the domestic automobile consumption market, promote the healthy development of China’s automobile industry, and promote the steady improvement of foreign trade”, it said. China’s second-hand car market is still far smaller than that for new cars. In 2018, sales of used cars in China hit 13.82 million, less than half of sales of new cars at 28.08 million, according to the commerce ministry. Allowing second-hand car exports “should be positive for the entire automobile market in the medium to long term”, said Alan Kang, Shanghai-based analyst at LMC Automotive. “If used cars sales are accelerated it will help smoothen sales of new cars”, he added. +++ 

+++ 2 of the biggest obstacles to electric vehicles are the high price and constrained product offering; a problem Volkswagen Group is tackling by maximizing volumes on its electric vehicle architecture, even if that means opening up their technology to rivals. All that matters is scale and who will be the first to reach it, said VW Group CEO Herbert Diess, who aims to sell 22 million full-electric vehicles by the end of 2028. Only with scale can you gain access to next-generation cell chemistry, Diess argues. Unsure of EV uptake in the next decade, BMW and DAIMLER are separately pouring billions of euros into developing their own flexible platforms capable of accommodating any powertrain, but compromises are inevitable in the process. By developing a custom-built EV architecture, VW Group can achieve longer wheelbases, very short overhangs and offer a cabin with the interior space of a car positioned a full segment higher. VW has shown you can put a different top hat on the same EV chassis, with concepts ranging from a compact hatch through a 5-meter-long MPV to a stylistic dune buggy just with the VW brand. So, is it time for BMW and Daimler, which have seen their margins suffer under the weight of their enormous investments, to consider joint development of an EV platform to reduce costs? would argue that together BMW and Daimler could easily reach greater volumes than those foreseen for the PPE (Premium Platform Electric) architecture that will be used by VW Group rivals Audi and Porsche while also protecting their future margins. The lower mechanical complexity means there is less potential to set oneself apart through the hardware, which is largely dominated by a costly battery with cells that are purchased in bulk from the same suppliers. Aspects such as interior and design can be wildly different despite being married to a standardized EV “skateboard”. VW brand sales chief Jürgen Stackmann argues that the digital customer experience will play an increasingly important role going forward as only about 10 % of future innovation will come from hardware, meaning the car itself. “Competitive differentiation will additionally result from software, everything from connectivity through apps to a coherent brand ecosystem”, Stackmann told. BMW and Daimler have already partnered with VW Group to acquire Nokia’s high-resolution digital mapping unit, HERE, and the automakers are also part of the Ionity fast-charging consortium. In February BMW and Daimler agreed to combine their mobility services into a new joint venture, and most recently they revealed plans to collaborate on next-generation Level 3 autonomous driving for highway applications for products that come after the iNEXT. BMW Group finance chief Nicolas Peter, however, said there were no talks with Daimler to jointly develop an EV platform. “Much more important than scale for lowering battery costs is research and development in new, more affordable cell chemistries”, he told. In areas such as platforms and standards, “coopetition” is easier said than done, especially when parties begin weighing the trade-offs, said Markus Winkler, head of the global automotive practice at consultancy Capgemini. “When it comes to the moment of truth when you build it, the first reaction everyone thinks is: What is my own benefit? Instead of thinking: What is the win-win benefit?”, he said. Even if Mercedes and BMW were to agree tomorrow to join forces on an EV platform, time is not on their side. Product cadence alignment is key because it can take years until 2 new partners can achieve any savings. The earlier they start, the greater the benefits. Audi and Porsche already enjoy a 2-year head start. Their first models are slated to reach the market by late 2021. They might find the path to material profitability much sooner than BMW and Daimler. +++

+++ The city of Detroit said it agreed to pay $107.6 million for nearly 215 acres of land needed to construct a new $1.6 billion FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES (FCA) assembly plant. The automaker also plans to invest $900 million to retool and modernize its Jefferson North Assembly Plant, enabling the creation of nearly 5,000 new jobs, the Mayor’s office said. The cost of purchasing the land will be split between Detroit and the state of Michigan.
Earlier in the day, FCA said new U.S. pickup truck models would help achieve its 2019 profit targets and offset a weak performance in the first quarter. +++

+++ Credible rumors claimed the Mustang High Performance introduced at the 2019 New York auto show would resurrect the storied SVO nameplate. I now know that they weren’t accurate, but the Blue Oval might stick the 3-letter nameplate on a hot-rodded, 4-cylinder powered Mustang sooner or later. FORD was asked Ford about the SVO name. “Not this one”, a spokesperson replied, referring to the High Performance model. That’s admittedly vague, but it’s not a flat-out denial. Ford is, at the very least, leaving the door open to a modern-day SVO. If launched, the SVO would need to accelerate quicker and handle better than the High Performance without gaining cylinders. The variant unveiled in New York uses a turbocharged, 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine tuned to 330 hp and 350 Nm. How much more power Ford can squeeze out of the EcoBoost is up in the air, but the variant of the engine found in the now-retired Focus RS made 350 hp and 350 Nm. When we’ll see the born-again SVO hasn’t been made public yet: Ford hasn’t even confirmed the model’s arrival. Recent unverified rumors claim the next-generation Mustang won’t arrive until 2026, and it will possibly ride on a platform shared with the Explorer, so the company has plenty of time to release additional variants of the current-generation car. +++ 

+++ President Donald Trump’s threat to raise tariffs on Chinese imports to the U.S. to 25 % from 10 % will cause aftershocks for automakers from GERMANY . China has been a gold mine for Daimler, Volkswagen and BMW as vehicle sales at a double-digit rate for years, overtaking the U.S. as the largest global market for cars. Due to the big volumes of cars sold there, profits are also enormous. VW Group’s two joint ventures with FAW in north China and Shanghai Automotive in the south China were more profitable than any other of the automaker’s businesses last year including Porsche and Audi. Trade tensions with the U.S. broke this near 30-year period of uninterrupted growth as the consumer appetite among China’s burgeoning middle class suddenly soured. Sentiment could not even improve materially despite the government’s largest ever tax relief program. The 3 percentage point reduction in VAT that automakers passed on fully to Chinese customers only managed to slightly resuscitate demand, according to VW brand sales chief Jürgen Stackmann, who tracks his brand’s exact volumes in China every day. Key was dispelling the storm clouds over the economy that emerged with the trade war. Up to now, German auto executives had been largely sanguine. An off-year was bound to happen and some even saw silver linings resulting from the dispute, including an opportunity to grab market share from weaker competitors. For example, China dramatically eased its import tariffs for European-built cars, gifting Porsche a strong second half. The government also liberalized its requirement limiting foreign automakers’ ownership over their joint ventures, prompting BMW to seize the opportunity to seal a deal for control over its joint venture with local partner Brilliance. Both were seen as concessions that might not have come to be, at least not so soon, without Trump’s belligerent stance toward China. Nonetheless, Germany’s automakers had been banking on a resolution to the dispute, expecting news of an agreement between the U.S. and China was just around the corner. This would then jumpstart a market that had seen an 11 % slump in sales through the first quarter, data shows. A massive expansion on duties levied on Chinese goods imported into the U.S. was the last thing on their radar screen. “This is the most significant escalation of the US-China trade war to date”, a Bank of America Merrill Lynch economist told. Trump’s risky strategy of bringing talks to a head could either prompt China back to the negotiating table sooner or potentially collapse the negotiations. Should his tactic backfire, it could force a dramatic revision in production targets for German automakers in China and prompt more to pare back inventories in preparation for a longer, leaner year than previously believed. +++ 

+++ An electric Range Rover Evoque won’t arrive to the line-up before 2025, as LAND ROVER its efforts on hybrid technology in the mid-term. Jaguar Land Rover UK boss Rawdon Glover said that while “there will be a market for a small to medium-sized electric SUV”, it will not arrive before the next generation of its entry-level Range Rover. The second-generation Evoque launched earlier this year, 7 years after the compact SUV was born, and thanks to a new platform, now accommodates mild hybrids as well as a plug-in hybrid. However, the platform can not accommodate a fully electric drivetrain, and so new architecture would need to be implemented for a third-generation model to house such a set-up. The PHEV, due in 12 months’ time, will be powered by a 200 hp 3-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine paired with a 109 hp electric motor. Glover described the Evoque PHEV as  “fleet game-changer” for Land Rover and predicts it will make up more than a third of UK Evoque sales when it arrives early next year. Land Rover believes plug-in hybrid technology is a sensible middle ground for the Evoque, opposed to a fully electric variant, having seen success with the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport plug-in hybrids launched in 2017. Within the M25, half of those models sold are plug-in hybrid. Broader electric plans for Land Rover are unconfirmed, but an electric version of the flagship Range Rover is expected in under 5 years. +++

+++ MAZDA is counting on the new 3 to give it a lift in Europe’s key compact segment, where the predecessor model has dropped to 18th in the ranking after 3 consecutive years of declining sales. The 4th-generation Mazda3 gets fuel-saving mild hybrid powertrains and upgraded safety features more commonly found in more premium models to help regain lost share by raising customers’ perception of the car. Mazda’s M Hybrid system, a 5.8 kWh electric motor powered by a 24 volt battery, is available on the 3’s 2.0-liter, 122 hp SkyActive-G gasoline engine. The mild hybrid helps the car achieve fuel consumption as low at 6 liters per 100 km and CO2 emissions as low as 136 g/km. Mazda says the mild hybrid is barely detectable when driving. In addition, by substituting engine torque for torque from the electric motor the system can reach the same acceleration as a traditional gasoline engine while using less fuel, according to the automaker. Fuel use is cut by “up to the high single digits” percentage wise compared with a similar-sized engine without hybrid technology, said the head of Mazda’s European technical center, Christian Schultze. The engine also employs cylinder deactivation, which automatically switches between 2 and 4 cylinder operation depending on the driving conditions. The Mazda3 also gets a new 1.8-liter, 116 hp SkyActiv-D diesel, which replaces the previous-generation car’s 1.5- and 2.2-liter engines. The new diesel has a NOx storage catalyst to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides so it does not need a urea tank. The diesel’s fuel usage is as low as 4.8 liters per 100 km and CO2 output is as little as 130 g/km. Gasoline versions of the Mazda3, which includes those with the mild hybrid technology, are expected to account for 85 to 90 % of European sales, with diesels taking the remaining 10 to 15 %, Mazda said. Later this year the Mazda3 will add the Skyactiv-X gasoline engine, which will also have the M-hybrid technology. The Mazda3 will be the first production car with the 181 hp powerplant, which will be extended across the automaker’s range. The new engine offers an estimated 20 % saving in fuel consumption versus the company’s outgoing 2.0-liter gasoline engine, Schultze said. The Mazda3 has an updated version of G-Vectoring Control, which varies engine torque to optimize the vertical load on each wheel, providing more precise handling and improved comfort. Future versions with Skyactiv-X engine will also have a new all-wheel-drive system as an option. “The new 3 begins a new era for Mazda and will further raise our brand value”, CEO Akira Marumoto said when he unveiled the new car at the 2018 Los Angeles auto show. The Mazda3 is sold in hatchback and sedan versions. The hatchback is on sale in Europe while sedan sales start in June. Mazda has sold 6 million units of the previous 3 generations of the 3 worldwide and more than 1 million in Europe since 2003. Sales in Europe slipped 12 % in 2018 in segment that declined 9.7 %. +++

+++ MERCEDES-AMG ‘s fastest accelerating car yet, the GT Black Series, has begun road testing ahead of its unveiling next year. The Black Series will bear a close resemblance to the recently launched AMG GT R Pro, sporting the same prominent rear spoiler and low, wide stance, but will go without that model’s track-oriented winglets and splitters. The future range-topping coupé will be beaten only by the limited-run AMG One hypercar when it arrives in mid-2020, AMG boss Tobias Moers confirmed at the New York motor show. Moers said: “It will be the fastest AMG yet, bar the One. Not in terms of top speed, but lap times. Driveability is most important but, with balance, it gets good lap times too”. First confirmed by Moers back in 2016, the Black Series is mooted to receive AMG’s turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine in a state of tune offering at least 639 hp. This is the figure offered by the current most powerful AMG model with that unit, the GT 4-door Coupé. Any growth on that would ensure the Black Series dwarfs the peak output offered by the current GT champions, the 577bhp GT R and GT R Pro. It would also edge it towards one of the category’s most radical supercars, the 700 hp Porsche 911 GT2 RS. According to Moers, the Black Series will be “great competition with our close neighbour”. The GT Black Series’ extra grunt will be accompanied by a more focused chassis and aerodynamic set-up, which may go even further than the track-focused GT R Pro launched at last year’s Los Angeles motor show. That car was designed with uprated suspension and aero upgrades, but received no extra power over the regular GT R. Such a set-up should ensure the GT Black Series tips the scales at around 1.575 kg, in line or slightly less than the GT R Pro. The 2020 arrival of the GT Black Series will mark a return for AMG’s most extreme moniker after a 7-year hiatus. The last Black Series model was based on the SLS and entered production in 2013. +++ 

+++ Confused about the future for homegrown and international MOTOR SHOWS ? Me too. Even some leading car manufacturers can’t seem to decide whether they’re for or against. For example, a month ago in Korea a spokesman from Hyundai Europe assured me that motor shows are toast. Yet in the same week the company, plus sister brand Kia, starred at the Seoul show with several new cars, a couple of them highly significant. Then, weeks later, the same Hyundai-Kia-Genesis (H-K-G) Group unveiled a fleet of important, fresh models at the New York and Shanghai shows. For heaven’s sake, the H-K-G clan has around 1,000 designers physically creating an average of 1 new car per week (not all of them full-scale production versions, of course). Where better to display these future models in the metal than in front of hundreds of millions of motorists who pay to attend shows, before potentially paying again to purchase new cars? Germany’s VW Group contradicts itself in a similar fashion. 1 minute its chairman, Herbert Diess, says “motor shows are dead”; the next he’s spending millions attending, er, motor shows. If he really believes in the death of the car exhibition, presumably he and his mainly German brands will boycott this September’s Frankfurt Motor Show? I think not. America’s Tesla is another firm that hasn’t thought through its approach to motor shows. Last summer it boasted a brilliantly designed and built stand at Goodwood’s Festival of Speed, the world’s poshest ‘motor show’. Yet by winter Tesla’s LA show ‘exhibit’ looked more like an upholstered shipping container, and in spring 2019 the company couldn’t even be bothered to rock up for the New York show, which annually attracts one million-plus visitors; many of them wealthy and itching to buy. The argument goes that car makers have allegedly discovered better ways to spend their billions in the pursuit of increased sales. Some pay eye-wateringly large sums to lazily slap their logos on sporting events or sportsmen. But for what? Yet another lesson in how not to do things came a few days ago, when Tesla’s Elon Musk staged his own little no-cost online ‘motor show’ and sales spiel, which included his laughable contention that “it’s financially insane to buy anything other than a Tesla”. With woefully misleading lines like this, who needs a proper stand, with proper cars and proper sales execs, at proper motor shows? He does. And, given Tesla’s $702 million first-quarter loss this year, so do his increasingly baffled existing and potential customers. +++ 

+++ Elon MUSK has made a bold prediction that Autopilot will eventually make Tesla a $500 billion company. The CEO mentioned the estimate during an investor call hosted by Citibank and Goldman Sachs as the company prepares to raise an additional $2 billion or more to fund future operations. With a current market cap around $44 billion, Tesla’s stock value would need to jump by a factory of more than 10 to achieve Musk’s goal. At $500 billion, the automaker would be worth more than Facebook and Exxon Mobil. Musk recently argued that Tesla’s new neural-network chips and fleet of Autopilot-equipped cars have allowed the company to lead the race toward full self-driving capability. The executive criticized the competition by claiming that lidar (used by nearly every self-driving company except for Tesla) is a “fools errand” that gives a “false sense of progress”. Tesla has taken a unique approach in its deployment of self-driving features. The company promises that its fleet will soon have the ability to operate in full self-driving mode, initially requiring drivers to remain attentive with their hands on the wheel until enough miles have been logged to demonstrate a safety improvement that is acceptable to regulators. Tesla has predicted that the hands-on restriction will be lifted sometime in the next year. The timing has been met with skepticism, however, as the company is known for falling behind schedule. +++ 

+++ Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has shed light on development challenges that continue to stand in the way of a new midsize RAM pickup. The company has just begun production of the new Jeep Gladiator, which fits the midsize segment but targets a narrower group of buyers than the company apparently believes it can engage with a similarly sized Ram model. FCA chief Mike Manley outlined the situation in a recent earnings call, confirming the Ram team is “very focused on solving a metric-ton midsize truck solution” to fill out the company’s portfolio and drive further growth. “I want that problem solved frankly, because it’s a clear hole in our portfolio”, he added. “It will not be filled with Gladiator, because Gladiator has a very, very different mission. But trust me on that, they’re focused on it”. The executive clarified that building a Ram-badged midsize pickup on the same line as the Gladiator may seem simple “on paper” but FCA is still struggling to find an acceptably “cost-effective platform in a region where we can build it with low cost”. The Gladiator starts around $33,500, nearly $8,000 above the segment-leading Toyota Tacoma. Unlike other mid- and full-size pickups, the Gladiator only has a single bed and cab configuration at launch. Comparing pricing to the Tacoma and Chevrolet Colorado crew-cab variants, the Gladiator is still around $6,000 higher. Manley’s comments suggest FCA will attempt to position Ram’s midsize offering within a more competitive price bracket against the Tacoma, Colorado, and Ford Ranger, which may require more extensive modification to the Gladiator platform. Previous reports have suggested the Dakota’s spiritual successor would begin rolling off the Gladiator’s assembly line by 2022, though the latest official information indicates FCA is exploring cheaper assembly sites. +++

+++ Moving on from wheels and expensive headlights, thieves in New York City have reportedly started targeting valuable SIDE MIRRORS on certain luxury vehicles. The police has counted at least 19 incidents of mirror theft within just a few weeks, with thefts concentrated in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The scheme is said to focus on mirrors with cameras or other pricey technology on German and Japanese luxury cars. Some mirrors are said to be valued at up to $2,000. “This is a local pattern in Manhattan North and does not appear to be a citywide condition”, a spokesperson said. “It is likely the mirrors are being stolen in order to re-sell them”. A few years ago, police in the UK noticed a local trend when thieves swiped dozens of LED headlights from Land Rover SUVs, allegedly removing the components in as little as a minute without the need to open the hood. +++ 

+++ The White House confirmed it won’t grant TESLA an exemption from the 25 % tariff it slaps on components made in China. Tesla applied to exclude several parts, including the Model 3’s 17-inch touch screen, and what it calls the car’s brain. Tesla asked the government to exclude its Autopilot 3.0 ECU (which is made by Quanta Shanghai) in the summer of 2018. At the time, it told legislators that “increased tariffs on this particular part cause economic harm to Tesla, through the increase of costs and impact to profitability”. Its arguments weren’t strong enough to convince the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office. USTR general counsel Steve Vaughn wrote that Tesla’s request “concerns a product strategically important or related to ‘Made in China 2025’ or other Chinese industrial programs”. He shot down Tesla’s request to exempt an older version of the ECU, too. The solution, it seems, is to build both parts in the United States; or at least somewhere outside of China. The California-based firm argued it’s not that easy. Tesla told the USTR it couldn’t find an ECU manufacturer in the United States. It added “choosing any other supplier would have delayed the Model 3 program by 18 months with clean room setup, line validation, and staff training”. The company stressed Quanta is the best company for the job. “For a product as safety-critical to consumers, and critical to the essence of Tesla, we turned to industry experts who could achieve this quality and complexity in addition to the deadlines, which was not possible outside of China”, the firm wrote. White House officials haven’t decided whether to grant a tariff exclusion for the touch screen. There’s no word yet on when they’ll make a decision. In the past, the Trump administration has said the tariffs are a way to stunt the growth of high-tech sectors in China. It argued much of the technology that fuels these lucrative sectors across the Pacific has either been stolen, copied, or forcefully transferred from the companies based in the United States; the Chinese government notably forced foreign firms operating on its soil into joint-ventures with local partners. China, on the other hand, is closely following a plan called Made in China 2025 that leaders hope will help it overtake America in 10 strategic industries (including automobiles, aerospace, IT, and pharmaceutical) by 2025. +++

+++ Supra fans cried foul when TOYOTA teamed up with BMW to develop the fifth generation of the sportscar. They claim it’s not a worthy successor to the first 4 models and it’s more German than Japanese. The car’s chief engineer disagrees with the criticism, and he explained why Toyota wasn’t able to design the car on its own. “It wasn’t a matter of lowering costs. The Supra had to have an inline-6. BMW had a good inline-6”, affirmed Tetsuya Tada, Toyota’s performance boss, in an interview. Mercedes-Benz makes a good straight-6 too, but the engine wasn’t available (or even announced) when development work started. Tada added that developing the Supra in-house would have delayed the car by 2 or 3 years, meaning we might not have seen it until 2023. And, while the point of teaming up with BMW wasn’t solely to save costs, the partnership allowed both companies to achieve significant savings. An all-Toyota Supra would cost over $100,000, Tada told. “To make the car so expensive would defeat the purpose of a Toyota sports car”, he said. That’s also why the Supra isn’t built using composite materials like carbon fiber. Saving a few hundred pounds wasn’t worth making it tens of thousands of dollars more expensive. +++ 

+++ VOLKSWAGEN will join forces with China’s NIU to produce battery-powered kick scooters. The companies will jointly build the Streetmate model, which has a top speed of 45 km/h and a range of 60 km. +++

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