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+++ General Motors is the midst of killing off several sedans in North America, but CADILLAC is a notable exception as the company has introduced the CT4-V, CT5 and CT5-V. Cadillac has even backtracked on the death of the CT6 and CT6-V. The models were originally slated to go out of production in North America on June 1st, but the automaker eventually extended production to January of 2020. Cadillac’s commitment to sedans comes at a surprising time as many brands are shifting their focus to crossovers, pickups and SUVs. In fact, Cadillac’s sedan-focused lineup was often blamed for mediocre sales. However, that issue has been addressed thanks to the introduction of the XT4 and XT6 crossovers. The company’s decision to stick with sedans might be surprising to some, but Cadillac’s executive director of global design told: “We’ve got lots of crossovers now, so we wanted to come back and look at the sedan lineup”. He went on to say “The buying power of younger people is huge, so the CT4 is a great entry to Cadillac for them”. This seems to suggest Cadillac is counting on young consumers to embrace their sedans. That isn’t out of the realm of possibility as a previous study has shown 86 % of 18-34 year olds, who don’t own a sedan, would consider buying one now or in the future. If this is what Cadillac is hoping for, they’re not alone. Last fall, Nissan’s Bruce Pillard said “We think younger generations will buy more sedans than older generations”. He went on to say young consumers “don’t want to drive daddy’s car”, which is a crossover these days. Besides sticking with sedans, Cadillac is planning to add an assortment of new V-Series models. The CT4-V and CT5-V were introduced last month to a lukewarm reception, but higher performance variants are already in the works. The company is also expected to introduce a handful of V-Series crossovers. As Cadillac’s performance boss, Mirza Grebovic, hinted “You’ll see an expansion of the V-Series. We’re trying to go out with a bang while internal combustion is still kicking”. +++ 

+++ A patent issued on June 11 for General Motors reveals an active aerodynamics system that might just find its way onto the C8-generation CHEVROLET Corvette. The patent depicts drawings of a C7 Corvette with a series of different active aerodynamic components. Although I’ve seen similar active aero patents in both 2017 and 2018, this one details “an air deflector moveably mounted to the vehicle body” and includes images revealing “a mechanism configured to selectively vary a height of the air deflector relative to the road surface and a position of the air deflector relative to the vehicle body to thereby control a movement of the ambient airflow relative the vehicle body”. Chevrolet has already patented a series of active aerodynamic parts for its vehicles, and earlier this year, one for an adjustable front splitter was published online. While the drawings only depict the C7 generation Corvette, production of that model is expected to cease in the coming months, so this means it is far more likely that, if they do reach production, they will do so in the upcoming C8. Enthusiasts have been waiting for a mid-engine Corvette for years, and on July 18, we will finally get to see what it will look like. Chevrolet is remaining quiet mum about details, but much like every other generation of Corvette, it will be sold in a number of different guises in the coming years. It’s difficult to say if all new Corvettes will feature active aero systems, but the track-focused models, like the Z06 (if GM keeps the same naming scheme) most likely will. +++ 

+++ Rising trade tensions between the U.S. and CHINA have sparked worries about the 17 exotic-sounding rare earth minerals needed for high-tech products like robotics, drones and electric cars. China recently raised tariffs to 25 % on rare earth exports to the U.S. and has threatened to halt exports altogether after the Trump administration raised tariffs on Chinese products and blacklisted telecommunications giant Huawei. With names like europium, scandium and ytterbium, the bulk of rare earth minerals are extracted from mines in China, where lower wages and lax environmental standards make production cheaper and easier. But trade experts say no one should panic over China’s threats to stop exporting the elements to the U.S. There is a U.S. rare minerals mine in California. And Australia, Myanmar, Russia and India are also top producers of the somewhat obscure minerals. Vietnam and Brazil both have huge rare earth reserves. “The sky is not falling”, said Mary B. Teagarden, a China specialist, professor and associate dean at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Phoenix. “There are alternatives”. Simon Lester, associate director of the center for trade policy studies at the Cato Institute think tank in Washington, agreed. “Over the short term, it could be a big disruption, but companies that want to stay in business will find a way”, he said. Although the U.S. is among the world’s top 10 countries for rare earths production, it’s also a major importer of the minerals, looking to China for 80 % of what it buys from other countries, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. China last year produced some 120,000 metric tons of rare earths, while the United States produced 15,000 metric tons. The United States also depends on China to separate the minerals pulled from Mountain Pass Mine, the sole rare earths mine in the U.S., which was bought 2 years ago by the Chicago-based JHL Capital Group. “We need to develop a U.S.-based supply chain so there is no possibility we can be threatened”, said Ryan S. Corbett, managing director of JHL Capital. The mine’s top products are neodymium and praseodymium, or NdPr, 2 elements which are used together to make the lightweight magnets that help power electric cars and wind turbines and are found in electronics such as laptop hard drives. Mountain Pass, located in San Bernardino County, California, was once top supplier of the world’s rare earth minerals, but China began taking over the market in the 1990s and the U.S. mine stopped production in 2002. Mountain Pass later restarted production only to close again amid a 2015 bankruptcy. Corbett said extraction resumed last year after JHL Capital purchased the site with QVT Financial LP of New York, which holds 30 %, and Shenghe Resources Holding of China, a non-voting shareholder with 9.9 %. Since then, Mountain Pass has focused on achieving greater autonomy with a $1.7 billion separation system set to go online late next year that would allow it skip sending rare earths ore to China for that step. China could hurt itself in the long run by cutting off the U.S., specialists said. David Merriman, a rare earths analyst for Roskill commodity research in London, said that during a similar trade flap with China in 2011, Japan began looking to other countries including Australia for the minerals needed to manufacture electronics. Australian rare earths production giant Lynas Corp. Ltd. this month announced a proposed deal with Blue Line of Texas for a separation facility at an industrial site in Hondo, Texas. There may be other options, too. Deposits of rare earths have been detected in other U.S. states including Wyoming and Alaska, as well in several remote areas of Canada. The Interior Department is calling for more prospecting and mining of “critical minerals”, including on public lands currently considered off-limits, and even in oceans. “We have to be more forward thinking”, said Alexander Gysi, an assistant professor in geology and geological engineering at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden. “It would be better for the U.S. to have a greater range of sources for rare earths”. +++ 

+++ The upcoming electric pickup from GENERAL MOTORS has been the talk of the town in recent weeks and company president Mark Reuss has now provided some additional details about it. While talking about the company’s $150 million investment into its Flint truck plant, Reuss said that the company needs to jump over a few hurdles before it can viably produce an electric pickup. Consequently, he was unable to give a date for when that vehicle will be launched. Reuss says that, because so many pickup owners rely on their vehicles for work, GM needs to ensure that charging times of EVs are reduced for them to appeal to these types of buyers. In addition to fast and easy charging, Reuss said the U.S. requires a larger supporting infrastructure. The challenges don’t stop here. According to him, General Motors will only be able to sell an electric pickup when the prices of such vehicles reach parity with petrol or diesel-powered trucks. These EVs will also need to be as bulletproof-reliable as the conventional ones, while also providing exceptional hauling and towing abilities. After all, why would someone buy an electric pickup if it’s more expensive, less reliable, and less capable than an ICE alternative? Based on those statements, it doesn’t seem as though the company’s electric pickup will compete in the same luxury space as the Rivian R1T. And this will probably please many buyers contemplating making a switch to electric power in the coming years for their hauling needs, as they will be able to afford it. +++ 

+++ ISUZU has launched a fuel-efficient model in its mainstay D-Max pickup series in Cambodia, as it aims to steal a march on competitors from its homeland. Shuichiro Mori, president of Tri Petch Isuzu Sales Cambodia, said as it unveiled the D-Max 1.9, the first sub-1.900 cc pickup in the Southeast Asian country. The new model is about 20 % more fuel efficient than the D-Max 3.0 version sold in Cambodia, Mori said. “We want to start a new trend in the pickup segment by enhancing our lineup, as car purchasers become more aware of fuel economy and durability”, he added. Isuzu also launched a SUV with a remodeled exterior in the MU-X series, alongside the smaller D-Max, as locals prefer multipurpose vehicles to sedans due to the underdeveloped roads there. The price of the D-Max 1.9 ranges from $33,000 to $49,000, while the MU-X sells for $60,000 to $67,000, according to Mori. The Japanese automaker has so far marketed one model each in the D-Max and MU-X series. With the 2 new models, it aims to more than double its new vehicle sales in the country to 700 units this year. New vehicle sales in Cambodia surged 40 % in 2018 from the previous year, to about 6,300 units, with pickups accounting for 30 to 40 %. Toyota and Mitsubishi are among Japanese rivals also selling pickups in the country. +++ 

+++ 3 months after its Geneva Motor Show premiere, the Renegade plug-in hybrid will be making its on-road debut at the 2019 Turin Auto Show in Italy. JEEP ’s first small electrified SUV will be displayed at the Parco del Valentino between June 19 and 23, and will also parade around the city center circuit, after setting off from Piazza Vittorio Veneto. The main characteristic of the Renegade PHEV is, of course, the powertrain, which combines a new 1.3-liter turbocharged petrol four with an electric motor. Maximum output is 240 hp, which allows for a 0-100 km/h sprint in roughly 7 seconds. With the battery fully charged, either by the ICE or using a regular socket, the Renegade PHEV has a zero-emission driving range of 50 km. Carbon dioxide emissions are kept in check at 50 g/km, making it friendlier to the environment than any other version currently on sale. Thanks to the clever torque distribution of the ICE and electric motor, Jeep claims that the model provides “extreme precision during take-off and while driving on the most challenging terrain”. The eAWD technology makes sure that the two axles work separately, and the configuration eliminates the need for a low-range gearbox. Joining the electrified Renegade in Turin will be the Compass PHEV, which uses an identical powertrain and has very similar performance. +++ 

+++ Unlike the original, LAND ROVER will offer the upcoming, all-new Defender in China; which, given the fact that, despite the recent slowdown, this is now the world’s largest car market, really is not that much of a surprise. In fact, the new SUV might play a big role in reversing JLR’s fortunes in the country, as the British group saw its sales nosedive due a number of factors. This, however, is not all: Land Rover said in a presentation to investors that the Defender will be offered with “China specific features”, without elaborating further. The 2020 Defender, which is described by its maker as “tough, capable and unstoppable”, will also be sold in the U.S. (and, of course, Europe). JLR is planning both ICE and electrified powertrains for it, including a plug-in hybrid version that will join the range some point after its launch. In April, Land Rover announced that it will be produced alongside the Discovery at its plant in Nitra, Slovakia. Thanks to the numerous sightings of camouflaged test cars, I know that the new Defender will retain a rugged square look and, like its iconic predecessor, will be available in both 3 and 5 door, short and long wheelbase versions. JLR wants the new Defender to rival the likes of the Jeep Wrangler, Toyota Land Cruiser, upcoming Ford Bronco and not just the “good for tarmac, pretty useless off it” myriads of other SUVs out there. The new Defender is based on a modified version of the MLA platform, which also underpins the new Discovery and Range Rover Sport. It’s expected to make its world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, with sales starting in early 2020. +++ 

+++ Success breeds success, they say. But for a British brand like MG , there’s more to its continuing growth than its reputation and one of the most famous badges on the road. This is a tale of huge investment, all-new products, the right technology at the right price, and smart customer service. MG recently posted the best single month for sales in the company’s history, capping a quarter when its numbers were up a staggering 70 % on the same period in 2018. And that after a year when MG doubled its numbers to become the fastest-growing car manufacturer in the UK. This success has been driven by a number of factors: expansion of the product line-up into the types of vehicles customers increasingly demand, the addition of extra dealerships for sales and servicing in key areas of the country, better finance rates and the adoption of a 7 year warranty that really helps resale values for those who still prefer to buy their car outright. In particular, that range transformation has given the British marque breadth in all the right areas. At the entry point sits the MG 3 supermini, which trades hard on above-average practicality for its class, crisp styling, strong infotainment and big-value pricing (its prices start at less than the magic 10 grand mark). At the top of the range is the GS, which is a full-sized family SUV with space for 5 and their luggage. It offers plenty of cruising refinement and technology for everyone on board. And in the middle, perhaps the model that has made the biggest difference of all: the ZS, an SUV small enough to appeal to crossover buyers, yet bigger than the class average, and so able to deliver enough practicality to be a small family car. More than 7,500 examples have already been sold. “Product has been key for us”, says Daniel Gregorious, MG’s head of sales and marketing. “Having 2 SUVs in our line-up, at the right size, has allowed us to cater for small and large families, in the area of the market that has now become, in effect, the family car”. That’s true, but types of vehicle alone wouldn’t be enough. Another of MG’s strengths is how the vehicles look and feel perfectly suited to the British market. There’s a reason for that: MG’s owner, Chinese giant SAIC,has been careful to incorporate UK engineering data into every model. The cars are all tested right here on British roads before their final settings are signed off, too. With an advanced design team based at MG headquarter on London’s Marylebone Road, the British design influence shines through, a key strength for the current model range. That backing for the brand from one of China’s largest automotive and engineering groups has reaped rewards in several key areas. For starters, MG’s focus on value doesn’t prevent it from offering plenty of technology in its vehicles. Even the MG 3 comes with an 8 inch touchscreen on most versions (a relatively large display for a supermini) while both the ZS and GS Exclusive variants are available with satellite navigation. Matthew Stevens, MG’s product and planning manager, says: “We’ve been able to offer in-car features at the right price. So the infotainment systems are popular with customers, because they offer the right functionality, including Apple CarPlay, but still in a car that has a good monthly finance rate”. Investment in quality also persuaded MG to offer the best customer peace of mind in British showrooms: through a 7 year warranty on the MG 3 and ZS. “The 7 year warranty is a huge statement for many customers”, Gregorious adds. “It’s a major commitment on our part, showing real faith in our products, but private buyers love it because it brings peace of mind and helps the secondhand values when they eventually want to change the car”. But those developments on product alone won’t guarantee upward progress, of course. Gregorious says the current 92 strong dealer network will require some further growth (he has around 120 locations in mind for the ideal coverage) and MG continues to work with its retail partners to improve the customer experience and the already-impressive levels of customer retention. There’s determination at MG, in fact, to build on this early momentum with further product range updates and, where suitable, expansion. An all-electric version of the ZS will arrive in the UK in early autumn, giving the brand an early foothold in another rapidly growing area of the new-car market (and a more practical offering than anything else at its price). Again, the ability to bring that vehicle to market now (and with shorter delivery times than many comparable EVs) is down to SAIC’s scale and its backing of the MG brand. An all-new family SUV is expected at the end of this year, too, and by 2021, the company expects to be selling the production version of the dramatic E-motion concept: a pure electric coupé with 4-wheeldrive and sportscar rivalling performance. “We’re really excited about the E-motion”, says Gregorious. “It has fabulous technology and will be a terrific ‘halo’ product for the MG brand; a real statement. Electrification has huge potential for us. MG and sister brand Roewe sold 140,000 electric cars in China alone last year, so we already have experience, the technology and the capacity to supply electric cars at the right price”. With that next generation of tech now only a few months away, the conventionally powered range continuing to develop apace and further improvements in dealer service, plus the security of that 7-year warranty, MG is ideally placed to kick on again. +++ 

+++ The MITSUBISHI Eclipse Cross is now available with a 2.2-liter diesel engine in its home market. Already on sale in European markets, the turbocharged 4-cylinder puts out 145 hp at 3,500 rpm and 380 Nm at 2,000 rpm in Japan-spec, slightly down on the 148 hp and 388 Nm of the Euro versions. The 2.2-liter direct-injected turbodiesel is hooked to an 8-speed automatic transmission with a sport mode and standard 4-wheeldrive. In this configuration, the Eclipse Cross is claimed to average 14.2 km/l in the WLTP cycle. Mitsubishi describes the engine as a “clean diesel” thanks to its Urea Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) water system that reduces exhaust emissions by breaking down and removing nitrogen oxides (NOx) from the exhaust gas. +++ 

+++ Elon MUSK is famed for making intriguing statements and raising eyebrows and he did exactly that during Tesla’s recent shareholder meeting. An attendee asked Musk if the car manufacturer was working on an electric amphibian vehicle that can travel both underwater and on land. While virtually all industry executives would likely have dismissed such a question as being absurd, Musk actually revealed that, yes, Tesla has thought about such a vehicle. Not only has Tesla thought about an electric amphibian vehicle but Musk said that it has even gone to the trouble of designing one. “I think the market for this would be small, but enthusiastic”, Musk said about the vehicle. The entrepreneur’s interest in aquatic vehicles is nothing new. In fact, Musk purchased the famous Lotus Esprit submarine from James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me back in 2013 for a cool £616,000, or $997,000 at the time. Musk claimed that he was going to transform the Tesla with an electric powertrain to actually make it functional but it remains to be seen if that ever happened. Nevertheless, Musk was keen to point out during the shareholder’s meeting that building an amphibian car would be a distraction for the Californian car company but did leave the door open for perhaps making an aquatic Tesla show car. Tesla has a lot on its plate right now. It is churning out the Model 3, Model S, and Model X, building a huge Gigafactory in China, working on improved batteries, preparing to unveil an all-electric pickup truck, and readying both the Model Y and a semi-truck. Yeah, an amphibian car would certainly be a distraction. +++ 

+++ NISSAN is considering appeasing its Alliance partner Renault by offering the French carmaker multiple seats on planned oversight committees after the latter expressed discontent with a proposed governance reform. The Renault-Nissan alliance has been going through some rough patches lately, especially after Renault demanded to have a greater say in Nissan’s new governance system. Now, the latter is considering having the French brand’s executives as members of its nomination, audit and compensation committees. “Nissan will have to make concessions for our governance reform”, said a person with direct knowledge. “Whether 2 or 3 seats, we still don’t know how many committees we will be giving to Renault, but we are in talks to give some seats to someone recommended by Renault”. Earlier this week, Renault boss Jean-Dominique Senard said that he was confident that his company and Nissan would reach an agreement on the composition of the Japanese automaker’s main board committees. He also said that he would support Nissan’s governance reform if they allowed Renault to have two representatives on the board. Initially, Nissan had only offered to let Senard sit on the committees, with Renault demanding that its CEO Thierry Bollore would also be given a role. “There is still a gap. Both sides need to make concessions. The question is whether they can narrow that gap”, said another source familiar with what’s happening. Meanwhile, it’s also being reported that Nissan has recommended that JXTG (a leading fuel distributor) adviser Yasushi Kimura should become chairman of its board of directors. +++ 

+++ Germany’s automotive regulator ordered OPEL to recall some gasoline-fueled cars because they exceed emissions limits. Adam and Corsa models “seriously” exceed permitted nitrogen oxide levels when used on the road. The order affects 210,000 vehicles of which 54,000 are in Germany. Opel’s quality assessment found that so-called Lambda controls in some Adam and Corsa models from 2018 and 2019 aren’t “sufficiently robust” at high speeds, an Opel spokesman said. That means cars that have run for more than about 50,000 km could exceed nitrogen oxide limits over the course of their lifespan, he said. Opel started informing clients 2 months ago so they could update the software of affected cars. Opel has previously said that Frankfurt prosecutors were investigating the emissions of diesel cars and that it was cooperating with the authorities. +++ 

+++ PORSCHE appears to have posted an official teaser video for the upcoming 718 Boxster Spyder. It will feature a characteristic double-bulge rear deck that transitions into an integrated spoiler. The teaser video provides a fresh glimpse, albeit with heavy motion blur to obscure the car’s finer details. Rumors suggest the 718 Spyder will be powered by a flat-6 motor matching the hardtop 718 Cayman GT4, with a choice between manual and PDK gearboxes. “Perfectly irrational”, Porsche concludes in the teaser video. +++ 

+++ RENAULT ’s chairman vowed a “fresh start” for the carmaker’s strained alliance with Japanese partner Nissan, saying its success was key after a proposed merger with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) fell apart. Calling the Franco-Japanese alliance a “pillar and a motor for the development of all its members”, chairman Jean-Dominique Senard told Renault shareholders at their Annual General Meeting: “Today, the alliance is making a fresh start. There can be no success for Renault without the success of the alliance”, he said. It was Renault’s first AGM since the shock arrest last November of former chief executive Carlos Ghosn, who built up the alliance between Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi into an industry behemoth selling some 10.8 million vehicles last year. Since then Renault has been thrown into turmoil, its share price slumping to levels not seen since 2014 in the wake of Ghosn’s ouster from top posts at the 3 automakers. And relations with Nissan have soured, with the Japanese firm accusing Renault of having too much weight in the alliance, and of keeping it in the dark over its tie-up plans with FCA. That deal with Italian-American group would have forged a globe-spanning automotive network with the resources to develop electric and autonomous vehicles, seen as essential for cutting carbon emissions and addressing the mobility challenges of a rapidly urbanising world. Renault’s net profit slumped by a third last year to €3.3 billion euros, in large part because of a tough year for Nissan, in which Renault owns a 43 % stake. Nissan in turn holds 15 % of the French automaker (the same as the French state) though its stake confers no voting rights. Around 900 shareholders attended the Renault AGM in Paris; a 50 % jump from last year’s attendance, with executives facing a barrage of questions over the Nissan crisis and the failed Renault-Fiat deal. “The board clearly failed to exercise its responsibility in the best interests of shareholders”, analysts at the Paris investment firm Phitrust said this week. The crisis comes as carmakers worldwide grapple with a shift to electric and hybrid vehicles, with the industry spending billions to develop cleaner technologies. Some shareholders have pointed the finger at Renault’s board for not exercising enough oversight over Ghosn, who is awaiting trial in Japan on charges of financial misconduct at Nissan. Senard, who took over as Renault chairman this year, is also under pressure to lay out his strategy for shoring up the alliance with Nissan, just weeks after his plans for closer management integration were rejected by the Japanese firm. Adding to the tensions, a leaked letter from Senard to Nissan this week said Renault would block a governance overhaul at the Japanese firm, which Nissan denounced as a “most regrettable” move. Renault executives have played down the issue, saying they are confident the 2 carmakers will reach an agreement before Nissan’s AGM on June 25. Last month, FCA unveiled a surprise 50-50 merger with Renault, but the deal collapsed just over a week later, with the Italian-American carmaker blaming political resistance from the French state. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said it was “legitimate” for Paris, as the biggest shareholder in Renault, to have a say in the proposed tie-up and that Renault should focus on shoring up its relationship with Nissan before pursuing mergers with other firms. The tensions with Nissan and the collapse of the merger talks have raised questions over the future of the French carmaker, which last year sold 3.9 million vehicles, more than half of them outside of Europe. Nissan and Renault have been partners for more than 20 years after Ghosn stepped in to pull the Japanese firm back from the brink of bankruptcy. But the industry’s challenges are only expected to mount this year, not least as the EU further clamps down on emissions targets, which carmakers must meet or face heavy fines. +++ 

+++ Are brand-new, state-of-the-art SEDAN cars dead in the water? Don’t be daft. They’re very much alive, and will be for decades to come. Lately in Detroit, firms such as Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) have hinted that it’s game over for the sedan. But this is wishful thinking from a pair of US-based, increasingly insular companies. The reality is that they’re no longer as keen on such cars because they can’t design and build ’em as well as their rivals. German, British, Swedish, Japanese and, more recently, South Korean companies now wipe the floor with Ford and FCA when it comes to saloons. The Americans have been thrashed at what was once their own game, and forced to throw in the towel, leaving the Europeans and Asians to corner the still-important and profitable saloon-car market pretty much for themselves. That wasn’t smart, America. Having said all that, this is a shrinking sector; SUVs are now the undisputed No. 1 showroom products. But small to medium sized hatchbacks are almost as popular, followed by MPVs, pick-ups, executive/luxury cars, and vans, with sportscars sitting at the bottom of the pile. In Britain last year, almost 800,000 superminis and sub-superminis were sold, yet only 8,000 luxury sedans. That’s largely because the former are far cheaper to buy, run and park than the latter. But the archetypal sedan type model is suffering an identity crisis at the moment. Too many buyers just don’t want to be associated with cars that business tycoons or politicians ride in, that chauffeurs drive, that management types get as part of their job packages, or that their dad drove when they were a kid. It’s for these and associated reasons (including the war on internal combustion engines; ICE) that saloons are struggling to attract enough attention from buyers. This was brought home last month at The London Motor Show where, over 4 busy days, I witnessed thousands of showgoers queuing to get up close and personal with the World Car Award-winning McLaren 720S, Jaguar I-Pace and Suzuki Jimny, while almost blanking the more traditional Audi A7 (another winner) and Volvo S60 (runner-up). And let’s not forget that Jaguar has just announced that it’s halting its XJ production line, although the word is that the car will be reborn soon, minus the traditional ICE. If you don’t have the thousands needed for an expensive, brand-new, mid-sized to large sedan, why should you care about any of this? Because today’s fresh Jaguar, Mercedes, BMW or Audi sedan is the car you can buy not many years down the line for much less if you’re brave enough to go for an older, higher-mileage example. I’ve bought such luxury barges at these low prices, not least because they represent the best-value second-hand models that sensible money can buy. The icing on the cake is that there’s something strangely satisfying about gliding down the road in such a high-quality car. Worry not. Like motor shows and ICEs, the sedan won’t disappear anytime soon. +++ 

+++ TESLA is reportedly maintaining a delivery rate of around 1,000 vehicles per day in North America this month as buyers hurry to finalize purchases before the company’s federal tax incentive is cut in half again. The automaker plans to deliver at least 7,000 more vehicles over the next days and expects purchases to increase in the last week of the quarter. “US tax credit of $3,750 drops in half for Tesla on July 1”, CEO Elon Musk wrote on Twitter. “Order online in a few minutes at Tesla.com. Return in 7 days for full refund”. The executive recently voiced optimism that Tesla would post a record quarter in terms of vehicle deliveries, arguing that media reports were incorrect in speculating that demand for the Model 3 was beginning to wane. The company’s previous quarterly record of 90,700 vehicles was set in the final 3 months of 2018. Looking forward to the second half, Tesla’s federal tax incentive is set to drop from $1,875 to $0 at the end of the year. It is unclear if the declining tax incentives will have a negative impact on sales. +++ 

+++ TOYOTA will cut summer bonuses for some 9,800 managers by 4 to 5 %, as it looks to tighten cost control in the face of high spending on developing technology for autonomous and electrified vehicles, a source close to the matter said. The decision comes even as the company expects a 19.5 % rise in net profit in the current fiscal year and reflects an uncertain business outlook due to the prolonged trade war between the United States and China. Toyota President Akio Toyoda said at an annual shareholders’ meeting that his company is boosting efforts in developing zero-emission vehicles including fuel cell vehicles. “We are facing a once-in-a-century transformation. I hope to build a mobility society of the future with our shareholders”, Toyoda said at the meeting at its headquarters in Aichi Prefecture. Competition is intensifying, with new rivals such as technology giant Google now in the markets for electric and self-driving vehicles and new transportation services. In recent years, Toyota has struck cross-industry tie-ups with partners such as investment giant SoftBank Group, leading ride-share service provider Uber Technologies and ride-hailing company Grab Holdings of Singapore. Japan’s biggest automaker plans to spend a record ¥1.1 trillion ($10 billion) in research and development operations in the year through March 2020, up 4.9 % from the previous year. The firm expects a group net profit of ¥2.25 trillion on group sales of ¥30 trillion in the current fiscal year. At the shareholders meeting, some shareholders asked about Toyota’s efforts to reduce accidents, after incidents involving elderly drivers came under the spotlight recently in Japan as its population rapidly grays. “How far along is Toyota’s technology being developed for cars that can stop automatically when a driver makes a mistake?” one shareholder asked company executives at the meeting. A Toyota executive responded that its engineers versed in artificial intelligence technology are working on enhancing safety systems. The number of fatal traffic accidents has been declining in recent years in Japan, but accidents deemed to be caused by people aged 75 or older increased to 460 in 2018; up by 42 from a year earlier. Of the 460, 136 cases involved drivers believed to have became confused when using the pedals or steering wheel. +++ 

+++ VOLKSWAGEN has valued its heavy-trucks business at as much as $18.6 billion in what is set to be one of the year’s largest European public offerings. VW intends to offer stock in Traton, which sells MAN and Scania vehicles, for €27 euros to €33 each, it said in a statement. The sale values the division at €13.5 billion to €16.5 billion. The automaker aims to raise up to €1.9 billion by floating a stake of at least 10 % in its Traton trucks unit later this month, its second attempt to bring the business to market. The sale will mark a litmus test not only for IPO demand in a European stock market that turned in its worst month in 3,5 years during May, but also for the ability of VW’s management to push through deeper structural change. VW plans to invest proceeds in transforming its auto production as it readies the launch of dozens of electric vehicles over the coming years and deepens an alliance with Ford. It is also seeking to capitalize on the premium that truck stocks command over automakers to create an acquisition currency, having earlier shown interest in potentially boosting its 16.8 % stake in U.S.-based truck maker Navistar. Management denies that a Navistar deal is in immediate prospect, but such a move would fit with a broader pivot by VW  toward the United States to balance its reliance on China, where it sells half its cars. Besides Swedish heavy-truck specialist Scania and Germany’s MAN, Traton includes a smaller operation in Brazil that sells VW-branded commercial vehicles for emerging markets. “We will now meet investors across the globe to convey our Traton story and the future potential of the group”, Traton CEO Andreas Renschler said after the publication of Traton’s IPO prospectus. “We are confident that we will then be able to ring the Stock Exchange bell before the end of June if the market stays reasonable”. Traton said that Swedish pension fund AMF Pensionsfoersaekring had agreed to become a cornerstone investor in the listing and subscribe to 200 million euros worth of Traton stock. VW surprised investors last month when it revived its effort to float Traton just weeks after shelving the plan in March. “We are now all set for the decisive phase”, VW chief financial officer Frank Witter said. “The IPO is driven by the aim to create value for our stakeholders”. The base offer will be 50 million shares, with a possible over-allotment of as many as 7.5 million shares, subject to the use of a so-called green-shoe option for rights to additional stock, VW said. Trading is set to start on June 28 and the company is targeting a free float of 10 to 11.5 %of Traton’s shares, scaling back earlier ambitions to list up to a quarter of the unit. The offer period for the share sale is set to begin on June 17 and end on June 27. VW boss Herbert Diess, who took over the job a little more than a year ago, earlier addressed 500 top executives near VW’s corporate headquarters in Wolfsburg and stressed the urgency of his push to make the transportation giant less centralized and more agile to navigate an unprecedented industry transformation. Shares in VW closed lower as analysts cautioned that Traton’s potential acquisitiveness could lead to the issue of fresh equity that would dilute existing shareholdings. Jefferies, in a note, said that Traton’s enterprise value as a multiple of core earnings (a measure of a company’s ability to support its equity and debt costs) of 8.2 times was slightly lower than the sector average but higher than Volvo’s, which it sees as offering better value. VW is being more cautious about the volume of shares it will place after halting earlier listing plans in March, when it had planned to place a stake of up to 25 % on the stock market, citing market conditions. More shares could be sold subsequently if the IPO is successful, a person familiar with the matter said this month, adding that VW would remain Traton’s majority shareholder for the foreseeable future. +++

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