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+++ Vehicle production has taken center stage under the Trump administration as the President has slapped tariffs on Chinese-made vehicles and labeled automotive imports a threat to national security. Given that backdrop, the annual AMERICAN MADE index has been released, which examines a number of factors to determine which vehicles are the ‘most’ American. As part of this effort, it was examined where vehicles are built, their domestic parts content (which also includes Canada) and the origin of their engine and transmission. The company also factored in the number of Americans the automaker employs at the factory level. With that premier out of the way, let’s dive into the results. The Jeep Cherokee was deemed the most American as it’s built in Illinois and uses US-sourced engines and transmissions. The following 3 vehicles might come as a surprise, but they’re Honda Odyssey, Ridgeline and Passport. All 3 are produced in Alabama and feature a number of US-sourced components. The Chevrolet Corvette come in fifth, while the Acura MDX and Honda Pilot followed close behind. Rounding out the top 10 are the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon and Acura RDX. The Colorado and Canyon are newcomers to the list this year as they received more domestic components for 2019. On the flip side, the Ford F-150 and Explorer lost their top 10 spot thanks to a decline in domestic parts content. While the Chevrolet Volt and Ford Taurus made the top 10 last year, they were disqualified this time around for being discontinued. According to the study, 118 different vehicles are produced in the United States by 14 automakers. That’s roughly the same as last year, but there have been a handful of new plant openings in recent years such as Volvo’s factory in Charleston, South Carolina. +++ 

++++ Technology giant APPLE confirmed that it has acquired Drive.AI start up, a self-driving firm that runs a small fleet of test shuttles in Texas. News of Apple being interested in buying Drive.AI surfaced earlier this month, with the company interested in bringing aboard some of its engineering talent in order to boost their own self-driving efforts. Drive.AI was struggling, telling California regulators that it was planning to lay off 90 people. Apple buying Drive.AI in this state is a common move for Silicon Valley, where larger companies acquire smaller start ups mainly to hire their engineers. Drive.AI is currently running a fleet of autonomous vans in Arlington and Frisco, Texas, with the test vehicles having fixed pick-up and drop-off locations. No information on how much money Apple paid for Drive.AI was released. Last year Apple has reportedly revamped its efforts in the development of autonomous driving technologies, hiring former Tesla engineering chief Doug Field to oversee more than 5,000 workers on the project. Back in January, Apple cut 200 employees from the program. A company spokesperson said back then: “We have an incredibly talented team working on autonomous systems and associated technologies at Apple. As the team focuses their work on several key areas for 2019, some groups are being moved to projects in other parts of the company, where they will support machine learning and other initiatives, across all of Apple”. Apple’s self-driving department is also busy with developing key components, such as sensors, in addition to scouting for potential suppliers. +++

+++ BMW is not showing much enthusiasm to get on board with a German government push to establish battery cell production in Europe, slowing a plan to create an industry that keeps pace with Asian rivals and get on the front foot on elusive climate goals. “I don’t believe it makes sense for every carmaker to make their own cells”, BMW’s chief financial officer Nicolas Peter told. The company is happy to join a consortium or work with existing producers, but does not see the need to go beyond that, he said. Chancellor Angela Merkel held a 3-hour meeting with the heads of BMW, Volkswagen Group and Daimler in Berlin to redouble efforts to boost electric car adoption. The discussion ended without concrete results, adding to a sense of slow motion on the switch to cleaner vehicles. While BMW is hesitating, Volkswagen in May selected Northvolt as its partner to start production of battery cells in Germany with an investment of almost €1 billion. BMW owns a stake in Northvolt alongside Volkswagen, which it plans to raise in the near future, while staying below VW. A plan by Germany and France to establish an ‘Airbus’ of battery-cell production in Europe is struggling on concerns existing Asian producers are better positioned to lower the costs of the key electric-car product. Following the meeting with BMW’s Harald Krüger, Volkswagen’s Herbert Diess and Ola Källenius, Daimler’s chief, Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer criticized the nation’s biggest industry for not building enough electric cars. “I have a bit of a problem with the fact that the interesting products will only appear in the next few years”, Scheuer said. “Where can consumers right now look in car shops at different products and experience electric mobility first hand?”. Merkel’s government is under pressure from young voters who say it’s not doing enough to meet climate goals. It’s seeking to redouble efforts to modernize the car industry and build out a charging network for 7 million to 10 million electric cars by 2030. Germany currently has about 17,000 public chargers. Talks will resume to prepare plans to expand the electric-car infrastructure. A decision is due in the fall at another meeting with automakers and the government in Berlin. +++ 

+++ Britain’s car industry has called on the government to maintain frictionless trade at borders in the event of a hard BREXIT , to avert a catastrophe that could cost car makers £70 million a day. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) warns that leaving the European Union without a trade agreement will cause border delays that will see the UK’s car industry incur costs of almost £50,000 a minute. “We thought when we came to 2019 we’d have a degree of certainty; obviously we’ve not, we’re in the midst of a Conservative contest”, said Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT. As part of its 2019 UK Automotive Trade Report, the organisation revealed that in a single day, the UK car industry sees 1.100 EU trucks delivering to car and engine plants, carrying £42 million worth of components. Additionally, 4.800 cars and 6.500 engines are exported from the UK to global markets every day. The vast majority of these shipments do not require border checks. Any new customs barrier in the UK’s trading relationship with EU markets threatens to jeopardise the car industry’s just-in-time operating model. The SMMT cautions that more inventory would have to be stocked at plants in the UK. Additionally, if the UK is no longer part of the EU customs union and single market, all companies, regardless of their trade, will have to introduce and manage detailed and time-consuming customs declarations. Last year, the 5 most popular cars built in and exported from Britain were led by the Nissan Qashqai, followed by the Mini hatch, Honda Civic, Toyota Auris and Land Rover Range Rover Sport. Europe was the UK’s largest export market, then America, China, Japan and Turkey. More than £18 billion a year is said to be contributed to HM Revenue by the industry, and 168,000 people are employed around the automotive space. “We have world-famous brands producing high-value goods, creating skilled jobs”, said Hawes. “Our success has at its foundation free trade. Brexit remains the clear and present danger to the industry. No-deal is not an option”. To help safeguard the automotive manufacturing (estimated to generate £101 billion of annual trade), the SMMT made recommendations for government and industry. It called for a forward-looking automotive trade strategy that accounts for new-generation vehicles and automotive technologies; preservation of current market access; stronger industry engagement; enhanced regulatory discussions and an upgraded domestic customs system and further fostering of trade promotion. At the same time, both Hawes and Alex Smith, of the Volkswagen Group, called on the government to help car makers and consumers achieve a zero-emissions economy. “The government must match their manufacturers long-term ambition with long-term commitment; infrastructural investment, long-term incentives, fiscal support for new technologies”, urged Smith. “When we bring the ID.3 to the UK, we will hand it over to the customer as carbon neutral. We will have eliminated or offset all of the carbon production in the supply chain and logistics. What’s really key then is for the customer to make the car carbon-neutral for the rest of its life”, echoed Smith. Referring to the challenge of the government leading the UK to net zero, Chris Stark, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change, said: “If I’m being honest, I think that government is bewildered by the size of the task”. Stark outlined how the supply of electricity would need to be doubled to account for demands from electric vehicles and homes with electric heating. +++

+++ CHEVROLET killed the Camaro in 2002 and it appears history could repeat itself once again. Work on the 7th generation Camaro has been suspended. As a result, the car will likely be dropped from the lineup. The Camaro won’t transition to the new version of the Alpha platform that underpins the Cadillac CT4 and CT5. That’s an ominous sign and so is the claim that the vehicle is “charted out” until 2023 and then just disappears. It’s no secret that Camaro sales have been pretty lackluster. Last year the company only sold 50,963 units in the United States which put the muscle car in a distant third place compared to the Dodge Challenger (66,716) and Ford Mustang (75,842). The fate of the Camaro is still uncertain at this point, but last year the company apparently surveyed consumers about possible new powertrains including a turbocharged 2.7-liter 4-cylinder and 2 hybridized options. That suggested the automaker was still committed to the Camaro, but things could have changed since then. If that’s the case, the Camaro could be the latest in a string of GM cars getting the axe in North America. Last fall, the automaker announced the death of several different models including the Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac CT6 and XTS as well as the Chevrolet Cruze, Impala and Volt. +++

+++ With less than a month left to go until the CORVETTE C8 premieres, former General Motors vice chairman Bob Lutz has revealed that if he was still with the automaker, the Corvette would have morphed into an SUV too. Lutz said that while he believes the C8 Corvette will likely sell well following its long-awaited introduction, he doesn’t believe it will attract younger and new customers to the brand and instead have largely the same customer base as the C7. He went on to state that he doesn’t think “anyone is going to get out of a Porsche 911” and buy a mid-engine Corvette. If Lutz could have his way, Chevrolet would be investing in transforming the Corvette name and launching a performance-focused, upmarket SUV to rival vehicles like the Porsche Cayenne. Such a model could be produced in numbers ranging from 20,000 to 30,000 units annually and could have a starting price north of $100,000. While an SUV could dilute the Corvette name, the former industry executive believes it would help bolster GM profits and help the company capture a share of the booming SUV and crossover market. Could building a Corvette SUV work for General Motors? It certainly could but venturing down this path would be a risk for the American car manufacturer and unless Lutz knows something we don’t, it probably isn’t on the agenda. Chevrolet will unveil the mid-engine Corvette on July 18 and while Lutz doesn’t seem won over by the idea, I have an inkling that ‘Vette enthusiasts will be. +++  

+++ FORD aims to pull customers away from BMW Group’s premium Mini brand with the new Puma, the company’s first small SUV developed specifically for European buyers. The Puma, which goes on sale in January, will sit between the EcoSport and the Kuga, enabling the U.S. automaker to challenge leaders in fast-growing small SUV sector such as the Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008. Ford is banking on the Puma’s striking design, competitive driving dynamics, class-unique technology and ample interior space to persuade customers who would not normally choose a volume brand. “The whole car is meant to attract people from premium brands. Mini is the key one”, Sigurd Limbach, Ford of Europe’s vehicle line director for small cars, told. Limbach referenced the first-generation S-Max as inspiration for what Ford wants to replicate with the Puma. “It was a mega success because when it debuted in 2006 it was in a segment that wasn’t there (a sporty MPV)”, he said. “It had a lot of space, was stylish and people loved it. This (the Puma) is also a stylish car with a lot of space but in a different decade”. The Puma, which will not be sold in the U.S., is based on an adapted version of Ford’s B2 small-car platform shared with the Fiesta but stretched lengthwise and widthwise to allow designers to create a more muscular design and to increase interior room. The Puma measures 4.186 mm end-to-end, which is longer than the 4.095 mm EcoSport but shorter than the new Peugeot 2008 at 4.300 mm and the Opel Crossland X at 4.212 mm. Ford claims the Puma’s 456 liter trunk space is best in class. The flexible storage space is partitioned with a moveable floor that can be fitted into 3 separate positions, including raised up to reveal an 80 liter glassfiber box that’s deep enough to allow items such as child’s stroller to be stored upright in the trunk. The box also has a plug in the floor to allow it to be power-washed if used to store muddy items. The Puma will initially be offered with 3 versions of Ford’s 1.0-liter 3-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine, 2 of which will include a 48 volt mild hybrid system that delivers extra power at lower revs from an integrated belt-driven starter-generator. Ford will not offer a plug-in hybrid to match Renault with its forthcoming Captur or a full-electric model to rival the upcoming Peugeot e-2008 or the current Hyundai Kona EV. Ford will expand the Puma range in May 2020 to include a 1.5 liter diesel that will meet Euro 6d emissions requirements. The mild hybrid Puma with 125 hp will emit 124 grams of CO2 per kilometer while the non-hybrid version with the same power emits from 131 gram; both measured on the WLTP cycle. The 155 hp hybrid version produces 127 gram/km of CO2. Ford said the advantages of the hybrid version over the standard car will include more torque at low revs for better in-gear acceleration. No prices for the models have been released. Customers will need to be educated as to the benefits of the more expensive hybrid, given the relatively small improvement to the Puma’s fuel economy. “I’m not saying it’s a challenge, but it’s something we need to make apparent to the non-techie customer”, Limbach said. Ford will be hoping customers prefer hybrid versions as the deadline to meet tougher average CO2 targets in 2020 and 2021 approaches. The design of the Puma was intended to bridge the gap between more polarizing models in the small SUV class such as the Nissan Juke and more upright, conservative models. “We wanted to stand out and be compelling and attractive, but not be a weird science project”, George Saridakis, head of interior and external design for Ford of Europe, said. He described the profile of the car as an “anti-wedge” that keeps a simpler design compared to some models with more complex surface details. “We don’t rely on a tensioned, crisp line front to rear to convey the dynamism of the car, we’re using the wheel arches and their positioning of the muscles to convey that”, he said. Technology in the car includes an electric tailgate, which Ford claims is the first in its sector. It also has massage seats as standard in some models, as well as a digital instrument cluster. Active safety equipment in the model includes adaptive cruise control that can brake the car to a stop in a traffic jam and will automatically restart if the stop time is less than 3 seconds. The Puma is also available with blind spot warning, active park assist, and a rear camera that projects an image onto the dashboard screen. The car’s lane-keeping system includes a function that detects if the car is drifting onto a road surface other than pavement, such as grass, and helps steer it back onto the roadway. The Puma will help take Ford’s SUV share of its passenger car sales in Europe to almost 50 %; up from 27 % last year, Ford of Europe president Stuart Rowley told in April. “SUVs are critical to us. They’re a growing segment and you enjoy better margins in that segment”, Rowley said. Ford chose to launch a second vehicle in the small SUV segment in response to rising demand. “It’s such a large segment. They’re becoming such a large part of the industry you’re not going to serve all the customer desires with just one product offering”, Rowley said. “Some people want a more rugged car, other people want something more refined”. The Puma will go into production at Ford’s  plant in Craiova, Romania, alongside the EcoSport later this year. It revives a nameplate Ford last used on a Fiesta-based coupe that ended production in 2002. +++ 

+++ The FORD BRONCO is shaping up to be one of the most highly anticipated SUVs in years, and it appears the model will be powered by a 2.3 liter EcoBoost 4 cylinder engine. That’s hardly surprising as the Bronco is expected to have a lot in common with the Kuga. It wouldn’t be surprising if the 2 models will share more powertrain options. Ford has been relatively tight-lipped about the Bronco, but it will be launched next year and offered with a hybrid powertrain. Little is known about the latter, but previous reports have suggested the model will have a retro-inspired design with round headlights and a rectangular grille with ‘Bronco’ badging. Since the model is designed to compete with the Jeep Wrangler, it’s slated to have removable doors and a roof. However, Ford might have outsmarted the competition by installing the side mirrors on the A-pillar where they can still be used once the doors are taken off. Speaking of the doors, a patent suggested the model could come with tubular doors which are mounted inside the traditional steel doors. This would eliminate the need to purchase aftermarket tubular doors and save space in your garage as owners wouldn’t have a set of tubular doors lying around unused during colder months. +++ 

+++ Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing said it would expand its partnership with Guangzhou Automobile Group Co (GAC GROUP) to areas such as ride-hailing operations and autonomous driving. China’s largest ride-hailing firm and Guangzhou-based GAC Group will work on fleet expansion and management, development of new mobility products, and collaboration on smart driving, including autonomous driving technology, Didi said in a statement. Didi has also invested in OnTime, a mobility platform newly-launched by GAC Group and will support the company with its data capabilities and operational expertise, it added. GAC Group was among 31 automakers and parts suppliers that formed an alliance with Didi last year. Didi said at the time that it wanted to offer its customer and operational skills to automakers wanting to develop their own ride-sharing services in return for design expertise. Didi has set up joint ventures with a unit of Chinese carmaker BAIC and Volkswagen as part of its goal to ultimately develop purpose-built cars for its services. GAC sold over 2.1 million cars last year, including units made with Toyota, Honda and Mitsubishi. +++ 

+++ The U.S. Treasury said it was giving investors another 4 months to divest from Russian automaker GAZ , a company linked to Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska that Washington sanctioned over Russia’s “malign activity”. The U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said it would allow investors and businesses until November 8 to cut ties with GAZ. It also said it would permit activities needed to maintain or wind down existing contracts with GAZ until then. +++ 

+++ GENERAL MOTORS said it would invest an additional $20 million to upgrade equipment at the automaker’s Arlington Assembly plant in Texas, ahead of the launch of full-size SUVs. The investment will not add to the plant’s production capacity, a GM spokesman said. The No.1 U.S. automaker has not revealed when the company is going to launch its next generation full-size SUVs such as the Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon, GMC Yukon XL and the Cadillac Escalade. GM has long been dominated the U.S. full-size SUV segment, which fetches higher margins, but rival Ford has been pushing to capture market share. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said earlier this year it would start building a full-size Jeep SUV in late 2020. The latest equipment upgrade at Arlington plant is expected to be ready next year, the company said. GM has invested more than $1.4 billion in the Arlington Assembly plant since 2015. +++

+++ GENESIS has reaffirmed plans to quickly expand its lineup in the next few years. The company is planning to offer 6 different models by 2021, including the brand’s first crossover, Genesis global head Manfred Fitzgerald recently told. “We will have an extension of our product line-up until 2021, we will have 6 vehicles out there, of which we will have the first SUV which will be followed by a second SUV shortly thereafter”, he said. The Korean luxury marque is also working on “more exciting body styles” slated to arrive after 2021, though the company is not yet willing to disclose more details. A close-to-production prototype of the GV80 crossover has already been caught by spy photographers. The second high-riding model, the GV70, will arrive in a smaller package. Rumors suggest the “more exciting” model will be a sporty coupe, perhaps with an electrified powertrain option. +++

+++ President Emmanuel Macron said France would remain vigilant that Carlos GHOSN ’s presumption of innocence and the former Renault-Nissan leaders’ rights to defend himself in a Japanese lawcase are respected. “It’s not up to the French president to interfere publicly in a judicial case”, Macron said. “Japanese justice is independent. We will be vigilant, just like with all our citizens across the world who have to answer to the law, through consular activity, so that the defendant’s rights and presumption of innocence are respected in that case”. +++

+++ 6 years ago, Ford was languishing near the bottom of J.D. Power’s annual INITIAL QUALITY Study rankings in the United States. The automaker was beset with issues ranging from faulty small-car transmissions to a malfunctioning infotainment system. A renewed focus on improving internal processes helped fix some of those issues, punctuated by the Ford brand’s third-straight top-5 finish in this year’s study. But now the automaker faces another test: maintaining quality as most of its lineup is either freshened or redesigned. “It’s one the biggest challenges in the industry”, Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of automotive, said of new product launches. “It comes back to the processes, the discipline you have, whether you’ve done the work with your supply base. We feel confident we’ve put the work in”. Much of that work stems back to 2013, when the Ford brand ranked 27th on the IQS list with 131 problems reported per 100 vehicles. Hinrichs, who had recently taken over as Ford’s president of the Americas, instituted a weekly meeting to directly address quality, and reinstituted a half-day quality summit as part of a yearly gathering of the company’s leadership team. “It really comes down to leadership and commitment and process”, he said. “We focused on all of those areas”. That focus has continued under Kumar Galhotra, who as president of North America now oversees quality issues for each nameplate during meetings in what Ford calls “franchise rooms”. Hinrichs said he, Galhotra and other leaders spend more time looking over initial build prototypes to spot issues earlier in a vehicle’s development. “We committed to a bunch of new processes”, Hinrichs said. “That energy’s not gone anywhere”. Hinrichs said the team will be tested with upcoming launches, including redesigned Explorer and Kuga; 2 of the company’s highest-volume products. By the end of 2020, Ford says, it will have updated 75 % of its current lineup and boast the industry’s freshest showroom. Recent product launches give officials confidence the company can maintain quality. The Ranger, in its first year since returning to the U.S., was the top midsize pickup in the 2019 IQS rankings. The Ford and Lincoln brands combined for 10 models ranked among the top 3 in their segment. “It really does come down to how well the entire system is working together and how quickly they can identify and resolve problems”, Hinrichs said. “That’s the key to keeping launches going well”. +++ 

+++ Mitsubishi chairman Osamu MASUKO defended his company’s alliance with Nissan and Renault amid a barrage of shareholder skepticism, saying the automaker needs the expertise and scale of its larger partners, especially as it pursues a new business strategy of “small but beautiful”. But the Mitsubishi boss also warned that the companies must work better together. “We have come to see issues with the alliance”, Masuko said at Mitsubishi Motors’ annual shareholder meeting. “Depending on how we manage the alliance, we might not be able to deliver the results we expect. That is the reality. So we need to strengthen ourselves”. Mitsubishi intends to coordinate more closely with Nissan on future direction, he added. Masuko’s assessment comes as Mitsubishi finds itself squeezed by an increasingly strained relationship between the alliance’s big players, Nissan and Renault. Carlos Ghosn had been chairman of Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi, seeming to hold together the alliance by sheer force of will. But trust and cooperation between Nissan and Renault have crumbled since Ghosn’s arrest in Japan last year on allegations of financial misconduct. The tension puts Mitsubishi in a sensitive spot. As the smallest partner, Mitsubishi needs the bigger players’ technological, purchasing, manufacturing and logistical firepower. But Mitsubishi is also more closely aligned with Nissan, because of shared roots as a Japanese company and because Nissan is its controlling shareholder with a 34 % stake. While Renault has a controlling 43 % holding in Nissan, it has no direct stake in Mitsubishi. Skeptical shareholders peppered Masuko with questions about how Mitsubishi benefits from the alliance, which it joined in 2016 when Ghosn engineered Nissan’s takeover bid. Masuko said a top benefit is scale in an auto industry under siege by an influx of new technologies and new competitors. Teaming with Renault and Nissan, he said, helps Mitsubishi cut costs, share investments and improve its products through better benchmarking. “In this time of great change, it is not realistic to respond to all these changes”, Masuko said of those who would go it alone. “There are a number of benefits we have gained from the alliance”. Masuko cited last week’s tie-up with Waymo as an example of how Mitsubishi gains. Under that breakthrough agreement, Waymo, the autonomous-driving subsidiary of Alphabet, will work with the alliance to develop self-driving systems for a range of vehicles that will ferry passengers and packages. “For advanced technologies, it is beneficial for us to tackle them through the three-party alliance”, Masuko said. “I think the alliance will generate benefits for us”. Getting by with the help of friends is all the more important for Mitsubishi as Masuko prepares a new global business strategy to transform the automaker into a “small but beautiful” one. The fresh approach, which will be implemented starting in the next fiscal year, aspires to a more profitable business with steady growth, even if it means missing out on rapid volume expansion. As part of the plan, Mitsubishi will redouble its focus on its strengths, such as small cars for emerging markets, especially in its Southeast Asia stronghold. Electrified and all-wheel-drive offerings will be another pillar, Masuko said. As part of the push, he said, all core nameplates in Japan will be electrified in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2024. Leading that charge will be Takao Kato, tapped last month as the next global CEO. His appointment to the board was approved by shareholders last week. They also ratified a corporate-governance overhaul to create separate committees overseeing executive nomination, executive remuneration and corporate auditing. The new structure is supposed to improve accountability  and transparency while preventing the kind of concentration of power critics say occurred at Nissan during Ghosn’s tenure. Masuko drove Mitsubishi to record profit after years of losses and under his tenure as outgoing CEO, U.S. sales rose every year. Mitsubishi reported a 14 % increase in operating profit to about $1 billion in the fiscal year ended March 31, as worldwide retail sales rose 13 % to 1.24 million vehicles. Looking ahead, Masuko told shareholders that Mitsubishi will pause its ambitious plans to boost volume and regroup to focus on sustainable profitability. “Instead of rushing to pursue expansion, I am convinced that pursuing a good balance between investment and healthy growth is the best option for us”, Masuko said. “This concept is characterized as ‘small but beautiful’. We have redefined a future direction in which we will pursue strong profitability in spite of being a small player”. +++

+++ A pair of patents filed by MAZDA earlier this year detail a turbocharged rotary engine that, if put into production, will power the long-awaited RX-7 (and RX-8) successor. Mazda has been very open about its desire to bring a new rotary-powered sports car to the market in recent years, but consistently said it wouldn’t do so until it had developed an engine that would meet its efficiency targets. But there is an indication that is has finally done it! The new engine incorporates a new side-port exhaust arrangement which could improve intake efficiency. Additionally, there is a new turbocharger design bespoke to this powertrain. The Japanese car manufacturer intends on introducing a rotary engine as a range extender for its forthcoming electric vehicles but it doesn’t appear as though the engine is meant for that; at least not solely. There have been long-held hopes that Mazda’s stunning RX-Vision Concept from 2015 would make it into production, perhaps in time for the carmaker’s centenary in 2020. However, Mazda research and development chief Kiyoshi Fujiwara denied that as a possibility back in October 2017. He did, however, indicate that there will come a day when a new rotary-powered Mazda sports car becomes a reality. “We have still been developing rotary engines as a sports car. Technology is going well but if we launch this kind of model later, we will have to add more technology to it, like autonomous driving, electrification”, he said. +++

+++ While the Renault – Nissan alliance is experiencing unprecedented strain following the arrest of former boss Carlos Ghosn, the Japanese firm is strengthening ties with MITSUBISHI , the group’s third partner. Mitsubishi has announced it will move its headquarters from California to Tennessee in order to be closer to Nissan. Mitsubishi explained moving to the outskirts of Nashville is part of its strategy to completely re-invent and re-launch its American division. Looking ahead, Mitsubishi and Nissan will look to leverage the benefits of economies of scale by sharing product platforms, engines, and other parts, and sometimes jointly developing vehicles. Having their North American headquarters side-by-side will make it easier for executives to ensure the 2 brands don’t overlap. The firm’s California facility employs nearly 200 people; a majority of them will make the move. The departments that scheduled to relocate include sales, marketing, IT, human resources, communications, parts and service, product planning, dealer operations, finance, and legal. However, the company hasn’t found its new headquarters yet. Mitsubishi will move into temporary offices until the real estate company it’s working with finds a suitable building. Being a relatively big corporation, it can’t simply rent a U-Haul and drive across the country. It expects the move will begin in August of 2019 and wrap up before the end of the year. “Mitsubishi Motors is changing the way we go to market in the United States, and it is leading to a rebirth of the company”, said Fred Diaz, the head of its North American division, in a statement. +++ 

+++ Japan’s markets watchdog will likely recommend that the financial regulator fine NISSAN up to 4 billion yen ($37 million) over the alleged underreporting of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn’s compensation, a source said. The Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission (SESC) will likely recommend the fine on the basis that Ghosn’s alleged underreported salary had a “significant” impact on investor decisions regarding the company, the source said, declining to be identified. The SESC is expected to formally start its investigation before the end of the month, when it examines Nissan’s latest annual filings, the source said. If Nissan files documentation to the SESC before the formal investigation begins and recognizes that previous reporting was incorrect, it may receive a reduced fine of around 2.4 billion yen, the source said. Ghosn was arrested in Tokyo in November over allegations of financial misconduct, including understating his salary by around 9.1 billion yen ($84.71 million) over a period of nearly a decade and temporarily transferring personal financial losses to the books of Nissan, Japan’s No. 2 automaker. Since then, he has also been accused of enriching himself by around $5 million at Nissan’s expense. Ghosn, who has been released from detention pending his trail, denies all of the charges. The fine, which was earlier reported by domestic media, would cover a 4 year period through March 2018, the source said. Due to the statute of limitations, Nissan is not liable for any underreporting before that period. +++ 

+++ The Volkswagen Group and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) could face PENALTIES of up to €1.83 billion and €746 million respectively, if they’ll fail to meet 2021 EU emissions standards. This warning comes courtesy of consulting firm AlixPartners, whose study shows just how hard it is for automakers to meet European targets as far as cutting average fleet emissions for passenger cars to just 95 g/km within the next 2 years. The study’s forecast as far as potential penalties are concerned is based on the vehicle emissions levels reported by Volkswagen and FCA at the end of 2017. Since then, most major carmakers have managed to reduce their CO2 emissions. While the Volkswagen Group said that it will comply with the European rules, FCA prefers to pursue the cheapest option instead, which could mean actually paying the fines. “If you build heavier cars and have a large market share of diesels you have some homework to do if you want to mitigate possible penalties”, said AlixPartners exec, Elmar Kades. “Customers are switching to gasoline and this needs to be compensated with electrification and or hybridization”. As of right now, the only major automaker groups that do not face penalties are Volvo and Toyota, according to the study. As for the Volkswagen Group, the reason why it faces the biggest fine is because it is Europe’s biggest carmaker as far as market share (24.3 %). The German brand plans to mass produce electric vehicles starting next year in order to meet these strict EU emissions standards. +++ 

+++ PORSCHE has to recall almost 340,000 Cayenne and Panamera vehicles due to problems with their automatic transmission. A spokesman said the cars might roll when parked due to a potentially fragile part in the connection between the gear lever and transmission. Almost 100,000 of the affected vehicles, which date back to 2002, are in the United States and almost 25,000 in Germany. +++

+++ French President Emmanuel Macron called for further synergies and alliances to strengthen the RENAULT – Nissan partnership in a global market. “The Renault – Nissan alliance is a jewel in the industry”, Macron told French expatriates in Tokyo. “We created a giant which we must not only preserve but develop synergies and alliances to strengthen it in the face of international competition”. His comments appeared to leave open the possibility both of a deeper integration of the 20 year old Renault – Nissan alliance, which has been shaken by the scandal over its former chief Carlos Ghosn, and tie-ups with other manufacturers. Last month, Renault and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced they were in merger talks. But the discussions were called off after FCA grew frustrated with the role the French state was playing, especially its need to secure agreement from Nissan over how to move the merger forward. Since the break-off of the FCA talks, Renault executives have been looking to rebuild ties with Nissan, which is keen to reduce the influence the French state has in the alliance via its 15 % stake in Renault. Renault owns 43 % of the Japanese automaker, which in turn holds a 15 %, non-voting stake in its partner. +++ 

+++ TESLA has reportedly lost its head of production, Peter Hochholdinger, as the company pushes for a record quarter in terms of vehicle deliveries. Hochholdinger had been poached from Audi in 2016 as Tesla worked to keep the Model 3 launch on target and aimed to achieve output of 500,000 vehicles annually by 2018. Unnamed sources now tell the executive is no longer listed on the Tesla employee directory, though his LinkedIn profile still shows his responsibilities in charge of production operations at the company’s Fremont and Lathrop, California, facilities and its Tilburg plant in the Netherlands. The automaker has experienced several executive departures in its production leadership teams as output volume appears to have plateaued after peaking in the last quarter of 2018. Shares of Tesla fell after it was reported that the electric-car maker has so far delivered 49,000 vehicles in North America during the second quarter, threatening its goal of a new record. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk had said last month that the company was on course to deliver a record number of cars in the quarter, beating the 90,700 it sent to customers in the final quarter of last year. Musk reiterated that the company has enough orders to set a quarterly record for vehicle deliveries,. “We already have enough vehicle orders to set a record, but the right cars are not yet all in the right locations”, Musk was quoted as having said. When international market numbers are added, especially in places like Norway and China, Tesla will get pretty close to a new record. It has over 12,000 additional orders as well and Tesla could end the quarter by delivering 61,000 vehicles in North America. Tesla has delivered 22,000 vehicles in North America in June so far. In the first quarter, Tesla reported a 31 % fall in deliveries, sparking concerns about the company’s ability to make profits and meet its delivery targets while it grapples with issues related to cash flow and manufacturing. Demand for the Model 3 and other cars have also moved to the top of investors’ list of worries after the company reported slack first-quarter demand against a backdrop of U.S.-China trade tensions. +++ 

+++ VOLKSWAGEN is looking at Turkey as a possible location for a new vehicle plant that would produce certain ICE powered models. The company wants to focus its German production lines on electric vehicles instead. The automaker’s list initially had 5 potential host countries, but the choices have since been narrowed down to Turkey and Bulgaria. In the past 3 months, Volkswagen officials have been paying visits and holding talks in the 2 candidate countries. However, chairman Herbert Diess was in Turkey last week to discuss infrastructure issues for a potential plant that could open in the western province of Manisa. The exec also reportedly held talks with government officials in the country’s capital of Ankara. Sources say that Volkswagen could announce a decision that’s favorable to Turkey within the next 2 weeks. Once such a plant would become operational, models such as the Seat Ateca and Skoda Karoq could be built there, among others. Word is that a Manisa plant could also feature an annual capacity of 300,000 vehicles, with investments at €2 billion. The last time an automotive company invested heavily in Turkey was back in 1997 with Toyota and Honda. In any case, breaking ground in Manisa would be a huge step forward for the Turkish economy, especially if Volkswagen begins manufacturing multiple high value models on site. +++

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