+++ BMW will offer the next-generation 7-Series in all-electric guise as the i7. This vehicle will be based on the automaker’s fifth generation platform which supports both ICE and EVs. To ensure the vehicle appeals to as many customers as possible, BMW will sell it in a host of different configurations. Sitting at the base of the i7 range will be a model with a relatively small 80 kWh battery pack, perhaps the same unit as used by the i4. Those looking for greater range will be able to purchase the i7 with at least 2 other battery packs, one of which will be a 120 kWh unit that should be good enough for a range in the region of 700 km. Last year, former BMW chief executive Harald Krüger confirmed the company’s range targets for its future electric vehicles. “With the fifth generation of eDrive, our vehicles will be able to drive 550 to 700 kilometers on electric power, depending on the model. We will achieve this in the i4 and the iNext”, he said. The i7 will also be sold with a number of different electric motor configurations, including one with a pair of electric motors pumping out upwards of 650 hp. This model would be all-wheeldrive and certainly the most accelerative 7-Series ever produced. It is understood that the next-generation 7-Series will be launched in late 2021 or early 2022, so the i7 will probably arrive some time later. +++ 

+++ Despite a lot of going back and forth on their part, BUGATTI is said to be exceptionally keen to build a SUVwhich, according to a new report, could feature an all-electric powertrain. Molsheim is keen to add a second model to its current familym and a SUV is thought to be the favored option. The vehicle will feature an all-electric powertrain and could be developed alongside research and development company Edag. It is also stated that Magna Steyr could be tasked with building the SUV, perhaps at its production site in Graz, Austria. Apparently, Bugatti has tapped VW Group “cousin” Porsche and held talks with Croatian electric car manufacturer Rimac, which Weissach owns a 10 % stake in, to use the company’s 1850 hp powetrain that’s already utilized by the C_Two and Pininfarina Battista. We’re not entirely convinced Bugatti would build a near-2000 hp SUV while the Chiron is still in the production, especially since the French carmaker could sell upwards of 600 of its SUVs every year. Not only would such a vehicle have more power than the Chiron, but it would also be more common and, in all likelihood, more affordable, which, we guess, wouldn’t sit that well with current customers. If Bugatti doesn’t get Rimac’s electric powertrain, there’s reportedly a chance the crossover could be based around a new hypercar architecture said to be in the works for the Porsche 918 Spyder successor and a future Lamborghini. +++ 

+++ New CADILLAC boss Steve Carlisle has suggested that the car manufacturer is interested in pursuing high-performance SUVs. Cadillac’s V-Series models have excited enthusiasts for years but, up until this point, no V-Series branded SUVs have been produced. However, according to recent reports, GM’s luxury brand is not only considering selling the next-generation Escalade with the 6.2-liter supercharged LT4 V8 of the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and Corvette Z06, but an XT4 model with the 320 hp, 2.7-liter turbocharged-4 of the CT4-V. When asked specifically about potent SUVs, Carlisle retorted “I say why not?”, but conceded such vehicles cannot replace true sports sedans, as “you’re dealing with higher centers of gravity, weight distributions, everything like that”. If Cadillac wants its V-Series range to rival those from BMW’s M division, Mercedes-AMG, and Audi Sport, it only makes sense that it is open to the idea of building high-performance SUVs. As consumer preferences continue to shift from traditional cars to crossovers and SUVs, more and more buyers are starting to demand vehicles that offer exceptional performance and the various other advantages which SUVs have over cars, including their more spacious interiors. +++ 

+++ The auto market in EUROPE fell into negative territory in the first half for the first time since 2014, with vehicle sales declining by 3.1 % to 8.18 million. The best-performing brands were Lancia, Mitsubishi, Lexus, Dacia and Citroen. One reason for the decline was the introduction in the European Union last year of the WLTP. All vehicles needed to be certified by Sept. 1, 2018, so automakers pushed sales of noncompliant vehicles ahead of that deadline. As a result of that sales surge. which started in late spring 2018, gains in the first half of this year were harder to achieve, analysts said. “Year-over-year comparisons will remain challenging for the rest of the summer, because purchases were pulled forward ahead of the implementation of WLTP”, LMC Automotive said in July. For perspective, June registrations in 2018 set an all-time high for the month with the market up 5.2 %. In June this year sales were down 7.8 %. Some volume automakers have increased their market share significantly so far this year, including Dacia, up 0.5 percentage points, and Citroen, up 0.4 percentage points. In contrast, Volkswagen brand lost 0.4 percentage points. A slight sales increase of 0.5 % in Germany, Europe’s largest market, was partly able to offset declines among other major markets, including former growth drivers France (down 1.8 %), Italy (down 3.5 %) and Spain (down 5.7 %). The British market, Europe’s second largest, declined by 3.4 %; a relatively good result that was helped by a Brexit delay granted by the European Union from March 31 until Oct. 31. “Germany has been Europe’s outstanding performer in the first half”, LMC Automotive said. Among the 33 brands tracked, just 12 showed sales growth in the first half, led by Lancia/Chrysler (27 %), Mitsubishi (14 %) and Lexus (11 %), but all 3 had comparatively low volumes. 8 other brands lost sales but still outperformed the market. Lancia is an unusual case, analysts said. The once illustrious Fiat Chrysler Automobiles brand is now sold only in Italy, where its sole model, the Ypsilon, is the country’s No. 2 selling vehicle behind the Fiat Panda. According to DataForce, 20 % of Ypsilon sales were self-registrations; twice the Italian market average. Generous incentives also helped move Ypsilons in the first half, said Felipe Munoz, global automotive analyst at JATO Dynamics. Mitsubishi’s growth has come largely from the Outlander, which gained an updated plug-in hybrid powertrain last autumn with a longer range in electric-only mode. Munoz said electrified SUVs from other brands, including the Hyundai Kona and Kia Niro, also did well. Lexus continued a 5 year trend of steady gains in Europe, helped by increasing demand for hybrids, which now account for 95 % of its European sales, and strong demand for its new UX. Among other brands, the updated Duster pushed Dacia to a 10 % sales growth. “They are the biggest winner in the first half”, Munoz said of Renault Group’s budget brand. “The second-generation Duster is working even better than the first one: the perceived quality is a little better, and it’s still cheaper and bigger than most of its rivals”. Citroen sales increased by 6.5 %, helped by demand for the C3 Aircross and C5 Aircross, while Seat grew 6 % with the introduction of the Tarraco, which is emerging as a challenger to rivals such as the Skoda Kodiaq and Peugeot 5008. Munoz said one surprise winner in the first half was BMW, which outperformed both the market, losing just 0.3 % in sales, and its premium rivals Mercedes-Benz (down 1.8 %) and Audi (down 6 %). BMW’s revamped SUV range, including the new X2, and new versions of the X3 and X5, boosted the brand’s volume, Munoz said. The X1 also remained the best-selling premium compact SUV. One winner not tracked by ACEA is Tesla, which started European sales of its Model 3 this year. Deliveries spiked in March and June, Munoz said, perhaps related to the company’s quarterly goals. “The Model 3 is taking sales away from the other premium cars in its segment”, he said, including the BMW 3 series, Mercedes C class and Audi A4. 13 brands trailed the market, with the biggest drops among volume brands such as Nissan (down 27 %), Fiat (10 %), Ford (7.8 %); and at Europe’s 2 largest brands, Volkswagen and Renault (down 6.5 % respectively). Nissan’s troubles relate to an aging SUV lineup and weak demand for the Micra, Munoz said. “What used to be their growth drivers, the X-Trail, Juke and Qashqai, are facing many new competitors”, he said. Renault’s decline is not unexpected. The automaker finished renewing its lineup in 2017 and will begin rolling out new models this year, starting with the Clio, Munoz said. VW brand has been hurt by falling sales for cars such as the Golf, Polo and Passat in the face of demand for SUVs and crossovers. “The weight of the Polo and Golf on VW’s lineup is huge, and when these cars are not performing, this is the result”, Munoz said. By group, only Toyota-Lexus was in positive sales territory, up just 0.3 %, but 5 other groups outperformed the market, and showed small decreases, including Jaguar Land Rover (down 0.1 %) and Hyundai-Kia (down 0.3 %). Trailing the market were VW Group (down 4.4 %), the Renault – Nissan – Mitsubishi alliance (down 5.5 %) and Fiat Chrysler (down 9.5 %). A factor weighing on the market is slowing GDP growth because of trade disputes and new tariffs, especially between the U.S. and its major partners. “Trade and investment have slowed sharply, especially in Europe and Asia”, the OECD said. Nonetheless, European unemployment continues to fall, and is now at its lowest rate since 2008, at 6.4 %. Consumer confidence remains above its historical average, although it has fallen markedly from a peak in early 2018. ACEA has revised its full-year European sales forecast to minus 1 % from plus 1 %. The rate of growth in EU car sales has been slowing since 2015, when the market rose by 9.3 %. In 2016 sales rose 6.8 %, the rise was 3.4 % in 2017 and volume increased by 0.1 % last year. +++ 

+++ FERRARI has already introduced a handful of new models, but they’re not slowing down as there’s even more on the horizon. During the company’s second quarter earnings presentation, Ferrari CEO Louis Camilleri said 2 new models will be introduced in Maranello next month. Camilleri didn’t go into specifics, but previous reports have suggested one of the cars could be the 812 Superfast Spider. That remains unconfirmed, but several members of the Ferrari Chat forum have previously said they received invitations to the unveiling early next month. Like the coupe, the 812 Superfast Spider is slated to have a 6.5-liter V12 engine that produces 800 hp and 718 Nm. It should be connected to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission that sends power to the rear wheels. Official details will likely be released next month, but the coupe can accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 2.9 seconds, before hitting a top speed of 340 km/h. The other model is more mysterious, but it could be the F8 Spider. If that’s the case, we can expect a stylish roadster with a twin-turbo 3.9-liter V8 engine that produces 720 hp and 770 Nm. Despite being less powerful than the 812 Superfast, the F8 Tributo also rockets from 0-100 km/h in 2.9 seconds and has a top speed of 340 km/h. Later this year, Ferrari will introduce one more model. Little is known about it, but the company’s marketing boss has previously suggested it will compete in a “new segment”. Since the Purosangue SUV is still a ways off, the mysterious model could be an entry-level sports car. Rumors of a modern-day Dino have been circulating for awhile and Ferrari confirmed plans for a V6 engine family last year. +++ 

+++ FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES (FCA) chief executive has a message for Renault and other would-be partners: We are happy to talk, but we can go it alone. “Strategically, we have a solid future and clear plans that are being invested in and are underway now”, Mike Manley said during a session with reporters the day after the company released better than expected second-quarter results. “That isn’t to say if there is a better future through an alliance or partnership or merger we wouldn’t be open and interested to it”. FCA is open to re-starting merger negotiations with Renault, Manley said, but added the French car maker is not the only potential partner to gain scale or plug gaps in Fiat Chrysler’s technology or vehicle lineup. “To say are they the only opportunity, the answer to that question would be a definitive ‘No’ ”, Manley said. FCA in June withdrew a $35 billion merger proposal with Renault after French government officials intervened in the talks and sought to delay a decision on the deal. FCA has a commercial vehicle partnership with rival PSA and the 2 companies discussed a broader combination before FCA made its offer to Renault, people familiar with the situation have said. Manley said automakers are not the only potential partners. “There are cooperations that can help in specific technologies. There are cooperations as we think about the consumer-car interface”, he said. “You could see collaborations that never would be there in the past”. FCA’s North American business is strong thanks to Ram trucks and Jeep SUVs, but in other markets the automaker faces continued challenges. The company is overhauling its mass-market business in Europe, which is anchored by the Fiat brand. FCA’s Europe, Middle East and Africa operations were marginally profitable in the second quarter and achieved 1.8 % profit margin in 2018. Manley has set a goal of 3 % operating margins, well short of the 10 % margins the company forecast for North America. FCA can improve profitability in Europe by expanding the Jeep lineup, launching a redesigned Fiat 500 line, including electric and hybrid models, and adding larger vehicles to the Fiat brand, Manley said. “We have the oldest fleet in Europe”, in the Fiat brand, Manley said. Increasing the number of cars produced per worker in Italy and reducing the ranks of Italian hourly workers, Manley said. But in the short term, Manley said he is prepared to sacrifice sales volume to increase margins. “Margins in Europe are absolutely critical as we go through the next 3 to 5 years”, he said. A deal to pool emissions credits with Tesla gives FCA strategic options for managing rising emissions compliance costs, Manley said. In China, Manley said the restructuring of FCA’s alliance with joint venture partner GAC Group is reducing costs. The venture needs to add more Jeep models, he said. “We only have 3 vehicles localized”, Manley said. A third challenge for FCA is reviving Maserati, which lost money through the first half of 2019, in part because of writedowns related to underperforming leases. The company has said it plans to sell down inventories of Maseratis during the remainder of this year. An overhaul of Maserati’s product line will begin with the debut of a new model at the 2020 Geneva auto show, Manley said. +++ 

+++ The Jeep Renegade is about to face some serious competition from FORD , which is prepping a rugged-looking small SUV. Previously referred to as the ‘baby Bronco’, it apparently has an official name. The vehicle will be named the Bronco Adventurer. It will help it identify with the larger Bronco, which will utilize a body-on-frame construction, unlike the Bronco Adventurer’s unibody build. However, the report claims that the automaker based in Dearborn has yet to file a trademark for the Bronco Adventurer, thus the moniker is apparently still available. They did secure the Bronco Scout nameplate, though, earlier this year, fueling more rumors about the official name of the upcoming small SUV. However, it seems that it might be used on a different version of the full-blown off-roader. Based on spy shots, the Bronco Adventurer, if that is indeed its name, will come with a boxy styling, although with more raked and slimmer A pillars than the Renegade. It will also have short front and rear overhangs, for aggressive approach and departure angles, and a front end that will probably be on the stylish side. Given the common platform with the new Kuga and Lincoln Corsair, base models will likely have to make do with front-wheel drive, but the all-wheel drive system is expected to be offered in higher grades. Power should come from several 3 and 4 cylinder gasoline engines, with hybrid and/or plug-in hybrid powertrains probably joining the lineup later on. +++ 

+++ New-car sales in FRANCE fell by 1.8 % in July, but a number of brands recorded strong gains, led by Mini, Suzuki, Skoda and Hyundai. There were 172,228 registrations in July, although there was 1 more selling day in the month compared with 2018. Adjusted for an equal 23 selling days, sales fell by 6.1 %. Sales are down by 1.8 % for the year through July. Sales in June, July and August 2018 were bolstered by automakers’ efforts to sell cars that were not yet certified under WLTP. Most automakers and analysts are expecting the French market to fall slightly this year. Among French automakers, PSA Group sales rose by 4.1 %, led by a continued strong performance from Citroen, where sales jumped 13 % behind the brand’s 2 recently introduced SUVs, the C3 Aircross and C5 Aircross. Peugeot, Opel and DS sales were stable. Sales at Renault Group slumped by 9.8 %, with a gain of 1.5 % at Dacia unable to offset a decline of 15 % at Renault, which is awaiting the introduction of new versions of its 2 best-selling models, the Clio and Captur. Daimler sales rose 19 %, with Smart sales up 68 % (although volumes were low) and Mercedes up 14 %. BMW Group sales rose 14 %, driven by a 37 % gain for Mini. BMW brand sales rose by 3.9 %. Volkswagen Group sales rose by 2.5 %, with an increase of 24 % at Skoda and 9.1 % at Seat offsetting a slight decline for the Volkswagen brand. Hyundai Group led Asian brands, with an increase of 14 % overall. Hyundai was up 18 % and Kia up 10 %. Suzuki was up 22 %; Toyota recorded an 11 % increase; and Nissan continued to lose sales, down 55 % for the month. Diesel sales held steady at 34 % for the month and year to date; 5 percentage points below last year’s mark. Battery-electric vehicle sales were up by 50 % for the year and now make up 1.8 % of the market. Sales of hybrids and plug-in hybrids recorded no gains, although both PSA Group and Renault are preparing to launch a range of such models starting at the beginning of next year. +++ 

+++ GENERAL MOTORS says U.S. vice president Mike Pence was incorrect in saying that a fledgling electric vehicle maker and its new affiliated company have secured funding to buy GM’s shuttered Lordstown plant in Ohio. Pence made the comments while visiting Lancaster, Ohio. GM spokesman Jim Cain tells that $25 million obtained by Workhorse Group from private investors is not directly related to a sale of the Lordstown plant. Local officials also told that they had no idea what Pence was talking about. But 2 Ohio state senators were quoted as saying they were optimistic after meeting with Workhorse officials, though 1 said the Workhorse people “weren’t specific” about the financing. Cain says discussions about the details and conditions of a potential purchase are ongoing between GM, Workhorse and its new affiliated company, “and progress has been made”. Cain said the buyer would be that affiliate, not Workhorse. “Everything going on between the 3 parties is defining what would be sold and under what conditions”, he said. Steve Burns, founder of Workhorse Group, is so serious about buying the plant that he’s naming the affiliated company Lordstown Motors Corp. He is trying to secure $300 million in funding to convert the plant for production of Workhorse electric pickups and perhaps a new USPS postal delivery truck. If it lands that contract, worth $6.3 billion, it would be building 180,000 mail trucks. Burns said: “We are impressed with the Lordstown facility, and we have had great support from Workhorse, our technology partner and strategic partner, as well as General Motors. Our name, Lordstown Motors Corp., reflects the depth of the commitment we will make to the plant, the community and the state of Ohio once this deal is completed. We have started investor outreach, which is the next step toward launching our battery-electric commercial pickup”. UAW officials, meanwhile, are continuing to fight GM over the closure, which it says is not allowed under the terms of their collective bargaining agreement. The plant’s fate was sealed when GM announced in 2018 a restructuring involving 5 plants and thousands of jobs. Since then, workers at the Lordstown plant, which built the Chevrolet Cruze and had been operating well under capacity, were offered jobs at other facilities where GM is building hot-selling crossovers, SUVs and pickups. The last Cruze rolled off the assembly line in March. +++ 

+++ In GERMANY , new-car sales rose 4.7 % in July, boosted by demand at Land Rover, Lexus and BMW. Overall registrations were 332,788 for the month. Sales of diesel cars increased 7 % to give the powertrain a 33 % market share. Gasoline car sales fell 1.8 % for a 58.2 % share. Major brands had mixed results last month. Land Rover, Lexus and BMW were the biggest winners, while Renault, Alfa Romeo, Porsche and Nissan were the biggest losers. Renault’s and Alfa Romeo’s registrations each plunged 27 %, while Porsche and Nissan both dropped 22 %. The VW brand dropped 6.9 %, while Audi was down 14 %. Seat and Skoda sales both jumped 13 %. Among other winners, Land Rover rose 44 %, Lexus gained 39 % and BMW registrations were up 32 %. Ford rose 27 %, Opel and Hyundai by 23 %, Mercedes-Benz by 22 % and Mini by 18 %. Through July, sales in Germany are up 1.2 % to 2.18 million. +++ 

+++ GMC won’t help rival Ford in its quest to dethrone the Jeep Wrangler. The body-on-frame off-roader the firm planned as an alternative to the upcoming Bronco and the 4th generation Wrangler allegedly fell victim to a top-down restructuring plan implemented recently by parent company General Motors. The rugged SUV remained part of GMC’s long-term product plan until November 2018. It was shaping up to be one of the company’s most distinctive models in decades. It should have arrived as a dedicated off-roader developed and sold exclusively by GMC; it wouldn’t have had a twin in the Chevrolet portfolio. The problem is that the off-roader (which might have revived the heritage-laced Jimmy nameplate) should have been built on the 32XX platform designed to underpin the next Chevrolet Colorado / GMC Canyon twins. General Motors canceled that project to save money, so the SUV was consigned to the attic before we even spotted prototypes testing on and off the pavement. The updated pickups will instead arrive on an evolution of the frame found under the models currently found in showroom. There’s no word on why that architecture can’t support a Wrangler-like SUV. GMC never confirmed plans to build an off-roader aimed at the Jeep Wrangler and the upcoming Ford Bronco, so it certainly won’t validate reports claiming it has canceled the model. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about a body-on-frame SUV made by a brand in the General Motors portfolio, though. Hummer was supposed to take the fight directly to Jeep with an off-roader accurately previewed by the 2008 HX concept, but it shut down before it finished developing the model. Rumors of GMC picking up where Hummer left off have come and gone on a shockingly regular basis over the past few years, yet the Wrangler remains in a class of one. +++ 

+++ HYUNDAI will give the i30 a major facelift. It will feature an all-new front fascia with a revised grille that echoes the one used on the Sonata. The car will be equipped with new headlights that feature distinctive LED daytime running lights. Further below, there will be a modified bumper with revised air intakes. We can also expect new fog lights which are more prominent than the ones used on the current model. At the rear end, the i30 will get a new bumper and repositioned reflectors. We can also expect restyled taillights. Interior changes should be relatively minor as last year’s update included the availability of an 8 inch Display Audio system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. That being said, Hyundai could add new features and possibility some driver assistance systems. Engine options remain unconfirmed, but the previous update included a new 1.6-liter Smartstream diesel engine that complies with Euro 6d Temp emission standards. It’s available in three states of tune with outputs of 95 hp, 115 hp and 136 hp. That engine should carryover, but the i30 could gain a plug-in hybrid powertrain. It could potentially be the same one used in the upcoming Kia Ceed Sportswagon PHEV. If that’s the case, the car could have a 1.6-liter petrol engine, an electric motor and an 8.4 kWh battery pack. +++ 

+++ JAGUAR LAND ROVER (JLR) has embarked on a 2-year programme of new vehicle launches and massive industrial investments designed to transform the company’s financial fortunes and put it on a long-term, stable footing. As well as 3 entirely new model lines (the new Defender family, the luxury Jaguar J-Pace SUV and a new Road Rover), JLR engineers are replacing the XJ with an electric super-saloon next year and creating a new version of the evergreen Range Rover by 2022. All of these new models will be built on JLR’s brand-new ‘flex’ MLA architecture, which offers mild- and plug-in hybrid drivetrains as well as a pure-electric option. According to official company documents, there will also be an all-electric Range Rover model and an all-electric Discovery model before 2025. There are no plans for an all-electric Defender spin-off, though. The internal-combustion models sold by all of Land Rover’s 3 so-called ‘brand pillars’ (Range Rover, Discovery and Defender) will be available in only mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid forms by 2025. The MLA based models will have a new SOTA (software over the air) capability, with 14 ‘modules’ in the vehicle’s electrical architecture that are connected to the internet. JLR says the new SOTA set-up will allow it to reduce warranty claims, avoid the need for some recalls, offer predictive servicing and even user-based insurance. Over-the-air feature upgrades for MLA models are also being planned, as well as “in-vehicle rewards and payments”. JLR is hoping to use data generated by real-world use of the new vehicles to inform future model development, too. The first all-new JLR model is the Defender, which will arrive later this year and be made at the new Nitra plant in Slovakia. This is a challenging project for the British car maker because it is a new model, based on a new architecture and built in a new factory with a relatively new workforce. But the new 3-model Defender range has huge potential in the lucrative market for premium family SUVs. The electric XJ replaces the outgoing XJ, which has just ended a decade-long production run at the Castle Bromwich plant near Birmingham. The new model (due in around 12 months) is expected to be an unashamed super-luxury car in the mould of more expensive Mercedes-Benz S-Class variants (setting it well apart from the ageing Tesla Model S), while also being more driver orientated. JLR will be hoping that the XJ steals a march on premium EV rivals, offering a zero-emission luxury vehicle that’s ideal for East Asian megacities. Later on, plug-in petrol-electric versions of the XJ will be launched. Next up at the remodelled Castle Bromwich plant will be the Jaguar J-Pace, which will be larger and more upmarket than the F-Pace. The J-Pace is also expected to be offered as a pure EV and is unlikely to be made public until early 2021. The upcoming fifth member of the Range Rover family, due in late 2021 is also based on the MLA platform. It’s described on JLR documents as a “medium SUV” and is expected to sit between the Evoque and Velar. It will be more road orientated and its smaller frontal area will ensure it will be the most economical member of the Range Rover family as well as the first all-electric Range Rover. Despite JLR registering the historic Road Rover nameplate, there’s no news on what name the showroom version will take. Initially, there was some surprise in the car industry that the under-utilised Castle Bromwich plant is to receive significant investment to convert it to build JLR’s MLA platform. Recently, however, it was revealed that JLR had received a loan guarantee from the UK government for half a billion pounds. The money is expected to help not only the conversion of Castle Bromwich but also planned investments in a new battery factory at Hams Hall, east of Birmingham, and the manufacture of electric motors in the UK. JLR has already announced that it is teaming up with BMW to develop next-generation electric drive units (EDUs) for future electrified vehicles. JLR will make the EDUs at its Wolverhampton engine plant, which, the company says, will be able to switch seamlessly from making the Ingenium petrol and diesel engines to building the EDUs. Recently, JLR boss Ralf Speth said the battery makes up 40 % of the cost of an EV and that locally built battery packs for UK-made vehicles is an economic necessity. Unless battery production is secured for the UK, Speth predicted, the UK car industry will see production moving overseas. Although JLR is clearly executing an ambitious and very promising product plan over the next 12 to 24 months, it has plenty of issues to deal with in the near term, with sales of existing models continuing to slide. In the first four months of 2019, Jaguar sales fell 11 % and Land Rover sales dropped 13 % compared with the same period in 2018. +++

+++ India’s biggest automaker, MARUTI SUZUKI , said it had cut the number of its temporary workers to cope with a slowdown in auto sales, adding to the jobless problem in Asia’s third largest economy. The vehicle industry, accounting for nearly half of India’s manufacturing output, is facing one of its worst slowdowns in nearly a decade, with vehicle sales falling rapidly. There is little sign of a swift revival. Maruti Suzuki said it employed 18,845 temporary workers on average in the 6 months ended June 30, down 6 % or 1,181 from the same period last year. The company also said job cuts had accelerated since April. 2 sources familiar with the matter said the company would freeze hiring new employees until the downturn reversed. It is the first time the reduction has been reported. The listed firm is not required to disclose any reduction in its temporary workforce. India’s jobless rate rose to 7.51 % in July 2019 from 5.66 % a year earlier, according to private data group CMIE. Those figures do not include many people on the margins of society who are day labourers and are often unemployed or underemployed. Economists say government jobless figures are out of date and lack credibility. Maruti Suzuki, majority-owned by Suzuki, said it had not reduced its 15,892-strong more permanent workforce. It declined to say whether further reductions were planned or comment on the hiring freeze. The automaker previously said it had cut production by 10.3 % in the first 6 months of the year. Maruti Suzuki, which produces every second passenger vehicle sold in India, reported a 33.5 % decline in sales in July to 109,265 vehicles compared with July 2018. Chairman R. C. Bhargava told the workforce was being reduced to reflect the slowdown in business, adding that this was one reason carmakers liked to have some temporary workers, although he did not give details about the job losses. “One of the consequences of a slowdown is that the marginal players and weaker players find it difficult to survive. When do consolidations happen in business? Only when times are difficult”, he added. 2 temporary workers outside the Manesar plant in the northern Indian state of Haryana, who did not want to be named, said the number of days with 3 shifts had been reduce. They said some assembly lines at the plant were not operating. Kuldeep Janghu, general secretary of the Maruti Udyog workers union, said the average wage of temporary workers were about $250 a month at the company’s Manesar and Gurugram plants. The 2 plants have combined capacity to produce more than 1.5 million vehicles a year. The company rolled out its popular Maruti 800 model from the Gurugram plant in 1983. The auto sales downturn has put jobs across the industry at risk. The Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA) said parts makers could slash a fifth of their 5 million workforce if the slump continued. +++


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