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+++ AUDI will showcase an electric off-road concept car called the AI:Trail Quattro at this year’s Frankfurt motor show. The firm has simply described it as “an electrically driven off-roader”. It will be a buggy-like 4-seater sitting on large off-road tyres and with large glass elements on the side doors. The use of the Quattro name confirms the machine will feature 4-wheeldrive. The machine completes a quartet of electric concepts that Audi has released, which showcase differing visions for future machines. They started with the Aicon concept car at the 2017 Frankfurt show, an autonomous machine designed for long-distance cruises between cities. That was followed by the PB18 e-tron, a low-slung sports car that likely previews the next-gen R8. The most recent machine was the AI:ME, an autonomous ready city car that showcases a future electric hatch based on the Volkswagen Group’s MEB electric car platform. The AI:Trail Quattro appears to have compact dimensions similar to the AI:ME, and could also make use of the MEB platform. That architecture has already been used for the Volkswagen ID Buggy off-roader, showcasing the production potential for an electric version of such a machine. +++ 

+++ AURUS , Russia’s new high-end car maker, has opened its first showroom in Moscow, signifying the official retail launch of the Senat, a luxury limousine that’s also used by the country’s president, Vladimir Putin. The Russian-built limousines are set to become the successors to the ZIL sedans that transported Soviet leaders in the past. Unlike them, however, the new car maker has plans to expand in markets like China, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. “We expect a similar showroom will appear in China in 2020-2021”, Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said during the opening ceremony of the Aurus showroom in Moscow. Prices start from 18 million roubles ($274,000 in current exchange rates) for a base Senat limousine with the company already accepting pre-orders since February. Aurus CEO Adil Shirinov said that potential customers will include not only government officials but businessmen as well. “We believe the audience will be quite wide”, he said. Power for the Aurus Senat comes from a hybridized V8 engine that produces 598 hp and 880 Nm sent to all 4 wheels. An armored version with a longer wheelbase is also available with the same engine. Aurus plans to expand its model lineup with models like a convertible 4-seater, a MPV and the Komendant SUV. “The MPV and the SUV Komendant are at the testing stage. I hope to see the latter at the Moscow’s Automobile Salon in 2020”, Manturov said. The new Russian brand also plans more electrified versions, including a fully electric model, which are expected to be ready by 2024-2025. +++ 

+++ If you get annoyed by your passengers giving you indications while you’re driving, then you might want to think about investing in a car that features some type of advanced driver-assist technology. According to a recent study by Ford and sociologist Jess Carbino, as many as 68 % of drivers polled believe that BACKSEAT DRIVING behavior will go down as computers begin to take over for humans behind the wheel. One such system that could help quiet backseat drivers is Ford’s Co-Pilot360, which featuring tech like Blind Spot Information with Cross-Traffic Alert and Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking. “For a lot of drivers, constantly getting advice from passengers is more than just annoying, it’s stressful”, said Dr Carbino, best known for her work with Bumble. “The Ford Co-Pilot360 helps encourage trust during the drive and can help create a more relaxed collaborative atmosphere in the car”. Meanwhile, Ford Co-Pilot360 engineering manager Chris Billman went on record saying that the intent of Ford’s system was never to eliminate backseat driving “but hey, if we can help in that way too, that’s great”. The study’s findings also contradict a belief that technology inhibits human connection. For example, if backseat driving can cause tension between 2 people, driver-assist technology can then help drivers and passengers focus on more “enjoyable aspects of the ride, namely each other”. While we can understand why Ford chose to make a connection between their technology and “curing” backseat driving, it’ll probably take fully autonomous vehicles for that phenomenon to disappear and automakers, as well as legislators, still have some way to get there. +++ 

+++ The new CHEVROLET Corvette C8 stunned fans earlier this year with a beautiful design, a high quality interior and a mid-engine layout. If that wasn’t enough, the model costs under $60,000 and features a 6.2 liter V8 engine that produces up to 502 hp and 637 Nm. Of course, there are more powerful variants on the horizon and one first to arrive will be the next-generation Z06. This sports car will likely arrive in late 2021 as a 2022 model. While it’s still a ways off, the car could be worth the wait. The model will likely have a twin turbo V8 that is loosely based on Cadillac’s 4.2 liter Blackwing V8.  In the CT6-V, it develops 558 hp and 867 Nm. The engine will be significantly revised for use in the Corvette and it could be called the LT7. That remains unconfirmed and so does the rumored output of 811 hp and more than 948 Nm. While those numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, they’d be a huge improvement over the outgoing Corvette Z06. That model has a supercharged 6.2 liter V8 developing 659 hp and 880 Nm. Little else is known about the car, but the engine could be paired to either the base model’s 8-speed dual-clutch automatic or an all-new 10-speed dual-clutch gearbox. There’s even rumors of a manual transmission, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up. Besides the upgraded engine, there will be a host of other performance tweaks. These could include carbon fiber body panels, an aggressive aerodynamics package and wider fenders to accommodate fatter wheels. We can also expect a sportier suspension and a handful of weight saving measures. There’s no word on pricing, but the ‘old’ Corvette Z06 started at $80,900 and it’s likely the redesigned model will cost several thousand dollars more. +++ 

+++ The trade war between CHINA and the United States continues to heat up as the communist country has announced plans to implement tariffs on $75 billion of goods imported from the United States. The tariffs will affect of a number of different products including automobiles manufactured in America. This could have serious consequences for a number of different automakers including BMW, Ford, Mercedes and Tesla. These companies export a number of US-made vehicles to China including best sellers such as the BMW X5, Mercedes GLE and Mercedes GLS. The tariffs will make these models significantly more expensive in China and this could drastically lower their appeal. Unsurprisingly, the auto industry isn’t happy with the trade war and the CEO of the Association of Global Automakers told: “The tit-for-tat tariffs, absent any meaningful negotiations, are damaging to the American auto industry”, John Bozzella said. He added: “When these tariffs were initially imposed by China in 2017, American exports of finished vehicles dropped by 50 %. We can’t let that happen to American workers again”. Ford, which sold more than 46,000 US-made vehicles in China last year, told: “We encourage the U.S. and China to find a near-term resolution on remaining issues through continued negotiations”. The company added, “It is essential for these 2 important economies to work together to advance balanced and fair trade”. China announced the tariffs in response to president Trump’s decision to impose a ten percent tariff on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods by the end of the year. Trump fired back in a tweetstorm earlier today saying the United States has lost “trillions of dollars” to China over the years and America would be “far better off without them”. The president went on to say “Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies home and making your products in the USA”. While the president obviously doesn’t have the authority to do that, he announced increased tariffs on Chinese goods late this afternoon. +++ 

+++ Volkswagen Group fired 204 staff for breaching company rules in the first quarter, as the automaker stiffens its response to internal misconduct in the aftermath of the DIESEL CHEATING SCANDAL that erupted in 2015. About half the terminations involved work-time violations such as unexcused absence. Other reasons include property offenses, ignoring drug and alcohol bans, and discrimination. Volkswagen is cracking down on illicit conduct as it seeks to move past a crisis that took down its former CEO Martin Winterkorn and other senior executives and had cost €30 billion at last count. Communicating the company’s efforts will serve to alert about 650,000 workers to the consequences, while increased transparency potentially shows VW in a better light. VW issued 903 formal warnings to employees during the period, the internal publication said, without providing comparable year-ago figures. The documentation is not meant to track seasonal swings, as these can be influenced by a range of factors, according to a company spokesman. The report covered discipline at subsidiaries that employ about twothirds of VW’s global staff: 51 units with more than 1,000 employees each. Documenting misconduct and showing the consequences in internal filings has been one of the key demands made by U.S.-appointed monitor Larry Thompson to boost awareness across VW’s workforce. Thompson’s 3-year mandate to audit VW’s compliance and integrity systems runs until next June. The former U.S. deputy attorney general has to certify whether or not VW has taken adequate measures to establish a system that prevents the sort of misconduct that triggered its biggest crisis. VW’s manipulation of diesel-engine software to cheat on emission tests went on for about a decade before it was uncovered by U.S. authorities in September 2015. Legal proceedings are set to drag on for years. In an interview, Thompson said the automaker has become “a better company after the scandal”. But he said there is “still need for improvement” when it comes to getting the necessary support to fulfill his task. VW has “a long way to go” to patrol compliance across its complex operations, Thompson said. +++ 

+++ HONDA has announced that it is working on a new passenger airbag technology designed to better protect occupants in the event of a frontal collision, which is particularly beneficial in the event of an angled crash between vehicles, or a vehicle and another object. Development and testing was led by Honda R&D Americas engineers in Ohio, in partnership with Autoliv. The new airbag is scheduled to end up in new Honda products for the U.S. come next year. “This new airbag technology represents Honda’s continuing effort to advance safety performance in a wider variety of crash scenarios and reflects the innovative thinking that our engineers are bringing to the challenge of reducing traffic injuries and fatalities”, said Honda R&D Americas president, Jim Keller. “Guided by Honda’s ‘Safety for Everyone’ commitment, our engineers recognize that their work on this type of breakthrough safety technology will have far-reaching effects on peoples’ lives for many years to come”. By offering better protection in the event of an angled frontal impact, the new airbag can help minimize lateral forces applied to the occupant’s head, decreasing the chance of serious injury that can occur if the head rotates severely or slides off the airbag. Unlike conventional airbags, which feature a single inflatable compartment, this new system uses 4 major components: 3 inflated compartments (1 center chamber and 2 side ones) and a so-called “sail panel” that stretches between the 2 side chambers that works not unlike a baseball catcher’s mitt, catching and decelerating the occupant’s head while pulling the side chambers inward to cradle the head. +++ 

+++ Elon Musk has suggested that Tesla has an interest entering into the car market in INDIA following an announcement from the government that it will start building large factories for lithium/ion battery production. Tesla doesn’t currently sell its vehicles in India due to the huge import duties. Elon Musk and Tesla Club India revealed that, for vehicles over $40,000, the import duty into India is 100 %, something which would make the car manufacturer’s vehicles exorbitantly expensive. However, Musk added that recent changes in sales tax “give hope for future changes”. A couple weeks after Musk’s comments, local financial newspaper Mint reports that the Indian government wants to make the country a global manufacturing hub for electric vehicles and their components. India is the world’s third-largest crude oil importer and current plans call for multiple 50-gigawatt hour factories to be built across the country. The Indian government has been keen to attract Tesla to its shores for years. In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Tesla’s factory in California and the following year, transport minister Nitin Gadkari also paid a visit to the electric car manufacturer. That same year, Tesla’s former chief information officer Jay Vijayan, who was born in India, visited the country to investigate the opportunity of importing their vehicles. It is believed the government is particularly keen for the automaker to build one of its Gigafactories there. Prior to commencing the construction of its Gigafactory in China, Tesla started exporting its vehicles to the nation despite the high import taxes they were hit with. There’s no official word whether a similar strategy could be followed, but given the country’s size and all the aforementioned factors, I wouldn’t rule out anything. +++ 

+++ The United States and JAPAN have reached the broad framework of a trade agreement, with Washington maintaining tariffs on Japanese autos but Tokyo cutting tariffs on U.S. beef and pork. U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer and economy minister Toshimitsu Motegi reached the deal in Washington and it will be announced at a meeting of president Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. +++ 

+++ Since deciding to build a luxury performance SUV, LAMBORGHINI has shot up in value, especially with the Urus now going strong in terms of sales. The Italian automaker is reportedly worth some $11 billion, which makes it a viable IPO candidate for the Volkswagen Group. New incoming models such as a hybrid supercar scheduled for next year, will help lift margins beyond 30 %. As it stands now, Lamborghini is actually worth about as much as Ferrari. “VW’s partial IPO of Traton trucks sets the stage for further corporate restructuring, which should include a Lamborghini IPO. The Traton IPO from June is regarded as “the first tangible result from an asset review that has lasted three years and counting”. The Volkswagen Group’s current structure has proved to be quite tension-prone. There are no fewer than 12 vehicle brands involved and some have been mooted as possible sale candidates, such as Ducati. Like the latter, Lamborghini is also owned by Audi, which in turn is controlled by the Volkswagen Group. “There is currently no decision to change the structure of Audi”, said the VW Group in an e-mailed statement. As for sales, Lamborghini numbers went up 51 % last years, peaking at 5,750 units, of which more than 1,700 were Urus SUVs. Right now, the U.S. is the company’s single biggest market, where they sell almost three times as many cars as in their “runner-up” region, the United Kingdom. Lamborghini used the Monterey Car Week to unveil the Aventador SVJ 63 Roadster and Huracán Evo GT Celebration, but it appears the company is saving something special for Frankfurt. The automaker teased a mysterious new model which features a double bubble roof and angular LED daytime running lights that mimic those used on the 2017 Terzo Millennio concept. Speaking of the latter, the resemblance to the Terzo Millennio is striking as both cars have a low ride height, a similar roof design and nearly vertical front fenders. However, I know the cars are different as the inner LED lights on the Terzo Millennio were flat while the ones on this model angle downwards. Lamborghini is staying tight-lipped about the car, but hinted “Something new is waiting for you. Open your eyes to the future and you’ll see it”. While the company is playing coy, previous reports have suggested the model could a limited edition hypercar that draws inspiration from the Terzo Millennio. Little is known about the model, but it’s reportedly codenamed the LB48H and will feature a hybridized powertrain with a V12 engine. That remains unconfirmed, but rumors have suggested the Aventador successor could be offered with a plug-in hybrid powertrain that combines a naturally aspirated V12 engine with up to 3 electric motors. This could potentially enable the car to produce around 1,000 hp. Getting back to the hypercar, it’s rumored to cost around €2.2 million. It was reportedly shown to prospective buyers last year and could already be sold out. +++ 

+++ LOTUS dropped jaws last week at the 2019 Monterey Car Week with the Evija, which celebrated its public premiere, culminating with the presentation at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on Sunday. Under both natural and artificial light, the world’s most powerful production hypercar wowed attendees and was acclaimed by some high profile collectors such as Jay Leno. It also received “strong double-figure orders”, according to Lotus, who said that they have almost sold out their entire United States allocation. “This is exactly the start we hoped for”, said CEO Phil Popham. “Evija is an outstanding and exceptional car, designed and engineered to put Lotus back on the map as the innovator and technical leader that it is. Many orders are now taken, giving us great confidence to hit our planned volume as we enter production next year”. Limited to 130 cars, each priced at €1.9 million, the Evija will be put together at the Hethel facility, in the United Kingdom, which has been Lotus’ home since 1966. The Evija, whose name is derived from the Hebrew word ‘chavvâh’ that means ‘to breathe or live, living’, packs 4 electric motors that deliver a total output of 2.000 hp and 1.700 Nm. It can do 0-100 km/h in less than 3 seconds and will accelerate to over 320 km/h. Powering the motors is a lithium-ion battery pack, mounted in the middle of the car, which provides a range of up to 400 km in between charges. +++ 

+++ MAZDA developed the CX-30 with Europe in mind as a key market and will launch the SUV in the region before it is rolled out globally. Naohito Saga, the CX-30’s program manager, said Mazda carried out extensive research on urban driving in Europe to tailor the car to local tastes and needs. In Mazda’s crossover and SUV range, the CX-30 slots between the CX-5 and the CX-3, which are the company’s 2 biggest sellers in Europe. At 4395 mm, the CX-30 is 120 mm longer than the CX-3 and 155 mm shorter than the CX-5. The SUV has been designed to be just the right size for city driving and parking, Saga said. Its features have also been designed with a global customer base in mind. The height of the body and seat positioning allow people of all sizes to get in and out easily, Saga said. Mazda has put a lot of effort in optimizing the driving position to enhance comfort and reduce fatigue, taking inspiration from the effortless body movements we make when walking, he said. Mazda Europe’s design chief, Jo Stenuit, said the CX-30 is mainly aimed at parents with young children. These customers need more room than the space offered in the smaller CX-3 or Mazda3, with which the CX-30 shares its platform, he said. The CX-30 will get a Skyactiv-X engine with spark-controlled compression ignition technology that debuted on the Mazda3. Skyactiv-X combines the best traits of diesel and gasoline engines to improve performance and fuel economy, Mazda says. Other engines in Europe will be a 122 hp 2.0 liter gasoline unit and a 116 hp 1.8 liter diesel. The gasoline engine and the Skyactiv-X unit are mild hybrids, with a belt-driven starter-generator allowing energy recovery during braking. The generator helps to restart the engine after an idling stop and smooths gear changes by slowing the engine speed in the transition phase. The CX-30 will be sold in 130 countries, including the U.S. Mazda builds the SUV in Hiroshima, Japan.  Other production locations will follow. +++ 

+++ MERCEDES is applying the finishing touches to an all-new version of its biggest-selling model, the C-Class. The fifth-generation car will be out in the open in the next 18 months with a sharp new look and more efficient hybrid and plug-in powertrains. Alongside Mercedes’ focus on bringing 10 new pure-electric vehicles to market in the next 3 years, the C-Class plays an equally significant role in the German firm’s future; this model alone accounts for 20 % of Mercedes’ global sales. It will be revealed in the latter half of next year, before arriving in showrooms in 2021. The new model will continue to use the rear wheeldrive MRA platform, which first arrived as the basis of the current C-Class, yet several updates to the architecture are being developed. The wheelbase will grow in length, but more importantly the underpinnings are being prepared for a new powertrain line-up that will be totally electrified across the board, be it 4 or 6 cylinder, petrol or diesel. Mercedes introduced 48 volt technology to the C-Class range with the existing model. Beneath the skin of the latest C 200, a 1.5-litre 4 cylinder petrol engine links up with an electrically driven belt starter generator fed by a tiny battery. The belt generator enables the engine to deactivate at cruising speed on the motorway for fuel-free coasting, while it can also assist the petrol engine with an additional 15 hp. This technology is limited to just one model for now, but it will be applied to even the most basic versions of the next C-Class. It will be used in a performance capacity, too, with the addition of a 6-cylinder AMG C 53 model to the line-up. Mercedes will also introduce new plug-in hybrid variants to take on the latest BMW 330e. The new 3 Series PHEV has a maximum range of 65 kilometres on battery power alone, plus a 4 cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. Naturally, the next plug-in versions of the C-Class (both petrol and diesel versions could appear) will major on new battery technology to unlock the potential of up to 80 kilometres range on electric power and significantly reduced CO2 emissions when running in hybrid mode. Mercedes is also expected to produce a separate all-electric rival for Tesla’s Model 3 at a later stage, using a unique platform developed for the firm’s EQ sub-brand. One area where the next C-Class won’t chase the 3 Series too hard is in driving dynamics; it will remain a car that’s focused far more on passenger comfort and refinement. Key to this will be the decision to continue offering the C-Class with optional air suspension, something that isn’t available on its BMW, Audi A4 or Jaguar XE rivals. Semi-autonomous driving technology will also take a big step forward in the new Mercedes, with the deployment of a ‘level-three’ driver-assistance feature, which is due also on the next S-Class. Such a set-up will permit conditional autonomy, and in the case of the next C-Class this will mean that the car is capable of looking after hands-off motorway driving at speeds of up to 130 km/h. However, the driver must remain ready to take back control. The C-Class’s exterior design will emulate the platform by being an evolution of the current car’s. As ever, estate, coupé and cabriolet versions of the fifth-generation car will follow the sedan. In contrast, the changes inside the new car will be profound, with a totally fresh interior architecture. A large display will dominate the cabin, stretching from the bottom of the centre console, and combining the central display and fully digital instruments. The same set-up is also due to appear in the next S-Class. +++ 

+++ MERGER talks between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Renault are reportedly back on the agenda. Renault could cut its 43.4 % holding in Nissan in a bid to restart merger negotiations after they initially fell through on June. “This is a great example of 2 companies getting together, saying that the environment is changing and we have to adapt”, CMC Markets analyst David Madden said. “It’s a continuation of a consolidation in the sector to survive in a changing environment”. It is reported that the proposed merger between FCA and Renault fell apart because Nissan refused to back the deal believing such a move could weaken its influence in the alliance. While Renault owns 43.4 % of Nissan, the Japanese car manufacturer only holds a 15 % non-voting stake in Renault and appears to be taking this opportunity to even up its alliance with Renault before potentially offering its support to the FCA and Renault merger. Word from earlier this month indicated that discussions to change the structure of the Renault-Nissan Alliance started soon after the merger collapsed. An internal email from July 12 indicated an agreement between Renault and Nissan could result in an initial memorandum of understanding being signed as early as September. +++ 

+++ TESLA is in advanced talks with South Korea’s LG Chem to source batteries for vehicles to be made in its Shanghai plant, a person familiar with the matter said. The move represents a push by Tesla to diversify sources of the key component for its electric vehicles from its exclusive supplier, Japan’s Panasonic. Another source said LG Chem agreed to supply batteries for Tesla’s China plant, without elaborating. LG Chem is expanding its China battery capacities and modifying some manufacturing facilities in Nanjing to make a different type of auto battery, according to the first source. The company currently mainly makes pouch-type auto batteries, but as a major battery maker, it is not hard for it to revamp facilities to make cylindrical auto batteries that Tesla uses, the source and separate people familiar with the matter added. The source said Tesla is still likely to use Panasonic batteries in the initial phase of production and source from other suppliers including local names in the future. A third person said Tesla may source batteries from CATL later, as the Chinese battery maker does not have much experience in making cylindrical batteries used by Tesla. All of the sources declined to be identified because of the confidentiality of the deal. Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said in November the U.S. company would manufacture all its battery modules and packs at the Shanghai factory, which will make Model 3 and Model Y cars, and planned to diversify its sources. LG Chem has signed battery material supply agreements with China’s Huayou and Tianqi, as the South Korean battery maker is trying to expand its foothold in China. It said it would set up a joint venture with a unit of China’s Geely on batteries. China has scrapped its so-called “white list” of recommended battery suppliers, which did not include foreign firms when it was first published in 2015 to spur a domestic battery sector, a decision foreign companies said could open up the world’s biggest market for electric vehicle batteries. Panasonic has said it could supply batteries to Tesla’s Chinese plant either from Japan, the United States or China. +++ 

+++ The VOLKSWAGEN Group is exploring potential investments in Chinese automotive suppliers as it seeks to secure access to key technology in the world’s largest car market, people familiar with the matter said. Options under discussion include buying equity stakes or forging joint ventures with Chinese suppliers, particularly companies with technology used in electric vehicles, according to the people. VW has been examining several possible targets including Guoxuan High-Tech, a battery maker based in China’s Anhui province, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Guoxuan High-Tech has a market value of about $2.1 billion. Battery technology is a critical area for VW as it seeks to safeguard vast purchasing volumes needed to power the auto industry’s largest push into electric cars, which is led by China. VW picked China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. as its initial battery provider in the country. The Chinese market will take on a bigger role for VW as both a production hub and research center, CEO Herbert Diess told reporters in April in Shanghai. The company plans to deliver 22 million fully electric vehicles worldwide by 2028, with more than half of them made in China. No final decisions have been made, and there’s no certainty the deliberations will lead to a transaction, the people said. VW is “in talks with different local suppliers for possible cooperation in the future”, the company said in an emailed statement. “The evaluation of our battery supply capacities in China is ongoing and necessary for a high volume of e-mobility production”, VW said. A representative for Guoxuan declined to comment. VW is also considering expanding its three vehicle-making joint ventures in China as part of a strategy review. The company has said it’ll work with partners on mobility offerings and plans to add a smaller electric-car platform specifically for China’s megacities. VW operates ventures with major Chinese automakers SAIC Motor and China FAW Group after being one of the first foreign automakers to start business in the country more than 3 decades ago. It’s also exploring options to acquire a stake in its smallest local partner, Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group, people familiar with the matter said in April. China’s top 3 home-grown electric-car battery makers, CATL, BYD and Guoxuan, dominate the market with about 79 % of the country’s new-energy vehicle battery installments in the first half of the year. Still, they face a risk as the government phases out subsidies that effectively motivated automakers in China to use locally made batteries. The policy change puts non-Chinese battery makers such as South Korea’s LG Chem on an equal footing with their local rivals. By teaming up with VW, Guoxuan can gain additional funding and an endorsement to its brand amid the intensifying competition. The company, which supplies local automakers including BAIC Motor and Geely Automobile Holdings, said in April that it has been talking to a “first-tier international brand” but did not share details, citing a confidentiality agreement. Volkswagen has officially denied a media report it is going to buy a stake in Tesla, but the truth is a little more complicated than that. German media had said that Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess wanted to buy shares in the American manufacturer of electric cars in order to gain access to its software and battery technology. Diess was said to have met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk on a regular basis and that the latter had so far rejected VW’s efforts to form an alliance. “The speculation about buying a stake in Tesla made is without merit”, a Volkswagen spokesman told. The German media, however, quoted an unidentified top Volkswagen manager as saying that “Diess would go in right away if he could”. According to the report, acquiring a stake would allow the German carmaker to access Tesla’s technological expertise. Such a deal, though, could meet opposition from Volkswagen’s controlling Piech and Porsche families when it comes to funding the stake purchase. Currently, Tesla is valued at around $30 billion, which makes it too pricey even for a giant like Volkswagen. The German company currently faces numerous Dieselgate-related fines and lawsuits, as well as massive investments in the development and production of electric vehicles, so investing that kind of money would stretch its finances too much. A banker close to Volkswagen allegedly told that Diess would love to have Tesla’s software developers, but admits it was almost impossible to justify buying the whole company. A major automaker holding a stake in Tesla would not be something new. Over the years, the American electric car specialist was partly owned by Toyota and Daimler. Both automakers eventually sold their stakes after Musk’s company went public and the stock’s value increased significantly. +++

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