+++ AUDI is working on a facelift for the Q5. Revisions will stretch to a handful of exterior styling tweaks, a mildly redesigned interior and, most importantly, the adoption of mild-hybrid technology. The new model will likely reach showrooms in 2020. Exterior styling revisions are subtle. The outgoing model’s chrome egg-crate grille has been swapped for a black honeycomb unit, while new bumpers (similar to those found on the new Q3) feature front and rear. Audi has also replaced the old Q5’s flared side skirts with slimmer panels and fitted a fresh pair of headlights. Interior revisions are expected to extend to a new 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and pair of new digital touchscreens on the dash in place of the current model’s single screen setup. The overall look will mirror that of the recently-updated Q7. Under the skin, 12 volt mild-hybrid technology will feature for the first time. The facelifted Q5 should borrow the A4’s 190 hp 40 TFSI and 245 hp 45 TFSI 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol-hybrid units, while the SUV’s existing 190 hp 40 TDI diesel is also expected to be updated with new 12 volt mild-hybrid tech. All powertrains will send their power to a Quattro 4-wheeldrive system via a 7-speed automatic transmission. +++ 

+++ BUGATTI won’t join the likes of Ferrari in building one-off specials for specific clients, according to the man in charge of such projects. The sold-out Centodieci, unveiled during California’s Monterey Car Week, reaffirmed Bugatti’s commitment to modern coachbuilding. It was created for collectors, not by them, and the car maker won’t deviate from this approach. Pierre Rommelfanger, Bugatti’s head of one-off and few-off projects, told why. Rommelfanger and his team travel to car-related events around the world to meet Bugatti’s most important customers and listen to their feedback. These conversations often provide the company with inspiration, but Rommelfanger stressed that his team ultimately decides what to build. He wants to ensure each one-off or few-off project fits squarely into Bugatti’s strategy. He ruled out taking requests from clients. So even the wealthiest collector can’t travel to Molsheim with a suitcase full of money and drive home in the 4-door, Dakar-ready Chiron Sport of his or her dreams. Achim Anscheidt, Bugatti’s head designer, echoed Rommelfanger’s comments. “Of course, as a designer, I could get my head easily around saying yes to customer requests. As an overall company structure, I think that could be something difficult for Bugatti just to make that work. Just putting one prototype-ish car together and then giving it to the people would be way too irresponsible”, he told. “So that sounds exotic and flamboyant, but it’s actually, in reality, easier said than done”. Bugatti claims it has no trouble putting the one-off and few-off cars it designs in private collections. Its customers are loyal. They buy a car without first driving it, knowing they’ll have to wait at least two years for delivery, and they fully trust that the brand will exceed their expectations. Demand eclipses supply so the company routinely turns buyers away. Rommelfanger revealed there is a line of collectors ready to buy a Divo in case one of the 40 original reservation holders cancels an order for any reason. Bugatti presented the Divo in 2018 and it unveiled 2 special projects in 2019 to celebrate its 110th birthday. Rommelfanger said it will be difficult to maintain this pace in the coming years. “Now we need to bring these cars to customers”, he said. The firm will begin Divo deliveries in 2020. The La Voiture Noire will head to its new home in 2021 and Centodieci production will start in 2022. That’s not to rule out additional special projects. Rommelfanger believes coachbuilding is an important part of Bugatti’s heritage and an equally significant part of its future. The fact that it recently managed to sell 51 one-off and few-off cars based on the Chiron proves it’s well positioned to put a modern spin on the decades-old coachbuilding industry. +++ 

+++ Audi is in talks to add China’s BYD to supply batteries for its electric vehicles, according to people familiar with the matter. Negotiations with Warren Buffett-backed BYD, China’s top electric-car manufacturer and No. 2 auto-battery supplier, are at an advanced stage, the people said, asking not to be identified because the talks are private. BYD is also in discussions with other automakers about battery-supply deals, one of the people said. BYD’s batteries would be used to equip upscale cars made on the Premium Platform Electric architecture jointly developed by Audi and Porsche, said one of the people. The first models are slated to hit the market around 2021. Audi and BYD had also explored options for deeper ties including a development joint venture or acquiring a stake in the Chinese supplier’s battery unit, the people said. It’s unclear how far those talks progressed, they said. There is no guarantee that an agreement with Audi will be reached, the people said. An Audi spokeswoman said the company is in talks with several manufacturers, and no decision has been made. BYD said it didn’t have any information to disclose at this point. Automakers are seeking to diversify supplies of critical components as the rollout of electric models gains traction. Audi parent Volkswagen Group plans to deliver 22 million full-electric vehicles worldwide by 2028, with more than half of them built in China, where BYD makes batteries. Audi currently uses battery cells from CATL for its Q2L e-Tron sold in China. Concerns over a battery supply deal with Samsung SDI unraveling in Europe pushed the Volkswagen Group to rework details after pledged supplies shrank to less than 5 gigawatt hours from just over 20 gigawatt hours. Reports have suggested that Audi is having difficulty with production bottlenecks for EV batteries. Audi revised downward planned production for its first series EV, the e-Tron at its Brussels factory. For BYD, teaming up with a global luxury brand such as Audi will help it take on bigger rival CATL. The 2 Chinese companies are emerging as challengers to Tesla suppliers Panasonic and LG Chem. BYD plans to list its battery business by the end of 2022 to help raise funds for expansion as the industry shifts to electric cars, Chairman Wang Chuanfu said in December. BYD has so far been focusing on making batteries for its own car assembly only, becoming China’s top maker of so-called new energy vehicles while missing out on taking a bigger slice of growing battery demand in the world’s largest electric-vehicle market. The value of batteries used in electric cars, electric buses and related energy storage is set to balloon about 10 times to a potential $500 billion by 2050, according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. BYD also cooperates with Audi rival Daimler on making the Denza brand of electric vehicles. +++ 

+++ We’re getting so deep into the rabbit hole of rumors about the new CHEVROLET Corvette that it’s possible we’ll end up in a room decorated like John Nash’s office or desperately seeking Pepe Silvia. And this is the latest bit of rumor: there are details on the 3 engines going into the C8 Corvette and their 4 outputs. At bottom is the 6.2-liter V8 we already know about. Above that is a naturally aspirated 5.5-liter V8 with 600 horsepower and 800 Nm. Next up, a 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 with 850 hp and 900 Nm. And at the peak, that 5.5-liter TT V8 with electric assistance, rocking 1000 hp and 1.200 Nm. Taking a high-level view, the numbers could have some connection to reality. We just posted on a rumor back-and-forth about the coming Z06 and ZR1 power plants. An initial report said a twin-turbo V8 with around 800 hp would slot into the Z06, a follow-up report rebutted that, saying the Z06 would get an atmospheric V8 and the TT V8 could go in the ZR1 and/or a model called the Zora. The most recent rumor lists an atmospheric 5.5-liter, 32-valve V8 called the LT6. The betting money lays short odds on the V8 putting its 600 hp behind the C8 Z06, long odds on that engine powering the C8 Grand Sport. That leaves the C8 ZR1 free to enjoy the non-hybrid 5.5-liter twin-turbo with 850 hp and 900 Nm, and a supreme version perhaps called Zora to get the hybridized 5.5-liter TT V8 with 1000 hp and 1.200 Nm. This scheme lines up with a remarkably prescient article in Car and Driver from way back in May 2018. The mag predicted “a naturally aspirated 5.5-liter DOHC V8 with a flat-plane crankshaft capable of a Ferrari 458-like maximum engine speed of 9,000 rpm” that would be “good for at least 600 horsepower” and be the next to launch after the base LT2. After that, a 5.5-liter V8 that “will make about 800 owner-maiming horsepower”. C/D said “this will be the fastest version around the Nürburgring Nordschleife”. Finally, a couple of years later, “Chevrolet would add a 200-hp electric motor” up front and a brace of cooling addenda. +++ 

+++ The J.D. Power US Tech Experience Study has revealed that many owners of new vehicles across the United States aren’t won over by DRIVER ASSISTANCE TECHNOLOGIES . The study, which surveyed 20,000 new car owners of 2019 model year vehicles in the United States, analyzed how 38 different technologies impacted the first 90 days of ownership. Many respondents expressed their grievances towards lane-keep assist and lane-centering systems. In fact, 23 % said they found these systems to be “annoying and bothersome”, and of these , 61 % disabled them altogether. The study also found that 21 % of drivers who didn’t find the systems that annoying were still disabling such assistance technologies. “Some brands are succeeding at making their safety technology effective without being overbearing. Some are good at one aspect but weaker at another, and some are struggling with both”, executive director of Driver Interaction & Human Machine Interface Research at J.D. Power, Kristin Kolodge, said. “This is why one brand has 90 % of its customers wanting lane-keeping/centering on their next vehicle, while another brand has just 59 % of its customers saying the same thing”. The survey also looked at the overall satisfaction customers have for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Of those questioned, 69 % had vehicles with Apple CarPlay and/or Android Auto and only 68 % said they wanted factory-installed navigation in their next car. The single best-performing model in the study was the Kia Stinger, which scored 834 on a 1000-point scale for its tech experience. Other highly-ranked cars included the Hyundai Kona, Toyota C-HR and Porsche Cayenne. +++ 

+++ FORD has launched sales of its first electric vehicle in China, the battery powered version of the Territory. The compact crossover has a starting price of 199,000 yuan ($27,832), which will be lowered to 182,800 yuan after government subsidies. With young urban commuters as target customers, the electric Territory offers a range of 360 km on one charge. Like the gasoline version, the electric crossover is produced at Jiangling Motors, Ford’s truck joint venture. Jiangling also builds the Everest SUV as well as the Tourneo and Transit vans for Ford as well as light vehicles and trucks for its proprietary JMC brand. The electric Territory is the second electrified vehicle Ford has rolled out in China, following the plug-in hybrid variant of the Mondeo, which is assembled at Changan Ford, Ford’s passenger vehicle partnership. In the second quarter, Ford and its 2 joint ventures delivered 154,042 vehicles in China; a decline of 22 % from a year earlier. During the period, sales at the Ford brand slumped 28 % to 92,885 while deliveries at the Lincoln brand rose 7 % to 12,404. Sales at the JMC brand fell 13 % to 48,753. Ford plans to introduce more than 30 new and upgraded models including at least 10 electrified vehicles under the Ford and Lincoln brands in China in the next 3 years. +++ 

+++ The FRANKFURT auto show, which opens next month, is stepping up security checks to prepare for potential disruption by climate activists who are calling for people to join anti-car protests. Police are already investigating a group calling itself “Rocks in the Gearbox” after more than 40 luxury vehicles were vandalized at a car dealership in Kronberg on the outskirts of Frankfurt earlier this week, adding to a string of anti-auto protests. Ahead of the car show, Germany’s auto industry association the VDA has sought to defuse anti-car sentiment by inviting environmental activists from Greenpeace, Deutsche Umwelthilfe to a panel discussion in Berlin on September 5 along with executives from Daimler, BMW and the VDA, to debate the climate crisis and mobility of the future. The Frankfurt show, known as the IAA, is due to take place from September 12 to 22. “We are in close contact with the security authorities just as we are at every IAA. Entrance controls will be tightened, given that there may be spontaneous rioting at the show”, VDA spokesman Eckehart Rotter told.
Environmental groups, including one called “Sand in the Gearbox”, have appealed to the public to join protests in Frankfurt on September 14, prompting the VDA to warn car show visitors to expect longer queues at security checkpoints. Police in Wiesbaden said they were investigating “Rocks in the Gearbox” after the group claimed responsibility for vandalizing the Jaguar, Land Rover, and Aston Martin vehicles at the car dealership. Windshields, windows, hoods and panels were smashed with metal objects and the 2 glass doors at the car dealership were broken, a spokesman for the Wiesbaden police told. “They used hammers and crowbars and we are investigating a group claiming responsibility”, the spokesman said. “Rocks in the Gearbox” released a statement saying: “In a few weeks Frankfurt will once again launch a propaganda show where the outmoded, climate and environment destroying transportation system is hyped. We want to expose this show for what it really is: profits made on the backs of the poorest and at the expense of future generations. We think it is time to throw rocks into the gearbox of capitalist and automotive profit logic”. The statement called for more scrutiny of working conditions in related industries, including freight, cotton and rubber production as well as for people mining rare earths for electric car batteries and electronics. Earlier in August, climate activists had occupied railway lines supplying Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg factory, according to police in Wolfsburg-Helmstedt. “We have opened a probe investigating potentially dangerous disruption of rail and shipping transportation”, a police spokesman told. +++

+++ MAZDA ’s newest crossover, the CX-30, will reportedly be made at the Salamanca plant in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. The decision is not that surprising given that the same factory builds the latest-generation Mazda3, which shares a platform with the CX-30. While the Japanese automaker has not made an official announcement yet, an announcement of production startup could occur in September. Salamanca is Mazda’s first production facility outside Japan and was chosen because Mexico has commercial agreements with 45 countries, plus and a suitable location from which to send vehicles to Central and South America, Europe, the United States and Canada. Back in March when the all-new CX-30 debuted at the Geneva Motor Show, Mazda president and CEO Akira Marumoto said the vehicle would be produced at the plants that the company considers key to the operation, with Mexico being one of them. The Salamanca plant has the capacity to build 140,000 vehicles a year. Since its opening in 2014, the facility has been manufacturing Mazda2 hatchbacks, Mazda3 sedans and hatchbacks, and Mazda2-based Toyota Yaris sedans. Last year, the factory also started the production of the Mazda2 sedan. According to Mazda Mexico director Miguel Barbeyto, CX-30 models made in Salamanca will be sold in all world markets, including Mexico. +++ 

+++ We’re just days away from the debut of arguable the most important PORSCHE in recent history, the all-electric Taycan, and the German car maker let a few selected members of the press have a go in one of their near-production prototypes, letting out more information before the big reveal. Reports have suggested that Porsche will slap the ‘Turbo’ and ‘Turbo S’ badges on the top versions of the Taycan, even if they are actually a misnomer as the cars lacks a normal powertrain, let alone a turbocharger. Marketing tricks aside, at first we were told to expect over 600 hp from the Taycan’s fastest iteration when Porsche confirmed its development years ago, but these numbers are apparently obsolete. Both the Turbo and the Turbo S will, apparently, clear the 600 hp barrier with ease thanks to their dual-motor, all-wheel drive setup and will come with an overboost mode for 2.5 seconds at the time, but the latter will be able to boost its output to “well over 700 hp” and more than 1.000 Nm. The 2 top-tier models will also have battery packs rated above 90 kWh in capacity but the S will also come with features such as ceramic brakes, all-wheel steering, 21-inch wheels shod in stickier tires and a stiffer suspension setup as standard. The official 0-100km/h figure for the Taycan ‘Turbo S’ is also expected to dip below the 3-second threshold. Less powerful versions will be added to the Taycan range in due time, featuring one electric motor and rear-wheel drive. The official reveal of the Taycan will take place on September 4, so stay tuned. +++ 

+++ Autoworkers in continental Europe are getting ready to snatch Vauxhall production that owner PSA Group plans to move out of the UK if prime minister Boris Johnson follows through on the threat of a no-deal Brexit. Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant near Liverpool is in line to build an upgraded version of the Astra model unless the UK leaves the UK without trade deal with the European Union, a scenario that could wipe out profits with tariffs, component delays and a weaker pound. With the no-deal risk rising after Johnson decided to suspend parliament, France, Spain, Germany or Portugal are poised to mop up work if an accord with the EU cannot be reached. “French plants could legitimately make this vehicle if a hard Brexit happens”, said Patrick Michel, a Force Ouvriere union representative at PSA, proposing the company’s Peugeot sites in Sochaux and Mulhouse as possible contenders. PSA boss Carlos Tavares said last month that all production will be pulled from Ellesmere Port if Brexit makes it impossible to turn a profit at a factory that has 1,000 workers and made 77,000 Astras last year. A plant in southern Europe has been earmarked as an alternative location for the new model, he said. Spokesmen for PSA and Vauxhall declined to comment further following Johnson’s latest pronouncements. PSA inherited Vauxhall in 2017 when it bought the automaker’s German sibling Opel from General Motors, under which the UK business had survived intact as Opel sites including Bochum were closed. Tavares said in June that the next-generation Opel Astra will be made at that brand’s main Rüsselsheim plant in Germany from 2021. The Vauxhall-badged version would be built at Ellesmere Port; conditional on the UK’s Brexit terms and a cost-cutting labor agreement. The FO union’s Michel said French sites that also include one in Rennes would negotiate with management to secure the Astra, while suggesting lower-cost Spanish factories in Vigo, Zaragoza and Madrid, may be better placed. PSA has an additional plant in Mangualde, Portugal, and the Astra is also made in Gliwice, Poland, though the location is due to focus on Vans. Vauxhall already plans to cut more than 200 jobs from Ellesmere Port’s payroll. A smaller plant in Luton, where the brand is based, will benefit from an electric version of the Vivaro van from 2020, increasing its capacity to 100,000 vehicles a year and helping to safeguard it against closure. About 80 % of all cars made in the UK are exported, with half of those going to the EU, according to the SMMT. Britain accounts for about 10 % of PSA’s global unit sales. UK automakers have been saying since the 2016 referendum on Britain’s EU membership that a no-deal split would be a disaster. Production fell in July for the 14th straight month as exports cratered 15 %, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Honda is already shuttering a site in Swindon that employs 3,500 people. The automaker shocked the industry in February when it announced plans to close the site, which builds Civic hatchbacks. The news came after Nissan ended moves to build X-Trails at a Sunderland plant employing more than 7,000, and said it would stop producing upscale Infiniti cars there. Ford said in June that its Bridgend engine plant in Wales will be shuttered by September next year, though the move is part of a Europe-wide retrenchment. Jaguar Land Rover, Britain’s biggest automaker, is building the Jaguar I-Pace, its first all-electric car, in Austria and shifting production of the Land Rover Discovery to Slovakia. At the same time, JLR is retooling its Solihull plant to make electric versions of top-end Range Rovers and last month said a range of electric Jaguars will be built at nearby Castle Bromwich. BMW starts production of an electric Mini in the UK this year, and has said there are no plans for any changes to its 4 UK plants. Aston Martin Lagonda, which has lowered its full-year sales forecast in response to slowing sales in Europe, opened a new factory in Wales this year to make the DBX touted as the biggest driver of future sales. +++ 

+++ If you’re a parent and your kids are old enough to drive, then SKODA Connect’s geofencing function might be something you’d want to look into, as it can let you know if your child has ventured beyond where they initially told you they were going. So in order to stay on top of things, all you have to do is pop open the app (on your iOS or Android device) and set an area on a map that you want your children to stay within whenever they borrow the car. This can be ideal for when parents are away on holiday and the kids stay behind, for example. Then, you can either set a green area on the map in which the car is allowed to move freely, or simply identify a red area in which you don’t want the car driven at all. If there’s a “breach”, the owner of the vehicle then gets notified via the app on his or her smartphone. Another thing you can do is tailor the geofencing function to be active only on specific days and at specific times. Furthermore, the app allows for multiple areas to be monitored, as parents can choose to have up to four area notifications active at the same time. As for other ways in which you can use the Skoda Connect app, for starters you can access a wide range of information about the status of your vehicle: fuel levels, driving data or its exact position. Then there’s the Trip Planner function, which will check your calendar and notify you when to leave for your next appointment using real-time traffic information to guide you. +++ 

+++ After a comprehensive review, Mazda is switching to Toyota Financial Services as its partner for consumer auto loans and leasing. For the last decade, Mazda has used JPMorgan Chase as its financial arm under the Mazda Capital Services name. Starting April 1, Mazda will switch to TFS. Jeff Guyton, president of Mazda North American Operations, said in an interview via email that Toyota’s financial arm offers deep experience in the auto sector that will bolster Mazda’s financing services to dealers and customers. “The intent of this partnership is to provide enhanced financing and protection options for customers and dealers”, Guyton said. “Chase has been a great partner for Mazda for the last 10 years and after a thoughtful review of many options, it was clear TFS can best meet Mazda’s business needs moving forward. Their deep knowledge of financing within the auto industry will be a good fit for our dealers and customers”. The shift to TFS further TIGHTENS Mazda’s ties with Toyota, which is a partner with Mazda on several projects, including an assembly plant under construction in Alabama and a production agreement at a factory in Mexico that provides subcompact cars sold in the U.S. under the Toyota Yaris nameplate. Guyton said that partnering with TFS was a logical extension of the current partnerships between the 2 Japanese automakers. “Mazda and Toyota are collaborating in carefully selected areas of our business where there are benefits for both partners, such as development of electric vehicle architecture in Japan, or our joint manufacturing project in Alabama”, he said.  “Sales finance operations in the US presented another opportunity for synergy”. +++

+++ Ivory Coast’s government signed an agreement with TOYOTA to build a vehicle assembly plant in the West African nation, the office of Ivorian Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly said in a statement. Faced with stagnant sales in developed economies, automakers including Toyota, Volkswagen, BMW and Nissan are seeking to break into Africa, considered one of the world’s last untapped markets for new cars. The agreement was signed at a Japan-Africa development conference in Yokohama by Gon Coulibaly and Ichiro Kashitani, CEO of Toyota Tsusho, a unit of the automotive and industrial group. The statement did not give details on the number or type of vehicles Toyota will produce in Ivory Coast, but it said the process for establishing the plant would be launched before the end of the year. As part of its push into the continent, Toyota Tsusho acquired French automobile retailer CFAO, which operates in 35 countries in Africa, in 2016. Toyota already produces cars in South Africa, which has a well-developed auto industry. Volkswagen and Nissan have also set up operations in Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana or have pledged to do so. Honda and Peugeot have launched assembly plants in Nigeria and Peugeot has done the same in Kenya. +++ 

+++ In the UNITED KINGDOM , car production fell 10.6 % in July 2019, marking the 14th consecutive month of decline. Some 108,239 cars rolled off UK production lines in July 2019, compared with 121,051 in the same month last year. The home market saw a year-on-year growth of 10.2 % from 19,401 to 21,381, while the export market (which accounted for 8 in every 10 cars built) fell 14.6 % from 101,650 to 86,858. Overall, there has been an 18.9 % decline in UK manufacturing in the first 7 months of 2019. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which produced the figures, blamed the ongoing weakness in European and Asian markets, as well as a number of key model changes. Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, commented: “Another month of decline for UK car manufacturing is a serious concern. The sector is overwhelmingly reliant on exports and the global headwinds are strong, with escalating trade tensions, softening demand and significant technological change. With the UK market also weak, the importance of maintaining the UK’s global competitiveness has never been more important so we need a Brexit deal, and quickly, to unlock investment and safeguard the long term future of a sector which has recently been such an international success story”. It follows news from July that the automotive industry has spent at least £330 million on contingency plans in preparation for a no deal Brexit since the UK voted to leave the EU in June 2016. The continuing threat of a no deal Brexit is one of the causes for this decline, with a number of UK factories having brought their annual shutdowns forward from the summer to April 2019, impacting overall production for the first half of the year. The SMMT revealed that manufacturers have spent £330 million preparing for the possibility of a no deal Brexit since the UK voted to leave the EU in June 2016. In addition to moving the factory closures, this has involved stockpiling materials and components, securing warehouse capacity and investing in new logistics solutions, additional insurance and training in new customs procedures. Slowing demand in key overseas markets also contributed to the decline, with global consumer confidence at a low point. Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: “Today’s figures are the result of global instability compounded by ongoing fear of ‘no deal’. This fear is causing investment to stall, as hundreds of millions of pounds are diverted to Brexit cliff-edge mitigation; money that would be better spent tackling technological and environmental challenges”. With this in mind, Hawes wished the UK’s new prime minister Boris Johnson well in securing a deal with the EU by the Brexit deadline of 31 October, adding: “If we can get a deal, then the future of the industry is still very strong”. +++ 

+++ VOLKSWAGEN is holding talks with officials in Ankara over Turkey’s vehicle tax regime as it seeks to conclude a €1 billion investment to build a production plant in Turkey, 2 sources said. The company said last month that no decision had yet been reached on the location of a new multi-brand plant, but the sources familiar with the talks said Volkswagen is positive about investing in Turkey and was close to taking the step. The sources did not say what assurances Volkswagen is seeking on vehicle tax. Car purchases in Turkey incur a special consumption tax which ranges from 45 % to 60 % for engines up to 1.6 liters and rises to 100 % – 110 % for engines up to 2 liters. “Volkswagen is largely ready to invest €1 billion into Turkey”, one of the sources said. “The only standing request VW has is on taxation on the vehicle market”, the source added, saying Turkey was trying to find a formula that would address Volkswagen concerns without putting existing car producers at a disadvantage. Major producers such as Fiat, Renault, Ford, Hyundai and Toyota produced more than 1.3 million motor vehicles in Turkey last year. The steep Turkish taxes on larger cars limit most buyers and local producers to smaller engine sizes. Cars with engines of less than 1.6 liters made up 96 % of Turkey’s new car market in 2018. Volkswagen had also been looking at the new production plant in Bulgaria, but the sources said it was now close to finalizing the deal with Turkey. “There is only one issue left and that is the taxation system”, the second source said, adding that the differences could be overcome. “Even if it is not implemented immediately, a pledge for change (in the tax system) at a specific date in the future would be enough. They are planning to convey this request to the Turkish president. A final decision will materialize shortly”. +++ 

+++ Autonomous driving software specialist Zenuity will team up with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) to develop autonomous vehicles that can make predictions and decisions faster to help improved safety, the supplier said in a release. This is crucial to Zenuity as its long-term goal is to help automakers create AVs that have zero collisions and cause no injuries and fatalities. The safety of AVs has been questioned following a non-fatal accident last month in Vienna, Austria, involving a driverless bus and a pedestrian, and a fatal crash in 2018 in which an Uber Technologies self-driving test vehicle killed a pedestrian in Arizona. When asked whether those accidents were a wake-up call for Zenuity, CEO Dennis Nobelius said the supplier doesn’t need to be reminded about the importance of safety. “Safety is in our bones. That’s how we operate”, Novelius told, adding that whenever an AV is involved in an accident it is a reminder of how high the stakes are in this sector. “It’s imperative for the entire industry to be very cautious”. Zenuity, which is a joint venture between VOLVO and Veoneer, knows that a major challenge for AVs is giving them the power to accurately interpret the huge quantity of data generated by the vehicle’s cameras, lidar and radar during normal driving conditions. Scientists at CERN face a similar challenge because when the center’s Large Hadron Collider smashes sub-atomic particles this also generates a huge amount of data to assess. “CERN wants to analyze their particle collisions in real time and we want to analyze our data coming from cameras, lidars and radar in real time”, Zenuity Deep Learning Engineer Christoffer Peterssen told. To address this challenge CERN uses so-called Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs), a hardware solution that executes complex decision-taking algorithms in microseconds. FPGAs will now be used in connection with autonomous driving. In addition, Zenuity and CERN will collaborate on so-called “deep learning,” which is a class of machine learning algorithms. In recent years such algorithms, commonly referred to as artificial intelligence (AI), have been applied to a multitude of fields with great success, even exceeding human performance on certain tasks, the supplier said. Zenuity hopes the collaboration with CERN will reduce the runtime and memory footprint of the relevant deep learning algorithms without reducing accuracy, while simultaneously minimizing energy consumption and cost. Nobelius has an additional goal: “My hopes and expectations are that part of this research actually will go into production for the lead customer that we have for unsupervised driving, which is Volvo”. When asked how quickly he wants to see that happen, Nobelius said: “A couple of years. Not longer than that”. +++

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