+++ The French government has indicated there is room for potential tweaks to the ownership balance in the carmaking ALLIANCE between Renault and Nissan; an option president Emmanuel Macron had ruled out in June. France owns the biggest stake in Renault, while the cross-shareholdings between the automaking partners favor the French side. Martin Vial, the head of France’s state shareholding agency, said he dies not reject the idea of possible modifications of the ties between the companies or a potential cut to France’s ownership in Renault, so long as such a move created value for France. Vial said changes might be possible if there is value creation for the state. Better cooperation between the companies must come first, however. Reinforcing joint projects “is the top priority. That’s what, I believe, the 2 managements of both groups are striving for. For the rest, if there is value creation, why not”, Vial told. “But first, the priority is synergies and industrial cooperation”. The comments could be a sign of softening in a struggle that’s been deadlocked for weeks. Renault’s efforts to forge deeper ties with Nissan have been met with resistance, while its attempt to merge with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) was called off after its Japanese partner failed to sign on. Nissan has long sought to equalize the cross-shareholdings and lower the influence of the French government on the alliance. A spokeswoman said new industrial projects were central to the alliance, which has experienced huge strains since the November arrest of former chairman Carlos Ghosn. France has no specific plan for changing the crossed shareholdings between Renault and Nissan or for the government’s stake in the French automaker, she said, adding the state was always open to considering proposals that would increase the value of France’s holding. Renault owns a 43 % share in Nissan, while Nissan holds a 15 % stake as part of a two-decades old pact. President Macron in June said that “nothing justifies” changing the current structure between the companies. Since then, the partners have weighed Renault reducing its stake in the Japanese automaker. Any reduction of the stake would need approval from France, which owns 15 % of Renault. The French government sits at a key juncture as the increasingly abrasive partners search for a way forward. Merger talks between Fiat and Renault collapsed in June, after France sought more time to convince counterparts at Nissan, prompting FCA’s controlling Agnelli family to walk away from the deal. FCA and Renault have not resumed talks to combine “to my knowledge”, Vial said. “These tie-ups make of course a lot of sense but can’t be done against the first historic partner of Renault, which is Nissan”. Early-stage talks to modify the alliance’s structure began after the Renault-Fiat deal collapsed. They could lead to an initial memorandum of understanding on the restructuring as soon as September. +++ 

+++ For the first time ever, AUDI will soon have two RS Q3 models in its lineup. It’s no secret Audi is working on a second-generation RS Q3 and recently I learned that the new Q3 Sportback is getting the RS treatment as well. Mind you, there are no big surprises regarding the styling: it’s exactly what you’d expect from a beefier Q3 Sportback. The compact SUV coupe will be spiced up with typical Audi Sport elements such as the wheel arch extensions, more aggressive bumpers with bigger air intakes at the front and a diffuser flanked by oval tailpipes at the rear, as well as a unique grille mesh pattern. Other distinctive elements include a more extended roof spoiler compared to the regular Q3 Sportback, bigger side skirts, and massive brakes with red calipers. We can also expect a gloss black treatment for the mirror caps and window surrounds. Expect the RS Q3 Sportback to bring goodies like leather bucket seats with contrast stitching, Alcantara and carbon fiber trim, and other sporty bits. Much like the design, the powertrain of the RS Q3 Sportback is not a mystery either as it will share a 2.5-liter 5-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine with the upcoming RS Q3. By all accounts, the unit should deliver 420 hp, dispatched to all 4 wheels via a dual-clutch transmission and specifically-tuned Quattro all-wheeldrive system. The RS Q3 Sportback should debut in Europe before the end of the year, with a possible world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show. +++ 

+++ This May, a U.S. government observatory atop Hawaii’s dormant Mauna Loa volcano recorded history in the making. Scientists measured levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide that reached 415 parts per million. Not even the oldest core samples taken from glacial ice formed half a million years before the arrival of homo sapiens had trapped such high concentrations, they say. What followed were weeks of extreme weather patterns that culminated in July as the hottest month ever recorded by the World Meteorological Organization. Nature seems to be telling mankind that it is living on borrowed time. Sensing the rising concern over what has been called a “climate emergency”, Europe’s automakers are hoping to ditch their image as polluters and go green. Starting with CO2 NEUTRAL PLANTS modeled on the likes of Audi’s e-Tron plant in Belgium, the ultimate goal is to eventually operate “zero-impact factories” that leave no ecological footprint. “We don’t need one strategy for running our business and a separate one for sustainability”, Daimler CEO Ola Källenius said. “We need our business model itself to be sustainable”. Some automakers have said they won’t give contracts to suppliers that do not take sufficient action to reduce their environmental impact, including decarbonizing their entire businesses over the long term in keeping with the Paris Climate Agreement. This landmark climate deal aims to minimize the global temperature increase from man-made emissions that is already 1 degree Celsius to well below 2 Celsius by 2050. This goal looks increasingly unrealistic without drastic action, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded last October. In a report that took almost 3 years to complete, the IPCC documented what trends such as the acidification of the ocean, the world’s largest carbon sink, would mean for the survival of the human race. Europe’s governments are now analyzing plans to impose a blanket price on CO2 emissions for the remaining 55 % of the economy thus far shielded from the EU’s cap-and-trade emissions scheme, such as road transport. In other words, fleet emissions legislation for new cars (while a key motivator underpinning automakers’ EV plans) is now no longer the sole regulatory risk influencing their carbon strategy. “Roughly three quarters of all industry CO2 emissions are generated during a car’s operation over its lifetime, but 18 % still comes from the supply chain”, said Luke Fletcher, senior analyst for investor research and autos specialist at Carbon Disclosure Project. “As sales of battery-powered vehicles displace their combustion engine rivals, that share will steadily become more important over time”. Still grappling with the aftermath of Volkswagen Group’s diesel-cheating scandal, the VW brand began the new trend by promising that its first mass-market electric vehicle, the ID.3, will be the first car delivered to European customers entirely carbon neutral. Any CO2 produced that cannot be avoided will be offset at additional cost via certified programs. Volkswagen has already set up a carbon fund financed with an initial tranche of €50 million. Management is even considering playing an active role. “Eventually, we really want to co-develop these projects and define their goals jointly”, Michael Liebert, head of sustainability for the brand, told. Daimler, which reports say will face a German fine of more than €1 billion for diesel emissions fraud, has pledged that all new Mercedes-Benz plants will be carbon neutral from the start of operation while existing European sites will reach the same goal by 2022. Källenius aims to link a portion of management pay to the achievement of these goals, even if the CEO won’t specify how much. A common first step is sourcing electricity from renewable sources, with BMW going the furthest among automakers. Already next year, all 31 global manufacturing plants from Mexico to Malaysia will source only green energy. “Our vision is clear: sustainable mobility produced in a sustainable manner”, former BMW boss Harald Krüger told reporters shortly before stepping down. The company is due to update its long-term sustainability strategy next year. Specialists such as consultancy South Pole, which counts the Volkswagen Group as a client, can come to the aid of automakers looking to decarbonize their operations. “We help create transparency by collecting CO2 data and ensuring it is reported properly. That way management can more easily target hotspots in their supply chain”, said Michael Weber, director of business development at South Pole. Figures are based on the GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard and are often audited by firms such as PwC and Deloitte just like a company’s annual accounts, even if there are no laws in place to criminalize falsification. After the diesel scandal, experts argue automakers cannot afford another instance of lying about emissions. “All the discussions I have heard internally about sustainability and environment, automakers say they need to make sure it’s real and can be proved, otherwise it’s not worth it”, said Arthur Kipferler, a partner at automotive industry consultant Berylls Strategy Advisors. The timing coincides with European cities stepping up restrictions on combustion engine vehicles or planning their outright ban. Such measures could rebuild lost trust at a time when senior auto executives privately complain about an “asymmetric war waged against individual mobility”. Part of the problem automakers face is that tailpipe emissions from road transport comprise about a fifth of the EU’s overall greenhouse gas footprint. Making matter worse, it remains the only sector to thus far fail to curtail its carbon emissions since 1990. This has caused even central banks to put pressure on the industry indirectly, experts argue. Worried about significant effects on the economy from climate change, regulators are warning lenders and asset managers to take action to reduce their portfolio exposure to high-carbon clients. “There’s a revolution going on, because investors are now realizing that climate risks aren’t at some distant point in the future but are affecting us now”, said Georg Kell, who advises Volkswagen as head of its independent sustainability council. The former founding director of the world’s largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative, the UN Global Compact, argues that financial markets have finally woken up to the hidden costs inherent in the fossil fuel economy. “They want to know whether companies are fit for the future and whether they have a plan to deal with the constraints of a low-carbon world”, Kell told. Fletcher’s CDP estimates $4 trillion worth of assets are at risk from climate change by 2030. To help investors make more informed choices when allocating their capital along CO2 criteria, it surveys companies on their environmental impact. To do this they take the raw data produced by companies such as South Pole and make it comparable via standardized questionnaires. Over 7,000 companies worldwide report to CDP on everything from deforestation and water security to greenhouse gases. These can include an exact breakdown according to three widely comparable metrics, called scopes, that measure emissions produced both directly by the company as well as indirectly from suppliers or retailers. “Take upstream Scope 3 emissions in the supply chain, for example. This data may not be entirely accurate given the methodology is still evolving”, Fletcher said. “But it’s important to remember that this is primarily used by investors for benchmarking purposes, and from that perspective it is very robust as one company’s data is directly comparable with another”. Experts say this will be crucial for European companies in the future. Calling last year’s IPCC report a “wake-up call”, the EU unveiled plans in November to become entirely carbon neutral by 2050. Brussels expects this roadmap will achieve 3 things: give businesses clarity to invest going forward; slash energy imports worth €266 billion annually by an estimated 70 % and reduce premature deaths caused by air pollution currently estimated at nearly half a million. Polls indicate widespread support for these policies. Eco-friendly parties across Western Europe expanded their seats by nearly half in the EU Parliament following elections in May. In Germany, the Green Party is running nearly neck and neck with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives for the first time in history. This is being driven primarily by young people who are taking to the streets to demand change. Whether it is movements such as Fridays For Future or the Extinction Rebellion, today’s youngsters are participating by the thousands in climate marches. Teenage activist Greta Thunberg from Sweden is now calling on adults to join their children in a global protest on September 20. These budding consumers are at an age when they are forming affiliations to certain brands. Automakers know they will have to address their concerns if they want to one day be on their shopping lists. When asked why Volvo is retrofitting its car plants to be climate neutral by 2025, purchasing boss Martina Buchhauser said: “Our customers want us to be there”. In July, Volkswagen introduced a new sustainability rating for its 40,000 suppliers that could mean certain businesses no longer get contracts should they get a failing grade. Mercedes is following suit. To help facilitate this shift to a circular economy, automakers have banded together under the Drive Sustainability initiative to harmonize vetting criteria for parts manufacturers. Paperwork and red tape could be minimized for suppliers, saving them money, while enabling their customers to make more responsible choices. Some don’t even need to be asked. Robert Bosch, which provided emissions management software used by Volkswagen Group to cheat emissions tests, said in May it aims to eliminate all net new carbon emissions at its 400-plus global sites starting next year. Bosch claims this will cost it €1 billion through 2030. The efforts have met with cautious approval from vocal longtime critics of the industry such as Greg Archer, UK director at advocacy group Transport & Environment. “I don’t believe that it’s really embedded deeply within the companies, but for me it’s certainly a real change even if it is not yet irreversible”, he said. Recent scandals unsurprisingly mean that the motivations and sincerity of auto companies will be questioned. Attempts by automakers to shift the debate from a sole focus on tailpipe emissions to a more holistic “cradle to grave” approach, for example, could be seen as an attempt to put their combustion engine cars in a somewhat more flattering light when compared with electric vehicles. Even the slightest miscommunication or out-of-touch remark can justify doubters’ suspicions. Mercedes was forced to apologize on social media for making light of climate change after promising on Twitter that if this summer wasn’t already a scorcher, its high-performance AMG GLA 45 would “heat things up” even further. Fearing the industry would love nothing more than returning to business as usual, more than 15,000 protesters from Greenpeace and 5 other advocacy groups aim to the demonstrate at this month’s Frankfurt auto show in favor of fewer cars clogging city streets. One of them will be Jens Hilgenberg, a transport policy expert at Friends of the Earth Germany, who says the industry’s claims that it will finally accept responsibility for the problems its products cause comes 10 years too late. While he welcomed the latest efforts, Hilgenberg believes the claims are at least partially an attempt to deflect attention away from rising fleet emissions driven by their shift away from cars to less-efficient SUVs. “I would love to believe them, but experience tells me otherwise”, Hilgenberg said. After all, other sectors are already further along, South Pole’s Weber said. “This push cuts across industries, we see this a lot in consumer goods where companies are reacting to the ‘Greta Thunberg Effect’. The heavy goods manufacturers have typically been slower”. CEOs from 200 different companies will travel to Brussels on November 1 to urge the newly constituted EU Commission to take concerted action on climate issues, but so far Toyota Europe boss Johan van Zyl will be the only automotive CEO joining them. At the end of the day however, companies ultimately serve the consumer and if their behavior changes, then so must the products offered. Tesla played a key role in redefining what constitutes a socially responsible luxury performance car. “It is just not acceptable anymore to your neighbors and your golf club buddies to destroy the environment”, Berylls’ Kipferler explained. Audi’s design chief, Marc Lichte, is seeing that shift in his own home. He spoke very personally when he described which consumers he has in mind with his upcoming line of high-quality vegan interiors made with recycled materials. “My eldest daughter is 15. She doesn’t eat meat and tells me she doesn’t want to sit down on a dead animal”, he said. “And on Fridays she hits the streets to participate in the demonstrations”. +++ 

+++ CUPRA is already considering higher-performance ‘R’ versions of its models, the firm’s technical boss has revealed. The Seat performance subbrand is set to rapidly expand its line-up over the next 18 months, thanks to the forthcoming new Leon and the Formentor crossover. When asked if the cars could develop in an even more extreme, faster direction, to potentially include R variants like there have been on Cupra editions in the past, Seat’s chief of technical development, Axel Andorff, said: “We are ambitious engineers and there is nearly no limit for us. It’s always interesting to see what’s possible and to put the bar higher, higher and higher”. He added: “I’ve been with Seat 6 months now and I have already driven almost all of the series production cars. But I have also driven some prototypes, where we’ve put some new engine combinations in, and other drivetrains. We are engineers, after all, so be sure that we already have some ideas”. Contrary to earlier speculation, the Formentor is now expected to remain solely a Cupra, without milder Seat editions of the same body style. “From early feedback we have a really strong product”, Andorff said, “and we really would like to have this car as a Cupra only. That is really my intention”. He also suggested there would be resistance to the idea of Cupra trying to expanding the appeal of the Formentor model line by including slower, less extreme editions. “We’d have to see how much demand there is for a vehicle like that”, Andorff said. “But the intention is to not put water in the wine”. +++ 

+++ In EUROPE , demand for new petrol cars continued to increase in the 4 major markets, except for Germany. The highest percentage gain (+27.4 %) was posted by Italy. The Central European countries also saw a surge in demand for petrol vehicles, with registrations increasing by 7.2 %. Petrol expanded its market share from 56.7 % to 59.5 % in the second quarter of 2019. By contrast, the number of diesel cars registered across the EU decreased by 16.4 % to 1.3 million units, with diesel’s market share falling from 36.3 % in the second quarter of 2018 to 31.3 % this year. In Germany, however, demand for diesel recovered slightly: up 3.5 % in the second quarter. During the second quarter, registrations of alternatively-powered cars in the European Union showed strong growth (+28.5 %). Some 98,553 electrically-chargeable vehicles (ECV) were registered; up 35.6 % compared to last year. Sales of battery electric vehicles almost doubled (+97.7 %), while demand for plug-in hybrids declined in the second quarter of 2019 (-13.6 %). Hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) posted strong results (+38.2 %), with 210,348 units sold from April to June this year. However, registrations of LPG and natural gas cars remained flat in the second quarter, mainly due to a sharp drop in demand for natural gas vehicles (NGV). Each of the 5 largest EU car markets saw registrations of alternatively-powered vehicles increase significantly. Germany (+60.7 %) recorded the highest percentage gains, boosted by strong demand for hybrid electric vehicles, followed by Spain (+35.8 %) and France (+20.0 %). +++ 

+++ FARADAY FUTURE , the struggling Chinese-American electric vehicle start-up, has appointed the former head of BMW’s i EV division to lead it out of its financial difficulties. Carsten Breitfeld, who played an integral role in BMW’s entry into the EV market with the all-electric i3 and plug-in hybrid i8, will take over as chief executive at the Los Angeles-based firm with the goal of delivering its first production model. The highly regarded German engineer has broad experience in the EV ranks, having filled key positions at rival Chinese start-ups Byton and Iconiq since his departure from BMW in 2016. Breitfeld succeeds Jia Yueting, founder of Faraday Future. Yeuting, who stepped down from the CEO role as part of stipulations demanded by Faraday Future investors, will continue to play a senior role in the company as chief product and user officer. The key aim of Breitfeld’s appointment is a start of production for the Faraday Future FF91. First revealed at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the large crossover-style vehicle has reportedly been developed to a near-to-production-ready state. However, crippling debts had seen plans for it to be produced at a factory in Hanford, California, placed on hold. Faraday Future aims to start production of the 1.070 hp 4-wheeldrive FF91 in 2020 and follow it up with a smaller, yet to be revealed FF81 model in 2022. “The priority now is fundraising. We will go to the capital markets”, Breitfeld said. “In the first stage, it will be a 3-digit million dollar amount that’s still missing to make all of this happen”. Breitfeld says his initial focus at Faraday Future will be hiring new staff in North America. The Chinese EV start-up currently employs around 600 people worldwide, almost half of whom are based in California. A significant number of staff were laid off as the financial difficulties emerged late in 2018. In keeping with original plans, the FF91 is set to be sold in both 2 and 3 motor configurations and be produced at a dedicated factory in Hanford. Pricing has yet to be revealed, though it is expected to be upwards of €160,000 in The Netherlands. Breitfeld says he expects production of the FF91 to begin in California within the next 12 months. The more affordable FF81 is planned to be built in China within the next two and a half years. “What is missing now is execution”, Breitfeld said of Faraday Future. “This is where I see a bit of my value coming in, because this company has a great vision”. Faraday Future was saved from almost certain bankruptcy earlier this year with a cash infusion through a joint venture with The9 Ltd, a Chinese online-gaming company. The Evergrande Group, the property conglomerate owned by Hui Ka Yan, China’s third-richest man, pursued a significant investment in Faraday Future in 2018. However, it failed to go ahead when additional investment promised by the Chinese EV start-up failed to materialise. +++ 

+++ FERRARI says it will continue its quick turnaround of new models in a bid to boost engagement with its customer base. The Italian car manufacturer has, in recent years, sped up the life cycle of its models. For example, the F8 Tributo launched just 4 years after the 488 GTB. One might attribute this to McLaren’s practice for launching all-new models frequently, with the 720S, for example, arriving just 3 years after the 650S, although admittedly the latter was a heavily revised MP4-12C. However, Ferrari Middle East chief executive Dieter Knechtel told that this isn’t the case. “We love our competitors and we think competition is always healthy. It’s good for everybody”, he said. “We are looking at what the other brands are doing, but this is not the reason for faster model turnaround. We want to take opportunities in the market if we have the chance to take them. We’re diversifying the model range in areas where we haven’t previously been in the past. Out of this, we’ve announced a model plan that takes us out to 2022. There’s a reason behind all this. We believe we can engage and attract more people to the brand, new people to the brand”. The F8 Tributo features the same 3.9-liter twin-turbocharged V8 as the Ferrari 488 Pista and pumps out an impressive 720 hp and 770 Nm. It accelerates to 100 km/h in a blistering 2.9 seconds and tops out at 340 km/h. +++ 

+++ FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES (FCA) will invest almost €1 billion to start production of the new Alfa Romeo Tonale compact SUV and a Panda hybrid at its Pomigliano plant near Naples in Italy, unions said. The investment is part of a FCA’s plan announced last year to spend €5 billion in Italy up to 2021 to help the group launch its first electric and hybrid models and to fill capacity utilization at its Italian plants. FCA will start building the new production line at the start of next year, unions said. An FCA spokesman confirmed the unions’ statement, adding the investment for the 2 models would be “closer to €1 billion than €500 million”. The spokesman said a “premium compact SUV” would be produced at the Pomigliano plant, along with a hybrid Panda, but did not confirm it was the Alfa Romeo Tonale. Production of the hybrid Panda is expected to start in the first half of next year, while Tonale output will begin in the first half of 2021. Alfa Romeo unveiled a Tonale concept at the Geneva auto show in March. The production version will be positioned below the Stelvio. FCA has already begun investing to prepare the Pomigliano factory for production. The plant already produces internal combustion Panda cars. Earlier this year, FCA said it was investing €700 million to start building the production line for the new Fiat 500 electric in its historic Mirafiori plant in Turin, as the carmaker moved on from its failed $35 billion bid to merge with Renault. Production will start in the second quarter of 2020. Hybrid versions of Jeep Compass and Renegade models and of Maserati’s Levante are also expected to go on sale next year. +++ 

+++ FORD will supply Avis Budget Group with a fleet of digitally connected rental cars, making it easier for customers to pick up and return their vehicles. More than 4,000 Ford vehicles will be added to the Avis Budget Group fleet this year, with a further 10,000 coming in 2020 as part of the rental company’s agreement with the Blue Oval. The new, digitally connected vehicles will enable Avis customers to manage their entire experience via the Avis mobile app, including the type of car they want to rent, upgrade and extend the duration of their rental, as well as dropping off their vehicle, via a simple tap in the mobile application. The cars will feature an embedded telematics system to make this work, which also provides telemetry data, such as mileage, fuel level and vehicle condition updates, in real time, enabling a faster turnaround for customers. “Following the recent announcement of more than 35,000 Ford vehicles connected in our US fleet, this expansion of a further 14,000 connected vehicles in Europe is testament to the relationship with Ford Commercial Solutions and a significant milestone in our commitment to have a fully connected global fleet”, said Valerie Chenivesse, fleet services director international at Avis Budget Group. Ford’s embedded telematics unit is using the Transportation Mobility Cloud (TMC) open platform that doesn’t require additional third-party hardware, management or installation downtime. “Ford Data Services and the TMC make it possible to deliver real-time connectivity across a fleet, enabling new data collection and insights. These insights make daily operations more efficient for our partners and their customers”, said Dave Phatak, director of Ford Commercial Solutions in Europe. +++ 

+++ HYUNDAI is touting a bigger interior and more equipment for its latest i10, which will be unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show on Sept. 10. The i10 has a new dynamic design, as well as a comprehensive connectivity and advanced safety package, Hyundai said. Hyundai is launching the i10 with the tagline “Go big” to emphasize its larger interior, the automaker’s European marketing and sales chief, Andreas-Christoph Hofmann, said at a press event here to introduce the car. The i10’s wheelbase has been lengthened by 40 mm to 2.425 mm to increase space inside the cabin. The longer wheelbase is the second-longest in Europe’s minicar segment after the Renault Twingo’s 2.492 mm and ahead of the Volkswagen Up’s 2.407 mm. The i10’s luggage space remains the same at 252 liters, one of the best in its segment alongside the Up (251 liters) and ahead of the Twingo’s 188 liters. The i10 is 5 mm longer overall, 20 mm wider and 20 mm less tall than the outgoing model. Its wide front grille expresses a sporty character and incorporates the round LED daytime running lights. At the rear, two horizontal crease lines break up the soft surfaces of the boot and run into the taillight graphics. The i10 will remain a key model for Hyundai in Europe even though other automakers are axing their European minicars segment because of a poor profit outlook, for example Ford is dropping the Ka+ and Opel its Karl and Adam models. Hofmann said the i10 will account for about 15 % of the 560,000 cars the automaker expects to sell in Europe this year. European sales of the i10 fell 11 % to 44,921 units. The i10 will continue to be built for Europe in Izmir, Turkey. Sales start early next year. There is currently no plan to add an electrified i10 version, Hofmann said. In the medium term, an electrified variant may be “inevitable” to meet tougher CO2 emission limits, he said. For now, the i10 will be offered with gasoline engines. The 1.0-liter’s most economical version will have CO2 emissions of 112 grams per km under Europe’s WLTP tests. Hyundai has enhanced the i10’s connectivity features to try and win more young customers. It will offer an 8 inch color touchscreen, Apple Car Play and Android Auto integration, wireless charging, Bluelink Hyundai telematics with an embedded 4G modem. The i10’s current age profile “is not as young as we would like”, Hofmann said. The i10’s safety equipment will include forward collision avoidance that uses a radar sensor to detect cars and pedestrians in front of the vehicle and a rear-view camera. Lane keeping assistance and a feature to monitor driver fatigue will be standard. +++ 

+++ Paritosh Mitra, who drives a motorized rickshaw in Delhi, knows what he wants next and has saved 100,000 rupees ($1,390) to get it: an electric rickshaw. But he won’t buy one until it comes with all the basic features that he needs as a commercial driver. That includes a top speed of at least 40 km/h and convenient recharging. “There are the e-rickshaws plying the streets now but they are battery operated and have very little speed, so it is of no use to us”, Mitra said. “Also, they need 6 hours to charge the battery at home and with that they can only move about 50 km, whereas we need to move up to 150 km per day”, he told. “We need charging points where machines can be charged in 15 minutes”. He’s persuaded electric vehicles will cost less to run than using the current diesel or compressed natural gas as fuel – but he’s not making the switch just yet. The government of INDIA is pushing hard for a conversion to electric vehicles, to combat worsening pollution in cities and meet the country’s commitment to cut its climate changing emissions. The nation’s transport minister in 2017 called for a full switch to electric vehicles by 2030; something auto manufacturers have protested as too difficult, though the announcement also has ignited a rush to manufacturing everything from electric motorcycles to cars. Last month, in the face of a backlash by Indian automotive giants, a government think tank indicated the electric vehicle switch may focus first on 2-wheeled vehicles and motorized rickshaws, with a potential deadline as early as 2023. The country’s transport minister also has suggested India may consider creating new highways reserved only for electric vehicles. Still, for now, the road to a rapid switch to electric vehicles remains a bumpy one. Among those most interested in new electric vehicles are drivers of Delhi’s ubiquitous motorized rickshaws, who hope the new vehicles could help them avoid rising fuel prices. Families worried about air pollution (India has 15 of the most polluted cities in the world, including New Delhi) also are looking for alternatives. And foreign automobile and tech companies see India’s more than 1 billion people as a potentially huge market for electric vehicles, charging stations, batteries and other tech needed for an electric vehicle future. Hyundai, for instance, committed $250 million last December to build electric vehicles such as its Kona Electric in India over the next 3 years. But some of India’s own auto manufacturing giants are worried about the switch. In July, India’s government announced a tax revamp that would cut the cost of electric vehicles between 5 % and 12 %, and offer tax incentives for companies that install charging stations. Some of the country’s auto industry leaders quickly led a delegation to the finance ministry to ask that the changes be rolled back, or that all vehicles be given the same break. With buyers anticipating that electric vehicles will be mandatory, they said, their sales are slumping, with traditional fuel passenger car sales down 35 % in July compared to a year ago. That slowdown has meant the loss of 230,000 jobs, according to data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. But the government said it had no plans to reduce taxes for traditional vehicles, fearing other big Indian industries could then ask for similar breaks. For now, a few early electric vehicles are appearing on Delhi’s streets, mainly small electric cars with space for a driver and one passenger. Satish Gupta, a retired marketing executive, drives one of them and said it suits his lifestyle, but would not work for everyone. The vehicle is “much slower”, he said. “I can afford this because we are retired and this is perfect for me and my wife visiting friends. But for my son with a family of 4 persons, this is of no use. They need a conventional motorcar”, said Gupta lives in Noida, a tree-lined satellite city of New Delhi. For potential electric vehicle users, one of the biggest challenges is recharging points. In 2018, the Ministry of Power set up processes for installing charging stations but only a few are yet in place in the greater Delhi area, which has well over 20 million people. According to the website of Tata Power (an arm of the Tata Group) the company plans to install some charging infrastructure in Mumbai and Delhi but only for its own vehicles. Japan’s Okiniwa Autotech, which manufactures electric motorcycles, similarly notes on its website that it is willing to set up a network of charging points, but only for its motorbikes. +++ 

+++ MCLAREN has been quite open about researching and developing an all-electric hypercar over the past couple of years, but says it is in no rush to launch such a model and would rather wait until the technology is perfected. The automaker’s global marketing director, Jamie Corstorphine, said it is crucially important that McLaren retains a focus on lightness with its future models, including any all-electric offerings. “What we’ve previously said is that we’re working on an EV prototype in our ultimate series to understand how the characteristics and subjective feel corresponds to an EV”, he said. “It’s always our approach that it’s better to build something and drive it and understand it. Lightness is one of the core attributes at McLaren. We will maintain that philosophy to make cars as light as possible in the future. It’s all about delivering the best driving experience. McLaren is about providing a rewarding driving experience. That’s why we’re developing our prototype in terms of getting the best driving satisfaction driving an EV”. While car manufacturers such as Rimac, Pininfarina, and Lotus have all unveiled electric hypercars over the past 18 months, McLaren chief executive Mike Flewitt said in August 2018 that battery performance might not reach the level McLaren needs until the year 2025. McLaren wants its future electric hypercar to be able to do 30 minutes of full-on track use and have a charging system that can fully charge the battery in 30 minutes. +++ 

+++ “Volkswagen, family, money: in that order”. That was the world according to Ferdinand Karl PIECH , who ran Volkswagen as his own personal empire for decades. Tragically, his fortune may have been the only thing he had left at the end. The brilliant but ruthless billionaire died Sunday August 25, at age 82 for reasons believed to be natural, after collapsing while dining at a restaurant. Since he severed virtually all ties with the rest of the Porsche and Piech dynasty following a lost power struggle over Volkswagen, it remains unclear whether he will be interred with other relatives at the small chapel in the Schüttgut, the family estate in Austria’s Zell am See. A grandson of Beetle inventor Ferdinand Porsche, he launched his Volkswagen career in 1972 after running product development for the Porsche brand. 16 years later, he took control of Audi before being promoted to CEO of Volkswagen Group in 1993. As chairman of the board beginning in 2002, he effectively controlled the automaker, sacking his first successor and nearly his second. “Piëch was one of the most successful automotive entrepreneurs ever”, wrote veteran Volkswagen equity analyst Arndt Ellinghorst. The towering figure, he said, took a company that sold 3 million cars annually and transformed it into one that sat atop the industry selling 10 million a year. The Austrian saved Volkswagen in the early 1990s by introducing a comprehensive platform strategy across its various brands to cut costs, which has since become the group’s greatest engineering strength. Under Piëch, models such as the Audi A3 and Skoda Octavia shared the same underpinnings as the Volkswagen Golf for the first time, making the PQ34 the forerunner for today’s MQB and MEB architectures. He was the driving force behind the acquisition of Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini, truckmakers Scania and MAN and finally Ducati, the Italian motorcycle manufacturer bought for him as a birthday present, officials said privately at the time. Piëch engineered cars that pushed the envelope of the technologically possible: The original Audi Quattro with its revolutionary permanent all-wheel drive that propelled it up a Finnish ski jump; the 1.000 hp Bugatti Veyron and everyone’s favorite Le Mans-crushing icon, the Porsche 917. “He brought quality and perfection down to the last detail in the automotive industry, deeply anchoring it in our DNA”, Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess said in a statement. In commemoration, flags will fly at half-staff at VW Group sites including Wolfsburg and Ingolstadt. In his quest for technological superiority, Piëch was willing to risk it all. The 917 nearly bankrupted Porsche, leading to an unbending rule that still bars family members from serving in management. The expensive multilink rear suspension standard on his Golf V hobbled the brand for years. And the Phaeton that was his baby ranks as the biggest commercial flop in the brand’s history. His over-engineered cars meant for the demanding speeds on the German autobahn proved a difficult sell when imported to the U.S., however, and it became a common joke that Volkswagen failed to grasp the importance of cupholders to American commuters. When successor Bernd Pischetsrieder pulled Piëch’s Phaeton from the market because of abysmal sales and heavy losses, insiders at the company said that was the final straw for Piëch and prompted Pischetsrieder’s eventual sacking. “Volkswagen treated the U.S. like an emerging market, like it was an outpost”, remembered Michelle Krebs, director of automotive relations at The reputation that it simply expected customers to buy its cars because engineers told them they should was a legacy of Piëch’s tenure, and setting wildly unrealistic targets such as the 800,000 annual VW sales goal under protege Martin Winterkorn symbolized its “almost arrogant” approach. “Volkswagen was so centralized, barking out orders from Germany as to what should happen in the U.S. market without really understanding the market or their position in it”, Krebs said. Piëch’s death comes 1 year after the industry lost Fiat Chrysler Automobiles boss Sergio Marchionne, another giant who formed his own automotive empire from the smoldering ruins of bankrupt U.S. automaker Chrysler. Whereas Marchionne was an iconoclast who never ceased to question the tenets of the industry in the name of shareholder value, Piëch was the polar opposite: the last true car guy. Not only did he embody what the FCA boss saw as excessive and even wasteful engineering spending, he practically celebrated it. It is perhaps unsurprising that the duo shared a personal rivalry. Piëch made numerous overtures for Alfa Romeo, trying to shame Marchionne into selling the storied but mismanaged brand he so coveted. Indeed, it proved one of the few plans he left unfinished. In the end, Piëch leaves a legacy that firmly places him in the pantheon of industry revolutionaries such as Henry Ford. He may not have invented the car like Carl Benz, but he certainly shaped it in his own image. “RIP Ferdinand Piëch. He was a Titan of the car world”, tweeted Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer. Piëch’s demanding nature also meant that anyone who failed to meet his expectations or crossed him would invariably fall victim to his wrath. The list of casualties was as long and illustrious as his accomplishments and no one was safe; especially his handpicked successors. Often all that was needed was for Piëch to utter a thinly veiled criticism in his characteristically taciturn speech, and it was only a matter of time before they were done for. “Piëch was exceptionally results driven and accepted few excuses for failure”, wrote Ellinghorst. Critics say it was this unforgiving approach that helped foster a secretive corporate culture resulting in not one but 2 earth-shattering scandals during his watch as chairman. First came revelations of systemic corruption among senior labor union officials financed by off-book embezzled funds over a decade ago, and then the dieselemissions fraud that has cost Volkswagen roughly €30 billion to date. In April 2015, shortly before the scandal emerged, Piëch abruptly broke with then CEO Martin Winterkorn. By that time, he had become increasingly infirm and, like Apple’s Steve Jobs, his health became a constant source of speculation. Perhaps for that reason, he failed to muster enough support on the board to remove Winterkorn and resigned. It was a mark of his reputation that some journalists and analysts still forecast a triumphant return, especially amid the leadership vacuum that followed the diesel crisis. In subsequent years, sources close to the family speculate it was bitterness that led to him allegedly providing testimony that incriminated other members of the board, including his powerful cousin Wolfgang Porsche. The latter, a key VW director representing the family’s interests, had said earlier this year the 2 were not on speaking terms despite both living in Salzburg. Eventually, even Piëch’s own brother Hans Michel sided with the other half of the family, and a pact was forged 2 years ago that saw Ferdinand sell his $1 billion-plus stake in the family’s investment vehicle that controls VW to his younger sibling. Never once did Piëch reveal his motivations behind the falling out, instead remaining an enigma to all around him. Many who worked closely with him would never profess to actually knowing him, not even members of his extended family such as Wolfgang, who were often targets of his derision. Piëch famously belittled the Porsche clan for lacking drive, claiming they were far more interested in “knitting, crocheting and playing the flute”. He even stole the wife of his cousin Gerhard Porsche, only to leave her for their nanny. He leaves behind at least 12 acknowledged children from 4 women, yet is not known to be close to any save for those he fathered with his final wife, Ursula. One son even seemed to openly defy him when presenting at this year’s Geneva auto show his own Piëch Zero production car built entirely without his father’s support or knowledge. In a statement that was both respectful yet devoid of nostalgia, Wolfgang Porsche said he “shared many memories” with Piëch, citing specifically their boardroom struggle for control over Volkswagen; a struggle in which they more often than not stood on opposing sides. “We grieve with the family of Ferdinand K. Piëch, the extraordinary manager and engineer, the strategist and quite simply the auto enthusiast that he was during his lifetime”, said Porsche. Death is an inevitability, but it still seems somehow impossible to imagine that the Grim Reaper proved even more implacable than Piëch himself. Perhaps that iron will of his was nothing without a purpose. Bereft of Volkswagen at the end of his days, Piëch chose submission for once in his life. In that sense, the greatest tragedy was that Piëch died estranged from the one enduring center of his universe: Volkswagen. +++ 

+++ The PORSCHE 718 Cayman and 718 Boxster are the “right cars to start electrification in sports cars”, according to Porsche deputy chairman Lutz Meschke. He said the 718 would certainly go down a pure-electric route rather than any form of hybrid. “We need to start thinking about electric cars in the sports car segment. An electric 718 could be a very good step in the future”. Meschke added that a new electric platform would be created for an electric 718, which would then be shared with the wider Volkswagen Group, rather than sitting on the Taycan’s existing PPE platform, shared with Audi. “Sports cars are part of our history; we can’t just offer electrified SUVs”. Porsche sports cars aren’t particularly popular in the EV-focused Chinese market, accounting for only 10 % of Porsche sales, but Meschke said there would be demand for an electric sports car in both Europe and America. He added: “I think we will see limited access in European cities for combustion-engined cars. There must be a response from Porsche so that we can have sports cars in cities”. However, the 718 will not be offered only as an electric model. It will continue with 4-cylinder variants and is also likely to add 6-cylinder engines. Porsche boss Oliver Blume said: “We have ideas for more 6-cylinder versions of the 718. If you look at the success of the GT4 Spider, we see the potential. We have different demands in different markets. Chinese buyers want the 4-cylinder 718, but in the US, they love the 6-cylinder”. Before the arrival of an electric 718, 3 electric Porsche models will be on sale: the Taycan, unveiled yesterday, plus the Taycan Cross Turismo, due late next year, and an electric variant of the Macan, launching in 2022. Porsche predicts that 60 % of its sales will be electrified models by 2025. +++ 

+++ An upmarket Mazda sedan, a fighting-spec GRMN Toyota Supra and the next-generation Subaru BRZ / Toyota GT86 are headed for previews at this year’s TOKYO MOTOR SHOW before rolling out in 2021 and 2022. Mazda showed the Vision Coupe concept at the 2017 Tokyo show, then sneaked a mention of a rear and allwheel drive “Large Architecture” and 2 inline-6 engines into a 2019 investor’s report. The concept’s production version will house a 3.0-liter Skyactiv-X SPCCI inline-6 with “M-Hybrid” 48 volt assistance. Output figures remain a mystery, but engineers are aiming for 345 hp. The real deal isn’t slated for dealers until 2022, bringing what Mazda bills as a “BMW, Audi quality car at the price of Volkswagen”. The Hiroshima automaker is laying out a 2-door version on the same platform. Not even a month after Toyota Supra chief engineer Tetsuya Tada told me: “with a sports car, the promise is to offer more performance with each additional version”, the full-fat GRMN Supra will raise the stakes. Expected in the latter stages of 2021, the current 340 hp Supra will get an “output eventually close to 400 hp” from its BMW-source 3.0-liter straight-6. Along with that will come a lighter, stiffer body, and a sportier suspension tune to manage and make the most of the 60 hp increase. The next-generation Toyota GT86 / Subaru BRZ will move to a new platform, without specifying whether it would be Toyota’s TNGA platform suggested by a report in April (not that there are many other options). Neither the footprint nor the body dimensions are predicted to change, and transmissions will continue to include a 6-speed manual and a 6-speed automatic. The new platform will hold a new engine, although it won’t be the revelation many fans want. The Subaru 2.0-liter FA20 will retire, making way for the Subaru 2.4-liter FA24. The FA24 is the same engine in the Ascent crossover, where it produces 260 hp and 380 Nm. +++ 

+++ TOYOTA feared turning into the next General Motors (GM) when it passed the U.S. automaker to become the world’s largest, by annual volume, in 2008. No doubt president Akio Toyoda and his managers were relieved when the Volkswagen Group passed Toyota to take first place a few years later. The VW Group now is leading the march from internal-combustion engines to electric vehicles but being number one isn’t doing it any favors. Electric and automated vehicle technology (think self-driving electric city cars) cut into every major automaker’s bottom line, let alone one that has suffered more than $30 billion in fines so far in the U.S. and European Union as a result of the diesel cheating scandal. GM and Ford are paying for electric / autonomous vehicle (EV/AV) development with fat pickup and SUV profits. Toyota is, well, Toyota, known for efficiently making mainstream cars and trucks that last forever. It has long been a profit-making machine, churning out high-volume models on its own while it teams up with smaller manufacturers for niche segments. But the EV/AV investments are huge, and as any short-seller of Tesla shares will tell you, slim on profits. The big automakers, the VW Group, Toyota, GM, Ford, Nissan, Honda, Daimler, BMW, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and even Hyundai are vulnerable to uncertainty of the coming decade. The smaller automakers are especially so. Japan probably should have just 3 survivors: Toyota with Lexus, Daihatsu and Hino; Nissan with Infiniti; and Honda with Acura. None of the others are at the forefront of EV/AV development, though Mitsubishi has shown some strength in plug-in hybrids lately, especially after it was folded into the Nissan-Renault Alliance. Toyota is seen as a sort of Japanese auto industry godfather, stepping in when the smaller companies are in trouble, such as when GM sold off its minority interest in Subaru and Isuzu after the American automaker’s 2009 bankruptcy. Toyota took a stake in Fuji Heavy Industries (now officially called Subaru) and they jointly developed the Toyota GT86 / Subaru BRZ. The Subaru Ascent was supposed to be built on the Highlander platform, which would have meant an inline-4 and maybe a V6, instead of its turbocharged flat-4 engine, but in the end Subaru developed its big SUV itself. Toyota isn’t becoming GM or the next VW Group. It’s not swallowing up smaller Japanese manufacturers or becoming a controlling interest, which would mean taking just a 33.4 % stake under the country’s business law. Under the capital alliance announced August 27, Toyota will purchase $908 million in Suzuki shares, or a 4.8 percent stake, and Suzuki will purchase $455 million in Toyota shares, or about 0.2 percent. Toyota has come under criticism for choosing to partner with BMW on development of the new Z4-based Supra sports car, but it has long favored sharing manufacturing and development resources. Yamaha built the 2000GT sports car for Toyota, and the 2 have long collaborated on engine development and manufacturing, motorsports, and marine engines. Next up following the GT86 / BRZ project with Subaru is Toyota’s new Alabama factory shared with Mazda, where the latter will build an all-new SUV based on Toyota’s very flexible TNGA architecture. One rumor has it that Mazda, which is well behind most of the industry in EV and hybrid development, will power its new model with an electric motor and a Wankel rotary range-extending engine, while the Toyota coming from the same factory will be a new subcompact SUV with more conservative styling compared with the C-HR, and with hybrid and all-wheel-drive options (Toyota itself has concentrated on hybrids and fuel cells, to the detriment of EV development). What will Toyota get out of its deal with Suzuki? Suzuki is known as the kei-car manufacturer for most of the Japanese industry. These are the 600cc-powered runabouts sold mostly to farmers and other residents of rural Japan. Subcompact hatchbacks seem to be gaining favor in the world’s population centers, especially when reconstituted as crossovers, but Toyota does own Daihatsu, so it doesn’t need help there. Enthusiasts will hope Toyota can find a way to export the new Suzuki Jimny off-roader, the subcompact Wrangler that Jeep should have built, to the U.S., but I doubt it has been designed to accept the modifications it likely needs to meet American crash and emissions standards. I suspect the underlying motives for Toyota’s deal with Suzuki first relate to the protective attitude the Japanese government has toward the auto industry. The Japanese auto industry looked ready to rule the world by the time of the 1992 global recession, and Japan’s subsequent quarter-century-plus of economic malaise. Now, that country’s industry remains much bigger than Japan alone, but it’s not influential in every market; mostly just the considerable markets of Asia-Pacific and North America. Whereas the U.S. and Germany each have 3 major manufacturers left, Japan has 8 manufacturers. Anywhere else save for the emerging Chinese and Indian industries, the smaller manufacturers should have either gone out of business or let themselves be swallowed up by Toyota, Honda, or Nissan. Instead, Toyota is making the kind of minority ownership alliances that U.S. and European automakers dream of (and which Volkswagen and Ford seem to have achieved). Japan’s government remains protective of its singular auto industry. If its locally dominant automaker, Toyota, can smooth out market fluctuations by rationalizing assembly-plant output and maintaining a stable supply chain with these alliances, Japan might remain the only developed economy that can survive the uncertainty of the 2020s auto industry with a Big Three that are not the Only Three. +++ 

+++ VOLKSWAGEN has accepted more than 30,000 reservations of the upcoming ID.3 First Edition, which is set to celebrate its world premiere at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The German car maker has been accepting non-binding reservations for the launch edition of the ID.3 electric compact model since May in the form of a €1,000 deposit. “Before the IAA, we have already reached our target of 30,000 reservations for the ID.3 First Edition”, said Jürgen Stackmann, head of sales and marketing for the Volkswagen brand. “This success shows that the ID.3 is coming at precisely the right time. More and more people want to switch over to e-mobility”. The ID.3 is the first member of VW’s new family of EVs. The upcoming electric car will be offered with 3 different battery sizes; a base 45 kWh version that offers 330 km of range, a mid-level 58 kWh version that can cover 420 km and a range-topping 77kWh model that will offer 550 km out of a full charge. First Edition models will feature the 58 kWh battery pack and offer exclusive design details and more kit, as well as 1 year of free charging at all public charging points connected to Volkswagen’s WeCharge mobile app and on the Ionity fast-charging network. Pricing for one of the ID.3 First Edition models is expected to be set under €40,000 while the entry-level version of the ID.3 is expected to be priced under the €30,000 mark in Germany. ”People who are still interested in an ID.3 First Edition or an early model in the production series should still register with us”, adds Stackmann. “Our markets are keeping waiting lists for potential purchasers. Experience indicates that there may still be some movement on the waiting list up to the deadline for binding orders”. The ID.3 will make its world debut in full-production guise at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Production is set to begin at the end of 2019, with the first customer vehicles to be delivered in mid-2020. The Volkswagen Group aims to build a new warehouse to store high-voltage traction batteries as part of a plan to “significantly expand” its aftersales business amid a projected rise in electric-vehicle demand in the next decade. The sale of original equipment replacement parts for repair and maintenance, a major part of overall aftersales, may not be a glamorous side of the industry, but experts say it is extremely lucrative business whose margins are a closely guarded secret. Volkswagen said EVs will have a negative effect on the business all things being equal, as repair costs are forecast to be 20-30 % lower due to the reduced mechanical complexity and less wear and tear. “For a long time now, aftersales has been an important source of support for Volkswagen Group profits. In view of the transformation towards electric mobility and digitalization, we are hard at work to ensure that remains the case in the future as well”, said Christian Dahlheim, head of group sales. Volkswagen forecast its fleet of cars on global roads will grow by half to 150 million vehicles by 2030, of which 10-15 % are expected to be electrified. Dahlheim says this surge in its onroad vehicle fleet will help more than compensate for the lost repair work from EVs and help original equipment aftersales to considerably increase both its top-line and bottom-line results. Revenue generated from this business rose 1.9 % last year to €15.9 billion; faster than the pace seen by the delivery of passenger cars. It accounts for nearly 7 % of the company’s overall €236 billion turnover. In order to better service EV customers, the group will create new warehousing space for high-voltage traction batteries and key battery subcomponents like modules at its German site in Kassel, where it currently has over 1.2 million square meters of space. Volkswagen will offer a guarantee for its ID family that ensures at least 70 % of its battery capacity will remain operable after 8 years or 160,000 kilometers. Nonetheless, VW expects a rising number will be needed, for example in the event of a crash that could compromise the structural integrity of the battery pack. By 2025, the group expects to sell as many as 3 million electrified vehicles annually and a quarter of its European volumes will come from this side of the powertrain portfolio. +++

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