Newsflash III

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+++ AUDI SPORT will significantly broaden its line-up. 6 new models will be introduced before 2019 is out. 2 are Audi’s prominent Frankfurt motor show debutants: the new generation RS6 Avant and RS7 Sportback. We can also expect RS versions of the new Q3 and Q3 Sportback, alongside a facelifted version of the RS4 to round out the updated A4 range, and a range-topping RS Q8. Stirred into action by the success of performance SUV ranges from rivals BMW M and Mercedes-AMG, newly appointed managing director Oliver Hoffmann previously confirmed that Audi Sport will begin offering range-topping RS versions of nearly every SUV model in the Audi line-up, starting with the heavily anticipated RS Q8. He said: “We have to stretch our portfolio and the SUV segment is the segment with the most growth. There is high demand from our customers for high-performance SUVs. The RS Q8 we will launch this year. There is really, really high demand for this type of car”. +++

+++ We’ve already seen that BMW is planning a facelift for the 5 Series so it should come as no surprise that the 6 Series GT is also in for a refresh. Formerly known as the 5 Series GT, the 6 Series GT launched only 2 years ago but the automaker is already working on a makeover as sales have been disappointing so far. As with the facelifted 5 Series, the 6 Series GT will sport a refreshed front end and a very subtle update to the back. We can expect a new (and possibly bigger) grille, fresh bumpers and redesigned headlights with a new LED signature. The interior is expected to remain largely the same given that the 6 Series GT is only 2 years old, save for some trim and color updates. However, BMW could operate some changes to the infotainment system and give the Gran Turismo model the latest 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 10.25-inch infotainment system from the 8 Series. As for the powertrains, expect the same updates as for the 5 Series which means we could see a plug-in hybrid 6 Series GT come facelift time. +++ 

+++ Automobile production in BRAZIL jumped 14.2 % and sales grew 9.1 % in July from June, the best performance for the month since 2014, the national automakers’ association Anfavea said. Brazil’s auto industry is recovering from a crushing depression that cost the country its place as 1 of the world’s 5 biggest auto markets, even as automakers are still struggling with low margins. Auto exports to depressed Argentina, Brazil’s largest foreign destination for its cars, are down 38.4 % so far in 2019 compared to a year ago, Anfavea said. Trade rules in Brazil are changing under a right-wing government that has promised to open up one of the world’s largest but most closed economies. Automakers are figuring out what to do following an initial trade deal with the European Union, as well as changes in trade rules with Mexico, both of which could usher a flood of foreign vehicles into the country. Anfavea president Luiz Carlos Moraes told that 87.9 % of Brazil’s auto market is fulfilled with domestically-made cars. He said Brazil already has a lot of competition, but said that automakers struggle with high and complex taxes that Anfavea is pushing to change. Automakers in Brazil produced some 266,400 new cars and trucks last month, while new vehicle sales totaled 243,600 vehicles, according to Anfavea data. Compared to a year ago, auto output rose 8.4 % percent and sales climbed 12 %. +++ 

+++ Just 2 months after FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES (FCA) left Renault at the altar, its CEO is dropping hints he’s prepared to play the field. Booming U.S. truck sales are fueling better-than-expected profit, and the Italian-American automaker has the breadth of brands to maintain momentum, CEO Mike Manley told reporters. But much like his late predecessor, Sergio Marchionne, the FCA boss doesn’t shy away from deal talk. “There’s little in the marketplace that is not covered by the portfolio we have, as long as we do the things right that we need to get right”, Manley told reporters at Fiat’s U.S. headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan. “Could we accelerate something with a complimentary additional brand? The answer to that, of course, is ‘Yes’ ”. While Manley discussed there being prospects for a range of options, from all-out mergers to further collaboration with tech companies, Fiat has no acquisition plans at this time, a spokesman said. Manley faces plenty of challenges, from turning around troubled operations in Europe and China to remaking the money-losing Maserati unit. But just as Marchionne did, he’s making the case that Fiat has scratched its way back to a healthy position and could get even stronger by tapping others for scale and technological expertise. Manley said Fiat has proved it’s agile enough to adapt when things don’t go according to plan. In the meantime, while the “industrial logic” of the Renault deal is still there (it would have created a business with combined market value of about €35 billion), the French carmaker isn’t the only game in town. Possibilities range from the more-comprehensive proposal FCA made to Renault for cooperation and partnerships, he said. “So are they the only opportunity? The answer to that question would be a definitive ‘No’ ”. Some analysts suspect FCA hasn’t given up on a deal with Renault, and that its latest earnings served as a calling card to its Parisian paramour. “Be in no doubt, these results are also aimed at sending a message to Renault and to the French government”, Bernstein analyst Max Warburton wrote in a July 31 research note. “The message is simple: We have a very profitable NAFTA business, strong finances and positive cash flow, and a European business that would benefit from a strategic solution”. One of the most enduring legacies of Marchionne’s decade-long tenure at the helm of FCA is that he turned it into a house of brands and staked the company’s future on 2 in particular: Jeep and Ram. Manley, who rose to prominence as head of Jeep and later Ram, is counting on them to provide the cash he needs to catch up with peers on electric investments and infuse Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Fiat with fresh product after years of neglect, he said. “I think about where we were in the U.S. 5 of 6 years ago and the confidence that I have in Europe is that we have the ability to change the profile of some of the things that we are doing in a similar way”, he said. Jeep still has “headroom” to grow in Europe, and adding product will help with FCA’s dismal utilization rates at its factories there, Manley said. He also plans to expand Fiat’s lineup in China, not only with electrified models to meet electric vehicle mandates but also with “white space” vehicles the company can produce locally to improve efficiency and cost. Accomplishing all this won’t be easy. European auto sales are tanking, China (where Fiat has what Manley calls a “tiny” share) is experiencing a historic slump, and North America, the company’s earnings powerhouse, has reached the end of a decade-long expansion. +++ 

+++ Slumping sales of cars and motorcycles are triggering massive job cuts in the auto sector of INDIA , with many companies forced to shut down factories for days and axe shifts, multiple sources said. The cull has been so extensive that one senior industry source told that initial estimates suggest that automakers, parts manufacturers and dealers have laid off about 350,000 workers since April. Within this previously unreported figure, car and motorcycle makers have laid off 15,000 and component manufacturers 100,000, with the remaining job losses at dealers, many of which have closed, the industry source said. There are at least 5 companies that have recently cut or plan to cut hundreds of jobs, mainly from their temporary labor force. The downturn (regarded by industry executives as the worst suffered by the Indian auto industry) is posing a big challenge for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government as it begins its second term at a time when India’s jobless numbers are climbing. To revive the sector, auto executives plan to demand tax cuts and easier access to financing for both dealers and consumers at a meeting with officials from India’s finance ministry, the senior industry source said. The industry’s plight was highlighted by the Automotive Component Manufactures Association of India (ACMA), with the trade body’s director general, Vinnie Mehta, saying the sector was experiencing a “recessionary phase”. The malaise has been spreading across much of the industry, both in terms of vehicle type and components as well as geographically in India’s manufacturing hubs. For example motorcycle maker Yamaha and auto components makers including Valeo and Subros have laid off about 1,700 temporary workers in India after a slump in sales, sources. Subros, which is part-owned by Denso and Suzuki, has laid off 800 workers. Indian parts maker Vee Gee Kaushiko has cut 500 people while Yamaha and Valeo last month reduced their workforces by 200 each, said several sources aware of the cuts. Meanwhile, automotive supplier Wheels India could cut its temporary workforce by as much as 800 and has started realigning its shifts, 2 of the sources said. The layoffs come as carmakers including Honda, Tata Motors and Mahindra have suspended production in recent weeks in the face of slow demand, separate sources said. The auto sector, which contributes more than 7 % of India’s GDP, is facing one of its worst downturns. Passenger vehicle sales have dropped for 9 straight months through July, with some automakers suffering year-on-year declines of more than 30 % in recent months. Manpower is the only variable factor for companies and more workers will face the axe, said ACMA’s Mehta. Valeo India said it is realigning for changing conditions and has trimmed its temporary workforce. +++ 

+++ The Aventador has been in the market since 2011, and while its 2016 facelift has improved it, it is basically getting on a bit. Nevertheless, its replacement might not arrive until 2024. I’ve known for quite some time that the successor to LAMBORGHINI ’s flagship was in the works, with all the signs pointing towards it being a hybridized V12. There was a time when the VW Group product strategy committee intended on Lamborghini launching the new supercar in 2020, but that date was soon pushed back to 2021, then 2022 and now, apparently, has been delayed for another couple of years. It is claimed that Audi (who oversees the Italian brand in the German group’s chain of command) isn’t overly keen on spending the money required to update the Aventador’s V12 to meet EU7 emissions standards, but want to use a hybridized V8 instead. This would be largely the same 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that powers various VW Group models, including the Lamborghini Urus. VW’s bean counters allegedly believe that successors to the Aventador and Huracan should be based around the same carbon fiber chassis and share the same electronic architecture, steering, suspension and brake elements. Developing these 2 new cars and retaining a V12 at the same time will allegedly cost $900 million. However, it is reported that Lamborghini believes it can do all of this for about $450 million, roughly $55 million of which could be needed to get its 6.5-liter V12 to comply with the new emissions standards. There is, though, a chance that Lamborghini may introduce re-skinned versions of the current Huracan and Aventador to extend their life cycles by another 4 years. That’s a stopgap solution, but probably better than leaving them unchanged for so long. +++ 

+++ LAND ROVER is readying an all-new version of its flagship Range Rover, and prototypes are now being tested on UK roads. These testmules are wearing adapted bodywork of the existing model with different suspension and exhaust components visible. It has a BMW sourced 4.4-litre petrol V8 engine under its bonnet. Earlier rumours that Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) would make use of the turbocharged 8-cylinder in future offerings were fuelled further by a report that the 2 firms had agreed on a wide-ranging combustion engine partnership beyond their existing agreement to produce electrified powertrains together. Production of the outgoing ‘AJ’ 5.0-litre supercharged motor is also winding down at Ford’s Bridgend factory, which will close next year. JLR, overcoming various financial setbacks, is seeking greater economies of scale and less pressure to invest in future powertrains alone. With 6-cylinder diesel units also expected to come from BMW’s stable, it remains to be seen whether (as previously expected) Jaguar Land Rover’s recently launched Ingenium straight-6 will feature in the new Range Rover. The prototype also featured stretched rear arches and a cutout in the rear bumper, necessary to accommodate the slightly longer wheelbase of the new underpinnings. With competition from the Bentley Bentayga and Rolls-Royce Cullinan as well as upcoming, more mainstream models such as the BMW X8, Land Rover’s task with the fifth-generation Range Rover is to create a vehicle that surpasses all of these rivals. It will attempt do so using not only its unique heritage but also technological advancements in powertrains, autonomous driving systems and infotainment. Last year, the firm revealed that the upcoming Range Rover, alongside the next Range Rover Sport, will use an all-new, aluminium-intensive architecture. To prepare for these models, its Solihull plant has gone through a major refit to accommodate the advanced technology that will be used in future Range Rovers. As a result, production of the Discovery has moved from Solihull to Jaguar Land Rover’s new plant in Nitra, Slovakia, also freeing up room for the potential production of the first electric Range Rovers. The new Range Rover platform will be significantly lighter than the current model’s D7u architecture and the lightest of all Jaguar Land Rover platforms. Called Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA), the aluminium platform will be used on all future Jaguar Land Rover models ranging in size from the Jaguar XE to the Range Rover. MLA’s weight saving is crucial to allow for the extra heft of battery packs for electric and hybrid models, plus the technology and drivetrains that MLA has been designed to accommodate. It is understood the next Range Rover, codenamed L460, will closely match the size of the current car, which is 4999 mm long, 1983 mm wide and 1920 mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2922 mm. That is slightly smaller than the Bentayga except in terms of height, where the Bentley SUV sits lower. The exterior design will be evolutionary, given the Range Rover’s iconic look and the company’s keenness to capitalise on this. The current generation is softer and less angular than the third-generation model, and this pattern is set to continue. Luxury rivals such as Rolls-Royce and Lagonda, Aston Martin’s revived marque, are readying electric models for launch, perceiving a perfect synergy between peaceful electric powertrains and luxury motoring. However, even though MLA can accommodate a fully electric drivetrain, as well as petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid variants, it is understood that the next Range Rover will not initially be offered with one. Instead, Land Rover wants the first electric Range Rover to be a stand-alone model. This will be a tall estate with more car-like qualities than other models in the line-up, and more limited off-road prowess. Electric variants of other Range Rovers will subsequently be offered as part of normal model line-ups, including a version of the full-size Range Rover set for launch before 2022 and aimed chiefly at Asian megacities. While Land Rover readies an electric Range Rover, the new model will continue with plug-in hybrid technology recently introduced in an update to the existing Range Rover. +++ 

+++ Fiat Chrysler Automobiles chief executive Mike MANLEY may have been at the company’s helm for only a year now, but he is preparing to push the car manufacturer forward just a decade since its infamous bankruptcy. The driving force behind FCA’s newfound success is Jeep and, according to Manley, the brand’s earnings giant will be a key contributor into how the company grows and develops in the coming years. “We’re able to deliver very, very solid financial and cash-generative results with plenty of opportunity which is why I think we’ve got a strong future ahead of us”, Manley said in an interview. “Jeep has been part of the driving force of the improvement in our profitability over the last few years. And it remains the key brand for us today. Not just now, but going forward”. Manley took the top job at FCA just days before the demise of Sergio Marchionne and looked to quickly continue where the former industry giant had left off. Among the first things on his agenda were to settle claims that Ram and Jeep diesel engines had used illegal software to cheat emissions testing. In addition, Manley asked company lawyers to negotiate a settlement with federal prosecutors investigating if FCA executives had conspired to pay bribes and break labor laws with United Auto Works. After these issues were dealt with, the carmaker briefly looked set to join forces with Renault, but we all know how that ended. Manley says that the next decade will be filled with changes FCA will have to adapt to due to how rapidly the industry is developing in the age of automation and electric powertrains. “The changes in our industry are inevitable. Now we can make investments in different parts of our business. The investment in electrification is non-discretionary. You have no choice but to invest”, Manley says. “We would like to get a degree of certainty and to understand what the world looks like. We can adapt. We will adapt. Certainty is important in our business because of the length of the investments we make”. FCA will continue to push through ongoing trade uncertainties with new and exciting models, particularly those from Jeep such as a new small SUV, a new 3-row Grand Cherokee, and the long-awaited Jeep Grand Wagoneer. +++ 

+++ Losses have deepened for troubled MASERATI , which will not return to profitability before 2020 after its next product offensive starts, executives at parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) said. The luxury car brand plans to debut 10 new or revised models between 2020 and 2023. Maserati posted a €119 million loss as it cut production to reduce dealer stocks by 3,000 vehicles and wrote down residual values in the U.S. Those 2 actions weighed heavily on Maserati during the quarter. Maserati slashed shipments to dealers 46 % to 4,200 cars in the second quarter while unit sales declined 17 % to 7,200 vehicles. FCA chief financial officer Richard Palmer said dealer stocks of Maserati’s aging lineup would be reduced further during the second half of 2019. By year-end, the automaker wants to have enough supply to cover 2 to 2,5 months, down from 5 months at the end of 2018. FCA boss Mike Manley called Maserati’s sales volume “disappointing,” and said the third and fourth quarters would also be difficult for the brand before things improve next year. On the bright side, Maserati’s Q2 unit sales decline was an improvement on the 32 % slide during in the first 3 months of this year and was the brand’s smallest drop in the last 10 quarters. Margins in North America also improved in the second quarter, Manley added. Analysts were less impressed with Maserati’s performance. In a note to investors Alliance Bernstein’s Max Warburton said the automaker’s “problems become ever more apparent as the products wither in the market, falling far short of original ambitions”. Warburton was making a reference to the goal from FCA’s business plan covering 2014-2018, which predicted Maserati’s vehicle sales would rise to 75,000. Instead, they peaked at 48,700 in 2017 before slipping to 35,300 last year. Maserati’s first-half volume of 13,500 vehicles is 25 % below its volume from the same period last year. In June 2018, Maserati set new targets: annual sales of 100,000 vehicles and a 15 % operating margin by 2022. Steven Reitman of Societe Generale said during the call that Maserati’s results show “the unrealistic expectations” of the past. “Given Maserati’s asset base and given the volumes you’re realistically getting from these vehicles when you don’t overstock the dealers, do you think you have to look at impairments to bring asset value more in line with the sales level?” Reitman said to FCA chief financial officer Palmer during the call. Palmer said Maserati’s sales are extremely sensitive to volumes, adding that “it doesn’t take a lot to improve once we get more engagement from the dealer body and more visibility on some models”. Maserati will count on a familiar executive and a new arrival to the team to fix the brand’s business. Former boss Harald Wester returned to Maserati in late 2018. As CEO he will work closely with new chief operating officer Davide Grasso, a marketing expert who Manley recruited from Nike. Those 2 will oversee the debut of 10 new or refreshed products between 2020 and 2023. Maserati’s revised portfolio that will include the launch of a new sports car as well as updates to the Ghibli, Quattroporte and Levante next year. In 2021, Maserati plans to add an SUV below the Levante, a cabriolet version of the new sports car and the Granturismo coupe’s successor. The GranCabrio and Quattroporte successors are due in 2022 while the next-generation Levante should launch in 2023. Maserati’s new and revised models are expected to offer plug-in hybrid variants, FCA said. +++ 

+++ Daimler said MERCEDES-BENZ customers in Germany could apply for a €3,000 subsidy to upgrade the exhaust filters of older, polluting diesel vehicles, the latest effort among German carmakers to avoid inner-city bans. Carmakers have been forced to consider upgrading exhaust treatment systems on older cars after German cities started banning heavily polluting diesel vehicles to cut fine particulate matter and toxic nitrogen oxides. Daimler launched a website to process applications for financial support, as German motor authority KBA seeks to approve an after-market kit to upgrade the exhaust systems on various Mercedes diesel passenger vehicles. The company has offered the subsidy to customers in German regions that face potential driving bans, the carmaker said. The first retrofit kit for Mercedes cars with Euro 5 diesel engines, including the best-selling E 220d and E 250d models, has been developed by Dr Pley SCR Technology, a Bavaria-based, family-owned business. It will cost around €3,000 to buy and install. German carmakers initially offered software updates and shied away from endorsing hardware retrofits, instead lobbying for customers to buy new cars with cleaner engines. But consumer groups pressured carmakers to endorse retrofits as a more cost-effective measure. “We have known right from the start that retrofits are feasible and have now proved this to the carmakers”, said Thomas Steinbrückner, head of development at Dr Pley SCR Technology. +++ 

+++ There’s been plenty of reporting about the death of the sedan, but worldwide they still sell in relatively large numbers. That certainly isn’t the case with MPV cars as just 364,000 units were sold in the United States last year. MPVs used to be a staple of the automotive landscape and virtually every automaker offered at least one, even Mazda and. Some even offered several as Chrysler had the Town & Country, Dodge Grand Caravan and Plymouth Voyager. Like stationwagons before, the winds of change hit MPVs hard as American consumers decided to embrace crossovers and SUVs. Sales have fallen 966,000 units from their peak in 2000. The declining sales saw a number of automakers exit the segment including Ford and General Motors. Now the market is largely dominated by just a handful of models including the Chrysler Pacifica, Dodge Grand Caravan, Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. Despite the drastic drop in sales, MPVs aren’t going away. FCA’s North American head of passenger cars, Tim Kuniskis, told “There is nothing else that can compete with a MPV” as “nothing touches it” from a people and cargo hauling perspective. It’s also worth mentioning that minivans are typically more fuel-efficient than the crossovers that have effectively replaced them. Part of the reason MPVs will solider on is there isn’t much competition. As Kuniskis explained, other segments might have sales of over 1 million units annually but they’re filled with 20 or more competitors. With just 3 main automakers fighting over 300,000+ sales, there’s enough to keep everyone happy. Another factor keeping MPVs around is they’re quiet cash cows. While they might not bring in $50,000 to $60,000 like full-size pickups, MPVs have high profit margins and can easily cost more than $40,000. As Edmunds’ senior manager of industry insights, Jeremy Acevedo, joked “Balloons rain from the sky every time they sell an Odyssey”. Interestingly, MPVs might have a bright future as millennials grew up with them and are now having children of their own. MPVs have also become popular test beds for autonomous vehicles as they offer plenty of space for ride-hailing applications. +++ 

+++ The introduction of the Battista at the Geneva Motor Show has given Automobili PININFARINA the desire to come up with more models, with a sedan and an SUV being on the list. The Mahindra-owned brand’s CEO, Michael Perschke, revealed its plans of building the 2 models. “It’s our clear strategic intent to become a significant player in the hypercar and super-luxury segment”, Perschke said. “We have a very clear intent to not remain a 1-hit wonder”. Rather than developing a platform from scratch, the exec revealed that they’re looking at possible partners in the automotive industry to team up with for the architecture that will be used to build the 2 vehicles. This approach will speed up the development process significantly, as they could launch them in less than 3 years, with battery packs between 100 and 125 kW and a range of up to 600 km, while they would be priced between €200,000 and €400,000. One automaker they won’t approach, though, is the Volkswagen Group, despite the Germans’ PPE platform developed by Audi and Porsche being very attractive. The reason behind this decision is that it wouldn’t provide insufficient ground clearance for the SUV. Pininfarina Automobili is still undecided when it comes to the production site, as they’re currently weighing in their options. “Ideally, we would produce in Italy, but we’ve had a lot of inquiries from other governments”, added Perschke. “The countries with stronger EV development policies are Germany, France and the UK. The Italian government is unfortunately lagging behind”. While planning their route, the company is still looking to shift the 1,900 hp $2.2 million Battista. The electric hypercar has already sparked interest for about half of the 150 units planned, according to the exec, which will be allocated equally across Europe, North America and Asia / Middle East. +++ 

+++ Critics of PSA Group’s acquisition of Opel / Vauxhall said Carlos Tavares would have to either lay off thousands of workers, close plants or do both to make the former General Motors unit profitable. 2 years later, Opel’s workforce has been reduced only by about 10 to 15 %, largely through attrition and buyouts. Capacity utilization is on an upward trend, even though sales volumes have dropped at Opel. PSA assembly plants are running at about 75 % capacity on average, just inside the margin considered to be profitable, said Justin Cox, a production analyst at LMC Automotive. By 2022 that rate is projected to increase to 85 %; a figure that will be reached through “repatriation” of models that had been built elsewhere or by other automakers under contract or through joint ventures, Cox said. Among the models that are expected to help fill PSA factories in Europe are the Opel / Vauxhall Mokka X, a strong-selling small SUV with an average annual volume of about 150,000. The Mokka X had largely been produced at GM’s factory in Bupyeong, South Korea. The next Mokka will have a PSA architecture and will likely be built in Poissy, France. Production of Opel’s revamped light commercial van lineup, including the Combo, Vivaro and Movano, is being transferred to PSA factories, with the Combo added to plants in Portugal and Spain; the Vivaro at Luton, England; and the Movano eventually going to Gliwice, Poland. PSA will supply versions of its compact vans to Toyota, deepening the collaboration between the automakers in Europe. “At first I thought Tavares would have to do drastic surgery on his footprint because he has too many factories that are not making enough cars”, Cox said. Tavares has a plan to boost capacity utilization, “even if he has had to do some trimming” at some plants, including reducing the number of production lines and shifts, he said. Among the plants that have shown sharp utilization rate increases under Tavares are Rennes, France, which went to 45 % in 2018 from 25 % in 2016; Zaragoza, Spain, to 98 % from 79 %; and Sochaux, France, to 118 % from 83 %. In fact, 4 of 14 PSA factories in Europe are operating at 100 % capacity or higher, including lower-wage sites in Trnava, Slovakia, and Mangualde, Portugal. PSA will start production of the Peugeot 208 at a new factory in Kenitra, Morocco, this year. Volumes have fallen, however, at former GM plants: Luton and Ellesmere Port in the UK; Opel’s German plants at Rüsselsheim and Eisenach; and at Gliwice. “Tavares is quite happy to let sales and production fall so that they don’t have these huge inventories that they have to discount or sell at a loss or very low margins”, Cox said. Tavares has said GM plants were much less efficient than PSA’s, which have been sharpened by internal competition for products. “Most automakers do it, but PSA takes the internal competition between plants to another level”, said Philippe Houchois of Jefferies. “I’m sure it’s a bit tense: you are only as safe as the life cycle of the product”. +++ 

+++ New-car registrations in RUSSIA fell 2.4 percent in July to 139,968 vehicles as the country’s industry body expressed little chance of a sales rebound this year. “7 months into 2019, we find the market down 2.4 %, both month-on-month and year-on-year. Market expectations until the end of the year are fundamentally no better”, Lars Himmer, deputy chairman of the AEB Automobile Manufacturers Committee, said in a statement. Sales in Russia this year have been hit by low consumer confidence and the introduction of a 2 % VAT rise in January. Leading brands in Russia saw mixed results last month. Market leader Lada reported flat sales in July, while its closest competitor, Kia, boosted volume 2 %. Third-place Hyundai fell 4 %, while No. 4 Renault was up 12 %. Toyota, at No. 5, dropped 4 %. Registrations at Volkswagen brand fell 3 %. Other winners were Porsche (+16 %), BMW (+14 %), Mercedes-Benz (+12 %), Skoda (+10 %) and Volvo (+1 %). Nissan sales plunged 33 %, while Jeep was down 9 %. Through July, sales were down 2.4 % to 968,718. +++

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