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+++ BENTLEY will make 12 new versions of its famous 1929 4.5-litre supercharged Blower, in what it claims to be the first-ever continuation run of a pre-war race car. Just 4 examples of the Blower were built by Sir Tim Birkin in the 1920s, all of which were used in endurance events, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans. All 4 machines survive and are now the most valuable Bentleys in existence. The 12 Blower Continuation Series models (one for each race that the original four chassis competed in) will be identical to the originals bare minor updates for safety. They will retain a pressed steel frame, leaf spring suspension and 400mm mechanical drum brakes, along with the original car’s supercharged 4-cylinder 16-valve 4.398 cc engine, which makes 250 hp. To make them, Bentley’s Mulliner division will disassemble its own Blower (chassis HB 3403) to individual parts, before cataloguing and scanning each to crease a digital model. Bentley’s engineers will then use 1920s moulds and tooling jigs to create 12 sets of parts based on that model, which will then be assembled into complete cars. The original Bentley, which continues to be used regularly in display events, will then be restored and rebuilt. Bentley boss Adrian Hallmark said: “We know there’s demand for genuine recreations that can be used, enjoyed and loved without risk to the prized originals”. He added that the new Blowers would “not only be an homage to our heritage, they will also be a celebration of the outstanding skills of our Mulliner craftspeople”. The project follows the recent Continental GT Number 9 Edition, a limited-run of Bentley’s new grand tourer featuring design nods to the Blowers. +++ 

+++ Major automakers said they have agreed to equip nearly all U.S. vehicles with systems to remind motorists of passengers in the back seat, by model year 2025, in an effort to avoid deaths of young CHILDREN LEFT BEHIND IN HOT CARS . The announcement on so-called rear seat reminder systems comes as the U.S. Congress has been debating the issue. In July, the Senate Commerce Committee passed by voice vote legislation to eventually require automakers to install technology on new vehicles alerting exiting parents to check for children in the back seat. The automakers from 2 trade groups representing nearly all automakers said the companies are committing to include audible and visual alerts on vehicles by the 2025 model year but could get an additional 12 months for vehicles about to be redesigned and could exempt emergency motor vehicles. The 20 automakers taking part represent nearly 98 % of all U.S. vehicle sales and include General Motors (GM), Ford, Volkswagen, Toyota, Hyundai and Honda. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said it will eventually adopt the reminder technology on all vehicles worldwide but said timing by region will vary. GM has had a system on some U.S. vehicles since 2016 that provides audible alert and a visual reminder on the vehicle dashboard to check for a child before exiting. Lawmakers say more than 800 children in parked vehicles have died from heatstroke in the United States over the last 2 decades. The systems generally operate to alert a driver to the presence of a child if a rear door was opened at the start of a trip. Some safety advocates want a more advanced system that would detect the actual presence of a child in the back seat. U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, a Republican who chairs the Commerce Committee, said in an interview the voluntary agreement makes the legislation unnecessary. Under the legislation being considered, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) would be compelled to write regulations and then automakers would have at least 2 years’ lead time. “This gives us essentially everything we’ve asked for and it does it sooner”, said Wicker, who added the Transportation Department plans to use some discretionary funds for a public information campaign. “It is a huge win”. NHTSA typically takes years to write regulations. For example, a proposal to require automakers to send email notifications of recalls has been pending for more than 3 years. Wicker’s bill would also direct states to use a portion of highway safety program funds to educate the public on the risks of leaving a child or unattended passenger in a vehicle, and require the Transportation Department to conduct a third-party study on retrofitting existing passenger motor vehicles. U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat who cosponsored the legislation, noted earlier this year that many newer vehicles alert drivers if they leave their keys behind. “You should get a warning if you leave a child in the car”, she added. +++ 

+++ Israeli high-tech firm CORTICA has partnered with some leading players in the automotive industry to form an Artificial Intelligence (AI) venture for autonomous driving, the company said. Given the shift toward self-driving cars, many in the industry are looking to incorporate AI into their systems to better deal with road hazards and increase safety. Partners in the new Tel Aviv-based spinoff, called Cartica AI, include venture capital units at Toyota and BMW, auto supplier Continental, as well as Israeli investment platform OurCrowd. The companies did not disclose how much they invested in Cartica AI, but they will help with development and distribution. Cartica AI said that unlike more conventional AI systems, it does not use human-labeled data for deep learning, which is time consuming, expensive and at times unreliable. Instead, it said its AI engine sifts through millions of unlabeled videos, finding common elements to make decisions on how best to react on the road, without human intervention. +++ 

+++ New-car registrations in FRANCE fell by 14 % in August compared with the same month last year, according to industry association CCFA, when sales rose by 40 % as automakers rushed to sell cars ahead of a Sept. 1 deadline for certification under the Worldwide harmonized Light vehicle Testing Procedure, or WLTP. Many brands recorded deep declines for the month, including a drop of 66 % at Nissan, 38 % at Fiat, 33 % at Renault, 29 % at Dacia and 22 % at BMW. However, sales increased sharply at a number of brands, with Smart sales up 481 %, though at low volumes; Suzuki up 131 %; Mitsubishi up 102 % and DS up 31 %. There were 129,259 registrations in August, CCFA said, with 21 selling days in the month, compared with 22 selling days in August 2018. Sales were down by 10 % for the month on an adjusted basis, the group said. Sales for the year are down by 3 %, or 2.5 % based on a comparable number of selling days. Most analysts have predicted that sales will fall slightly in 2019. Evercore ISI said on Monday that it forecast a return to growth in September and that annual sales would be down 1 % to 1.5 %. However, Cetelem, a financial services group, expects that annual sales will fall by 3.3 %. Among French automakers, PSA Group sales fell by 4.9 %, with Peugeot down 6.3 %, Citroen losing 5.7 % and Opel down 4.5 %. Renault Group sales fell by 31 % overall. Volkswagen Group sales were down by 14 %, with growth at Seat (up 9 %) unable to offset declines at the Volkswagen brand (13 %) and Audi (25 %). Ford sales were down by 14 %, mirroring the overall market. Daimler group sales were up by 68 % behind a surge from Smart and a 13 % increase at Mercedes. BMW Group was down by 15 %, with BMW losing 22 % and Mini 1.4 %. Among Asian automakers, Toyota sales were up 12 % and Hyundai Group gained 9.1 %, with a 19 % increase at Kia and a small decline at Hyundai. By powertrain, diesel sales were just 31 % of the market in August; the lowest figure since the early 1990s. Sales of battery electric vehicles were up 50 % for the year, with a 1.8 % market share. +++

+++ GENERAL MOTORS ’ unionized workers in South Korea will strike over stalled wage talks and concern of another plant shutdown, union officials said, the first full walkout since GM bought local factories in 2002. The decision came after the union rejected GM’s proposal for a base wage freeze and no bonuses for a second year in a row. Last year, the government injected 850 billion won ($712.85 million) into the money-losing unit after the automaker considered pulling out of the country. GM shut 1 of its 4 Korean factories following its pullback from major export market Europe and cut around 3,000 jobs. The government at the time said the injection would keep GM in South Korea for at least another 10 years. Even so, union officials continue to be concerned about further closures and job losses. GM has not offered any production plan for No.2 plant in the city of Bupyeong after 2022, union officials said. GM Korea has said it will shift production of its Chevrolet Trax to the plant from another nearby factory starting late this year. Earlier, Hyundai’s unionized workers in South Korea voted to accept the lowest bonus offered in nearly 2 decades, with the union mindful of GM’s restructuring and a trade dispute with Japan clouding the economic outlook. “What crazy person will stage a full strike for 3 days under this economic situation? We are going on a strike because we are desperate”, said a GM Korea union leadership official. “We are fine with no wages, but we want to hear GM’s vision about the Korean unit”, said the official, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter. GM said it aims to break even in Korea this year for which it needs union cooperation. “It is unfortunate that the union decided to go on strike. The company has been delivering on commitments and we ask the union to do the same for the future of GM Korea”. GM began production in South Korea after buying assets of failed local automaker Daewoo Motor in 2002. It has since only suffered partial strikes, with workers walking out for several hours during annual wage talks. +++ 

+++ New-car sales in GERMANY fell 0.8 % to 313,748 in August, according to data released by the KBA Motor Transport Authority. The VDIK vehicle importers association said the slight sales drop despite one less working day than in August 2018 showed that the German market is “extraordinarily robust” despite a darkening economic outlook. Sales of diesel cars dropped 8.2 % to give the powertrain a 30.2 % market share. Gasoline car sales fell 2 % for a 61.4 % share. Full-electric registrations jumped 104 % to give the powertrain a 1.6 % market share. Major brands had mixed results last month with Lexus, Ford and Mercedes among brands bucking the overall market’s decline to post big gains while Volkswagen and Audi brand saw sales decline steeply. Among the winners, Smart registrations rose 52 %, Lexus gained 32 % and Ford sales were up 28 %. Mercedes sales rose 22 %, while Dacia and Hyundai both saw volume gain 21 %. Peugeot’s volume rose 18 %, Skoda registrations were up 14 %, while Mini and Citroen both had 12 % gains. Porsche sales rose 7.3 %, Seat 5.9 % and Opel by 1.5 %. Among brands that had a bad month Alfa Romeo’s registrations dropped 45 %, while Nissan sales fell 43 % and Mitsubishi was down 30 %. Volkswagen brand saw sales decline by 17 %, while Audi was down 11 %. BMW registrations fell 3 %. Through August, sales in Germany are up 0.9 % to 2.49 million. +++ 

+++ We’ve already seen spy shots of the regular new Volkswagen Golf and the go-fast GTI variant, so now it’s time to take a look at the GOLF GTE plug-in hybrid model. Spotted for the first time in the wild, the GTE model is not hard to recognize as it features a quite obvious charging port on the left front fender. I don’t expect it to look very different from the regular Golf bar a slightly different grille treatment, aero-style wheels, and some blue accents. When it goes on sale in early 2020, the Golf GTE will be the most efficient model in the range and the closest you’ll get to an electric Golf. That’s because the e-Golf will be replaced by the ID.3; the first in a full range of ID electric vehicles. While nothing is confirmed yet, the next-generation Golf GTE could pack the same hybrid powertrain as the facelifted Passat GTE. More specifically, it could pair a 156 hp 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder gasoline engine with a 115 hp electric motor for a combined output of 218 hp and 400 Nm. More importantly, it could get the same 13 kWh battery which enables the Passat GTE to cover up to 56 km in all-electric mode under the WLTP cycle. Since the Golf GTE is a smaller vehicle, we could be looking at a longer EV driving range in the compact car. Besides the plug-in hybrid GTE model, the Golf Mk8 will feature extensive electrification, with many of the other engines in the lineup getting mild-hybrid tech powered by a 48-volt electrical system. +++ 

+++ Spy photographers snapped the facelifted HYUNDAI i30. The hatchback will adopt a new front fascia with a revised grille that features horizontal bars and angular accents. The headlights are also new and they will feature distinctive LED daytime running lights. The changes continue further below as the model has restyled air intakes with vertical openings near the outside edges. The overall design is largely familiar, but the air intakes will feature mesh-style lighting units. There will also be a larger central air intake. The circular fog lights are a carryover. Out back, the i30 will be equipped with new LED taillights and a redesigned bumper which has repositioned reflectors and a sportier black accent with a mesh-like pattern. The cabin is largely expected to carryover. That isn’t too surprisingly as the model recently gained an available 8,0 inch Display Audio system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. Under the hood, there could be a handful of new options including a plug-in hybrid powertrain sourced from the Kia XCeed and Ceed Sportswagon. It consists of a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder petrol engine, an electric motor and a 8.9 kWh battery pack. This enables the models to have a combined output of 141 hp and 265 Nm of torque. More importantly, the cars have an electric-only range of approximately 60 km. We can also expect an assortment of other options including a 1.6-liter Smartstream diesel engine with outputs ranging from 95 hp to 136 hp. +++ 

+++ INDIA ’s top auto industry executives called for the government to take urgent steps to revive a sector crippled by plunging sales, leading to hundreds of thousands of job losses and lower production. Indian auto sales are set to drop for the 10th straight month in August, marking one of the worst slowdowns in the history of the industry, which contributes more than 7 % of India’s GDP. Several executives at the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers conference, India’s biggest annual event for automakers, told the meeting appeared to be far less busy than usual, and reiterated long-standing calls for a cut in the goods and services tax (GST) on vehicles to revive demand. Tata Motors managing director Guenter Butschek warned of dire consequences if the government didn’t act. “The Indian automotive growth story is about to collapse”, he said during a panel discussion. Automakers, component manufacturers and dealers have laid off about 350,000 workers in India since the start of the financial year. Butschek said the government needed to let the industry know “here and now”, whether it planned to cut taxes on automobiles to give carmakers enough time to plan for India’s upcoming festival season, which usually sees a surge in demand. Tata separately said in a statement it had slashed vehicle production in August by 52 %; its steepest cut in at least a decade. Nitin Gadkari, India’s Road Transport and Highways Minister, told the conference the government was working to help the sector and said he had asked the finance ministry to consider cutting taxes on petrol and diesel, as well as hybrid vehicles. Pawan Goenka, managing director of Mahindra, echoed Butschek’s call for urgent action. “There are concerns that the industry could face deeper problems if it does not recover before migration to BS VI”, he said, referring to the requirement for new cars to use less polluting Euro VI fuel from the fiscal year starting April 2020. If inventories of older Euro IV vehicles exceed demand in March, it could lead to “very significant” damage to the industry, he said. Both Tata and Mahindra warned of steeper production cuts if the industry slowdown continues. Mahindra, a manufacturer of SUVs and agricultural tractors, would defer some 10 % of its annual capital spending, Goenka said. Separately, the company said its production fell 37 % in August. India’s largest automaker Maruti Suzuki said it was shutting passenger vehicle manufacturing factories in Gurugram and Manesar in northern India for 2 days this month. That’s the first time the company has halted production due to lack of demand at both those plants. Goenka said he expected more job cuts in he industry this fiscal year if the slowdown continued, adding Mahindra had already shed 1,500 temporary workers, or 5 % of its workforce. India’s economy is cooling, with growth slowing to a more than 5 year low in April-June, and many key sectors including real estate and agriculture witnessing a slowdown. Sales data from India’s top 6 car makers shows that passenger vehicle sales for August fell 34 % compared with the same period a year ago. These 6 manufacturers make up more than 90 % share of the market. Maruti Suzuki, India’s biggest car maker by market share, reported a 36 % drop in passenger vehicle wholesales for August and has also slashed production for the month by about a third. +++

+++ Sales of new vehicles in ITALY declined 3.1 % in August to 88,939 units, according to the country’s Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport. The decline was smaller than in France, where sales fell 14 %, and Spain, where they plummeted 31 %; despite a similarly tough year-over-year comparison. Registrations rose 10 % in Italy in August 2018, when carmakers were pushing sales of vehicles not homologated to meet tougher emissions standards before the Worldwide Harmonized Light-Vehicle Test Procedure went into effect September 1st. Last August, sales were higher than in the same month of both 2017 (83,363) and 2016 (72,006). This past August had one less selling day than the same month of 2018. According to market researcher Dataforce, self-registrations of vehicles by dealers and carmakers helped sustain demand. All together, they jumped 25 % to 21,741 units, with those by carmakers more than doubling to 6,392. Demand from private customers declined 5.5 %. Sales to companies declined 25 %. Sales of diesel-powered cars fell 35 % to 34,053 units with a 38.1 % market share; higher than the 37.2 % of July but much lower than the 56.1 % of August 2018. One year ago, the WLTP effect boosted diesel registrations. Sales of gasoline cars jumped 45 % to 39,123 units and a 43.8 % market share, compared with 29.1 % in August 2018. The market share for cars powered by liquefied petroleum gas grew to just over 10 %; up from 7.2 % last year, while the share for vehicles powered by compressed natural gas increased to 2.5 % from 1.7 %. Hybrids saw their share increase to 4.6 % from 4.1 %, while plug-in hybrids declined from to 0.3 % from 0.4 %. Battery electric vehicles tripled their share to 0.6 %. Registrations for the market leader in Italy, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, dropped 16 % in August. Sales of the flagship Fiat brand declined 8.4 %, while Jeep was down 27 %. Alfa Romeo sales fell 69 % and Maserati was down 55 %. Lancia bucked the trend and nearly doubled sales: up 96 %. At the PSA Group, Peugeot brand sales were flat, while Opel rose 1.8 % and DS gained 18 %. Citroen suffered a 12 % decline. At the Volkswagen Group, VW brand registrations rose 13 %, Seat 14 % and Skoda 11 %. Audi registrations were up 28 %, while Porsche dropped 46 %. At the Renault Group, Dacia posted a 29 % jump and nearly beat its owner Renault: 5,839 units sold by Dacia and 5,858 by Renault, whose sales fell 39 %. The Duster and Sandero took second and third place among the most popular models, increasing August sales 48 % and 12 %, respectively. At Ford, deliveries were down 6.9 % in August. At the South Korean brands, sales of both major brands declined: Hyundai by 18 % and sister brand Kia by 5.6 %. At the Japanese brands, Nissan’s registrations declined 29 %, while rival Toyota was down 5.9 %. At the German premium brands, BMW sales rose 8.4 %, while rival Mercedes-Benz posted a 25 % increase. Sales in Italy through the first 8 months are down 3 % to 1.325.162 vehicles. +++ 

+++ JAGUAR LAND ROVER (JLR) plans to launch 30 new or revamped vehicles in China in the next 2 years, seeking to build on a recent recovery in sales in the world’s biggest auto market. JLR, owned by India’s Tata Motors, said the models would include imported ones as well as products built by Chery Jaguar Land Rover, its local joint venture with Wuhu-based carmaker Chery Auto. The plan follows a 17 % rise in JLR’s sales in China in August and a 40 % jump in July, after a more than 20 % decline last year. JLR also said in a statement it aimed to further adjust its sales and dealership system to improve profitability. Overall auto sales in China fell 4.3 % in July, declining for a 13th consecutive month, according to data from China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). To tackle the slowdown, global and local carmakers from Ford to Geely are working on new vehicles to try to boost sales. +++

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