+++ At the BMW Group, sales continued their positive trend in August: Worldwide deliveries were up 4.4 % on the same month last year, with a total of 181,126 BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce vehicles sold. This brings the company’s total sales for the year to date to 1,617,512 units (+1.3 %), in a volatile global market environment. “This positive sales development underlines the impact of our model offensive. Our new X models are proving very popular with our customers”, said Pieter Nota, member of the Board of Management of BMW and responsible for Customer, Brands and Sales. “Another positive is the continued strong sales growth of the i3, the world’s most successful electric vehicle in its segment. The plug-in hybrid version of the new 3 Series (the 330e), was also added to our line-up of electric vehicles in August”. Overall sales of BMW brand vehicles grew by 4.1% in August to 157,889 units. That brings the brand’s sales total for the first 8 months of the year to 1,390,968 vehicles (+1.9 %). The new and revised X vehicles continue to be the brand’s biggest growth drivers. A total of 76,833 units of the X models were delivered to customers in August (+34.5 %), accounting for almost half of all BMW vehicles sold. The i3 has enjoyed a successful year so far, with 24,870 units (+21.2 %) sold worldwide. Deliveries of the Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 plug-in hybrid climbed 39.8 in the first 8 months of the year to reach a total of 10,270 units. The fully-electric Mini Cooper SE will also join the electrified line-up by the end of the year. Shortly after the market launch of the 330e, and ahead of the introduction of the X5 xDrive45e plug-in hybrid, overall year-to-date sales of BMW Group electrified models were slightly lower, with 80,526 fully-electric and plug-in hybrid BMW and Mini vehicles delivered worldwide (-3.0 %). By the end of the year, the company expects to have half a million electrified vehicles on the roads in total. By the end of 2020, the BMW Group will have ten new or revised electrified vehicles on the market. No fewer than 25 electrified models are planned by 2023, more than half of which will be fully electric. Despite the various headwinds affecting the automotive industry, the BMW brand increased sales in its 3 main sales regions in August. Sales rose by 1.3 % in Europe and 9.4 % in China, with a further increase of 7.2 % in the US market. Due to the model changeover of the 1 Series, Germany posted negative growth for the month of August (18,723 / -4.8 %). “We still expect to achieve a slight increase in sales for the full year, even though the global market environment continues to be highly competitive and volatile”, said Pieter Nota. The company remains firmly committed to its strategy of prioritising profitability over volume. +++ 

+++ The return of the iconic Willys nameplate in JEEP ’s lineup, although as a special edition of the new-gen Wrangler, isn’t the only big news concerning the popular SUV, which will also get a diesel variant set to launch before the end of 2019. The 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 will launch in the 4-door Sport, Rubicon and Sahara, producing 264 hp and 599 Nm. The mill is shared with the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel and Euro-spec Gladiator diesel, which will go on sale next year. Like its pickup truck sibling, the Wrangler EcoDiesel will get an 8-speed automatic transmission that’s been reinforced to cope with the extra torque. Fuel economy numbers will be announced in due course, but the model will be more frugal than the ones powered by the 2.0-liter, L4 and 3.6-liter V6. The former returns 11.2 l/100 km and the latter 11.8 l/100 km, combined. The engine will feature a stop/start system that will further improve the fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions. In order to identify the 2020 Wrangler EcoDiesel, you’ll have to take a peek at the tailgate’s left side and look for the ‘3.0 D’ badge, located right under the grab handle. +++ 

+++ In a highly competitive segment and with a focus on profitable sales development, MINI brand sales reached 22,859 units worldwide in August: an increase of 6.2 %. Sales in the year to date totalled 223,238 (-2.6 %). Alongside core Mini models, John Cooper Works model variants made a major contribution to the higher sales reported in August. +++

+++ NISSAN recently appointed a new U.S. sales chief and he is looking to drive up dealer profitability. David Kershaw took over as Nissan Division vice president of sales and regional operations on September 1, 2019 and wants to reverse course from chasing market share to increase profits while simultaneously strengthening up brand value and margins. According to one source, roughly 30 % of Nissan’s dealerships across the United States are losing money with a further 10 % only breaking even. This has largely been attributed to the company’s profit-draining fleet sales and generous incentives. This has to stop, according to Nissan or Turnersville general manager John Fanelli. “Nissan needs to stop advertising such low prices. Now we’re the value brand, almost like Kia used to be”, he says. Kershaw describes himself as a “dealer guy” and believes he is the right man for the job of restoring positive relations with dealers. “It’s very important to continue to work on the dealer relations piece. We have more work to do in that”, he admitted. “I’ve spent the last year and a half out in the field as a vice president for a couple of the biggest regions. I gained a lot of experience by being face to face with the dealers”. One way Nissan hopes to boost dealer profits is through the launch of 10 new and updated vehicles by the end of 2020. “With that new product, we’ll be going to one of the freshest lineups in the industry”, Kershaw said. “That will drive throughput, which will help lift dealer profitability”. +++ 

+++ Nissan boss Hiroto SAIKAWA will resign on Sept. 16, the automaker said, bowing to pressure after he admitted to being improperly overpaid and marking further upheaval at a company battered by scandal and plunging profit. Saikawa, who admitted to the overpayment of around $440,000 last week, will be temporarily replaced by chief operating officer Yasuhiro Yamauchi, with a permanent replacement expected by the end of October, Japan’s second-largest automaker said. His sudden resignation, which comes before a long-term succession plan has been decided, marks a dramatic exit for a man who had been tasked with righting the automaker following the arrest and ouster of former chairman Carlos Ghosn last year on charges of financial misconduct, which Ghosn denies. Saikawa, a protege of Ghosn, took over as Nissan CEO from his mentor in 2017, leaving Ghosn as chairman. His brief tenure has been characterized by strain with top shareholder Renault and tumbling profit. Nissan’s shares have lost almost a quarter of their value this year. The worsening relationship with Renault has been a particular concern for investors and has cast doubt on the future of the Franco-Japanese automaking alliance at a time of sweeping change and uncertainty in the global auto industry. “Saikawa recently has indicated his inclination to resign, and in line with his desire to pass the baton to a new generation of leaders at Nissan, he will resign on Sept. 16”, Nissan’s chairman of the board, Yasushi Kimura, told a news conference. Among the candidates to lead the carmaker are non-Japanese, women and those hailing from Renault, the chairman of Nissan’s nomination committee, Masakazu Toyoda, told. Addressing reporters alone at the end of a late-night news conference, the 65-year-old Saikawa expressed regret for his failure to turn around the firm which he has said had long chased market share at all costs under Ghosn’s tenure, undermining profitability. “I had hoped to solve all of these issues before stepping down”, he said, referring to the automaker’s problems. “But I haven’t been able to, and for that I apologize”. Stoic and contrite, Saikawa also took aim at his former mentor, saying he hoped that Ghosn and former director Greg Kelly felt regret for Nissan’s current situation resulting from their financial misconduct. Kelly also denies any wrongdoing, as both await separate trials in Japan. Saikawa said he would return the improper compensation, having conceded he was wrong to appoint a separate team led by Kelly to manage his share-based salary incentive scheme. An internal investigation found that the procedure violated company rules, although it was not illegal. While Saikawa has said he did not intend to break the rules, his admission of overpayment has pitched Nissan into fresh crisis and appears to have accelerated the push for a replacement. The nomination committee, established in June to find a successor, was now speeding up its search to find a successor from a list containing around 10 possible candidates. The committee is made up of 6 company outsiders, including Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard. Those on the list include Jun Seki, tasked with Nissan’s performance recovery; Yamauchi, the chief operating officer; and Makoto Uchida, chairman of Nissan’s management committee in China, an alliance source has told. A key question will be how Saikawa’s successor approaches the alliance with Renault. Seki has been seen as a front-runner to become CEO. Prior to his latest promotion in June, the 58-year-old oversaw Nissan’s expansion in China, now the automaker’s top market. He joined the company in 1986. Yamauchi, 63, is widely seen as a bridge between the alliance partners and the near 4-decade Nissan veteran is known to be well-regarded at Renault where he serves as a board member. Nissan also said that a nearly year-long internal probe prompted by Ghosn’s arrest in November had found that Ghosn and Kelly were responsible for financial misconduct at the company totaling around 35 billion yen ($326.98 million). Improper activities included concealing Ghosn’s salary, using company assets for personal purposes, and improper payments using Nissan funds that eventually were transferred to Ghosn and a firm related to him, the company said. +++ 

+++ In SOUTH KOREA , Japanese automakers posted sharper sales falls in August, hit by a consumer boycott of Japanese vehicles amid a worsening diplomatic row between the countries. Toyota and other Japanese carmakers saw South Korean sales tumble 57 % to 1.398 vehicles in August from a year earlier, steeper than the 17 % fall in July. Japan’s decision in July to tighten controls on exports of materials that South Korea uses to make semiconductors and display screens has prompted a consumer backlash in Korea, with consumers boycotting Japanese products such as beer, clothes, vehicles and tours to the neighboring country. Relations between the 2 countries had already soured over South Korean demands for Japanese compensation for South Korean forced laborers during World War Two. Toyota’s South Korean sales fell 59 % to 542 in August from a year earlier, while Honda’s sales tumbled 81 % to 138. Lexus was the topselling Japanese brand in South Korea, with sales reaching 603 vehicles in August; up 7.7 % from year earlier, but down 39 % from July. Nissan is considering pulling out of South Korea, as political and trade tensions between Japan and South Korea have caused sales of Japanese products in the neighboring country to plummet. Besides stopping sales in South Korea, Nissan is also mulling its involvement in an assembly plant in Busan owned by Renault Samsung Motors, a joint venture with partner Renault. The plant makes cars mainly for export markets. Nissan, Japan’s second-biggest automaker, has been trying to strengthen governance, slash costs and boost flagging profitability amid persistent allegations of financial misconduct stemming from former chairman Carlos Ghosn’s 20-year reign. Nissan’s market share in South Korea has long lagged its domestic rivals. Along with its luxury Infiniti brand, the automaker has sold just 3,581 cars in the country in January-August this year, down 27 % from a year ago and trailing far behind Toyota. Japanese automakers are small players in the South Korean auto market, which is dominated by Hyundai and German imports including the Mercedes-Benz and BMW brands. +++ 

+++ New-vehicle sales in SPAIN fell 31 % to 74,490 in August compared with the same month in 2018 when automakers offered big discounts to sell vehicles that were not homologated to meet the EU’s new WLTP tests. Although last month had one less selling day than August of last year, the main reason behind the drop was the spike in registrations in August 2018, an industry association said. Demand from private customers last month declined 28 % to 41,657 units, while registrations by companies dropped 34.4 % to 28,672. Sales to rental companies were down 36 % to 4,161. Noemi Navas, the director of communications at the industry association, said: “If we exclude the WLTP effect and compare August with the previous month, we see a persistent decline in demand by private customers, while company demand remains in positive territory”. Sales of diesel vehicles fell 50 % to 20,223 and a 27.1 % market share, higher than the two previous months but 10.3 % lower than August 2018. Sales of gasoline cars were down 24 % to 44,065 units for a 59.2 % share, up from 54 % a year ago. Sales of all electrified cars (full electric and hybrid) plus vehicles powered by LPG and CNG grew 11 % to 10,202 units and claimed a 13.7 % market share, up from 6.3 % in August 2018. Registrations of full-electric cars jumped 59 % to 639 and took a 0.8 % share. Through August, sales in Spain are down 9.2 % to 883,649 vehicles. For the third month in a row the most popular model in Spain was the Dacia Sandero with 2,620 units delivered, beating the Nissan Qashqai, with 1,689 units sold and the Opel Corsa, with 1,682. The Sandero was the third most popular car in Europe in July and 6th in the first 7 months of 2019. The Volkswagen brand suffered a 18 % drop in June, while deliveries by Seat dropped 26 %. Registrations for Skoda declined 5.9 %, Audi deliveries plunged 35 % and Porsche fell 44 %. Within the PSA Group, Peugeot sales were down 3.9 %, while Citroën deliveries declined 20 % and Opel’s were down 22 %. Renault brand sales dropped 55 %, while sister brand Dacia posted a 4.6 % increase. Within Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), Fiat brand registrations plunged 70 % and Alfa Romeo fell 75 %. Jeep deliveries were down 19 %. Ford sales were down 31 %. Among Japanese brands, Toyota deliveries were down 14 %, while Nissan’s declined 53 %. Among South Korean brands, Hyundai suffered a 32 % decline, while sister brand Kia slipped 61 %. BMW deliveries were down 13 %, while rival Mercedes-Benz declined 8 %. +++ 

+++ TOYOTA recently announced that it will invest $906.8 million in acquiring a 4.9 % stake in Suzuki. The official word from the 2 companies is that they will cooperate on the development of autonomous driving technologies and shared powertrains. There is a little more to the partnership, however. The likes of General Motors and Volkswagen have previously tried and failed to partner with Suzuki in a bid to expand their presence in the Indian market. Toyota is thought to be doing the same. India is currently the world’s 4th largest market for new vehicle sales and is on track to surpass Japan for third place, which will place it behind only the U.S and China. Suzuki’s local Maruti subsidiary accounts for roughly 46 % of new passenger vehicle sales in the country, so it’s easy to understand why it’s so attractive to others. Toyota president Akio Toyoda and Suzuki chairman Osamu Suzuki have been looking to strengthen ties between the companies since October 2016. Earlier this year, Suzuki agreed to supply Toyota with 2 compact vehicles for it to sell in India. Additionally, it will assign production of 1 of its SUVs to a Toyota factory in the country. Toyota stands to benefit a lot from the tie-up, like learning how its partner has managed to engineer and produce low-cost vehicles for emerging markets and gain such a large market share. Then there’s the issue of autonomous vehicles and electrification, which both companies admit represents an turning point in the automotive industry. “The automobile sector is currently experiencing a turning point unprecedented in both scope and scale, not only because of enhanced environmental regulations, but also from new entries from distinct industries and diversified mobility businesses”, they said in a joint statement. “To take up challenges together in this transitional era, the two companies plan to establish and promote a long-term partnership”. +++ 

+++ In the UNITED KINGDOM , new car sales dipped by just 1.6 % in August, while sales of electric and hybrid cars continued to surge. In total, 92,573 cars were registered last month, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which are 1.521 fewer than in August 2018. While the decline is notably lower than the 3.4 % average decline for 2019 to date, understands that the numbers might have been raised by manufacturers pre-registering cars ahead of the next phase of tighter EU emissions regulations that came into force this month. Demand for petrol cars remained stable, with the 59,019 registrations, up 1 % year on year and accounting for 65.5 % of all cars registered this year. By contrast, diesel registrations fell by 12.2 %, the 29th consecutive month of decline. Diesel cars now account for 27.0 % of all cars registered in the UK so far this year. The market was boosted by the continued rise in demand for electric and hybrid cars. Electric registrations rose by 377.5 % to 3.147 units, while sales of hybrid cars increased by 36.2 % year on year to 4.014 units. By contrast, plug-in hybrid sales continued to decline since the Government cut subsidies for them, with the 907 registered in August representing a 71.8 % decline on the same month last year. Despite the increases, electrified cars still represent a relatively small portion of the UK new car market. The 17,393 battery-electric cars sold so far in 2019 represent 1.1 % of the total market, with hybrids accounting for 4.0 % and plug-in hybrids 1.2 %. Those figures are expected to grow rapidly as manufacturers launch an increasing number of electrified cars in the coming months. SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes called the increased in EV registrations “especially welcome” in a traditionally quiet month for the car market. But he added: “These figures also show the scale of the challenges ahead. It’s a long road to zero emissions and while manufacturers can deliver the technology, they can’t dictate the pace of uptake. To support a smooth transition and deliver environmental gains now, we need a long-term government commitment to measures that give consumers confidence to invest in the latest technologies that best suit their needs”. So far in 2019, new car registrations have fallen 3.4 % from 1.571.986 to 1.519.016, with the Ford Fiesta firmly in the top spot for best-selling car; both for August 2019 and the year-to-date. The Tesla Model 3 was the third best-selling car in the UK last month, with 2,082 units finding homes. Tesla does not split its sales figures by country, and third-place in the UK’s rundown of last month’s best-sellers simply lists the car as ‘Other’. But understands the Model 3 found more homes in August than the Ford Focus, Mercedes A-Class and Ford Kuga, which were the fourth, fifth and sixth best-selling models respectively. Demand for electric cars frequently outstrips supply, with the UK allocation of the Kia e-Niro and Hyundai Kona Electric currently being sold out for 2019, with just roughly 1,500 of those 2 cars coming here this year. But pent-up demand for the Model 3 has been gestating for some time in the UK, with the US carmaker prioritising American customers as its facilities struggled to produce enough cars to meet market demand. The floodgates have now opened on the arrival of right-hand drive examples in the UK, though, and this is likely to partly explain why it features in the top10 best-sellers’ list. Customers around the world were able to place deposits for the Model 3 soon after its unveiling in 2016, with Tesla reportedly taking hundreds of thousands of reservations within the first few days. +++ 

+++ VOLKSWAGEN will unveil a new brand identity alongside the pivotal ID.3 electric car at the Frankfurt motor show, as it attempts to draw a line under the fallout from the Dieselgate scandal. The revelations in October 2015 about how the firm had cheated diesel emissions tests sparked a clear-out of its leadership group, and sparked a heavy investment in electric technology. The first result of that will be the ID.3, the first car based on the VW Group’s electric-only MEB platform. Termed ‘New Volkswagen’, the design revamp goes far beyond a new logo. Chief operating officer Ralf Brandstätter calls it a “pivotal moment”, as significant as a new-car launch. The roots of ‘New Volkswagen’ began following a board meeting after Herbert Diess took over the firm’s top role in the wake of the crisis. At that meeting, Volkswagen looked beyond Dieselgate, to the declining profitability of several models, the upcoming EU 95 g/km emission targets and the firm’s struggle in key regions such as the US. The result was the Transform 2025+ plan, under which several models were scrapped and extra focus was put on expanding Volkswagen’s SUV range. Diess also approved the development of the MEB platform and a push to electric cars, along with heavy investment in digital services. The changes went even deeper: the firm spun off its components division and worked to cut the complexity of its line-up (reducing the number of parts offered, trimming its global model range by 50% and engine and gearbox variants by 40 %). Those changes have already increased VW’s profit margin, from 1.8 % in 2015 to 5.2 % in the first half of this year. Brandstätter also said the firm has introduced “a fundamental cultural change”, with a more open attitude backed by a new internal ‘integrity’ programme designed to stop a repeat of Dieselgate. Brandstätter said: “It starts with the executives: we set an example. Everyone can stand up and speak out. As managers, it is up to us to listen and respond”. The first phase of Transform 2025+ was about ‘fixing’ Volkswagen; and the rebrand is the culmination of that and the launch point for the next step. VW’s first goal is to become a market leader in electric cars, with the aim of selling 1 million per year by 2025. Brandstätter described that as “the lodestar of our strategy” and the key will be the economy of scale enabled by both the flexible MEB platform and the firm’s bulk purchasing power when it comes to batteries. The goal is to produce 15 million vehicles (of more than 20 different models) on the first-generation MEB, using 8 plants worldwide. Brandstätter’s ultimate target is “emission-free mobility for all”; not just with a fleet of EVs, but also with a pledge for carbon-neutral production. “When we drew up Transform 2025+ in 2015, we had no idea of the scale on which the social debate would shift to climate change”, Brandstätter said. There’s a risk for Volkswagen here, given Dieselgate helped fuel opposition against combustion-engined cars. Brandstätter referred to “some hard lessons” the company has learned and that “our big size means responsibility”. The firm estimates that its overall operations are responsible for 1 % of global CO2 production. Volkswagen is also committed to increasing the ‘digitalisation’ of its products and company (including how it interacts with customers) – and has invested €4 billion in doing so. That includes a huge push to engage with customers online directly, starting with the pre-order process for the ID 3. Volkswagen customers will be given an online ‘ID’ as the first step in a new sales model next year. VW has renegotiated contracts with nearly all of its European dealer network to allow it to communicate directly with customers, effectively becoming a retailer rather than a wholesaler. That said, VW insists it will still work “in close co-operation with dealers”. The sales structure will be key to other projects, including offering in-car online services through a VW.os system. It will also work with Volkswagen We, a network of services that include charging, delivery, parking and the WeShare car sharing scheme. In a changing world, most other car firms are attempting similar transformations, but few have the resources of VW, or the impetus. Brandstätter said the transformation is “how we will once again deserve society’s recognition”. If it succeeds, Volkswagen’s Dieselgate shame could be the driving force for its future success. +++

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