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+++ ASTON MARTIN said its DBX will be powered by a twin-turbocharged V8 engine making 550 hp, which will give it “sports car levels of performance”. The 4.0-liter engine is the same Mercedes-AMG supplied unit that Aston Martin uses in its Vantage and DB11 sports cars, but tuned to give more power. Aston Martin said the DBX has recorded a top speed of more than 290 kph in testing, which would put its performance close to its nearest rivals the Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus. The UK automaker is counting on the DBX to increase its vehicle sales and revenue as demand for its sports-cars wavers. Lamborghini was revitalized by the launch of the Urus. The brand’s vehicle sales grew 96 % to 4,553 units in the first half. More than half of those sales were Urus models. Bentley has similarly benefited from the introduction of the Bentayga, which last year accounted for almost half of its production. The DBX uses a bespoke platform while the Bentaya and Urus are underpinned by a Volkswagen Group platform. Aston Martin said this gives its SUV a dynamic edge over its rivals. The prototype DBX has “regularly achieved” sub 8-minute laps of Germany’s demanding Nürburgring track during testing, similar to high-performance sports cars, Aston Martin said. The SUV has achieved cornering speeds on par with those of its Vantage sports car, it said. Aston Martin said that it had raised $150 million in a steeply priced bond sale to ease liquidity concerns. CEO Andy Palmer said the bond issue is an “insurance to make the bridge to DBX”. The DBX will be unveiled in December and be on the road toward the end of the second quarter. Existing Aston Martin customers have already been given “a peek behind the curtain” and the vehicle has been favorably received, Palmer said. Aston Martin aims to lift annual production to 14,000 vehicles by 2023 with the help of the DBX, more than double last year’s sales figure of 6,441 cars. The company is targeting 6,300 to 6,500 sales this year. The automaker generated about 900,000 pounds of cash from operations in the first half, the lowest since it started to disclose earnings. Palmer said it remains on track to meet analyst estimates for full-year earnings, subject to adjustments to reflect the impact of the issuance of the bond issue. The DBX will be built in Aston Martin’s new factory in St Athan, south Wales. +++ 

+++ BMW boss Oliver Zipse told a works meeting that the automaker would keep its global staffing level stable through the end of next year. The company and its works council will also discuss not filling vacancies in administration and reducing temporary employment, Zipse said. He reiterated there would be no forced layoffs, the attendees of the works meeting in Munich said. BMW plans to cut as many as 6,000 jobs in Germany by 2022 as part of its cost-savings effort, according to a report in Manager Magazin. BMW said it is bringing younger members onto its top management team with the appointments of a new production chief, Milan Nedeljkovic, and a new head of human resources, Ilka Horstmeier. Nedeljkovic, 50, succeeds Oliver Zipse, who was promoted to CEO in August to replace Harald Krüger. Horstmeier, also 50, moves to the human resources post following the resignation of Milagros Caina-Andree last week. Serbian-born Nedeljkovic moves from his current role as senior vice president of corporate quality. The mechanical engineer joined BMW in 1993. His career has included stints as head of the automaker’s plants in Munich and Leipzig in Germany, and head of the paint shop at BMW’s Mini plant in Oxford, England. Horstmeier, a German national, is promoted to human resources chief from her post as head of the automaker’s plant in Dingolfing, Germany. After joining BMW in 1995 with a business administration degree, Horstmeier rose through the ranks at the automaker’s Munich, Dingolfing and Regensburg plants. Her previous roles included head of the engine, E-powertrain production division. BMW chairman Norbert Reithofer said Horstmeier’s experience running electrified powertrains’ production will bring extensive expertise in a key area for the company. Nedeljkovic’s experience in developing digitalization and data analysis and managing the Munich and Leipzig plants, with their high percentage of electrified vehicles, was also key, Reithofer said. BMW has no interest in settling an investigations by the European Union antitrust authorities against the company and other German carmakers. In April, EU cartel regulators charged BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen for colluding to block the rollout of cleaner emissions technology between 2006 to 2014. The European Commission said the collusion took place during technical meetings held by the “circle of five”, namely BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen Group’s VW, Audi and Porsche. BMW had said it would contest the allegations “with all legal means if necessary”, adding that it was probable the Commission would issue a “significant fine” and it would set aside a provision of likely more than €1 billion. +++ 

+++ Chinese startup BYTON said its M-Byte electric crossover is “ready for the digital age” with its 48-inch display screen that extends right across the car’s cockpit. The display is integrated into the dashboard and can be used in split-screen mode with 3 separate areas of content. The wide display is the largest of its type in a production car and was designed for to be ready for shared mobility and assisted driving. The driver can use the display with a 7 inch tablet in the center of the steering wheel, while the front seat passenger can use the screen with an 8 inch tablet. The interface will enhance the M-Byte’s appeal in today’s world where cars are getting more driver assistance features and people spend more time in their vehicles, Byton says. “We want to help people use the time they spend in their car”, Byton chief technical officer David Twohig told. The interface recognizes faces and the natural speech and can be activated by hand movements, touch or by a small number of buttons. In addition, the front seats can be turned inwards to “create a communicative space for the passengers”, said Twohig, a former Renault executive who led development of the automaker’s Alpine A110 and the Zoé. Although the M-Byte currently only supports Level 2 autonomous driving that covers features such as adaptive cruise control and steering and brake assistance, the M-Byte was designed to be ready for more advanced self-driving technology. Byton aims the M-Byte at premium SUV buyers against rivals such as the Mercedes EQ C. The company plans to begin deliveries of the M-Byte in China in the middle of next year, followed by Europe and China in the first half of 2021. The M-Byte will start €53,550 in Germany. Byton expects more than half of the sales will be in China. The rest will be split between Europe and the U.S., Twohig said. Byton plans to sell most of its cars through online sales, relying on local distribution companies to deliver the cars and carry out servicing. The automaker will have just a small number of stores in big cities, Twohig said. Byton said it currently has more than 50,000 reservations worldwide for the M-Byte. It also plans to launch an electric sedan and electric MPV at a later date. Byton CEO Daniel Kirchert, a former BMW executive, said in EV hot spots, such as Norway and the Netherlands, “we see a very positive response”. Europe is at “a tipping point” for acceptance of electric vehicles, he said. Byton aims to go ahead with U.S. sales even if there are high tariffs on imported vehicles from China. Tariffs would threaten the company’s goal of selling vehicles at a starting price of about $45,000. “We decided no matter what Byton will launch in the United States, even at a higher price”, Kirchert said. The M-Byte is powered by a rear-mounted 272 hp electric motor. The base version will have a 72 kWh battery pack and a 360 km range under Europe’s WLTP test cycle. A 408 hp all-wheel drive version also will be offered, with a 95 kWh battery and a front motor in addition to the rear one. Its range will be 435 km. Byton’s investors include Chinese automotive giant FAW, Foxconn Technology Group, Tencent internet technology group and Chinese retailer Suning. The company has built a factory in the east China city of Nanjing, with an annual production capacity of 300,000 units. Production will start in mid-2020. The M-Byte was designed in Europe by Byton’s design center in Munich, Germany. +++ 

+++ Volkswagen of America has hired longtime luxury executive Johan de DE NYSSCHEN as its new Chief Operating Officer for the brand in North America. De Nysschen, 59, who was ousted as head of Cadillac in April 2018 after a tumultuous 4-year stint, and who previously served as head of the Infiniti brand and Audi of America, will assume the new role with the Volkswagen brand on Oct. 1. In the position, he will report to Volkswagen of American CEO Scott Keogh, who previously reported to de Nysschen when both worked at Audi of America. De Nysschen left Audi of America in May 2012 after 19 years. Since leaving Cadillac, de Nysschen has worked as a management consultant. During de Nysschen’s stint at Cadillac, the South Africa-born executive was given unprecedented freedom to run GM’s luxury brand. He moved the brand’s headquarters out of Detroit to New York City and was given autonomy to operate separately from GM’s core brands, which he convinced leadership was needed to successfully transform the brand. In a written statement, Keogh (who will mark one year since becoming CEO of both the brand and Volkswagen Group of America next week) said de Nysschen “will help make us faster, better and smarter. He’ll speed our decision-making and dive deep into our day-to-day business so we can continue to make this brand matter again”. Volkswagen has a long-term goal of returning to the 5 % market share it enjoyed in the U.S. in 1970, a feat that would mean roughly doubling its existing share. In his own written statement released by VW, de Nysschen said he was “looking forward to rejoining a Group and leader I know well and admire. This is a great opportunity to play an important role at a company of this scale at a fascinating time”. +++ 

+++ FORD said it will add Austin, Texas, to the short list of cities where it plans to launch a commercial transportation service using automated vehicles in 2021. The U.S. automaker previously said it would begin transporting people and goods in automated vehicles in Miami and Washington. Ford’s self-driving system, now being tested in the Fusion (Mondeo) Hybrid, is being jointly developed with Argo AI, a Pittsburgh-based startup in which Ford and Volkswagen together hold a majority stake. Sherif Marakby, chief executive of Ford Autonomous Vehicles, said Ford plans to launch the commercial transportation service in 2021 in a purpose-built hybrid vehicle that can be equipped to carry either people or goods. Peter Rander, president of Argo AI, said development teams soon will be manually driving the Fusion test vehicles in Austin, mapping the city streets and assessing driver and pedestrian behaviors ahead of the commercial launch. Waymo last year introduced an automated ride service with human attendants in Phoenix, using specially outfitted Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid MPVs. General Motors’ Cruise Automation said in July it planned to delay commercial deployment of automated vehicles in San Francisco beyond its initial target of 2019 because more testing was required. +++ 

+++ GENERAL MOTORS said it will pay for the health insurance of its striking hourly workers, reversing a decision to push the costs onto the United Auto Workers union as officials on both sides said major issues remain to be resolved. No agreement was expected even as talks were continuing and could continue into the weekend, UAW and GM officials said. Because of the complex nature of shifting health care coverage costs, GM said that UAW members’ coverage had never lapsed. “Given the confusion around what was happening, we chose to work with our providers to ensure that the benefits would remain fully in place”, GM spokesman Jim Cain said. The UAW had accused GM of blindsiding its members with the decision to drop coverage during the strike, and some workers had claimed they could not pay their medical bills as a result. The union seized on this issue to rally public and political support for the 48,000 striking workers. “There is no doubt that public sentiment sees these actions of GM as a shameful act”, Terry Dittes, the UAW vice president in charge of the GM department, said in a letter to GM that the union released publicly. UAW members went on strike at GM on Sept. 16 seeking higher pay, greater job security, a bigger share of the leading U.S. automaker’s profit and protection of their healthcare benefits. GM immediately shifted responsibility for the health insurance to the union’s strike fund. GM officials had previously indicated that the decision on health insurance had been telegraphed to the union well before the strike and no worker had lacked coverage thanks to the UAW strike fund. The strike is costing GM about $100 million a day, analysts said. The walkout (the longest autoworker strike in nearly 30 years) has become a political event, attracting the attention of Democratic presidential hopefuls, who have been visiting the striking workers on the picket lines. The Democratic candidates have echoed the striking workers in saying GM employees deserve fair treatment from the Detroit automaker they helped get through bankruptcy and several criticized GM for its previous decision to stop paying for the workers’ health insurance. People familiar with the talks said progress has been made, but the 2 sides are still grappling with issues over pay and job security of newer and temporary workers. +++ 

+++ Carole GHOSN , the wife of former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn, raises doubts about her husband getting a fair trial in Japan in an interview. “I think my husband doesn’t look like he is going to get a fair trial, the way they are behaving, the way that they are treating him compared to Japanese like Hiroto Saikawa”, she said, referring to former Nissan CEO. Saikawa was allowed to step down earlier this month after he admitted to being overpaid in breach of company rules following an internal investigation. Carlos Ghosn was arrested in Japan and fired by Nissan last year. He is awaiting trial in Tokyo on financial misconduct charges that he denies. +++ 

+++ The next JAGUAR F-Type will have to raise its game to stand out amid a flood of challengers that has arguably made the current F-Type tough to pick out in a crowded marketplace. The solution could be going the C8 Chevrolet Corvette route and adopting a midengine layout, last previewed by the Jaguar C-X75 concept. The C-X75 debuted at the 2010 Paris auto show and was co-developed with Williams F1. The concept had an exotic powertrain: 2 diesel-fueled gas turbines produced electrical power for 4 motors; 1 for each wheel, producing a combined 800 hp. The technology was too fanciful for production, which is why there has not been a production Jaguar with anything like this sitting midships or elsewhere in the car, especially as a diesel. If anything, the automaker has decided to embrace battery-electric tech in the meantime, fielding the I-Pace. But the design and layout of the C-X75 concept are still modern and compelling, prompting Jaguar to take another look at the basic ingredients in deciding what route to take with the next F-Type. Former Jaguar design head Ian Callum told that he envisioned a next-generation sports car in the mold of the C-X75. “We could get quite close” to the C-X75 concept, Callum told Autocar. “There’s still a formula within Jaguar for a front-mid-engined car. I have a preference for mid-engined cars. It’s certainly something I would like to see”. “For an electric sports car, you could make a shape like the C-X75 concept with the batteries in a T or H-shape through the middle”, Callum said. There are 2 options being considered for the next F-Type: a short-nosed, electric/midengined format mentioned by Callum, and a front-mounted internal combustion engine format that uses a hybridized V8 engine. The current F-Type has 3 years left on the shelf, so Jaguar has time, but the automaker is in a precarious financial situation. Jaguar Land Rover is in a partnership with BMW to develop and build electric drive units and if BMW decides to make the next-generation i8 a battery-electric model instead of a hybrid, that platform could be shared with Jaguar for an EV sports car of its own. The other option is to use the I-Pace platform to underpin a sports car to replace the F-Type, which could be simpler and cheaper in the long term. With market tastes changing so rapidly in recent years, by the time the current F-Type is due to be replaced, EVs may rule the sports car sphere, so Jaguar may have little option but to make the F-Type an EV using I-Pace as a starting point. +++ 

+++ JAGUAR LAND ROVER (JLR), Britain’s biggest carmaker, will halt production at its British factories for a week in November, joining BMW and Toyota in plans to help mitigate any immediate disruption from a no-deal Brexit. The industry, Britain’s biggest exporter of goods, has been vocal about its concerns that a disorderly departure from the European Union could disrupt the flow of components and vehicles, ruining production processes and damaging the viability of factories. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to take Britain out of the EU, with or without an exit deal, on Oct. 31. However, it remains unclear whether that will actually happen or if Brexit will be delayed, put back to a referendum or even cancelled. Chief executive Ralf Speth said that JLR had to make plans now, including a stop to production at its 4 British factories during the first week of November. “We cannot think about it, we just have to do it”, he told. “I need 20 million parts a day and that means I have to make commitments to my suppliers, I have to have every and each part available and I have to have it just in time”. The move will affect the firm’s 3 car factories, which built just under a third of Britain’s 1.5 million cars last year, and its engine facility in Wolverhampton. Toyota said in August it would not build cars at its British factory on Nov. 1 while BMW will halt production at its Oxford plant on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. Speth said JLR would also change shift patterns at its Halewood factory near Liverpool leading to a cut in output due to the “cyclical challenge” facing the car industry, which has prompted profit warnings and forecast cuts at a number of firms. Speth, who has led JLR for nearly a decade, has taken the company through a rapid expansion overseas but more recently the firm has posted losses due to a slowdown in China and a hit to diesel sales, particularly in Europe. Speth’s current term at JLR is due to end next year, a source previously told. Speth said he was still enjoying his time at the carmaker. “I started here in 2010 and all my predecessors only survived for 2 years or so”, he said. “Working for this iconic and authentic brand is a lot of fun, so as long as it’s fun, it’s just wonderful to be there”. +++ 

+++ KIAEurope aims to avoid sales dip despite electrification push. Emilio Herrera, who has been chief operating officer of Kia Europe for 15 months, is keeping the brand on a growth path despite a steady decline in the region’s overall vehicle sales. Kia’s European registrations rose 1.6 % in the first half to 268,305 despite the market’s 3.1 % dip. Maintaining this pace is about to get tougher as Kia electrifies its lineup at a time when many customers remain reluctant to switch to hybrids or full-electric models. Production of the XCeed and Ceed SW plug-in hybrids will start in late November at the Zilina plant in Slovakia. Both models will hit the market in January 2020. Also in November, a mild hybrid version of the Ceed hatchback will start. Gradually, each Ceed variant will get some form of electrification. Kia is also considering a full-electric version. Next year, the new Sorrento will offer the current diesel engine plus hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions. The Imagine by Kia concept which Kia unveiled at this year’s Geneva show will be the base of a BEV [battery-electric vehicle] that will be launched in 2021. All of these electrified vehicles are crucial to comply with tougher Euroean CO2 emissions rules that take full effect in 2021. Without BEVs and plug-in hybrids it would be almost impossible for Kia to make the targets. “We have to secure as many EVs for Europe as possible to be able to increase our overall sales in Europe or at least to maintain the volume. Otherwise, we will have to reduce the volume like some other brands, but this is something we don’t want to do. We don’t want to pay fines, either. Unfortunately, our task gets more complicated every day, given the rise in SUV sales and fall in diesel sales”, a spokesman said. He says the e-Soul and the e-Niro are selling so well that Kia doesn’t have enough supply. “We launched both cars early this year, and most of the countries have already sold their allotments for 2019. Now these countries are selling the 2020 production”. The battery supply is still the main problem. However, this won’t effect the upcoming plug-in hybrids because Kia has reworked the contracts. The Kia spokesman said electrified vehicles will account for 15 % of their total sales, so approximately 75,000 out of 500,000 units with 12,000 e-Niros and 4,000 e-Souls. Kia needs to sell 40,000 EVs to meet the EU CO2 target. “Luckily the production of batteries will start to rise in the second half of this year, helping us produce and sell the necessary number of cars in 2020”. +++ 

+++ MASERATI announced production plans for its first hybrid and battery-powered models, including an electric sports car and a new SUV. The sports car will be built in Maserati’s plant in Modena, northern Italy, where the production line is being upgraded to accommodate its electric powertrain, the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) luxury unit said. Maserati gave no further details about the car. It could be a rival to the Ferrari F8 Tributo and Lamborghini Huracan supercars rather than, as previously expected, a production version of the the Alfieri concept car unveiled at the 2014 Geneva auto show. When asked in an August interview with an Italian newspaper whether it will be the production version of the Alfieri Coupe, CEO Harald Wester answered: “No, it will be a sports car in line with the Maserati heritage”. The sports car will also have a gasoline version that will launch in 2020 before the electric variant. The midsize SUV will go into production in early 2020 in FCA’s plant in Cassino, central Italy, where the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is built. The plant will get a new production line for the SUV that can handle electrified cars. The SUV is expected to go on sale in early 2021 mas a Porsche Macan rival. It will be positioned below the Levante. Next year Maserati will launch its first hybrid car, an electrified version of its Ghibli sedan. It’s expected to be a plug-in hybrid. The Granturismo coupe and GranCabrio convertible will be replaced by 2 full-electric models that will be built either at Grugliasco or Mirafiori in Turin, Maserati said. The investment is part of a plan announced by FCA last year to spend €5 billion in Italy between 2019-2021. All new Maseratis including updated current models will offer autonomous driving capabilities, starting with Level 2 partial automation progressing to Level 3 where the car can maneuver in and out of lanes or bring the car to a stop if the driver is unable to take control of the vehicle. +++ 

+++ RENAULT is ready to be part of a European batteries project provided it makes economic sense to do so. “We are all for it; it’s just a question of getting around a table to try and figure out a viable economic plan. It has to make economic sense”, Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard said during a hearing in the French parliament. France and Germany in April initiated a first European battery cell consortium, including automaker PSA Group with its German subsidiary Opel, and French battery maker Saft. Germany said last month that European states were discussing the creation of a second European battery cell production consortium, which, on the German side, could involve BMW, BASF, Varta and BMZ. +++ 

+++ Toyota will raise its stake in SUBARU to 20 % from around 17 %, the 2 Japanese automakers said, as they leverage their scale to better compete in developing new vehicle technologies. The investment comes a month after Toyota and another smaller Japanese automaker, Suzuki, said they would take small equity stakes in each other. Such tie-ups highlight how automakers are scrambling to chase scale, manage costs and boost development required to develop self-driving cars, electric vehicles and new mobility services which are upending the global auto industry. “In this once-in-a-century period of profound transformation, by strengthening their bonds and aligning their capabilities, Toyota and Subaru aim to make ever-better cars”, Toyota said in a statement. Japan’s biggest automaker whose annual global vehicle sales are 10 times that of Subaru, said its investment would amount to up to 80 billion yen ($742 million) based on Subaru’s stock market value. The smaller automaker will reciprocate by buying a stake in Toyota of equal value. Traditional car makers, especially smaller ones such as Subaru and Suzuki, are struggling to meet the fast pace of change in an industry which is shifting to a business model of providing transportation services from simply selling cars to drivers. Their deepening partnerships with Toyota, which already oversees a vast, closely knit network of group companies that include suppliers, vendors and commercial vehicle makers, has raised speculation that these smaller automakers may be absorbed into the Toyota fabric in the future. “The plan appears to be to ultimately make Subaru a fully owned subsidiary, to help create a ‘mega Toyota’. This is the first step toward that”, said Takeshi Miyao, managing director of consultancy Carnorama. “It’s all about building scale”. But Subaru president Tomomi Nakamura was adamant that his company would remain independent for now. “I can assure you that there was absolutely no talk of Subaru becoming a Toyota subsidiary; either from our side or theirs”, Subaru president Tomomi Nakamura told. Car makers around the world are joining forces to slash development and manufacturing costs of new technology. Ford and Volkswagen have said they will spend billions of dollars to jointly develop electric and self-driving vehicles. The deal cements Subaru’s place in Toyota’s expanding group of Japanese partners, which include Mazda and Yamaha Motor. Rival Nissan has an alliance with Renault, although that has been shaken following the ouster of former chairman Carlos Ghosn, and with Mitsubishi. Honda has a tie-up with General Motors. Subaru is known for its horizontally placed boxer engines, along with its EyeSight autonomous driver assist and all-wheel-drive technologies. The 2 automakers in June said they planned to jointly develop an electric SUV on a platform produced together, to share costs. Toyota seems to be keen on investing in smaller, domestic automakers, rather than forging cross-border tie-ups like some of its rivals. It has been building its holding in Subaru since first acquiring a 9.5 % stake in the company, then called Fuji Heavy Industries, in 2005. Its current 17 % stake makes Toyota the biggest shareholder. +++ 

+++ TOYOTA plans to launch hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles with its China partners Guangzhou Automobile Group and FAW Group, as the Japanese automaker tries to boost its presence in the world’s biggest auto market. Toyota will also equip GAC and their joint venture’s models with fuel cells. The companies did not disclose financial details of the projects, which deepen cooperation among the partners to develop new-energy vehicles and connectivity technologies. Fuel cell vehicles use a stack of cells that electro-chemically combine hydrogen with oxygen to generate electricity to propel the vehicle, with water being the only byproduct. Toyota will also expand ties on hybrid vehicles and aim to launch more full-electric vehicles with “good quality and low prices” separately with FAW and GAC. Sources told Reuters last year Toyota planned to sell electric vehicles with GAC’s logo in their joint venture’s dealerships, in a move to meet China’s strict green car quotas. The new development plan reflects gestures of goodwill to Beijing by Toyota, whose CEO Akio Toyoda wants to “step on the accelerator in China”, while needing “to strike a fine balance between China and the United States”. Toyota sold around 1.5 million vehicles in China in 2018, far below its global rivals General Motors and Volkswagen Group. However, it is laying the foundation to increase sales in China to 2 million vehicles per year. Toyota in April said it had started supplying fuel cell parts to Chinese commercial vehicle makers Beiqi Foton Motor and Beijing SinoHytec. In July it said it would supply key hydrogen fuel cell parts to Chinese automakers FAW and Higer Bus. Toyota will also share resources and talent to develop “intelligent connected” vehicles with GAC and FAW. +++ 

+++ Volkswagen is nearing a decision on building a new plant in TURKEY , a board member told. “We are in final talks”, said Andreas Tostmann, board member in charge of production, adding he expected the talks to be completed in 2 weeks, “perhaps earlier”. Giving more details on the plans, sources close to the company said the multi-brand factory would cost more than €1 billion. The sources said the plant would likely produce 300,000 cars a year: the Volkswagen Passat and near identical Skoda Superb models, for export to eastern Europe. It would employ near 4,000 in Manisa near Izmir in western Anatolia and construction could start at the end of 2020 with production starting in 2022, they said. Volkswagen had been looking into a possible new plant in eastern Europe, with Bulgaria known to have been on the list. A deal in Turkey could be politically controversial given European Union concerns regarding what it sees as constraints on freedom of expression and demonstration rights under president Tayyip Erdogan. Volkswagen’s argument is that Turkey is a candidate for EU membership. +++ 

+++ In the UNITED KINGDOM , car production increased by an annual 3.3 % in August, the first rise in 15 months, helped by several factories having moved their summertime shutdowns to April in preparation for the original Brexit date, an industry body said. BMW, PSA, Honda and Jaguar Land Rover all closed factories ranging from a few days to 4 weeks in April over concerns that Britain’s scheduled departure from the European Union in March could lead to disruption, including delays to the arrival of parts. The move led to a 44.5 % decline in output in April, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and ended up being in vain as Brexit was eventually pushed back to the end of October. August saw a small bounceback with output rising 3.3 % to 92,158 cars, helped by a 15.2 % increase in domestic demand, data showed. “Today’s figures mask the underlying downward trend and strengthening global headwinds facing the sector, including international trade tensions, massive technological upheaval and, in the UK, political and economic uncertainty”, said SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes. “We now need parliament and government to redouble efforts to get a deal that maintains free and frictionless trade”. +++ 

+++ VOLKSWAGEN Group’s VW brand said it had increased productivity, cut costs and was on course to achieving carbon-cutting targets at the automaker’s factories. “Our strategy is working. We will improve our productivity by over 6 % and lower production costs per vehicle for the first time since 2013”, Volkswagen’s board member for production and logistics, Andreas Tostmann, said. The productivity target previously had been 5 %. Volkswagen said that cost cuts that factories had been making in 2019 in personnel, ancillary procurement and general overhead costs amounted to €500 million. This would contribute to targeted cost cuts in these areas totaling €2 billion between 2019 and 2023, the automaker said. Volkswagen said that carbon dioxide emissions per vehicle had been reduced by 22 % between 2015 and the first half of 2019. The automaker has a target of halving CO2 emissions by 2025 compared with the figure for 2015. Volkswagen’s supervisory board and workers gave their backing to the carmaker’s top managers a day after German prosecutors pressed charges related to the diesel emissions scandal. Prosecutors in the city of Braunschweig have charged CEO Herbert Diess, as well as non-executive chairman Hans Dieter Pötsch and former CEO Martin Winterkorn with stock market manipulation. Volkswagen’s supervisory board said in a statement that Diess and Pötsch would stay in office. Earlier in the day, Volkswagen workers applauded Pötsch at a mass meeting of staff at the company’s headquarters, according to a participant, as staff appeared to close ranks behind senior managers. German prosecutors have accused Pötsch as well as the carmaker’s current CEO Diess and former CEO Winterkorn of holding back market-moving information on rigged emissions tests four years ago, raising the prospect of more upheaval at the company as it tries to reinvent itself as a champion of clean driving. The carmaker’s supervisory board has not found any evidence that Diess and Pötsch were too late in informing markets. “This is why the successful collaboration with the chairman and the chief executive will be continued”, the board said in a statement. The staff meeting at the company’s Wolfsburg base had been long scheduled and is part Volkswagen’s normal agenda where such meetings usually take place every 3 months. The charges show how the German company, which in September 2015 admitted using illegal software to cheat U.S. diesel engine tests, is struggling to move on from a scandal which has cost it more than $30 billion in vehicle refits, fines and provisions. Under Diess, Volkswagen plans to spend €80 billion to buy battery cells and develop electric cars and has struck a broad alliance with Ford to help share development and manufacturing costs. It has also listed its truck business separately under the name of Traton. +++ 

+++ VOLVO said the frontal structure of the battery-powered version its XC40 has been completely redesigned and reinforced because the new version of compact SUV no longer will have an engine. The changes include putting the car’s lithium ion battery in a safety cage that consists of a frame of extruded aluminum. In addition, the battery has been embedded in the middle of the car’s body structure, creating a built-in crumple zone around it. The XC40’s electric powertrain has also been integrated in the rear portion of the car’s body structure to better distribute collision forces away from the cabin and reduce the strain on people inside the car if there is an accident. “The full-electric XC40 will be one of the safest cars we have ever built”, Volvo head of safety Malin Ekholm said in a release. The car will debut on Oct. 16. Last year the fuel-driven version XC40 received EuroNCAP’s top safety rating of 5 stars, and it was named European Car of the Year, a first for Volvo in its 92-year history. The full-electric XC40 will also be first Volvo equipped with a new advanced driver assistance system that consists of an array of radars, cameras and ultrasonic sensors. The system is scalable, making it possible to steadily enhance the car’s ability to drive itself, the company said while declining to say what level of autonomy the EV will offer. The current XC40, which is based on the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), offers Level 2 capability (so-called semi-autonomous) driver assistance systems that can steer and brake the SUV as long the driver remains in full control. The automaker has said it will eventually offer Level 4 autonomy on its second-generation Scalable Product Architecture (SPA 2), which will debut with the launch of the third-generation XC90 flagship due in 2021. Volvo will not offer Level 3 autonomy, which the Swedish automaker considers unsafe because the driver must be prepared to take over within a matter of seconds during an emergency. The automotive industry is on track to spend €18 to €27 billion on autonomous driving technology between 2017 and 2022, analysts estimate. While the XC40 leads Volvo’s entry into the battery-driven era, it is actually the second full-electric vehicle from the Volvo Car Group. The first was the Polestar 2, which the group’s electrified performance brand debuted in February and revealed to the public a month later at the Geneva auto show. Both full-electric vehicles will be on the road by 2020. In addition, both models use the CMA underpinnings that Volvo developed with Chinese sister brand Geely. CMA also underpins the 01, 02 and 03 from Lynk & Co. +++

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