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+++ BMW ’s design boss has again defended the brand’s controversial new styling direction, continued in earnest by the recently revealed Concept 4 Series Coupé. After it was unwrapped at the Frankfurt motor show, Adrian van Hooydonk was asked about the polarising views of BMW’s recent design debuts. He told: “I’m not a psychologist but I know BMW is a brand that not only has customers, it has fans. They know our entire design history and have strong opinions on that. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, it means we have really connected with these people on an emotional level. Okay, I know that there might be some discussion with fans because they’ve grown to love what you’ve just done and you’re changing it already. “As a company, you have to keep moving”, he continued. “The minute you start standing still, you become an easy target. The market is very competitive now, more than ever. But the hardest thing to do is make changes while you are successful. If you are no longer successful, people will immediately start saying you need to make changes, but then you are in panic mode”. Describing the 4 Series specifically, van Hooydonk said: “It is a sporty coupé, and by definition it has to have a very expressive design, and you see that all around the car, not just the front. But there are not that many lines or elements: it’s not a complex design. “We want to do this for all our cars: we want to have fewer elements, then each element you use plays a bigger role”. Van Hooydonk did acknowledge, however, that it was the recent facelift of the 7 Series flagship that was the most visually distinctive, and there’s a good reason for that. “It was part of the brief”, he said. “People liked the car, but they said by and large it looks quite similar to the previous one, so why should they buy the new one? Now everyone has noticed and production has ramped up considerably”. +++ 

+++ CADILLAC says it has no intention of selling the high-performance CT6-V in Europe. Deliveries of the range-topping CT6 variant commenced last week according to Cadillac Society after a delay regarding emissions. Now that deliveries have kicked off in the United States, the same publication reached out to head of public relations at Cadillac Europe, Rene Kreis, to see if European shoppers can expect to find the CT6-V at dealerships in the future. “We currently have no plans to import the CT6-V to Europe”, he responded. Lesser Cadillac CT6 models are sold throughout North America, China, Europe, Korea, Japan, and the Middle East. With confirmation that China also won’t be offered the CT6-V, it seems unlikely that other markets such as Mexico and the Middle East will either. After all, China is Cadillac’s biggest market and if the CT6-V were to be sold anywhere other than the U.S. and Canada, you’d expect it to be there. The Cadillac CT6-V has been a long time coming. It was first announced in March 2018 as the CT6-V Sport and in September last year, was renamed to the CT6-V. It premiered the car manufacturer’s 4.2-liter twin-turbo V8 engine dubbed Blackwing that is good for 550 hp and 867 Nm. Earlier this year, it was revealed that issues with emissions compliance were the reason why deliveries of the Cadillac were delayed although Cadillac has kept specifics close to its chest. +++ 

+++ GENERAL MOTORS (GM) July to September vehicle sales in China fell 17.5 %, as the U.S. automaker was hurt by a slowing economy amid the Sino-U.S. trade war and by heightened competition in its key mid-priced SUV segment. GM delivered 689,531 vehicles in China in the third quarter this year, according to a company statement. The drop for the quarter ended September 30 marks the fifth straight quarterly sales decline for GM in China, the world’s biggest auto market. It delivered 2.26 million vehicles in the first 9 months this year. As GM and Ford China sales extend declines, U.S. car companies’ share of total China passenger vehicles sales fell to 9.5 % in the first 8 months of this year from 10.7 % in the year-ago period, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Over the same period, German car makers’ share has risen to 23.8 % from 21.6 % and Japanese auto makers’ to 21.7 % from 18.3 %. In China, GM has a joint venture with SAIC Motor, in which the Buick, Chevrolet and Cadillac are made. It also has another venture, with SAIC and Guangxi Automobile Group, in which they make no-frills MPVs and have started to make higher-end cars. GM, the second biggest international automaker in China by sales, sold 3.64 million units in China last year, down from 4.04 units in 2017. Sales of GM’s affordable brand Baojun dropped 34.9 % for the latest quarter, while sales of the mass-market Buick fell 20.6 %. But luxury brand Cadillac’s sales jumped 10.9 %. Annual industry car sales in China fell last year for the first time since the 1990s, and they are expected to fall this year too. Sales dropped 6.9 % in August from the same month a year prior. An official at the association said last month that in the next 4 years the industry could see “low or small negative growth”. +++

+++ NISSAN is set to unveil a revamped production line in Sunderland, England, where the Japanese automaker operates Britain’s biggest auto plant. Yet the fanfare surrounding the updated Juke may prove to be no more than a stay of execution for a factory whose future will be on the line in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The launch of the new model, which will go on sale in November, will be accompanied by the loss of one of Sunderland’s 5 daily work shifts as staff transfer between the site’s 2 assembly lines, a move that may be a precursor of further cuts to come. Automakers have been increasingly vocal in opposing a British split from the European Union without a deal, warning of a potentially devastating impact on the industry. Export tariffs would make locally-built autos uncompetitive when sold in mainland Europe and customs checks and red tape would disrupt ultra-efficient just-in-time supply lines, they say. Nissan, which made Britain its European manufacturing base in 1986, has said it’s “waiting for clarity” on the implications of Brexit. It has already scrapped plans to build its X-Trail at Sunderland, which has a workforce of 6,500 people and ended production of the luxury Infiniti brand there in July. Production of the Qashqai could be moved to Spain. The latest iteration of the 10-year-old Juke goes on sale without a mention of a hybrid or electric version, in an industry where many new models come to market with options beyond traditional combustion engines. Jobs at the plant appear safe in the short term, with overall headcount set to remain the same despite the lost shift as manufacturing staff are redeployed to the site’s line two to support production of Juke, according to an emailed statement from the company. But Nissan could find it relatively easy to shift Juke assembly across the channel if a hard Brexit was to prove too ruinous. The company and partner Renault already build multiple models on identical platforms. The Juke’s Common Module Family B platform is architecture being used by Renault to assemble the latest versions of the Clio and Captur. Nissan will begin delivering the Juke next month, days after the Oct. 31 date for Britain to leave the EU. While the British parliament has taken steps to force Boris Johnson to seek an extension to the UK’s membership of the block in the absence of a deal, the prime minister has pledged to stick to the deadline. More than 1 million Jukes have been built in Sunderland since the car was launched in 2010. Almost 80,000 were churned out last year, equivalent to almost a fifth of the plant’s total production of 442,000 autos, with about a third sold in the UK. The facility in northeast England helped propel Britain to record auto output and sales in 2016, before concerns about Brexit and a government campaign against diesel engines began to weigh on demand. Nissan has said friction-less trade has been key to Sunderland’s success and that a sudden change from current arrangements will have “serious implications” for the industry. The site also makes the Leaf. Nissan’s confidence in the UK has wavered since Greg Clark, former business secretary, wrote to the company soon after the 2016 Brexit referendum setting out four key assurances, including a pledge to seek tariff-free access to the EU. Nissan won a 61 million-pound government regional development grant last year to boost productivity in Sunderland, though its aims included securing new production of the now-canceled X-Trail model. Following the decision, Clark told the House of Commons that “Nissan will be invited to resubmit an application in the light of its changed investment”. Nissan has ended night shifts at its UK plant. The Unite union said no jobs will be lost with the loss of the night shift because demand is being consolidated into the day shifts. “Unite has been aware of this announcement for some time and our officers and reps at the plant have been working hard to ensure that the full workforce is protected”, the union’s assistant general secretary, Steve Turner, said in a statement. Nissan has been hit hard by a slump in diesel sales in Europe. In the first 8 months, the automaker’s EU sales fell 27 % to 263,143 vehicles, according to data from industry association ACEA. +++ 

+++ Strengthening the alliance between RENAULT and Nissan is crucial, said French junior economy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher, amid signs of a possible management shake-up at Renault. “We must deal with the issues at Nissan and strengthen the alliance”, Pannier-Runacher told. Renault, like its alliance partner Nissan, is still reeling from the arrest last year of former boss Carlos Ghosn on allegations of financial misconduct. The French state has a 15 % stake in Renault, which in turn has a 43.3 % stake in Nissan. A senior management shake-up at Renault is on the cards, a source close to the French government, a major shareholder in the carmaker, said after a newspaper reported that CEO Thierry Bollore was set to be replaced. Renault’s chairman is poised to kick off a process to replace Bollore, as the company tries to draw a line under an era marked by the arrest of former boss Carlos Ghosn. But the source familiar with the thinking of the French government, said Bollore’s fate had not been determined. “The question of pursuing a full renewal of Renault’s management is indeed on the table”, the source said. “But nothing has been decided, and it is up to Renault to decide”. Jean-Dominique Senard, who was brought in to chair Renault this year from tyre maker Michelin, could present the succession proposal at the next board meeting on Oct. 18. Renault, like its alliance partner Nissan, is still reeling from the arrest last year of Ghosn on allegations of financial misconduct, which he denies. Bollore, long Ghosn’s right hand man, was also promoted alongside Senard to help steady Renault. As well as stabilizing the alliance with Nissan, Senard was tasked with shaking up the Renault’s governance, which he has yet to do. French Finance Minster Bruno Le Maire said on the sidelines of an official meeting in Luxembourg that it was not up to the state to interfere in Renault’s situation, although he said he backed any move that Senard might make. “We have full confidence in Jean-Dominique Senard and Renault’s board to choose the best governance and people that will apply the industrial strategy that the state has defined for its technological transformation”, Le Maire said. Any change at the top of Renault would follow hot on the heels of a management overhaul at Nissan, and could help ease tensions between the alliance partners. The source close to the French government said Bollore’s fate was not tied to the shake-up at Nissan. “There is no kind of deal or quid pro quo”, the source said. Bollore, 56, has long been viewed with suspicion by the French government as a holdover from the Ghosn years, people familiar with the situation told. As well as stabilizing the alliance with Nissan, Senard was tasked with shaking up the Renault’s governance, which he has yet to do. +++ 

+++ It’s no secret that Tesla’s SMART SUMMON feature is far from perfect, but Consumer Reports decided to put it to the test on their Model 3. Unsurprisingly, they weren’t impressed with the results. In a scathing review, the publication said the feature is “glitchy and at times worked intermittently, without a lot of obvious benefits for consumers”. If that wasn’t bad enough, the group’s senior director of auto testing, Jake Fisher, described Smart Summon as “a kind of science experiment” that’s a “work in progress”. He also slammed the company for releasing a feature that wasn’t fully tested and ready to be deployed. While the feature did work on occasion, Consumer Reports noted multiple problems including the car mistakenly believing it was on a public road and not in a parking lot. As a result, it “shut itself down”. Even when the system did work, the Model 3 would suddenly stop for no apparent reason. The car also moved very slowly in parking lots and didn’t always stay on the right side of the aisle. In particular, the publication said it “would wander left and right as it drove erratically, like a drunken or distracted driver”. Speaking of acting like a drunk, the car drove the wrong way down a one-way lane. This forced a tester to run out to the car and move it. These issues are pretty troubling and Consumer Report’s senior policy analyst, Ethan Douglas, said “Tesla should stop beta-testing its cars on the general public by pushing out experimental features before they’re ready”. As we have previously reported, a number of Tesla owners have already reported accidents while using the Smart Summon feature. This has pushed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to look into the issue, but it’s troubling such a half-baked feature was released in the first place. +++ 

+++ TESLA has patented an innovative new way to heat and cool car seats. Heated and cooled seats aren’t a new invention. Usually, the heated function of a car seat works thanks to a host of resistors that heat up when an electric current is passed through them. Vehicles with cooled seats (that also require perforated upholstery) use fans to blow air out of the seat. Tesla thinks things can be done differently. A patent from the electric car manufacturer reveals how heated and cooled seats could feature a layer of fluid under where an occupant sits that is surrounded by another layer to contain this fluid. Also found within this intermediate layer is a heating and cooling element as well as a small pump that sends the heated or cooled fluid around the seat. The patent doesn’t describe what kind of fluid could be used but it is suggested it is most likely to be some kind of aqueous gel. It also remains to be seen what kind of element will be used to heat and cool the seat. Detailed in the patent are a number of measures to ensure the system wouldn’t spring a leak, including supports that ensure proper flow throughout the system. No mention is made in the patent as to whether or not such a system will find its way into the production line but considering Tesla’s penchant for doing things a little differently, it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise to see such a system in Tesla vehicles in the future. +++ 

+++ A Renault Sport version of the ZOE electric hatch is being eyed up as an indirect replacement for the Clio RS. Bosses at the firm told us a successor to the hot Clio is no longer a viable business proposition, and that a hot Zoé is currently the favoured option within the company to plug the gap. Renault previously flirted with the idea of a performance-based EV back in 2017 when it showed the Zoé e-Sport concept. The running prototype featured technology learned from the French firm’s efforts in Formula E; a twin-motor set-up delivered 465 hp and a 0-100 kph time of 3.2 seconds, but the concept was never intended to be put into production. However, Ali Kasai, Renault’s executive vice-president of product planning, told that future Renault Sport models have to be in keeping with the brand’s electrification strategy. “We need to be in line with the current trends; we have to invent the future sporty cars. This is the role of Renault Sport, to be innovative”. Kasai said. “Zoé, that concept, it is exactly what we were thinking and we still think. That car was appreciated by many people, they loved it, they want to buy it from the feedback we get”. There are various ways in which Renault Sport could develop a more performance-focused model; the first would be to sacrifice some of the car’s range while adding a more powerful electric motor. Another avenue would be to fit an additional motor on the Zoé’s rear axle. Kasai added: “The question is what is the performance? What is the range of that car? How would it be on track? Renault Sport is a serious player, so if we do the car it has to have the performance. But if it can only do one lap of a track and then it has to go to a charging station, well that’s not what we want to do”. One of the defining factors why Renault bosses are leaning towards a hot Zoé is the collapse in a business case for the Clio RS. Kasai said ever-tighter CO2 emissions targets made bringing the vehicle to market at an affordable price unachievable. “Today a Clio RS would need very elaborate technology to reach lower CO2 levels. And by keeping the high performance necessary for such a vehicle, you would have to charge such a big premium that those customers would be mostly unable to afford it”, Kasai told. “At the moment, even if we love sporty cars, as is our history, we can’t find the solution to that equation. It’s impossible.
Also, looking at the competition, we don’t see many rivals”.
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