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+++ BMW will more than double sales of the lucrative X7 and other luxury cars to fight flagging profits and the costly shift to electric cars. Next year, the company plans to deliver between 135,000 and 145,000 of its 7-series, 8-series as well as the X7, M8 performance cars and i8 plug-in hybrid sports car, BMW chief financial officer Nicolas Peter said. That is up from about 65,000 last year, which is expected to grow to roughly 110,000 vehicles this year. The jump is largely thanks to the X7, which hit dealerships in March and comes with a standard 340 hp engine and options including a 4,4 liter V8 engine. “The important topic for us is how do we get our profitability up”, Peter told and who emphasized growing EV sales at the automaker in defense of criticism leveled at SUVs as gas guzzlers. “This is a worldwide growing segment”. BMW is in the middle of a €12 billion cost-cutting drive to combat rising costs in the shift to electric cars, with demand wobbles adding to the challenges of executing the industry’s generational transformation. BMW’s second-quarter operating profit tumbled 20 % against a backdrop of surging capital expenditures for retooling factories to switch between battery-powered and conventional vehicles. The global car market is performing “worse than expected” as economies slow this year, according to Peter, who still sees the premium segment and BMW sales rising next year. Tensions over how to execute the electric-car shift have already toppled former BMW boss Harald Krüger after just one term, with former production head Oliver Zipse taking the helm in August. Zipse foresees a gradual increase in demand for electric cars, making a flexible production setup pivotal. The company plans to have 25 electric and hybrid models by 2023, with over half of those being full electric. BMW is “committed” to reaching tough new rules in the European Union from next year on carbon dioxide fleet emissions, the CEO said. Deliveries for the company have held up comparatively well rising 1.9 % through August. The company, also facing fallout from a potential hard Brexit at its Mini plant in the UK expects earnings before tax for the year to fall “well below” 2018 levels. The automaker is due to report third-quarter earnings on November 6. +++ 

+++ Planemaker BOEING said it is working with Porsche to develop a concept electric flying vehicle capable of transporting people in urban settings. Boeing is already competing with arch-rival Airbus and other companies to introduce small self-flying vehicles capable of vertical takeoff and landing. Earlier this year, the planemaker conducted an inaugural test flight of an aerial car prototype that could accommodate 2 to 4 passengers and fly up to 80 kilometres. The test flight was within months of Airbus showcasing a prototype of an autonomous passenger vehicle in partnership with Audi that has the ability to both fly and drive. Porsche has been aiming to build flying cars that can be used as taxis and for ride-sharing purposes. As part of the deal, Boeing and Porsche will analyze the market potential for premium aerial vehicles and their possible use in highly populated cities and metropolises, the companies said. The partnership comes at a crucial time for both the Volkswagen Group and Boeing. The German carmaker is trying to build its brand image following a diesel emissions scandal, while Boeing has been struggling with its worst crisis since 2 fatal crashes of its 737 MAX planes led to a worldwide grounding of its best-selling jet. +++ 

+++ DYSON has scrapped plans to build what it called a “ground-breaking” electric vehicle, because it doesn’t feel that the project can be commercially viable. The British firm had established a new Dyson Automotive division that was developing the car, a large crossover-style premium EV saloon, ahead of a planned launch in 2021. Billionaire inventor James Dyson had vowed that new technology and design methods would make it stand apart from every other electric vehicle. The firm had committed €2.8 billion into technology including the car project. The design and development of the machine was being undertaken by a staff of just over 500 workers at a facility in Hullavington. It is understood the firm already had a working version of the car at the facility. But in an email to staff, Dyson confirmed that the automotive project was being closed. He said the team “has developed a fantastic car; they have been ingenious in their approach while remaining faithful to our philosophies. However, though we have tried very hard throughout the development process, we simply can no longer see a way to make it commercially viable”. It is understood that Dyson’s board considered the troubles of EV start-ups such as Tesla and Nio to make money from selling cars, and the speed with which mainstream car firms were moving into the electric car market, as reasons for the decision. The firm had been planning to produce the car at a new factory in Singapore, and was shortly due to start on the hugely capital-intensive project of developing and tooling up that site. Dyson added that the firm did go through “a serious process to find a buyer for the project which has, unfortunately, been unsuccessful so far”. Although the car project has been stopped, the firm says it remains committed to the €2.8 billion technology investment, which will be spent on further developing the IP and technology that was set to underpin the car. That includes continued investment in robotics, manufacturing techniques and, in particular, solid-state battery technology. It is understood that Dyson is open to licensing some of the technology it develops to other firms. Dyson said the technology it is developing will “offer us significant opportunities which we must grab with both hands”. He added: “Our battery will benefit Dyson in a profound way and take us in exciting new directions. In summary, our investment appetite is undiminished and we will continue to deepen our roots in both the United Kingdom and Singapore”. The firm hopes that as many staff working on the car project as possible will be given roles elsewhere within Dyson, working on the firm’s existing home products. Dyson said: “This is not a product failure, or a failure of the team, for whom this news will be hard to hear and digest. Their achievements have been immense, given the enormity and complexity of the project”. He added: “Since day one, we have taken risks and dared to challenge the status quo with new products and technologies. Such an approach drives progress, but has never been an easy journey. The route to success is never linear. “This is not the first project which has changed direction and it will not be the last. I remain as excited about the future of Dyson as I have always been. Our ambitions have never been higher, our ability to invest has never been greater, and the team has never been stronger”. +++ 

+++ Dyson’s sudden decision to scrap its €2.8 billion ELECTRIC VEHICLE ambitions is the latest reality check creeping into the once soaring EV industry. The famed maker of vacuum cleaners and hair dryers couldn’t find a way to make the project commercially viable, billionaire James Dyson said in a letter to its staff. The announcement came about 2 years after the company first disclosed its plans to jump into car manufacturing. Dyson represents one of the most high-profile players to pull out of a sector that’s attracted hundreds of startups in recent years seeking to become the next Tesla. But there are mounting signs that the bubble is bursting as China scales back handouts in the sector and competition heats up. Bernstein estimates that global EV sales fell for the first time ever in July and dropped by a record 23 % in August. “Tesla’s future remains uncertain. Almost all the EV startups trying to follow look challenged”, Bernstein analysts, including Max Warburton and Robin Zhu, said in a report that cited the Dyson decision as a worrisome development in the industry. “Most of these startups will likely fold. The truth is barriers to entry in autos remain high. Making cars is hard. The move to EVs will be expensive”. Take the case of China’s Nio, one of the most prominent electric-car makers in a country that makes about half of the world’s EVs. Last month it reported a wider-than-expected quarterly loss, leading the stock to tumble to a record low and prompting analysts to openly question the company’s viability. The shares jumped after Nio reported third-quarter deliveries exceeded the company’s forecast, but the stock has since erased all those gains. Elsewhere in China, the Lifan Industry Group and Zotye Automobile have had to issue statements denying speculation that they’re planning to file for bankruptcy, though the former conceded it’s under liquidity pressure. The competition is also getting tougher. Besides Tesla, traditional automakers such as General Motors and Volkswagen Group are throwing massive resources into electrification. VW has vowed a $33 billion push to bring battery-powered autos to the masses. Apple has had an automotive project since about 2016, although it is said to have scaled back its ambitions. There are growing concerns that the ample supply of cheap funding for new-age carmakers is about to dry up, according to Bernstein. As to Dyson, the company said it plans to continue its €2.8 billion investment program into new technology, and will concentrate on manufacturing solid-state batteries and other technologies including machine learning and robotics. “Singapore will play an important role in Dyson’s growth plans”, Tan Kong Hwee, assistant managing director at Singapore’s Economic Development Board, said in an emailed statement. Despite Dyson’s decision, Singapore “remains interested in advanced manufacturing activities, including for EVs”, he said. Experts had questioned the company’s costly plans to build an electric car plant in Singapore, where average salaries are among the highest in the world. Ford closed its factory in the city-state about 40 years ago, effectively ending car production on the island. “If everybody else is building a plant in China at a fraction of the cost in terms of labor, it didn’t make a lot of sense for anybody to build that size of a manufacturing facility over there”, said Steve Man, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence in Hong Kong. “I hope Singapore wasn’t expecting much from this”. Still, Singapore has much riding on Dyson in its efforts to attract startups and advanced technology companies. Dyson became one of the biggest global industry names to ever relocate there. There’s another sector Dyson is looking to invest in Singapore. The family office of James Dyson has incorporated in the city state and is in the process of hiring IT and finance-service staff, according to job advertisements posted on Dyson’s website. The family office was established in 2013 and employs about 55 people globally. “It would have been nice to have but the reality is OK, it’s not going to work. Let’s look at something else”, said Song Seng Wun, an economist at CIMB Private Banking in Singapore. “It’s still about making money”. +++ 

+++ FORD ’s July-to-September vehicle sales in China fell 30 %, as the U.S. automaker continued to lose ground in a prolonged sales decline in its second biggest market. The Dearborn based automaker delivered 131,060 vehicles in China in the third quarter. Ford’s sales in China fell 35.8 % in the first quarter and by 21.7 % in the second quarter. In the third quarter, sales of the automaker’s mass-market Ford brand fell 37.7 %, while its luxury division Lincoln saw sales drop by 24.1 %. It delivered around 421,000 vehicles in the first 9 months of the year. Ford has been struggling to revive sales in China after its business began slumping in late 2017. Sales sank 37 % in 2018, after a 6 % decline in 2017. The automaker plans to launch more than 30 new models in China over the next 3 years of which more than a third will be electric vehicles. It also said it would localize management teams by hiring more Chinese staff and aimed to improve relationships with joint venture partners. Ford has launched a series of new models in the third quarter in China, including the Focus, SUV models like the Edge and the electric Territory. In China, Ford makes cars through its joint venture with Chongqing Changan Automobile and Jiangling Motors. It has said it would partner with Zotye Automobile to sell lower priced cars, but there seems to have not been little progress. In a series of moves, Ford named a new president for its main local venture, Changan Ford, in August and said it would enhance its partnership with Changan through research, production and marketing cooperation in September. Ford is also planning to revamp some of its existing manufacturing facilities with Changan to localize production of its premium brand Lincoln. Changan Ford’s sales down by around 33.5 % in the third quarter. Ford’s rival General Motors’ July to September vehicle sales in China also fell 17.5 % to 689,531 vehicles. As GM and Ford China sales extend declines, U.S. car companies’ share of total China passenger vehicle sales fell to 9.5 % in the first 8 months of this year from 10.7 % in the year-ago period. 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 %. 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 in the prior year. An official said last month that in the next 3 years the industry could see “low or small negative growth”. +++ 

+++ GENERAL MOTORS took the unusual step of appealing directly to employees in a blog post that laid out the terms of the automaker’s latest offer aimed at ending a month-long strike. While emphasizing GM’s commitment to the collective bargaining process, the letter, signed by Gerald Johnson, executive vice-president for global manufacturing, circumvents United Auto Workers (UAW) leadership and points to frustration at a lack of progress on ending a conflict that has already cost the company more than $1 billion. The UAW strike began on Sept. 16, with the union’s 48,000 members seeking higher pay, greater job security, a bigger share of profits and protection of healthcare benefits. Credit Suisse estimated the loss could hit about $1.5 billion. As part of its revised offer, GM boosted the amount it plans to invest in the United States to about $9 billion from its previous offer of $7 billion, a source familiar with the offer said. Of the new total, $7.7 billion would be invested directly in GM plants, with the rest going to joint ventures including a potential battery plant near the Lordstown, Ohio, factory that has been idled, the source said. The company said the offer also includes increased compensation through wages and one-time payments, preserving industry-leading healthcare benefits without increasing workers’ costs, enhanced profit sharing with unlimited upside and a higher ratification bonus than the $8,000 previously offered. For temporary workers, GM said its offer would create a path to permanent employment and include a ratification bonus. “The strike has been hard on you, your families, our communities, the company, our suppliers and dealers”, GM’s letter read, saying the latest offer increased compensation and promised a path to full-time jobs for temporary workers. “We have advised the union that it’s critical that we get back to producing quality vehicles for our customers. Our offer builds on the winning formula we have all benefited from over the past several years”. A UAW spokesman declined to comment on the new offer. In a letter to UAW leaders, GM urged the union to agree to around-the-clock negotiations, while the union insisted in its own letter on dealing with 5 specific issues first before it responded to the broader proposal made to union negotiators. GM chief executive officer Mary Barra met with UAW president Gary Jones and lead GM negotiator Terry Dittes to urge a faster response by the union to the company’s last offer. 1 of the 5 issues the committees are discussing is the fate of 4 U.S. factories that GM has indicated could close; another is future technological changes to production, according to the UAW letter. Dittes said he did not know when the issues would be resolved, suggesting a final deal may not be close. UAW workers are concerned that as GM shifts to more electric vehicles it will require fewer workers, and that workers in battery production plants may earn less than those at existing transmission plants. GM told the UAW it could build a new battery plant near the now-shuttered Lordstown factory, and assemble an electric truck at its Detroit Hamtramck plant. Moody’s said in a report that GM must maintain its flexibility under any new deal to build electric and self-driving vehicles without its fixed costs rising further. It said GM’s annual costs in wages and benefits are more than $1 billion higher than foreign automakers operating U.S. plants. “It is critical for GM that any new UAW contract not allow an even wider differential”, Moody’s said. “We expect that the long-term strategic benefits of obtaining a UAW contract will outweigh the costs of enduring a protracted strike that might last into November”, Moody’s added. The UAW said the talks took a “turn for the worse” and the union urged GM to boost U.S. vehicle production. Union workers are angry about production of pickups and SUVs in Mexico. The UAW’s membership is largely in the Midwest, in states that could be critical to both sides in the 2020 presidential election, so the strike has drawn the attention of Republican president Donald Trump, his rivals seeking the Democratic nomination, and U.S. lawmakers. They have urged GM to build more vehicles in the United States and shift work from Mexico. +++ 

+++ Car makers have urged the European Union to “ramp up” investment in HYDROGEN filling stations, as the current infrastructure is “severely lacking”. The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association says “a strategic plan for the pan-European deployment of infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles needs to be put in place”, with the organisation also calling for consideration to be given to the requirements of hydrogen lorries. The majority of the focus on provision for alternatively fuelled vehicles has been around electric cars and their charging points, with hydrogen vehicles left behind. Some 17 new hydrogen stations were opened in Germany last year, bringing the total number in the country to 60; that compares to roughly 25,000 EV chargers. In the UK, there are around 15,000 EV chargers, against just 17 hydrogen stations. Critics of hydrogen cars point to their expense (the Hyundai Nexo and Toyota Mirai both cost upwards of €75,000 in The Netherlands) as well as their rarity and complexity. Generating hydrogen fuel, meanwhile, is also problematic, with the majority of the element captured using fossil fuels. But hydrogen advocates cite the fuel’s advantages, namely that cars running on hydrogen can be refulled as quickly as models with petrol and diesel engines and offer similar range. The cars themselves produce no tailpipe emissions other than water. Hydrogen generation methods, meanwhile, could in theory move away from fossil fuels in future years, just as electricty generation has, to some extent. Research found that some organisations were covering higher mileage in hydrogen cars compared to EVs. The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association’s director general, Eric-Mark Huitema, said: “Along with other alternatively-powered vehicles, fuel cell vehicles hold a strong potential to help make the transition to zero-emission mobility. But their ability to reach this potential depends on a network of hydrogen refuelling stations being built up right across Europe. Today, there are just 125 hydrogen stations in the EU, so there is much work to be done in the coming years”. Hydrogen cars will overtake electric cars, expert claims electric power for cars “has its limits” and cars will be hydrogen-powered from 2030, an automotive-industry expert has said. Felix Gress, head of corporate communications and public affairs at automotive technology firm Continental, told an audience in Germany that electric cars represent poor value for money compared to petrol or diesel alternatives. “For the customers, it will be difficult to accept such a car in the market: you pay a higher price, you get less of a car, so it will be a tough sell”. And, while EVs may be grabbing the headlines and industry attention, Gress predicted that focus will be reversed within a decade or so. “The fuel cell is not ready to kick in yet”, Gress added. “By 2030, we’ll see that coming, especially in passenger cars that run long distances or trucks”. Gress added that manufacturers need to focus on electric cars in order to lower their fleet emissions and meet upcoming regulations in various markets, many of which have plans to limit or ban the sale of new conventionally powered petrol and diesel cars. While these motivations may be driving the automotive industry, Gress warned drivers may not actually buy electric cars large numbers, partly due to what he perceives as their inherent limitations. “The battery technology, according to our estimations, has its limits”, he admitted, adding that “it doesn’t generate enough range” for some people’s needs. Circling back around to the topic of hydrogen vehicles, Gress said this was something Continental is considering. “Fuel cell is not out of reach, I would say. The question is when it would kick in. We are working on that area, too”. +++ 

+++ LAMBORGHINI is said to be developing a new, hardcore variant of the Aventador as perhaps the swansong for its naturally-aspirated 6.5-liter V12 engine. On the back of a recent report that the Aventador’s successor may not launch until 2024, there had been speculation that the Italian marque would need to keep the current model fresh with a variant superseding the current SVJ. This is exactly what Lamborghini is planning. The hardcore Aventador SVR has an uprated 6.5-liter V12 engine, devoid of any hybrid technology, and will deliver 830 hp; easily eclipsing the 770 hp offered up by the Aventador SVJ. It’s not just on a powertrain where the SVR will allegedly have the SVJ beat. It will be capped at just 40 units making it significantly rarer than the SVJ. It can be described as “Lamborghini’s version of FXX”, which means that it will be a track-only special. If it’s true that the Lamborghini Aventador will stick around until 2024, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the company is working on at least one final variant. I happen to think that if the SVR in question is indeed restricted to track use, there’s a good chance a street-legal version could hit the market before the Aventador is sent on its way. +++ 

+++ NISSAN ’s head of European operations has said a no-deal Brexit and the implementation of World Trade Organisation tariffs would render its European operations unsustainable, putting the future of the firm’s Sunderland plant at risk. Speaking at the firm’s Sunderland factory as production of the new Juke began, Nissan’s Gianluca de Ficchy highlighted that WTO tariffs (which would be imposed by default if the UK leaves the EU without a deal) would bring 10 % export duties imposed on UK-made cars shipped to Europe. “If we will have to sustain 10% export duties on the vehicles that we export from UK to EU, knowing that those vehicles represent 70 % of total production, the overall business model won’t be sustainable”, de Ficchy told. He highlighted that there “there are many alternatives” to a no-deal scenario, but added that there is also “a lot of uncertainty”. Nissan’s Sunderland plant is at the heart of the firm’s European production operations, with the Qashqai, Leaf and new Juke all built at the factory. Some 7,000 people are employed at the plant, with a further 24,000 UK jobs supported by its operations. The company also has manufacturing operations in Spain, though these are based around commercial vehicles. “It’s not a question of Sunderland, it’s a question of the overall economic sustainability of our business in Europe”, de Ficchy added. “We are asking not to have tariffs being applied in a no-deal scenario because otherwise the tariffs won’t be sustainable for us”. Nissan is to review the future of its Sunderland plant in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to reports. A British newspaper claims “3 people with knowledge of the matter” say the factory’s future would be reassessed if the UK reverts to World Trade Organisation rules after leaving the EU without a deal, potentially putting the plant’s future at risk. The Sunderland plant directly employs 6,700 people and supports a further 27,000 UK supply chain jobs, three-quarters of which are in North East England. Nissan builds the Qashqai and the Leaf in Sunderland, as well as the Juke. The car maker previously reversed a decision to bring X-Trail production to the plant, while in 2016 the UK government offered Nissan post-Brexit financial incentives of up to £60 million. But recent years have been hard for Nissan. Earlier in the year, the firm announced it was cutting around 9 % of its global workforce amid a fall in profits, while former chairman Carlos Ghosn is under investigation by Japanese authorities for allegedly under declaring his pay, and a number of other alleged instances of misconduct. +++ 

+++ PORSCHE ’s SUV boss has confirmed more details of the next-generation, all-electric Macan. The new model will feature an entirely different bodystyle from the existing Macan to reflect its status as a reinvented model for the brand. Porsche’s director of SUVs, Julian Baumann, confirmed that the existing, internal combustion-engined Macan will remain on sale alongside the new Macan during a transitional phase. The offering will broadly mirror that offered by the Taycan/Panamera duo. The electric Macan will arrive in 2021 and initially be a high-performance model in the mould of the Taycan, carrying the same Turbo badging to identify it as the top-of-the-range version. The current Macan will be offered alongside it partly because “some customers are not ready for EVs”, said Baumann. “So there will be 2 different cars”. Substantially different, in fact: the electric Macan will be based on an evolved version of the platform used for the new Taycan. It will be based on the Volkswagen Group’s new Premium Platform Electric (PPE) architecture, developed from the Taycan’s J1 platform to allow the physical flexibility required when low-slung GTs and high-riding SUVs share the same hardware. Additionally, Porsche deputy chairman Lutz Meschke told that the platform, currently reserved for Audi and Porsche models only, saves 30 % of costs from developing its own architecture. Despite the models’ differing roles, Baumann said: “There are no real differences in the challenges of developing the Taycan and Macan. The current Macan is not so aerodynamic and we’re working hard on this. It’s the Taycan team working on it. With the Taycan, we haven’t given anything up to get the aerodynamic performance and I’m confident it will be the same for the Macan. The 600 kg battery isn’t beneficial to dynamics, but the low centre of gravity is an advantage”. Being a purpose-built all-electric model, there’s no need to package a conventional powertrain up front, allowing for a lower nose, Baumann added. “The design of the electric Macan is the next step, but it will be immediately recognisable”, he said, despite it having “no common body structure” with today’s Macan. Although the existing Macan received a facelift in autumn 2018, or 4 years after it was launched, the model is now likely to live for longer than originally planned as Porsche hedges its propulsion bets. Meschke suggested the overlap for internally combusted and full-electric Macans will be “a couple of years”. The take-up of electric cars is growing but at different rates in different countries, not least because the infrastructure is only patchily appearing and isn’t always reliable. “It’s difficult to say when the transformation will end. It’s different by region”, said Baumann. However, Meschke predicts that “30-40 %” of Porsches sold will be all-electric in 5 years’ time. Baumann added that the new Macan will “maintain the DNA of the previous model. It’s our biggest seller. We’ll keep the spirit. It’s the sportiest model in the segment”. Despite the performance potential of the PPE architecture, which delivers sub-3.0 seconds 0-100 kph with the Taycan, the Macan EV will not be a coupé SUV. Baumann said: “We need to keep the everyday usability. It’s usually the main vehicle in the household”. The electric version will provide 4-wheeldrive, using a motor to drive each axle. The most powerful version will potentially be able to offer around 700 hp and 1.000 Nm. The electric Macan will be offered with a variety of power outputs beneath this level, but the 2 most powerful versions will be badged Turbo and Turbo S, as with the Taycan. Besides offering excellent on-road handling, the high degree of precision provided by electronic control of the motors and the wheels should enable the Macan EV to be very effective off road. Meschke, meanwhile, predicts that Porsche may make the current lithium ion batteries 20-25 % more efficient but “the next big step is solidstate” batteries, which for the same output as today’s could be half the weight. However, these are “5 to 7 years from industrialisation”. +++ 

+++ RENAULT ’s board of directors has voted to remove chief executive officer Thierry Bollore as head of the company with immediate effect. Financial director Clotilde Delbos has been installed as an interim, with Olivier Murguet and José-Vicente de los Mozos taking positions as deputy managing directors to assist Delbos in the role. The firm has already begun the process of appointing a permanent replacement. Renault confirms that the Board of Directors “decided to end the mandate of Mr Thierry Bolloré as chief executive officer of Renault and president of Renault with immediate effect”. The surprise announcement came after rumours of a management shake-up appeared in French newspapers earlier this week, and is understood to be an effort by the brand to further distance itself further from former boss Carlos Ghosn. Bolloré was considered by alliance partner Nissan to be a “disruptive force” and didn’t do enough with regards to Ghosn’s arrest over financial misconduct allegations last year. He served as Ghosn’s second in command until being made chief executive officer in January. Prior to an official announcement, Bolloré had described the move as “a coup” and “shocking power grab”. “The brutality and the totally unexpected nature of what is happening are staggering. Operationally, I do not see where the fault is”. It is understood the French government, which holds a 15 % in the company, has pushed for Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard to sever connections to the Ghosn era and ease tensions with Nissan, which could potentially lead to renewed talks with rival carmaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles over a possible merger. +++ 

+++ TESLA plans on unveiling its long-awaited all-electric pickup truck in November, Elon Musk has confirmed. In late July, Musk said the pickup would be unveiled in 2 to 3 months and by early September, the company gave itself a little extra wiggle room stating the car’s release had been most likely pushed back until November. Taking to Twitter, Musk has confirmed that November is still being targeted for the pickup’s premiere. Tesla’s first electric pickup will sport a design radically different than any other offering from the electric car manufacturer. Additionally, Tesla says the vehicle will be priced at under $50,000 and handle like a Porsche 911. What’s more, the pickup will apparently have no less than 6 seats, offer up to 136.077 kg of towing capacity and more than 645 – 800 km of range. Car manufacturers including Rivian, Ford, and General Motors have all thrown their hats into the electric pickup truck market over the past 12 months or so, meaning Tesla could face some serious competition when its offering does hit the market. As for when production and deliveries of the Tesla pickup will commence, well, that remains a mystery. Tesla has a habit of unveiling its future products years before they actually hit the market. After all, it has been almost 2 years since the next-generation Roadster and Tesla Semi were shown to the world and neither have hit the production line and won’t until late next year at the earliest. Meanwhile, Tesla also needs to put the Model Y into production before the pickup. +++ 

+++ TOYOTA ’s Mirai fuel cell vehicle, the quirky car with the mug only a mother could love, gets a radical transformation into a sleek sedan for its second generation. Toyota says it will unveil the redesign at this month’s Tokyo Motor Show, emerging like an ugly duckling that has matured into an elegant swan. The complete revamp keeps the car’s hydrogen-powered drivetrain concept. But even that gets an improvement, with 30 % longer range and better acceleration and performance. Chief engineer Yoshikazu Tanaka said the water-emitting power system was redesigned top to bottom. The Mirai concept, previewed for reporters in Tokyo, is a rear-wheel-drive, 5-seat sedan with a low-slung fastback, coupe-styled silhouette. It represents a close-to-market model, according to Toyota. The production version goes on sale next year in Japan, North America and Europe. The current Mirai, which seats just 4 persons, was launched for limited distribution in 2014. Toyota has sold only about 10,000 since then. But the second generation is part of Toyota’s push to build demand for hydrogen fuel cell technology to position the system as a true clean-car option. “For that, the car must be more emotional”, Tanaka said. “That is our challenge. We wanted the Mirai to be a car people really wanted to drive, and just happens to be a fuel cell vehicle”. The new Mirai ditches the first generation’s squat, bulbous proportions and whalelike front grille for a sporty stance, pointy nose and toned-down air intakes. It shares the modular vehicle platform of the luxury-class Lexus LS, making it lower, longer and wider for a more planted feel than the first Mirai. That GL-A platform was designed to accommodate a variety of powertrains, including hybrids and fuel cells. The next Mirai also gets a wider tread and longer wheelbase, which helps accommodate more hydrogen storage. “Fundamentally, it’s a completely different car”, Toyota global design chief Simon Humphries said of the second-generation overhaul. “We needed this car as elegant and beautiful as possible”. In an effort to cut the car’s cost by half, Toyota is calculating bigger sales volumes and reduced use of pricey raw materials, such as platinum in the fuel cell stack. Toyota expects to make the vehicle in a standard assembly plant. The outgoing Mirai is hand built in a small workshop in Toyota City. Toyota said in 2015 that it wanted to sell 30,000 fuel cell vehicles a year in 2020, including buses, trucks and forklifts in addition to cars such as the Mirai. +++ 

+++ Following the VOLKSWAGEN Group’s decision to build a new factory in Turkey, the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told his top lieutenants to start driving Passats. Erdogan reportedly ordered top officials of the ruling AK Party on October 1 to move to the Passat once their current rental contracts expire. Initially, this will only see 19 rental cars at the ruling party’s headquarters swapped out for Passats although people familiar with the matter state that it will set a precedent and example for thousands of other party officials who could also be encouraged to get new rides. Top executives from the government currently use Audis and the rental contracts on these cars are tipped to expire in roughly 2 months. Volkswagen’s new Turkish production facility will build the next-generation Passat and Skoda Superb from 2022. The factory is located 40 km northeast of Izmir on Turkey’s western coast and will have a maximum annual production capacity of 300,000 vehicles. VW’s decision to open up this factory will create around 5.000 jobs at the factory and surrounding suppliers according to a senior Turkish official. It is reported that roughly two-thirds of the 300,000 production volume will be for the Passat. Most Passat and Superb models built at the site will be exported internationally. Turkey has a low car density of just 150 cars per 1000 inhabitants and in the first 7 months of this year, the nation’s domestic car market dropped by nearly half to 212,605 vehicles from the 481,982 vehicles sold over the same period 2 years earlier. +++

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