+++ AUDI ‘s new sales and marketing chief, Hildegard Wortmann, aims to give the brand a makeover. Audi is still reeling from its role developing the software that led to parent Volkswagen Group’s diesel-rigging scandal. Wortmann joined Audi from BMW in July. Wortmann says she intends to create the legends of the future since the legends of the past won’t work in the future. “For example, the Quattro is a legend of the past and perhaps the e-Tron is the legend of the future”. Audi’s marketing slogan “Advancement through Technology” was often parodied during the diesel crisis, but Wortmann thinks it is possible to keep it: “We shouldn’t give up the ambition to highlight our advances just because of those headlines. Our advances continue to be the core of the brand. I think the claim is fantastic and more contemporary than ever. We need to recharge it. Advancement originally referred to the outer limit of achievable technology. In a society that is trying hard to be sustainable, ‘advancement’ has to play a different role. We have to get away from what is cold and technocratic. We want to be more approachable, emotional, and more geared to experiences. This is about conveying modernity, progressiveness, an awareness of life and the spirit of the times. We have to rejuvenate the brand”. Wortmann doesn’t think this will eliminate the ‘technology’ part: “It is just a different meaning. The value-added for the customer is in the foreground”. The Volkswagen brand is becoming more colorful and diverse, but Audi is going in another direction, Wortmann says: “Volkswagen and Audi are positioned quite differently. VW is a great “people’s car”, and Audi aspires to be sporty and progressive in the premium segment. Different visualizations go hand-in-hand with these different views. The new departure into the age of electric mobility is the start of a new world. Just look at how interiors are changing. The power of this new departure is coming at a crucial point for Audi to reposition itself”. +++ 

+++ A leading body has spoken out against the widespread electrification of CLASSIC CARS , stating that removing a vehicle’s original powertrain renders it no longer ‘historic’. The Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens (FIVA) has issued a statement, in which it states that it “cannot promote, to owners or regulators, the use of modern EV components to replace a historic vehicle’s drivetrain”. The announcement comes following a recent flurry of electrified classic vehicle unveilings from newly launched independent firms, including Lunaz and Swindon Powertrain, as well as a host of manufacturer-backed efforts such as Jaguar’s E-Type Zero, Volkswagen’s new e-Käfer and the Renault 4 e-Plein Air. FIVA acknowledges the benefits of electrification in the classic vehicle sector, calling attention to likely enhanced performance and compliance with modern emissions legislation, but recommends that any modifications are reversible, so the vehicle can be returned to fully original specification. Removal of a historic vehicle’s combustion-fuelled powertrain does not, says the organisation, “comply with FIVA definition of a historic vehicle, nor does it support the goal of preserving historic vehicles and their related culture”. It adds: “In FIVA’s view, vehicles so converted cease to be historic vehicles, unless they are subject only to ‘in period’ changes”. A historic vehicle is defined by FIVA as one that is at least 30 years old, preserved and maintained in a historically correct condition, not used as a means of daily transport and that is part of our technical and cultural heritage. Tiddo Bresters, vice-president of FIVA’s legislation department, said: “It is not, in our opinion, the shape or bodystyle of a vehicle that makes it ‘historic’, but the way in which the entire vehicle has been constructed and manufactured in its original form. Hence if any owner, motor engineer or manufacturer chooses to make such conversions to a historic vehicle, FIVA would strongly recommend that any changes are reversible, with all the original components marked and safely stored. In this way, the vehicle may (if so desired in the future) be returned to its original state and may once again become a historic vehicle”. +++ 

+++ FORD promises an exhilarating ride for the electric vehicles which are coming. A spokesman adds: “We are electrifying our most popular nameplates”. The Blue Oval had said earlier this year that it will reveal the electric SUV in 2019. While nothing is official yet, we could get a first glimpse of the electric Mustang-inspired crossover either in production trim or as a thinly veiled concept as early as the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. Either way, Ford has confirmed that it will go on sale in North America in the fall of 2020. Known internally as the CX430, the zero-emission Tesla Model X, Jaguar I-Pace, Audi e-Tron and Mercedes-Benz EQ C rival is believed to use 2 electric motors, powered by a battery pack that will give it a range of at least 480 km on a single charge. Designed to cope with temperatures as low as -40 C, the battery will probably support DC fast charging, as Ford described the charging experience as being “effortless”. The Mustang-inspired electric crossover will come with a Ford Mobile Charger that can be connected to a 240 volt outlet. When connected, it will deliver approximately 35 km of range for every hour the vehicle is charged. If customers need something faster, they can purchase an optional Ford Connected Charge Station. It is slated to deliver 50 km of range for every hour of charging. While most charging is done at home, customers will also need to charge on the road. To put their minds at ease, Ford announced customers will have “access to the largest (and fast-growing) network of public charging stations in Europe”. This includes high-performance Ionity stations which can deliver up to 93 km of range within 10 minutes. Ford also implied their upcoming crossover will be offered in multiple configurations as they said the 480 km range applies to the “premium extended-range configuration”. This suggests there will also be a base configuration with a shorter range. +++ 

+++ The UAW has released new details about their tentative agreement with GENERAL MOTORS . One of the biggest revelations is the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant will remain open. This is a major reversal for the automaker as the Michigan plant was originally slated to end production in June. However, the company eventually extended production of the Cadillac CT6 and Chevrolet Impala until January of 2020. The decision to keep the plant open could mean the Cadillac CT6 will live on in North America. Officials have expressed their desire to keep the model around and have previously suggested its future was tied to contract negotiations with the UAW. The CT6’s future in America remains unclear, but the UAW did note the Detroit-Hamtramck plant will be getting a “new product”. Nothing is official at this point, but model will probably be an electric pickup. While the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant has been saved, the UAW confirmed Lordstown Assembly, Baltimore Transmission and Warren Transmission will close as previously announced by General Motors. The UAW also confirmed the CCA Fontana facility will close sometime during the course of the new contract. Besides saving the Detroit-Hamtramck plant, the agreement will give seniority employees an $11,000 ratification bonus. Temporary employees will also get a ratification bonus of $4,500. Speaking of money, the $12,000 cap on profit sharing payouts has been eliminated. This means UAW members could get bigger bonuses if GM makes more than $12 billion in profits in North America. The contact will also give part- and full-time temporary employees a “shortened path to permanent status”. The union also secured paid time off for some temporary workers and “full approval authority and the ability to monitor the number of temporary employees working in the plants”. +++ 

+++ HYUNDAI is working on a facelift for the i30 N hot hatch. It will follow the updated standard-issue Hyundai i30 into showrooms next year, sporting a range of mechanical and cosmetic revisions which promise to keep it competitive with the upcoming Mk8 Volkswagen Golf GTI. Naturally, the new i30 N will lift the bulk of its cosmetic enhancements from the soon-to-be facelifted standard i30 hatchback, including its front and rear light clusters, tweaked tailgate and styling lines for its doors. In addition, this hot Hyundai will receive new front and rear bumpers, deeper side skirts, fresh alloy wheels and an enormous new twin-exit exhaust. Inside, the updated Hyundai i30 N will feature a sports steering wheel, an aluminium pedal box and a pair of leather-trimmed bucket seats, which can be seen through the windows of this test mule. Buyers will also get the Korean brand’s improved 10.25-inch infotainment system and a new digital instrument cluster, lifted from the hydrogen-electric Nexo. It’ll be powered by a tweaked version of the current car’s turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine, which will be mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox as standard. However, from next year, Hyundai will offer the i30 N with an optional dual-clutch gearbox for the first time, along with a revised suspension system and improved brakes. +++ 

+++ JAGUAR LAND ROVER (JLR) sees a recovery in its turnaround plan for China after a prolonged slump contributed to its $4.4 billion loss in the first quarter of this year. Despite the slumping car market in China, the British automaker posted sales growth for the past 3 months in the country. “The market is down, but we are growing by double digits, so not bad”, CEO Ralf Speth said in September at the opening of JLR’s new development center in Gaydon, England. China sales of JLR cars climbed 18 % in September to 8,779 units, 17 % in August to 8,783 cars and 40 % in July to 8,661 sales. Felix Brautigam, JLR’s chief commercial officer, is optimistic about the automaker’s China business but cautious. JLR is seeing the first signs of a rebound but “I am not saying, yes we have managed the turnaround”,  Brautigam told journalists at the Frankfurt auto show in September. China was JLR’s biggest profit generator for much of this decade after the region grew to become the become the company’s largest global market. At its height, JLR was making €66,500 of profit on each of its Range Rover sold in China, Bernstein Research analyst Max Warburton estimated. Sales, however, crashed 22 % last year to 114,826 units, amid a general market downturn. The slump downgraded China to the 4th largest for the company. JLR initially fought to keep market share by discounting the models it builds in its factory there but has since taken a different tactic. “One reason we had a difficult year last year was that we took a conscious decision that we don’t want to compensate for the overall slowdown in China by pushing volume at any cost”, Brautigam said. China will remain the world’s largest premium market, but it will be harder to do business there, he said. “There is a lot of gold, but it will be more and more expensive to extract it. It’s becoming probably the most aggressive and most fought-for premium automotive market”. JLR plans to scale back its sales ambitions in favor of profits. The plan had been to focus on being a more boutique manufacturer that has the power to entice customers without the need for a discount, Brautigam said. “We feel our brands are so premium, so exclusive, that we want to create demand, not push supply”, he said. The growth depends largely on Land Rover, whose sales rose 36 % in August to 6,565 units, compared with a 39 % decline for Jaguar to 2,028. The launch of the new Evoque was partly responsible for Land Rover’s growth, with 591 sales in August, compared with 381 for the same month for the year before. Overall, the premium market in August fell 1 %, with BMW leading the segment after gains of 9 %. +++ 

+++ MAZDA ’s first electric vehicle, to be revealed at Tokyo motor show next week, will develop the design language first seen on the recently launched Mazda3 to reflect “futuristic values and changing lifestyles”, said the car maker. The model, which will go on sale next year, has a coupe-like cabin and “achieves a lightweight look by adopting a unique door concept”. Mazda added that the front face bears a “friendly expression”. The interior is said to use empty spaces around the centre console to create a closeness between the driver and passenger seats. Mazda added that interior materials were chosen for comfort and “eco-friendliness”, both of which are intended to make the cabin comfortable. The model, previewed by the e-TPV prototype, will adopt an SUV bodystyle, which can more easily accommodate an underfloor battery pack. +++ 

+++ NISSAN ’s incoming chief executive Makoto Uchida told employees that his mission is to “restore business performance and regain trust in Nissan. Nissan is on the right path for recovery, although it might be a gradual process”. Named CEO earlier this month, Uchida is expected to formally take up the post by January 1, 2020. +++ 

+++ OPEL ’s revival of the OPC performance sub-brand will be as an all-electric line, with a variety of bodystyles planned. As well as a hot version of the Corsa-e, arriving first next year, there will be a OPC version of the Vivaro-e electric van in 2020. It’s expected that the OPC branding will be used on the upcoming second-generation Mokka X in electric form, too. The focus of the changes will initially be more on cosmetic upgrades, but handling and performance revisions could feature on some models. The decision to go all-electric for the Corsa OPC may have ramifications for sibling firm Peugeot, which was weighing up the 2 powertrain choices for a GTI version of its closely linked 208 supermini. +++ 

+++ The PSA Group has announced plans to launch 3 electric vans next year. Based on the Citroën Jumpy, Peugeot Expert and Opel Vivaro, the electric vans will be offered in both commercial and passenger configurations. All 3 models will be built at the Hordain plant in France and be equipped with an electric powertrain that is sourced from the Trémery plant. PSA didn’t go into too many specifics, but confirmed the vans will be offered with 2 different battery packs. The entry-level models will have a 50 kWh battery pack which will enable the vans to have a range of approximately 200 km in the WLTP cycle. Since that’s not very far, PSA will also offer a larger 75 kWh battery that increases the range to around 300 km. PSA didn’t say much else about the vans, but the company believes the models will play an important role in increasing their market share in Europe. That seems possible as the company said they’re leading the light commercial vehicle segment with a 24.7 % market share in the first half of 2019. PSA’s senior vice president of the light commercial vehicles business unit, Xavier Peugeot, also noted “Groupe PSA is pushing ahead with the electrification of its LCV range by offering electric versions of compact vans for business and individual customers. Without compromising on features, the range will help strengthen our leadership in this segment in Europe”. The electric vans are part of PSA’s electrification push and their entire passenger car and LCV range is set to be electrified by 2025. +++ 

+++ A hefty profit warning sent RENAULT shares tumbling as much as 15 %, capping a miserable year for the French carmaker following the arrest of long-time boss Carlos Ghosn and adding to signs of a sharp slowdown in the global auto industry. Renault and partner Nissan both announced changes in leadership last week, seeking to reboot their alliance after it was thrown into crisis last year by the arrest of Ghosn in Tokyo on financial misconduct charges. But the companies are struggling amid a global industry slowdown, with pressures also coming from tougher emissions regulations in Europe and the need to invest in electric and self-driving technologies. Renault said sales were likely to drop between 3 % and 4 % this year, compared with its previous forecast for a similar outcome to 2018. It blamed difficulties in markets outside Europe, like Argentina and Turkey in particular. The company also said its operating margin was set to come in at 5 %, versus a previous 6 % goal, as it struggles to keep a lid on research and development costs. Many carmakers including Renault had already trimmed their goals a quarter earlier, though some like its French rival PSA Group bucked the trend. PSA is due to release its sales update next week, as will Daimler, while Renault will provide a fuller readout for the third quarter. Renault’s sales warning came less than a week after it revamped its management team in a bid to turn a page on the Ghosn era, appointing financial chief Clotilde Delbos as its interim CEO. Nissan also has new faces at the helm. Delbos said the shake-up would pave the way for a renewed focus on joint projects that would allow the 2 to cut costs and usher in cleaner car models. The worsening backdrop for carmakers adds urgency for the alliance to deliver, however. “Needless to say that this profit warning comes at a time of major instability at Renault and its partner Nissan”, analysts at Evercore said in a note. “Investor worries will more likely intensify”. Within a week of taking the helm, Delbos called into question the strategic road map meant to carry the French carmaker through 2022. In a video address to employees, she said Renault will review the plan because the market has changed since it was unveiled 2 years ago. “Unfortunately the situation hasn’t improved during the summer and we need to put Renault back on track”, she said. “We need to adjust the strategy”. Delbos isn’t wasting any time after being named temporary CEO following the board’s dramatic ouster of Thierry Bollore. By putting the 6-year “Drive the Future” strategy under review, she’s taken on part of the legacy of fallen leader Carlos Ghosn. At the same time, she may have burnished her own credentials as a contender to stay on in the top job. “We need to make some choices”, Delbos said, pointing to Renault’s negative cash flow in the first 6 months of the year and relatively high spending on research and development and investment. She also called for greater honesty and transparency within the company. Ghosn unveiled the strategy with great fanfare in October 2017, pledging to expand Renault’s global reach, deepen operational ties with Japanese partner Nissan and improve profitability. In parallel, the French carmaker would invest in electric and autonomous vehicles, he said. Delbos told employees the plan might be too tall an order in the midst of a downturn in the global auto market. She was flanked by her 2 deputies, Jose-Vicente de Los Mozos and Oliver Murguet. Renault took a hit in the first half of 2019 from Nissan’s poor results and a slowdown in emerging markets like Turkey and Argentina. The French automaker owns 43 % of the Japanese company, which is smarting from slumping U.S. sales and aging vehicle models. While Renault cut its revenue target for this year, it stuck to its profit outlook. Delbos, who is chief financial officer, is readying to publish third-quarter revenue October 25. MainFirst analyst Pierre-Yves Quemener expects the number to be marginally down at €11.4 billion due to lower European and Renault-brand sales. Delbos brushed aside the question of whether she wanted to remain CEO. At least one headhunter was hired to conduct the search, which is focusing on candidates from outside the company, according to a person familiar with the matter. Since Ghosn’s arrest, Renault and Nissan’s alliance has nearly come unraveled. Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard has pushed for a merger Nissan didn’t want, and then pursued talks to combine with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles without telling its partner. Those talks collapsed in June. Delbos reiterated Senard’s stance that the Franco-Japanese alliance needs to be fixed before any combination with Fiat could be rekindled. “If there is a way to revive it, of course we would be interested, but first we need to take care of ourselves and the alliance”, she said. +++ 

+++ At least 3 independent TESLA repair professionals have revealed that worn-out flash storage chips used in Model S and Model Xs built before 2018 can spontaneously brick the EVs. Vice reports that a flash storage chip used by Tesla dubbed eMMC and mated to a board known as ‘MCU1’ often goes bad because Tesla is so frequently writing vehicle logs to the storage chip that it eventually gets worn out. Tesla repair specialist Rich Benoit made a video about the issue back in May when he spoke with fellow Tesla expert Phil Sadow. In the video, Sadow revealed that these flash storage chips are often wearing out in roughly 4 years, although it depends on how often the car is driven. If the vehicle is driven frequently, the storage chip can die much faster. “Tesla’s got a problem. They create so many logs in the car, they write to the chip so fast that it basically burns them out. They have a finite amount of writes”, Sadow says. “When this burns out, you wake up to a black screen in the car’s center console. There’s nothing there. No climate control. You can generally drive the car, but it won’t charge”. The part is not covered after the warranty of a car has expired, even though Tesla are the ones causing the damage. What’s more, it doesn’t sell replacement flash storage chips, thus forcing individuals to rebuild them in the aftermarket. If you do own a Tesla, have a flash storage chip fail and take it directly to Tesla, they’ll reportedly only be willing to replace the entire infotainment system, including the screen and the entire MCU1 computer board that can cost as much as $5,000. +++ 

+++ VOLKSWAGEN said it has been granted an additional 90 days to test its compliance programs required under a criminal plea agreement with the U.S. government following its emissions cheating scandal. The extension means that an independent compliance auditor, Larry Thompson, will monitor Volkswagen until September 2020. Thompson, a former deputy U.S. attorney general, was installed in 2017 after VW was caught manipulating pollution tests. He and his team have been seeking to ensure that VW’s revamped compliance procedures are working. Volkswagen said it had made a request for the extension to the U.S. Department of Justice and Thompson, and that they had approved the extra time. Hiltrud Werner, VW’s chief of integrity and legal affairs, said this was about getting it right. “In a global company as large and complex as Volkswagen, we need to have enough time to be careful and rigorous in all our testing”, Werner said. +++

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