Newsflash: Toyota annuleert plannen voor hete Corolla

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+++ DIGITAL KEYS are about to get a lot smarter as the Car Connectivity Consortium is finalizing standards for the next-generation of the technology. Dubbed digital key release 2.0, the specification is slated to be complete late this year and will use a new “scalable architecture to support mass adoption”. The upcoming specification uses NFC (Near Field Communication) and will feature a security chip that works separately from the smartphone operating system. This provides a number of benefits including improved security and the availability to use the digital key even when the battery is so low that the smartphone can’t be started. Needless to say, this is a huge improvement as the next-generation of digital key will work even if your phone doesn’t. This means drivers are less likely to find themselves stranded and will have more confidence if they decided to leave their physical key at home. The consortium is also working on digital key release 3.0. It’s slated to use Bluetooth Low Energy and Ultra-Wideband technology. That doesn’t sound too important, but the upcoming specification will no longer require users to pull out their smartphone and hold it next to the door handle. Instead, it will provide passive access to the vehicle and owners will be able to leave their smartphone in their bag or pocket. There’s no word on when automakers will launch cars that comply with the new specifications, but the Car Connectivity Consortium has over 100 members including BMW, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes, PSA, Renault, Suzuki, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo. There’s also big names in tech including Apple, Google, HTC, LG, Panasonic, Qualcomm and Samsung. +++ 

+++ Environmental group The Sierra Club urged automakers and dealerships to help cut U.S. carbon emissions and fight the climate crisis by making more ELECTRIC VEHICLES available in U.S. showrooms. “It’s past time for the auto industry to put some action behind its promises of progress and work to tackle emissions from transportation”, said Hieu Le, the report’s primary author. The Sierra Club said its survey here of more than 900 U.S. dealerships found that 74 % did not stock a single EV, but noted about 40 % of dealerships in states that have adopted California’s zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate had EVs for sale. The report found that 44 % of dealerships offering EVs had no more than 2 EVs available in showrooms. Dealer salespeople regularly failed to provide information on tax incentives or had trouble answering questions about EV technology, the report found. The group said automakers should boost EV production and offer then in more states, provide better incentives for dealerships selling EVs and make it easier for dealers to get certified to sell them. The Sierra Club noted the United States accounts for 15 % of global emissions, with the leading source being the transportation sector and said “accelerating the adoption and sales of EVs is crucial to tackling the climate crisis”. Asked for comment, National Automobile Dealers Association spokesman Jared Allen responded that “the number of battery electric vehicles stocked on franchised dealership lots is literally a function of supply and demand, nothing else”. He also noted that many automakers do not yet manufacture electric vehicles that could be put in a showroom. Through the first 9 months of 2019, U.S. plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicle (EV) sales remained flat from a year earlier at around 240.000 units, according to 2 groups tracking sales. EV sales accounted for about 1.9 % of U.S. vehicle sales. About half are Tesla vehicles. Californians bought 50 % of all EVs sold in 2018, but the auto dealer group’s Allen noted other U.S. consumers “don’t have access to the same recharging infrastructure, incentives etc., necessary to make owning an EV desirable, practical or feasible in many cases”. Roughly half of the 32,000 U.S. dealer franchisees “can’t possibly stock a purely electric vehicle because their automaker doesn’t manufacturer one for sale”. Automakers are investing tens of billions of dollars in EV technology over the next 5 to 10 years and promising dozens of new offerings. Volkswagen will hold a ceremony in Tennessee to mark the start of groundbreaking of an $800 million expansion to build electric cars starting in 2022. Ford will unveil its Mustang-inspired electric SUV as part of its plan to invest $11.5 billion electrifying its vehicles by 2022. Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said that “while electric vehicle sales remain low, they are growing, and automakers expect to see a tipping point when these vehicles become more mainstream”. The Sierra Club is one of a number of environmental groups that have challenged the Trump administration’s efforts to block California from setting its own stricter tailpipe emissions limits and setting ZEV requirements. There are no federal ZEV requirements. +++ 

+++ The new Mazda CX-30, Mercedes-Benz GLB and Ford Explorer have all scored the maximum 5 stars in the latest round of EURO NCAP safety testing, with the CX-30 achieving the highest-ever mark for protecting adult occupants. The Japanese firm’s mid-size crossover achieved a record 99 % score in the Adult Occupant Protection category. It achieved maximum scores in Euro NCAP’s full-width battier, side impact and side pole tests, the latter of which simulates a car running off the road and striking a tree. Matthew Avery from Thatcham Research, which conducts Euro NCAP tests in the UK, described the CX-30’s score as “truly impressive”. He cited the structure and restraints of the SUV as key, adding that “in the event of an accident, there are few safer places to be than the front seats of the Mazda CX-30”. The CX-30 also scored 86 % for Child Occupant Protection, 80 % for Vulnerable Road Users and 77 % for Safety Assist features. The Mercedes-Benz GLB’s maximum score means that every Mercedes model tested since 2014 has been awarded 5 stars by Euro NCAP, while the Ford Explorer matched the top score that was also given to the latest Focus and Fiesta. The new Opel Corsa was awarded 4 stars, with Euro NCAP saying that it narrowly missed out on a maximum score due to the performance of its seat and head restraints in whiplash testing. +++

+++ A patent filing from FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES has surfaced online detailing a new turbocharged inline-6 engine in development. The patent details an Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system used by turbocharged gasoline engines from the car manufacturer. The engine is thought to be dubbed the GME-T6 (Global Medium Engine Turbo-6). According to unnamed sources, the GME-T6 will feature the car manufacturer’s eBooster technology that is used to virtually eliminate turbo lag and could allow FCA to user larger turbochargers on the forthcoming engine in a bid to generate more top-end power, with the eBooster eliminating the lag often experienced by large turbos. This isn’t the first we’ve heard of FCA’s upcoming turbocharged 6-cylinder engine. In late 2018, it was reported that such an engine will eventually replace the aging Pentastar V6. It is understood that FCA engineers are developing the new unit with relatively small bores and want to restrict its displacement to under 3.0-liters in a bid to avoid higher taxes in certain parts of the world. The inline-6 will be sold in a number of forms with power ranging from 360 up to 525 hp, likely achieved thanks to a pair of turbochargers as opposed to just one like lesser variants. It remains to be seen when FCA will launch the powertrain, although it is thought to still be a few years away. +++ 

+++ FRANCE may have helped scupper a deal between Renault and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, but its approach to the marriage of FCA with PSA Group shows it’s open for business. “There are excellent arguments” for combining PSA with its Italian counterpart, French prime minister Edouard Philippe said. The French company’s proposal leaves you believing “it has an opportunity to grab”, he added. Early backing of the deal from France, which owns a 12 % stake in PSA, helps clear the way for the complex negotiations needed to create the world’s 4th largest automaker by volume. The Franco-Italian companies plan to sign a memorandum of understanding by the end of the year, with a view to generating €3.7 billion in annual savings without factory closures. The government’s support is especially significant, considering that it hampered Renault’s attempt to get together with FCA in June. France demanded Renault secure the backing of its Japanese partner Nissan before proceeding with FCA. As a result, John Elkann, chairman of the Italian-American automaker, abruptly walked away, blaming “political conditions in France”. The move scarred the government, which has pledged to be less hands-on in business. France owns a 15 % stake in Renault. While the prime minister said France will be “sensitive” to protecting France’s industrial heartland, he fell short of seeking typical job guarantees. “What matters to me is the industrial footprint in France, and the company’s project”, Philippe said. The government previously warned it would scrutinize the job impact of the deal, without advocating for a formal commitment. “Given the synergies mentioned by management, I have high hopes that the deal should happen in excellent conditions”. Automakers are grappling with an economic slump and a wall of investment to make low-emissions cars. As they churn out more electric vehicles, whose batteries are often made in Asia and with fewer workers, the number of jobs needed in the sector could decline. Jobs have already migrated from western Europe to lower-cost countries. +++

+++ Tucked between rapeseed fields and wooded hills in the Austrian countryside sits one of the remaining outposts of a frantic push by the car industry in GERMANY into a pricey alternative to steel. The goal was to make carbon fiber the core of future cars: combustion or electric. But it proved to be more of an engineering vanity project and highlights the shortcomings of a corporate culture that creates a bias for stability. While Germany’s focus on steady improvement has worked well in the past, it’s ill-suited for a period of rapid change. And the risks have become evident as Europe’s largest economy struggles with trade conflicts and the value chain shifting away from traditional engineering. Third quarter economic data are expected to show that Germany fell into technical recession for the first time in 6 years. Inside the SGL Carbon factory in Ort im Innkreis near the German border, 24 workers in blue t-shirts shuttled between about 30 industrial robots on a recent fall day. The machines stacked, cut and glued carbon-fiber parts for rooftops and rear spoilers. What they did not do was churn out entire auto frames by the masses, as envisioned by BMW and Volkswagen Group earlier this decade. Ahead of the 2013 rollout of the BMW i3, which has a body based on the material, “the hype around carbon fiber was huge”, said Herwig Fischer, who heads the plant located in what’s known as Austria’s Composite Valley. The i3 “has been a revolutionary project. Today, it’s more about an evolution”. At the time, BMW teamed up with SGL to set up a plant in the U.S. to produce the sleek black fiber and vied with VW for control of the Wiesbaden-based company. Daimler also set up its own joint venture with a Japanese peer. The German giants were keen to secure access to the material that is lighter and stronger than steel, but costly and cumbersome to work with. Shortly after the carbon-fiber craze started, Tesla introduced the Model S, featuring a 424 kilometre range, wireless software updates and a 17-inch touchscreen display. In other words: While German auto engineers tinkered with a complex material that drivers could not see or touch, the California upstart was inventing the iPhone on wheels. Similar failed developments include BMW’s 2005 combustion-hydrogen car fueled by a liquid form of the gas that is almost impossible to store safely in a vehicle. And then there was the original Mercedes A-Class in 1997. The car infamously rolled over during testing and featured an innovative but boxy design that turned off its target audience of younger customers. While the stumbles have been relatively minor, the window for business-as-usual overengineering is closing. Germany, only now developing a car-battery sector to power its shift to electric vehicles, has already started to lose its edge, according to the World Economic Forum’s latest report on global competitiveness. The country dropped to rank 7 worldwide from third last year, largely because it’s struggling to adopt new Internet and communication technologies, the report says. The complex way decisions are made in corporate Germany has contributed to the slow pace of adaption. At the top of the pyramid are supervisory boards, which hire and fire top executives and sign off on major strategy decisions. Employee representatives make up half the seats on the boards and tend to take a dim view of moves that could reduce jobs. They generally need to seek a compromise with the investor side. Those representatives are 60 years old on average, 93 % male and many split their time between multiple oversight bodies, according to a recent study from consultancy EY. The investor delegates were described as often being “ill-equipped”, “relatively useless” and “all old guys” in a 2018 study from consultancy Alvarez & Marsal, which was based on interviews with 20 German executives. Daimler’s effort to become nimbler is a case study in the complexity of German corporate decision making. In 2013, the automaker sought to untangle its conglomerate structure by making its commercial vehicle unit more independent, but internal dynamics shot down the plan at the time. It took Daimler 6 years to finally succeed. And the company had to pay dearly to gain support just for creating legally separate units for cars, trucks and services: agreeing to invest €35 billion in Germany and safeguard jobs through 2029. There has been progress. Most big German companies are making an effort to add more diverse views. Last year, Daimler recruited Marie Wieck, head of IBM’s blockchain operations, to its supervisory board, and Volkswagen added communications executive Marianne Heiss to its group of overseers. This year, SAP appointed Germany’s first-ever female DAX boss. Volkswagen’s diesel scandal also delivered a painful wake-up call to German automakers, which have since accelerated efforts to develop self-driving, electric cars. And it looks like there’s still time: Tesla’s development remains volatile, and other game-changing risks, such as ride-sharing services and robotaxis, are still in the works. BMW is now exiting its joint venture with SGL and its future iNext flagship will not rely as heavily on carbon fiber as the i3. While the prospects for an entire car frame (with the exception of elite models like the Lamborghini Aventador) are a stretch, the push was not totally in vain. Many components benefit from the material’s low weight, durability and fire resistance, and it’s gradually becoming more economical. SGL produces parts faster than ever before. It’s developing battery cases for China’s Nio and will start 10 new projects to produce automotive parts in 2020, from 3 new lines this year. It’s also expanding outside the car industry, and similar composite materials have become well established in plane making. “It took about half a century for aluminum to make its way from the aviation industry into serial production in cars”, said Andreas Woeginger, SGL’s head of technology for its composites division. “Our industry is still young”. +++ 

+++ The drumbeat of enthusiasm for HYDROGEN as a road fuel has grown steadily louder this year, despite a general industry-wide acceptance that EVs will become the mainstream in most cases. This culminated in Toyota’s huge investment in the recently revealed second generation Mirai. A substantial overhaul has transformed an oddity built in small numbers into a stridently confident saloon that will raise Toyota’s global ambitions for hydrogen next year. The new Mirai will join the Hyundai Nexo on the admittedly short list of commercially available cars powered by zero-emissions fuel cells, but others are in the pipeline. Mercedes could yet sell its GLC F-Cell and Toyota’s fuel-cell partner, BMW, will roll out a hydrogen X5 in 2022. The PSA Group has said it will launch a fuel-cell Van by 2021 that’s likely to include a Opel version. Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has said the fuel might be more suitable than battery-electric power for its largest SUVs as it works to cut emissions. “If you’re not careful, you end up with such big batteries in EVs, you make it so heavy that when you race down the Autobahn, the range disappears. So other technologies could come into play, potentially hydrogen”, said Nick Rogers, JLR’s head of engineering. It’s easy to see the appeal. Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles emit nothing but water vapour, have a long range (662 kilometres for the Nexo) and can be filled almost as quickly as a petrol or diesel car. As the scale of the challenge to persuade us out of user-friendly combustionengined cars into EVs becomes clear, might fast-fill hydrogen be a better zero-emissions bet? Not so fast, warns Carlos Tavares, CEO of the PSA Group. “Now people see EVs are going to be difficult, they are going to say: ‘Oh, what about hydrogen?’ You’re going to see lots of headlines about hydrogen and everyone’s going to have a hydrogen project”, he said at the Frankfurt motor show in September. Despite Tavares’ reluctance to be dictated to by headlines, the PSA Group has its own hydrogen project (the 2021 van), but Tavares warned that it would be “very expensive”. Cost has always been a drag on fuel cells, which currently use around 30 – 60 gram of the precious metal platinum on every stack. BMW has said a fuel-cell powertrain is currently still around 10 times more expensive than an equivalent electric one. Other hurdles remain. It might be zero emissions at the tailpipe, but splitting water into hydrogen (the most common method of creating it) demands a lot of electricity. “It only makes sense if you’re creating hydrogen with renewable energy”, said Rogers. His predecessor, Wolfgang Ziebart, called fuel cells “complete nonsense” back in 2016 because of their poor ‘wheel-to-well’ carbon emissions. The refuelling infrastructure is in desperate need of expansion. Although early adopter California has more than 40 filling stations, an explosion at a hydrogen production facility in June left many locations there without supply for weeks. The safety fears haven’t gone away, either. In South Korea, resident groups are opposing new hydrogen filling stations in their neighbourhoods following an explosion in May at a hydrogen storage tank in the city of Gangneung, killing 2 people. Even if these issues were all suddenly ironed out, hydrogen lost to lithium ion a long time ago as an automotive fuel, argues Andy Leyland, head forecaster at battery materials analyst firm Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. “The amount that has been committed to the lithium ion supply chain, excluding charging infrastructure, is around $600 billion. Hydrogen is maybe $30 billion or max $40 billion. It’s a completely different scale”, he said. “In many respects, lithium ion is too big to fail over the next 10 to 15 year period”. In the meantime, hydrogen is expected to fill niches where batteries can’t compete, such as for high-mileage commercial vehicles that are too busy to be idled while charging. “We think it’s good technology mostly for fleets and for cars that come back to the same point every night where you can leverage investment on the H2 refilling unit”, said Tavares. The enthusiasm for the fuel in South Korea and Japan is expanding into partnerships, with car makers not so willing to start a programme of their own from scratch. Hence, BMW is linked with Toyota and Hyundai with Audi. And the price will come down. “By the third-generation Mirai, we fully expect fuel-cell costs to be comparable with hybrids”, Toyota Europe head of sales Matt Harrison said. “We believe fuel cell vehicles have a huge potential”. +++ 

+++ The star of HYUNDAI ’s display at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show will be a hybrid concept car developed with a major emphasis on design. The yet-unnamed model will share very few styling cues with current members of the South Korean firm’s lineup. Hyundai explained that all of the concept’s parametric surfaces are connected from the body to either light or trim features, so it shouldn’t be boring to look at. Even its grille is unusual; the individual air shutters remain closed when the car isn’t moving, and they open to direct cooling air into the engine bay as it builds up speed. The headlights are shaped like the grille inserts. Power for the compact, urban-dwelling design study comes from a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Hyundai is keeping additional specifications (like its horsepower and its range) under wraps for the time being, but it’s not to far-fetched to speculate the setup is built around a 4-cylinder engine. Odds are it allows the concept to drive on electricity alone for short distances, too. Another point with a big question mark hovering above it is what comes next. Many of the head-turning concepts Hyundai recently released have remained at the design study stage, but a crossover with a sleek-looking silhouette like the Los Angeles-bound concept would fit neatly into the company’s growing range of models; imagine it between the Kona and the Tucson, for example. Stay tuned, Hyundai will release more information in the coming weeks. +++ 

+++ JAGUAR had high hopes for the E-Pace, but that model hasn’t exactly resonated with consumers. In the United States, the company has only sold 3,716 units through October and will likely finish the year with around 4,479 sales like 2018. That’s disappointing, but the situation is better in Europe were 27,735 units were sold last year. Putting the numbers aside, Jaguar is working on a facelift that could address some early criticisms of the model. Snapped wearing heavy camouflage, the updated crossover has revised headlights and what appears to be a modified front bumper. The minor changes continue out back as there are new taillights with slimmer line accents. The bumper appears to carryover, but it hard to tell underneath all that camouflage. Speaking of disguise, spy photographers noticed some camouflage in the cabin. This suggests we can expect a handful of interior updates. While nothing is official, the model will likely follow in the footsteps of the facelifted XE.  As a result, the crossover could have a new steering wheel, a 12.3 inch digital instrument cluster and a Touch Pro Duo infotainment system. Other updates could include revised switchgear, higher quality materials and a new shifter. That’s all just speculation at this point, but Jaguar hasn’t been shy about their plans to improve interior quality. Engine options remain unconfirmed, but it’s possible the E-Pace could adopt a handful of new options including mild-hybrid powertrains with up to 300 hp. +++ 

+++ NISSAN withdrew its dividend outlook and said it’s now undecided on a payout, an unexpected blow to top shareholder Renault. The Japanese automaker, which slashed its profit and sales outlook for the current fiscal year to March, had already cut its dividend earlier this year. It withdrew its outlook for a 40 yen-per-share payout for the year in a filing to the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Renault shares fell as much as 3.4 % in Paris trading. The French automaker stands to lose the most because it owns 43 % of Nissan. Nissan is conserving cash as it embarks on 12,500 job cuts globally, and cost reductions aren’t happening soon enough to blunt the impact of weaker demand, higher raw materials costs and unfavorable currency trends. Makoto Uchida, who takes over as CFO next month, inherits the monumental task of restoring Nissan’s brand image and rolling out new cars that appeal to retail customers. “Renault’s profits aren’t very good either, so less dividend means reduced cash flow and flexibility”, said Tatsuo Yoshida, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst. Stephen Ma, Nissan’s recently appointed CFO, said in a briefing in Tokyo that the new CEO and management team will provide an update on the dividend once they are in place starting next month. Renault last month reduced its financial guidance for 2019, citing deteriorating results in markets including Turkey and Argentina, and spending on research and development. It embarked on its own search for a new CEO after ousting Thierry Bollore. Back in May, Nissan had cut its annual dividend to 40 yen from 57 yen per share, marking its first reduction since payouts were suspended in 2009. Another similar cut or suspension could translate into billions in less income for Renault. At the time of the previous cut, Evercore analysts predicted Renault’s annual earnings would fall by about a fifth, about €2.2 billion over 3 years. The surprise announcement on the dividend underscores Nissan’s struggles as it seeks to get back on track almost a year after the arrest of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn. For the fiscal year to March, operating profit is expected to be 150 billion yen ($1.39 billion), below the prior forecast for 230 billion yen ($2.13 billion) and just short of the analysts’ average projection for 158 billion yen. The revenue outlook was cut to 10.6 trillion yen, compared with the prior forecast for 11.3 trillion yen. Nissan joins Honda and Mazda in cutting profit and sales outlooks for the year, as they struggle to sell cars in the U.S. and Europe. Global light vehicle production is on track to expand less than 1 % to 94.5 million units, according to IHS Markit. Sales in China, South Asia and South America are helping to make up for declining volumes in more mature markets, the research firm said. For the latest quarter ended September, the manufacturer reported an operating profit of 30 billion yen ($278 million), compared with analysts’ prediction for 57 billion yen. For the quarter, Nissan reported revenue slightly below the estimate for 2.64 trillion yen. “Another quarter of low profits after an already weak first quarter means the downward revision was inevitable”, Yoshida said. Among Japanese automakers, Toyota has been the exception, joining Volkswagen in reporting better-than-anticipated results. Cost controls have helped Toyota maintain profits ahead of projections, even while it invests heavily in an industry undergoing a tectonic shift to electrification and self-driving automobiles. The results are beginning to overshadow Nissan’s other big headache, the charges against Ghosn on alleged financial crimes. Sluggish profits, stuck near a decade low, also weaken the Japanese company’s position in its three-way automaking alliance. After years of sales incentives that eroded margins and pushing businesses to buy cars, Nissan needs to rebuild its brand image and focus on appealing to retail customers. Ghosn, who has denied all charges, is preparing for the start of his trial next year. Uchida formally takes over from December 1, following the September resignation of Hiroto Saikawa over issues related to overcompensation of income. He will work alongside new COO Ashwani Gupta and Jun Seki, the new deputy COO. Uchida, Nissan’s third CEO since 2017, joined Nissan in 2003 from metals and machinery company Nissho Iwai Corp. He was most recently in charge of the Japanese automaker’s operations in China. +++ 

+++ Can you imagine a ROAD WITHOUT ANY SIGNS ? Surely not, as chaos would ensue; yet, increased vehicle connectivity could make this a reality, and much sooner than one might have expected. At least this is what a new report titled “UK Connected and Automated Mobility Roadmap to 2030”, by Zenzic, an organization that describes itself as “dedicated to accelerating the self-driving revolution in the UK by uniting industry, government and academia” suggests. The report states that emerging CAM (connected and automated mobility) technologies will eliminate the need for road signals, with UK drivers seeing “naked highways” as early as 2027. From next year, new planning guidance and blueprints for CAM-ready cities, towns, highways and rural roads will look to accommodate CAM services for efficient operations. This, Zenzic claims, will result in plans for new highways moving away from high cost (€11.5 million per km of smart motorway) assets in favor of digital infrastructure. Zenzic CEO Daniel said: “We are in a period of dramatic social and economic change. Transport is fundamental to the change and will soon be transformed by the new technologies associated with connectivity and automation, including digital infrastructure that will change the face of the UK’s highways. The ‘naked highway’ concept aims to bring economic benefits in terms of local and national efficiencies, as well as tangible benefits to public mobility including improved safety and better routing through centralized communication with drivers”. The issue that arises, of course, is that apart from new, autonomous cars with advance connectivity features, there are also millions of older ones that don’t have that tech and whose drivers must rely on traditional signals. Moreover, given the time frame, it practically impossible that owners would have made the transition to the latest generation of “smart” models. Zenzic recognizes this, but responds that putting the infrastructure in place will help in the faster development of autonomous cars and the related technology. +++ 

+++ ROLLS-ROYCE has quietly announced production of the Ghost is coming to end. While the rest of the automotive world was focused on Sema, Rolls-Royce revealed plans to show a Ghost Black Badge at the NEC Classic Motor Show in the United Kingdom. This didn’t raise eyebrows, but the company also said that this model “commemorates the end of Ghost’s 10 year production run”. Rolls-Royce didn’t release pictures of the car, but the automaker said it had a Black Diamond and Dark Emerald exterior with a dark chrome Spirit of Ecstasy mascot. Inside, there was Black and Seashell leather as well as technical fiber trim. The end of production isn’t too surprising, given its life-span, and spy photographers have already snapped the its successor being tested on numerous occasions. However, Rolls-Royce said the outgoing model is “destined to become a modern classic” as it was an “uninterrupted commercial and critical success”. Originally unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Ghost was an instant hit as it combined classic Rolls-Royce styling and luxury with a more affordable price tag. As the company notes, the car introduced the brand to a “new audience of younger, often self‑made customers”. This was important as Rolls-Royce was seen a stodgy brand, especially compared to Bentley which burst onto the scene with Continental GT in 2003. Of course, fans won’t have to mourn the Ghost for long as an all-new model is in the works and will be even more special than before. That’s because, while its predecessor was based on the BMW 7-Series, the new car will ride on Rolls-Royce’s Architecture of Luxury. Despite the all-new platform, the 2021 Ghost will have a familiar design that is instantly recognizable and retains the suicide rear doors. However, we can expect a sleeker front fascia and a more modern interior. The latter will adopt a digital instrument cluster, a larger infotainment system and updated switchgear. There have been conflicting reports about what will power the car, but it’s believed the model will adopt the twin-turbo 6.75 liter V12 that resides in the Phantom and Cullinan. Rumors have also suggested allwheel-drive could be an option. +++ 

+++ In RUSSIA , new-car sales fell 5.2 % in October to 152.057 units, the Association of European Businesses (AEB) said in a statement. The October result keeps the market on the path of a “slow but continuous erosion of the much-needed volume gains secured in the years 2017-2018”, Jörg Schreiber, chairman of the AEB Automobile Manufacturers Committee, said in the statement. The AEB said last month it expected sales to fall 2.2 % in 2019. The group had originally forecast demand to rise to 1.87 million this year from 1.80 million in 2018. The association also said that another rise in the country’s utilization fee could suppress demand in the market. The tax is designed to account for recycling charges at the end of a vehicle’s life. Among the sales winners in September were BMW, up 19 %; Skoda, up 17 %; Mercedes-Benz up 15 % and Renault, up 12 %. Lada, Russia’s top-selling brand, saw sales drop 6 %. Kia, at No. 2, fell 4 %. Hyundai, at No. 3, was flat. Volkswagen brand sales were down 7 %. Nissan sales plunged 60 % and Toyota’s sales dropped 6 %. Through October, sales in Russia are down 2.4 % to 1.42 million. +++ 

+++ China’s largest carmaker SAIC MOTOR wants to triple its overseas auto sales to 1 million units by 2025, a senior company official said, as more Chinese auto manufacturers seek sales growth globally. The Shanghai-based company, which sold around 7 million vehicles last year with its own brands and joint ventures with Volkswagen and General Motors, makes up just under a quarter of China’s auto market, the world’s largest. “SAIC’s overseas sales would hit 350,000 units this year and we will strive to sell more than half a million next year”, Yu De, deputy president of SAIC told reporters in Shanghai. “By 2025, we aim to have a market size of 1 million units a year”. “We will systematically plan our overseas operations, from supply chain to logistics”, said Yu. SAIC builds MG brand cars in India and Wuling commercial vehicles in Indonesia with GM. It also exports cars to Netherlands and Australia. As China’s overall market continues to decline after its first annual contraction last year since the 1990s, the company’s sales also dropped 13.7 % in the first ten months this year. +++ 

+++ TESLA boss and serial entrepreneur Elon Musk has revealed that the firm’s new European Gigafactory battery facility will be built in Germany on the outskirts of Berlin. He also revealed that a European research and development base was also planned for Germany, in addition to the new battery manufacturing plant. Musk blamed Brexit uncertainty on why the United Kingdom wasn’t considered for the new site: “Brexit uncertainty made it too risky to put a Gigafactory in the UK”, Musk said. Brexit might have something to do with Musk’s change of heart over the R&D centre, too. Back in 2014, he told that he planned to build an R&D base in the UK. Those plans have since been shelved. Musk said: “I come to Berlin a lot. Berlin rocks!. Some of the best cars in the world are made in Germany, everyone knows that German engineering is outstanding. That’s part of the reason why we’re locating our Gigafactory Europe in Germany. We are also going to create an engineering and design centre in Berlin”. The Gigafactory Europe will be Tesla’s 4th battery plant. The first is in Reno Nevada, with a second gigafactory due in Buffalo, New York. The third is nearing completion near Shanghai in China. The European plant is set to be sited near Berlin’s upcoming new airport on the outskirts of the city. +++ 

+++ If you want a TOYOTA hot hatch, then be patient for the Yaris GR-4’s upcoming debut. Despite earlier rumours, a Corolla hot hatch might not happen. There are “no plans at this stage for that car, the GR Corolla”, Sean Hanley, Toyota Australia’s vice-president of sales and marketing, said. “So we would never rule it out, but we don’t have any announcements to make on Corolla GR”. As recently as February 2019, a performance version of the Corolla was in the cards. At that time, Toyota Deputy Chief Designer Toshio Kanei told that the model was in early development within the Toyota Gazoo Racing division. He hinted at the vehicle using a turbocharged 1.6-litre 4-cylinder engine. Toyota isn’t abandoning hot hatches, but it’s preparing them in a smaller footprint than the Corolla. The company is already teasing the debut of the Yaris GR-4 at the Rally Australia on 17 November. There aren’t many details about it yet, but the launch location suggests a tie to the WRC car. Powertrain details aren’t yet available, but the rally car packs a turbocharged 1.6-litre 4-cylinder. +++ 

+++ Major automakers think U.S. president Donald TRUMP will again this week push back a self-imposed deadline on whether to put up to 25 % tariffs on national security grounds on imported cars and parts from the European Union and Japan amid an ongoing trade war with China, 5 auto officials told. The anticipated delay (expected to be announced later this week) comes as foreign automakers are eager to highlight U.S. investments to try to dissuade Trump from using tariffs that they argue could cost U.S. jobs. U.S. commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said earlier this month tariffs may not be necessary. EU officials expect Trump to announce a 6 month delay when he faces a self-imposed deadline this week. Trump in May delayed a decision on tariffs by up to 180 days as he ordered U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to pursue negotiations. Lighthizer’s office recently asked many foreign automakers to provide a tally of investments they have made in the United States, several auto industry officials told. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, a Republican ally of Trump’s, plans to attend a groundbreaking at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga assembly plant where they will mark the beginning of an $800 million expansion to build electric vehicles and add 1,000 jobs. The high-profile event will also include remarks from Germany’s ambassador to the United States. Volkswagen announced the plan to begin producing EVs by 2022 in Tennessee in January. Daimler said in late 2017 it planned to invest $1 billion to expand its manufacturing footprint around Tuscaloosa, Alabama, creating more than 600 jobs. Tariffs on Japan seem even less likely than the EU, experts say. Japanese automakers and suppliers have announced billions of dollars in investments, most notably a $1.6 billion joint venture plant in Alabama by Toyota and Mazda. Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed a limited trade deal in September cutting tariffs on U.S. farm goods, Japanese machine tools and other products. Although the agreement does not cover trade in autos, Abe said in September he had received reassurance from Trump that the United States would not impose auto tariffs on national security grounds. Lighthizer said the 2 countries would tackle cars in negotiations expected to start next April. Stefan Mair, member of the executive board of the BDI German industry association, said a deal to permanently remove the threat of tariffs was needed. “The investments that are not being made are costing us the growth of tomorrow, even in sectors that are seemingly not affected”, he said. Germany’s merchandise trade surplus with the United States ($69 billion in 2018) remains a sore point with the Trump administration as does Japan’s $67.6 billion U.S. trade surplus last year; with two-thirds of that in the auto sector. +++ 

+++ Chinese electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer XPENG , backed by the Alibaba Group, said it has raised $400 million from investors including Xiaomi to fund its growth. Sources familiar with the matter told earlier about the fundraising and about Xiaomi being an investor. The fundraising comes at what bankers and industry insiders describe as an increasingly tough financing environment for Chinese EV startups which must jostle for attention in a crowded sector and produce convincing arguments about future profitability despite government cuts to EV subsidies and plans to phase them out. XPeng, which announced the fundraising in a statement, did not comment on its valuation. But the sources said the latest fundraising valued the 5 year old firm, led by 42-year-old tech entrepreneur He Xiaopeng, at nearly $4 billion, higher than the 25 billion yuan ($3.57 billion) valuation in the last funding round. The dollar fundraising comes as Guangzhou-based XPeng, which has mostly raised yuan-denominated capital, mulls going public in the coming years, with New York among one of possible listing venues, the people said. It is also considering Hong Kong and Shanghai’s Nasdaq-style tech board, said one of them. With Xiaomi, XPeng will explore more applications of smart phone technologies on intelligent connected vehicles, said one of the sources. “The signing of the new fundraising, which not only attracted new strategic investors such as Xiaomi Corporation but also received strong support from many of our current shareholders, is a renewed endorsement of our long-term strategy”, XPeng chief executive He said in the statement. The proceeds will be mainly used for research and development of autonomous driving-related software, mass production of its G3 SUV model and P7 sedan, branding and expanding its retail network, said one of the people, who declined to be identified as the matter was private. XPeng also secured “several billions” of yuan-dominated unsecured credit lines from banks including China Merchants Bank, China CITIC Bank and HSBC, the statement said, without specifying figures. China’s new energy vehicle market, the world’s largest, had booming growth in the recent past. But fewer new energy vehicles (NEV) could be sold in China this year than in 2018, an official at the country’s biggest auto industry association warned after NEV sales dropped 46 % in October. Numerous setbacks plaguing EV companies in their quests for sustained profitability have also put investors on their guard. XPeng, which sold around 13,000 vehicles in the first 9 months this year, also counts IDG Capital and Hillhouse Capital Group among its backers. It is one of several Chinese startups looking to speed up development of battery-powered technology and compete with global leaders including Tesla. +++

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