Newsflash: Volgende generatie Opel Corsa wordt volledig elektrisch

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+++ BMW is in talks with labor representatives and its top suppliers as it seeks to achieve cost savings of more than €12 billion by 2022, chief financial officer Nicolas Peter told analysts. “We are currently discussing additional measures with the Works Council. All parties are working very constructively to make the company even stronger and more efficient”, Peter said. “The results will be presented next week at our employee meeting. One thing is clear: We will have to achieve significant savings each year with these measures”, Peter said. BMW plans to keep staff numbers at roughly the same level as 2018, Peter said. BMW also said it has introduced an efficiency program with top suppliers that includes agreements with 18 companies. BMW said earlier this year that it would step up a savings program to help offset the impact of trade conflicts and unprecedented spending on electric cars. It said it would cull models, reduce development times by as much as one third and hold the workforce steady this year. BMW said it had ordered more than €10 billion worth of battery cells from Chinese battery cell maker CATL and Samsung SDI. BMW said it had boosted its order with CATL to €7.3 billion from an original booking announced in mid-2018 that was worth €4 billion. It said the contract would last from 2020 to 2031. BMW said it had also signed a battery supply contract with Samsung SDI worth €2.9 billion, valid from 2021 to 2031. BMW said it would get the cobalt it needs for cell production from mines in Australia and Morocco and provide it to CATL and Samsung SDI. It said it would source the lithium from mines including in Australia. BMW plans to have 25 electrified models in its offering by 2023, with more than half of them fully electric. It expects sales of electrified vehicles to double between 2019 and 2021. Europe’s auto industry is promoting zero-emissions cars as a way to comply with clean air rules, a strategy shift which forces carmakers to retool their supply chains to build electric, rather than combustion engine cars. +++ 

+++ In EUROPE , trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom and ministers expressed cautious optimism that the threat of U.S. tariffs on imported European cars had passed. American president Donald Trump was expected to decide by Nov. 14 whether to impose damaging tariffs on EU cars on the grounds of national security, but the deadline simply passed without event. “We haven’t received a formal announcement that they will not take place”, Malmstrom said after a meeting of EU trade ministers in Brussels. “That’s why I’m still a little bit cautious, but the deadline has passed and there are severe legal limitations for the president to take further action”, she continued. Malmstrom said she interpreted the absence of car tariffs as meaning Trump was respecting an agreement he struck a year ago with European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker not to impose them while the two sides sought to boost economic ties. She also said there was very little public or business appetite for them in the United States. “So on this I’m quite optimistic”, she said. Dutch trade minister Sigrid Kaag said fellow ministers at the meeting were positive but cautious. “There’s a feeling of relief, but that doesn’t mean you’ve got there”, she said, adding they had all agreed that talks toward trade accords with Washington must continue. The 2 sides have made progress in talks toward a deal on conformity assessment, which could make it easier for companies to show their products meet EU or U.S market standards. The European Parliament is expected next week to approve a deal to allow more U.S. beef imports into the bloc. The ministers also discussed problems at the World Trade Organization, where U.S. blocking of appointments is set to cripple its ability to resolve disputes. Malmstrom said the EU would continue to work with the United States to find a solution, including reforms of the WTO’s Appellate Body that rules on disputes. “The WTO is in serious need of reform. I don’t think it is about to collapse, but if nothing happens in the coming years it will be more and more weakened and it will become irrelevant”. +++ 

+++ FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES (FCA) brushed off a shock lawsuit from General Motors (GM) and said it was confident of reaching a binding merger deal with PSA by the end of this year to create the world’s 4th largest carmaker. GM filed the lawsuit in the United States on Wednesday, alleging FCA had bribed United Auto Workers (UAW) union officials over years to corrupt the bargaining process and gain advantages, costing GM billions of dollars. FCA said the suit, seeking substantial damages, was “meritless” and appeared intended to disrupt the Italian-American company’s planned $50 billion merger with France’s PSA. “The GM lawsuit will be dealt with in appropriate places, but as we’ve said already it is absolutely groundless and so it does not worry us”, FCA chairman John Elkann told. “Looking at how teams are working, both in FCA and PSA, I am encouraged to say that between now and year-end, we’ll have a binding memorandum signed”, he added. PSA declined to comment on the lawsuit and any potential impact on the merger talks. FCA and PSA announced plans last month to combine forces to better tackle the cost of new technologies such as electric and self-driving vehicles as well as a downturn in auto markets. The merger would create a group with 8.7 million in annual vehicle sales, overtaking GM and putting it fourth globally behind Volkswagen, Toyota and the Renault-Nissan alliance. In a letter to employees about the GM lawsuit, FCA chief executive Mike Manley said: “We are astonished by this filing, both its content and its timing. We can only assume it was intended to disrupt our proposed merger with PSA”. In September 2015, FCA’s former chief executive Sergio Marchionne urged GM counterpart Mary Barra to consider a tie-up of the 2 carmakers. GM rebuffed FCA’s advances. GM alleged that, after it rejected a merger bid from FCA, Marchionne conspired to negotiate a new 4-year contract with the UAW “designed, through the power of pattern bargaining, to cost GM billions”. FCA will vigorously defend itself against this “meritless” lawsuit, Manley said. “We will not be slowed down by this act”, he said, adding: “Let’s keep the performance up as it has clearly got some of our competitors worried”. Manley was not named in the GM complaint and the source close to FCA said he was not linked to the case. Elkann, a scion of the Agnelli family, also said Exor and the Peugeot family were committed to providing maximum support to the merged company and would provide stability for it in the years ahead. “We’ve been stable investors in the auto industry for the past 120 years, so, yes, I still see ourselves as stable investors in the auto industry in the next 10 years”, Elkann said of Exor. FCA is currently negotiating a new 4-year collective bargaining agreement with the UAW. GM recently agreed a tentative deal with the UAW after a long dispute over a new collective bargaining agreement, which led to a number of strikes over pay and GM’s plans to reduce its workforce and close plants. +++ 

+++ GENERAL MOTORS filed a racketeering lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), alleging that its rival bribed United Auto Workers (UAW) union officials over many years to corrupt the bargaining process and gain advantages, costing GM billions of dollars. GM also alleged that FCA’s former chief executive, the late Sergio Marchionne, was central in the scheme. The No. 1 U.S. automaker said it will seek “substantial damages” from FCA that it said would be reinvested in the United States to create jobs, but did not specify an exact amount. The lawsuit comes at a delicate time for FCA, which is working on a planned merger with French automaker PSA and is negotiating a 4-year labor contract with the UAW. GM’s general counsel, Craig Glidden, told reporters that the lawsuit has nothing to do with the planned merger of PSA and FCA and the automaker does not intend to file suit against the UAW. The UAW has targeted FCA last out of Detroit’s 3 automakers for contract talks. UAW workers at Ford ratified a new contract last week, while GM workers approved a deal in late October that ended a 40-day U.S. strike. “The lawsuit can’t help but complicate the already difficult task of getting a UAW-FCA agreement in place”, said Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry, labor and economics at the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) in Michigan. The UAW said in a statement, “We are confident that the terms of those contracts were not affected” by the actions of FCA or UAW officials. It said it was “regrettable” that these issues can cause doubts about the contracts. The lawsuit also names as defendants 3 former FCA executives who have pleaded guilty in an ongoing federal probe into the UAW and FCA. GM said that probe, coupled with its own investigation, resulted in the lawsuit. GM’s Glidden said a “pattern of racketeering” by FCA from 2009 to 2015 left GM paying higher wages than Fiat Chrysler, and allowed the latter to use more temporary workers and lower-paid second-tier workers than GM. “As part of this bribery scheme, and to lock in the competitive efficacy of the purchased benefits, concessions and advantages for FCA, GM was denied similar union commitments and support”, the lawsuit states. The lawsuit claims that among the “benefits, concessions and advantages illegally purchased by FCA” was UAW support for “World Class Manufacturing”, a version of Toyota’s lean production strategy but adapted to the culture of Fiat. That system has been credited in part for helping to turn around struggling operations like FCA’s plant in Toledo, Ohio, that makes the popular and profitable Jeep Wrangler. The suit also claims that after a failed bid to take over GM in 2015, FCA corrupted the collective bargaining process by structuring terms through bribed UAW officials that “forced unanticipated costs on GM”. The lawsuit says that under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, FCA would be liable to pay GM three times the actual damages caused, plus interest, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. GM alleges that FCA, under the leadership of former CEO Marchionne, used bribes to UAW officials to corrupt the collective bargaining process from 2009 through 2015. Marchionne died in 2018. Fiat took control of Chrysler after it emerged from a U.S. government-funded bankruptcy in 2009. “Marchionne was a central figure in the conceiving, executing and sponsoring of the fraudulent activity”, Glidden said. When GM rejected a merger bid from FCA, the lawsuit alleges Marchionne conspired to negotiate a new 4-year contract “designed, through the power of pattern bargaining, to cost GM billions”. The UAW has been the focus of a spreading federal corruption probe. Gary Jones, the UAW president who recently had taken a leave of absence, resigned effective immediately just hours after the union said it would seek to remove Jones from office, a union source told. Jones’ lawyer Bruce Maffeo told the decision was based “on his belief that his continuing to serve will only distract the union”. A UAW spokesman could not confirm the resignation. Last week, the UAW’s acting president unveiled a series of reforms designed to prevent further scandals. Glidden said the automaker supports those reform efforts. +++ 

+++ GERMANY ’s cartel authority said it was fining the country’s 3 major carmakers (BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen) a total of €100 million for forming a cartel to buy steel. From 2004 to 2013, the carmakers regularly met steelmakers and other companies in the supply chain to discuss uniform surcharges when purchasing steel, the cartel office said. Unlawful prices resulting from the cartel were paid until at least 2016, it added. The carmakers accepted the fines. BMW said it would pay a penalty amounting to €28 million. Daimler will have to pay €23.5 million, a spokeswoman said. Volkswagen, Germany’s biggest carmaker, declined to comment on the amount it would pay but welcomed the end of the cartel probe and the legal clarity created. The cartel office said that purchasing prices for long steel products (the steel type affected by the cartel and which is used for crankshafts, gearwheels or steering rods) account for less than 1 % of a car’s final value. +++ 

+++ A year after the dramatic arrest of Carlos GHOSN , his wife said the former auto executive should face trial in France because he will not be given a fair hearing in Tokyo. Japan has a “hostage justice system” that considers those who are charged “guilty until proven innocent”, she said in an interview. “They’ve put him away and now they’re looking for evidence”. Carole, who is banned from seeing her husband, has also called for swifter justice following the November 2018 arrest when Carlos Ghosn was head of a trio of global carmaking partners Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi. What is likely to be Japan’s biggest-ever corporate trial is set to begin as soon as April, although Carole suggested it could be postponed until after the Tokyo Summer Olympics to avoid any harm to Japan’s reputation. Carlos Ghosn’s legal battle has influenced global perceptions about executive life in Japan and fueled a debate about the country’s legal system. Carole has been active in speaking to the media and contacting politicians and human-rights advocates to draw attention to Japan’s legislation that allows authorities to detain suspects for lengthy periods. She called on France, the U.S. and Brazil (all countries where Carlos is a citizen) to do more to help her husband. The French government has “finally started to react”, she said. Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy met with Carlos Ghosn in Tokyo last month, with the consent of president Emmanuel Macron, she said. A group of French lawmakers have asked that he be brought to France to face trial, an idea quickly shot down Sunday by Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, who rejected any form of “interference” in Japan’s justice system. In the interview, Carole criticized the fact that she hasn’t seen her husband in almost 8 months, and is getting updates through his children, family and lawyers. “They’ve destroyed our lives, we are scarred forever”, she said. “It’s been the hardest year of my life”. The Ghosns were together when he was arrested in April for the 4th time, during an early morning raid into their apartment. Carole has said that her privacy was invaded in the process, with a female prosecutor waiting for her as she exited the shower. Her Lebanese passport and mobile phones were confiscated by the authorities, according to Ghosn’s lawyers. She left Japan with her U.S. passport, though came back for questioning the same month. “I was scared, I was all by myself in a country where I knew no one”, she said. “I did not run away”. Carlos Ghosn was eventually released on bail due to pressure from Western countries, Carole said, adding that strict bail conditions mean he’s “still held hostage”. The Tokyo District Court has banned Ghosn from seeing Carole without court approval. Prosecutors detained Ghosn multiple times as they handed down indictments, and he is now facing a total of 4 charges. He has denied any wrongdoing. He has been charged with financial misconduct related to alleged under-reporting of compensation. He also stands accused of aggravated breach of trust: one for transactions that allegedly transferred Ghosn’s personal investment losses to Nissan and for transactions in Saudi Arabia that benefited Ghosn; and another related to payments in Oman that allegedly moved money from a dealership into a company controlled by Ghosn in Lebanon. Carole is also entangled in the allegations: in the charges related to the Oman payments, Ghosn is accused of moving $5 million from Nissan to a dealership and then into companies including one headed by Carole and controlled by Ghosn. She told in the interview she “knew nothing” about her husband’s business dealings and “has been cleared”. Ghosn’s lawyers have said that they believe prosecutors worked with government officials and Nissan employees to build a case against Ghosn. There was “unlawful collusion between the prosecutors, government officials at Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and executives at Nissan, who formed a secret task force to drum up allegations of wrongdoing”, they said earlier this week. The goal was to oust Ghosn to prevent him from further integrating Nissan and Renault, which threatened the Japanese carmaker’s autonomy, according to Carole and Junichiro Hironaka, one of Ghosn’s lawyers. To execute this plan, the prosecutors “ceded their investigative powers to certain Nissan employees and consultants, and together with Nissan, unlawfully trampled Ghosn’s legal rights in Japan and around the world,” the attorneys said. Although prosecutors have handed in the evidence that strengthens their case, they haven’t given the defense access to some 6,000 pieces of evidence which could support Ghosn’s case, Hironaka said. “Don’t you think there could have been a more civil way to do this?”, Carole said in the interview, referring to any desire on the part of Nissan or the Japanese government to remove Ghosn from his corporate positions. “The board could have met with him and spoken to him, and said we’d like you to step down”. +++ 

+++ HYUNDAI ’s N performance division has revealed a new RM19 Racing Midship Sports Car Prototype, which will be used as a development platform for the sub-brand’s planned ‘halo’ car. The new machine, unveiled at the Los Angeles motor show, is a reworked Veloster that is very close in design to the mid-engined development car seen testing earlier this year. It is effectively an extensively reworked version of the i30 and Veloster TCR touring cars, albeit with a mid-mounted engine and designed to be made road-legal. It is powered by the turbocharged 2.0-litre powerplant from those machines, upgraded to produce 390 hp. Because the unit does not need to meet TCR’s performance balancing rules, Hyundai been able to give the machine extra boost. Hyundai claims the rear-wheel-drive RM19 can achieve 0-100 kph in less than 4 seconds and offers “race car-like” levels of performance, balance, braking and grip while retaining daily road-going capability. It has a limited top speed of around 250 kph, and uses a version of the TCR car’s 6-speed sequential gearbox optimised for road use. While the RM19 being displayed in LA is powered by a racing-derived combustion engine, Hyundai says it could be fitted with electrified and full electric powertrains. Hyundai is working with Croatian firm Rimac (which it has invested in) to develop high-performance electric and fuel cell powertrains for use in future models from its N division. The planned ‘halo’ car is set to feature a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Hyundai R&D boss Albert Biermann said: “The RM19 prototype is completely at home on the track, but it will also be fun just about anywhere else. This new prototype takes the pleasure of driving to the next level of excitement, moving Hyundai to the prestigious area of supercar performance”. He added: “We are developing high-performance electric vehicles with Rimac as part of our effort to introduce 44 eco models by 2022”. Thomas Schmera, Hyundai’s product boss, commented: “The RM19 sports car signals future brand aspirations for Hyundai’s high-performance N brand, solidly moving N into the prestigious arena of supercar-level performance. Hyundai N will not only increase heartbeats per minute via powerful internal combustion engines, but also through the instantaneous torque and environmental sustainability of electrified powertrains moving forward”. Hyundai has produced a number of RM (which stands for Racing Midship) concepts, starting with the RM12 in 2012. Albert Biermann, Hyundai’s development chief and boss of the N division, said: “The RM platform is a versatile engineering testbed, allowing effective evaluation of various powertrains and performance levels, all on normal roads and environments”. The RM19 concept features an aluminium and steel subframe. There is MacPherson strut front suspension and double wishbones at the rear, with gas-pressure dampers and features motorsport-derived ABS braking. +++ 

+++ JAGUAR LAND ROVER ’s chief executive told he is open to more alliances to lower the costs of developing technology, but is not looking for a full-blown corporate merger. “We feel the pressure” from demands to slash carbon emissions and develop electric vehicles, Jaguar Land Rover chief Ralf Speth said in an interview. But to the question of whether the company and its parent Tata Motors are seeking a merger for Jaguar Land Rover, Speth said: “The answer is no. We can really survive on our own”. The British luxury sedan and SUV maker is “always open” to discussions of technology alliances and component sharing with other companies, Speth said. Earlier this year, the carmaker agreed with BMW to develop electric car parts jointly. Jaguar Land Rover currently sells an electric Jaguar I-Pace and has said the next generation of its top-of-the line XJ will be all-electric. The company has not said when it will launch the new XJ. “There’s no question in our mind that electric is the drive train of the future”, Eberhardt said. “But from a customer adoption point of view it takes longer than anticipated”. Jaguar Land Rover has a product lineup, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles, which could meet tighter European CO2 emissions limits which begin taking effect next year, but compliance will depend on the mix of vehicles customers buy, Speth said. “In Europe, the mix of vehicles is encouraging, but not at the moment at the level we can say we are compliant right at the beginning”, he said. “But there is time to go. We are cautiously optimistic”. A lack of public electric vehicle re-charging infrastructure remains a challenge in selling electric vehicles in the U.S. and Europe, Eberhardt and Speth said. Jaguar Land Rover was unprofitable through the first half of its fiscal year ended Sept. 30, hit by Brexit-related production shutdowns and weaker demand in China. But Speth said the second half of the year should be better than the first. Demand in the Chinese market is volatile, though Jaguar Land Rover sales have seen “double-digit growth” in recent months, Speth said. But that growth has been from a low volume. Speth said he receives data on the Chinese market daily. +++ 

+++ Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) said it will recall nearly 700.000 SUVs worldwide because a faulty electrical connection could prevent engine starts or contribute to a stall. The recall, covering 2011 through 2013 model year Dodge Durango and JEEP Grand Cherokee SUVs, will address silicon deposits on the contact points of fuel pump relays that may interrupt electrical current, FCA said in a statement. It said it is unaware of any injuries or accidents related to the faulty vehicles. The Italian-American automaker had previously recalled most of the same SUVs in 2014 and 2015 for issues with their fuel pump relays. The company said it would notify owners at a later date when they will be able to schedule repairs at dealerships. The recall includes around 528,500 vehicles in the United States, 34,700 in Canada, 18,100 in Mexico and 116,500 outside North America, it said. +++ 

+++ LAMBORGHINI has teased a radical Vision Gran Turismo Concept that’s set to premiere on November 24 at the World Final of the FIA GT Championships. The brief clip previews the rear fascia of the concept while also showcasing its exhaust note. By the sounds of it, it’s powered by a naturally-aspirated V12 engine, likely borrowed directly from the Lamborghini Aventador. The presence of an engine should also mean the car actually runs, unlike many other Vision Gran Turismo concepts from other car manufacturers that can’t actually turn a wheel. Visually, it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that the vehicle will be bold. In this clip, we can see sharp LED taillights stretching off from the front fascia and appearing to double as aerodynamic fins. A sharp diffuser is also present. I expect the vehicle’s front fascia to be just as bold as the rear, likely making it one of the most remarkable Vision Gran Turismo concepts made for the racing franchise. It remains to be seen when the Lamborghini will be made available in Gran Turismo Sport but gamers shouldn’t have to wait too long. Interestingly, this isn’t the only all-new Lamborghini teased by the Italian automaker in recent weeks. In late October, Lamborghini previewed its new track-only, Aventador-based supercar outfitted with distinct bodywork and a 6.5-liter naturally-aspirated V12 engine with 830 hp. This car will be limited to just 40 units worldwide and likely only offered to the most prolific Lamborghini collectors. It could be dubbed the ‘SVR’ although that name remains unconfirmed. +++ 

+++ Daimler plans to sell luxury MERCEDES-MAYBACH brand’s first SUV, its China chief executive Hubertus Troska said, joining other luxury brands that offer SUV models to attract customers from China and the United States. Daimler plans to roll out the model, which is based on the Mercedes GLS-Class, in the second half of 2020, Troska said, adding China is Mercedes-Maybach’s biggest market. The move comes one day after Aston Martin rolled out its first SUV model, the DBX. Luxury carmakers from Rolls-Royce to Lamborghini launched ultra-luxury SUV models in the past year to boost their brand’s overall profitability. In 2012, Daimler, which owns the Mercedes-Benz brand, stopped making Maybach’s iconic long limousines after the vehicles, which were based on a unique design, failed to sell heavily enough. At the time, Maybach vehicles were marketed as a separate brand from Mercedes-Benz. Among the owners were oligarchs, rap stars, and royals including Russia’s Roman Abramovich, musician Jay-Z and King Juan Carlos of Spain. When the joint Mercedes-Maybach brand was launched in 2014, Ola Källenius, then the Mercedes-Benz executive responsible for marketing and sales, said the brand was expected to sell well in China, the United States, Russia and Japan. At the Shanghai autoshow this year, Daimler’s Troska said demand for Maybachs was more than 600 a month in China. The automaker did not disclose pricing for its new SUV flagship. It’s expected to cost about $200,000. Ultraluxury SUVs, which often share platforms with much less expensive vehicles, are cash cows for automakers. The global market for ultraluxury SUVs should grow from around 7,500 last year to above 20,000 by 2023, according to AutoForecast Solutions. About 75 % of these vehicles will be sold in the U.S. and China. The Maybach GLS reflects luxury-market trends of sedans declining in popularity and SUVs seeing greater demand, said Ed Kim, an analyst with AutoPacific. “Until recently, the proverbial big black sedan was the sure sign of success and prestige, but today, SUVs have eclipsed sedans as the luxury vehicles to be seen in”, Kim said. “The Maybach GLS should easily find an audience with younger celebrities, or the scions of older oligarchs”. The unibody Maybach GLS is powered by a specially developed 558 hp V8 engine. The engine is combined with a 48 volt electrical system paired with an integrated starter generator, known as EQ Boost, that can add up to 21 hp for short periods of time. The Maybach GLS can accelerate from 0 to 100 kph in 4.9 seconds and reach a top speed of 250 kph, Daimler said. The new model features E-Active Body Control, a suspension system developed by Mercedes-Benz and powered in part by the 48 volt on-board electrical system. The technology combines a hydropneumatic active suspension with the Mercedes Airmatic air suspension system and allows spring and damping forces to be individually controlled at each wheel, counteracting body roll, pitch and squat, the automaker said. Exterior highlights include the Maybach-exclusive grille with vertical louvres, a standing Mercedes-Benz star on the hood (a first for a Mercedes SUV), chrome trim elements and retracting Maybach running boards. The dashboard of the Maybach GLS is anchored by twin 12.3-inch displays housed behind a continuous glass surface to form a large free-standing screen. The interior is available as a 5-seater or a 4-seater, with all seats electrically adjustable, heated, ventilated and equipped with massage. The rear cabin includes 2 touch screens (11.6-inch), along with wireless headphones and a 7-inch tablet, running Mercedes’ new multimedia system, Mercedes Benz User Experience. The  Mercedes-Maybach GLS will be manufactured at Mercedes’ U.S. factory in Vance, Alabama for the global market, Daimler said. Mercedes builds the GLS, GLE and GLE Coupe at the factory, along with the C-class sedan for the North American market. +++ 

+++ The next 6th generation OPEL Corsa is likely to be electric-only, according to a spokesman, who also revealed he had no fears the impending PSA Group merger with FCA would have an adverse impact on Opel. The fifth generation Corsa has just been launched, and itself is available with an 330 kilometre electric option alongside petrol and diesel alternatives. The spokesman was emphatic when asked if the Corsa name could be used for an SUV instead of a hatchback in the future. “Absolutely not”, he told. “With electrification, B-class and possibly even A-class segment cars will become more relevant. The next generation superminis, including the Corsa, will be all-electric. I truly believe that”. But with small cars traditionally popular in big cities, charging infrastructure has regularly been cited as one of the major problems facing mainstream uptake in EVs, particularly how people living in blocks of flats can feasibly charge their electric car when on-street parking is the only option. But the spokesman believes once governments decide to fully embrace infrastructure and put funding and schemes in place then progress will greatly accelerate. “There will be a tipping point”, he said when asked about charging infrastructure. “When a decision is made it will happen unbelievably quickly. In 2025, no manufacturer will be making petrol or diesel engines”. The fifth-generation Corsa faced a rushed development process, going from concept to the public road in just 2,5 years. This was due to the takeover of Opel by the PSA Group. Part of the rush was because if Opel had not released a new Corsa and left the 4th generation model on sale, the brand would have had to eventually pay royalties to General Motors; the owner of the brand when the previous Corsa was created. It is thought GM had no plans for a fifth-generation Corsa of its own. With the ready-made CMP platform from the PSA Group which the new Peugeot 208 and DS 3 Crossback were built on, Opel decided to press ahead with its plans for the Corsa using the same platform. The spokesman ruled out bringing out an off-road styled variant of the Corsa in the same vein as Ford has done with the Fiesta Active. The new Mokka X (in his words the “first sexy Opel for many years”) will instead provide the alternative for buyers after a jacked-up, style-focused small SUV. Opel is in the midst of negotiations about merger between its parent company, the PSA Group, and FCA. The spokesman confirmed talks were ongoing and a Memorandum of Understand is set to be signed by the companies in December. He believes Opel won’t be troubled by it. “The merger won’t have an impact on Opel. It might do in Italy, but elsewhere it shouldn’t have an impact”. The spokesman also added that the merger could be a lengthy process, with PSA Group boss Carlos Tavares telling colleagues it could take another 12 months after signing the Memorandum of Understand in December for things to be made clear. +++ 

+++ Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has talked for years about building an electric PICKUP that would threaten the heart of the Detroit automakers’ profits, and today he will finally take the wraps off the so-called cyberpunk truck. Analysts expect the Tesla pickup, which Musk has said would combine the performance of a Porsche 911 sports car with the functionality of Ford’s industry-leading F-150, to debut in late 2021 or early 2022 with a starting price of under $50,000. “Making an electric pickup truck that sells in the same price range as an F-150 and making it profitable will be tough”, said Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting at Auto Forecast Solutions. As Musk pushes to take a bite of Detroit’s profits, Ford and larger rival General Motors are gearing up to challenge Tesla more directly with new offerings like the Ford Mustang Mach E electric SUV as well as electric pickups. Electric pickups and SUVs (the heart of the U.S. market) could help Ford and GM generate the significant EV sales they will need to meet tougher emission standards and EV mandates in California and other states. The Trump administration is moving to roll back those standards, but electric trucks are a hedge if California prevails. Pricier trucks also offer carmakers a better chance to generate profit from their electric battery investments, Fiorani said. The pickup’s introduction will shift Tesla more toward trucks and SUVs, where Detroit’s automakers get most of their profits. Tesla has so far sold mostly Model S and Model 3 sedans, but also offers the Model X SUV and starting next year the Model Y compact SUV. A focus on the high-performance end of the market is only natural given the success of Ford’s 450 hp F-150 Raptor, which launched in 2009 and whose sales have since risen annually, according to Ford spokesman Mike Levine. While Ford does not disclose Raptor sales, Levine said annual demand is well above 19.000 vehicles and the No. 2 U.S. automaker has never had to offer incentives on the model, which costs in the high $60.000 range. Ford also offers the more expensive F-150 Limited, its most powerful and luxurious pickup. Demand for full-size electric pickup trucks in the near term may not be huge, however. Industry tracking firm IHS Markit estimates the electric pickup segment (both full- and mid-sized models) will account for about 75.000 sales in 2026, compared with an expected 3 million light pickups overall. The Tesla is not part of that estimate given its uncertain timing. Musk in October described the pickup as “closer to an armored personnel carrier from the future”. Deutsche Bank analyst Emmanuel Rosner said such a design carries the risk of not appealing to traditional pickup buyers and consigning Tesla’s vehicle to niche status. Tesla has shown teaser images and Musk promised certain features on Twitter last year, saying it would be similar in size to Ford’s F-150. The Tesla will have all-wheel drive with “crazy torque”, a suspension that dynamically adjusts for load and a driving range of up to 800 kilometres as an option, he said. Ford and GM officials often say they understand pickup buyers better than anyone, but they are not taking chances, with plans to introduce their own electric pickups. Both also will build electric SUVs. Ford aims to sell an electric F-series in late 2021, sources familiar with the plans said. It also will offer the Mach E next year as part of its plan to invest $11.5 billion by 2022 electrifying its vehicles. In April, Ford invested $500 million in startup Rivian, which plans to build its own electric pickup beginning in fall 2020. GM plans to build a family of premium electric pickup trucks and SUVs, beginning in late 2021 with an electric pickup (possibly under the Hummer brand) followed by a performance variant in 2022 and a GMC truck in 2023, sources have said. It plans to invest $8 billion by 2023 to develop electric and self-driving vehicles. +++ 

+++ Democratic U.S. Senator Ed Markey asked TESLA to disable its Autopilot driver-assistance system until it installs new safeguards to prevent drivers from evading system limits that could let them fall asleep. “Tesla should disable Autopilot until it fixes the problem”, Markey said at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on advanced vehicle technologies. Markey, who wrote to Tesla about the issue earlier this week, cited YouTube videos and press reports that suggested drivers could travel long distances without touching the steering wheel by using an object to defeat requirements that drivers should regularly touch the wheel “even if they are literally asleep”. Markey cited a local news report that said a driver had fallen asleep behind the wheel as a Tesla drove 14 miles on Autopilot. Other unconfirmed videos on social media appear to show drivers sleeping behind the wheel of Tesla vehicles. “That’s not safe. Somebody is going to die because they can go to YouTube as a driver, find a way to get around safety requirements”, Markey said. “We can’t entrust the lives of our drivers and everyone else on the road to a water bottle”. Acting National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) chief James Owens told Markey at the hearing the agency would be in touch with Tesla about the issue. Tesla says drivers must keep their hands on the wheel at all times, but many owners say they can use the driver-assistance system to conduct other tasks behind the wheel. Tesla did not immediately comment but said in September that since 2018, it has “made updates to our system, including adjusting the time intervals between hands-on warnings and the conditions under which they’re activated”. A series of crashes involving Autopilot has prompted U.S. investigations and criticism from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). In September, the NTSB said the Autopilot design was a key factor in a January 2018 crash of a Model S into a parked fire truck on a highway in California. The system’s design “permitted the driver to disengage from the driving task” in the 2018 crash and allowed him to remove his hands from the wheel for nearly all of the last 14 minutes of the trip, it said. Tesla’s Autopilot was engaged during at least 3 fatal U.S. crashes, and 2 remain under investigation by NHTSA and NTSB. +++ 

+++ TOYOTA ‘s RAV4 plug-in hybrid will be aimed at customers who are looking for a high-performance SUV that is also environmentally friendly. The RAV4 plug-in hybrid will go on sale in the second half of next year as the flagship of Toyota’s fleet of hybrid cars. It has CO2 emissions of 30 grams per km using WLTP standards, the lowest in its class, Toyota said in a news release. It has a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder gasoline engine coupled with 2 electric motors, offering a combined output of up to 306 hp. Thanks to the electric motor boost, the SUV can accelerate from 0 to 100 kph in 6.2 seconds, outperforming its conventionally powered rivals, Toyota said. Toyota said it has developed a new, high-capacity lithium ion battery for the RAV4 plug-in and added a boost converter to the hybrid system’s power control unit. The RAV4 plug-in has a 60 km electric-only driving range. All-wheel drive is standard. Toyota launched sales of the fifth-generation RAV4 in Europe in the first quarter with a mild hybrid as the only powertrain option. The RAV4’s European sales rose 32 % to 72.928 in the first 9 months. The RAV4 plug-in will help Toyota to meet its 2021 CO2 emissions reduction target imposed by the European Union. Thanks to its hybrids, Toyota is well on target to meet its EU-mandated goal of reducing CO2 emissions to 87.1 g/km from 103 g/km today. The company predicts Toyota’s emissions will fall to 87.1 g/km in 2021. Toyota Europe has already reached its target to have hybrids make up 50 % of its sales, the automaker’s sales and marketing boss, for Europe, Matthew Harrison, told. Toyota Europe boss Johan van Zyl told that a plug-in hybrid SUV will have more success than the Prius plug-in hybrid, which has not gained much traction with European buyers. +++ 

+++ VOLKSWAGEN , the top foreign automaker in China, said it expects the world’s biggest passenger car market to stabilize next year with low growth levels likely for 3 to 4 years. Hit by a slowing economy, the U.S.-China trade war and chaotic implementation of new emission rules, China’s vehicle sales are expected to slide some 8 % this year after a 2.8 % fall last year to 28.1 million; the first decline since the 1990s. “Next year we predict a stable total market environment, maybe moderate small growth”, VW Group China CEO Stephan Wöllenstein told. “China might grow at a relatively low pace until around 2023 and 2024, until we come back to the level of 2017. Then we would also see a continuation of growth”, he added. Volkswagen has been one of the strongest performing automakers in China this year, having launched eight locally produced SUVs since the last quarter of 2018. Its China vehicle sales jumped 6.7 % in October. They are down 1.8 % for the year to date but that is far better than a 12 % decline in industry-wide China passenger car sales over the same period. The automaker has made China a key battleground as it pushes ahead with electrification, pouring in billions of dollars in product development. It expects to sell around 500,000 new energy vehicles per year in China by 2023, many of which will be part of it new ID. family of battery electric cars. “We strongly believe ID. family electric vehicles will be new mass market cars for Volkswagen in China”, Wöllenstein said. 2 years ago, it unveiled a plan to sell 1.5 million new-energy vehicles, which also include plug-in hybrid cars, per year in China by 2025. To that end, it has built a new $2.5 billion electric vehicle plant with partner SAIC Motor that will have annual output capacity of 300,000 cars and which started trial production this month. It is also revamping manufacturing facilities in Foshan with partner FAW Group to build electric cars. VW plans to invest over €4 billion in China next year, in line with spending this year. As China rolls back EV subsidies, Wöllenstein said the government needed to encourage the sector in other ways, such as not restricting EV purchases in crowded mega cities and offering EV owners in big cities more driving days than those permitted for gasoline cars. +++

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