Newsflash: Lexus ziet af van LC F met dubbel geblazen V8 motor

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+++ Back in 2017, when AI MOTIVE was just a startup focused on developing autonomous vehicle tech, they partnered up with the PSA Group with the goal of testing out Level 4 AI-based autonomy on highways in France. Today, the Hungary-based company is on its way up, having raised $20 million during a new funding round, thus becoming the largest VC-backed company developing driving assist tech in Europe, with a total funding of $75 million. Furthermore, AImotive, which also supplies 3 other top 10 global carmakers aside from PSA’s brands, is expanding its operations to Munich and Detroit. Their client list also includes U.S. chipmaker ON Semiconductor and Japanese electronic specialist Kyocera. “Most of our customers are automakers and Tier 1 suppliers”, said AImotive CEO and founder Laszlo Kishonti, although he didn’t want to elaborate as to which other carmakers his company is currently working with, as they haven’t given him permission to mention them by name. He did however say that his company’s goal is to make sure that automated driving is not just a feature for luxury vehicles, but something that should be available to as many vehicles as possible, given the life-saving benefits it can provide. One of the aspects of automated driving that AImotive is focusing on is making lane keeping safer and more reliable, which makes sense given how many variables can factor into keeping a vehicle within its lane at all times (bad markings, poor weather etc). +++

+++ BENTLEY will officially unveil an updated version of its bestselling model, the Bentayga, on Tuesday 30 June. The reveal date confirmation follows a set of leaked images posted online last week, which have given us an idea of what to expect from the overhaul. Pictures posted to Instagram appear to have been taken from a launch brochure and partly reveal the Bentayga’s refreshed styling and new-look interior. At the front, the Bentayga retains its prominent grille but receives a reconfigured headlight design to match the firm’s new Continental and Flying Spur (both of which were launched after the Bentayga arrived in 2016) and a reshaped bumper with new, straight-edged lower air intakes topped with the same mesh design as the grille. The rear-end design has not been leaked, but previously spotted test mules showed that the brake lights have been reshaped and expanded, while the current model’s deep numberplate recess looks to have been brought forward. Changes to the interior look to be similarly subtle. The new images show off a new centre console design and reshaped instrument cluster, but more significant is the removal of physical buttons at the side of the infotainment screen. The current car’s infotainment system is often criticised for feeling out of date next to cheaper siblings from Audi and Porsche, so the latest system from the Continental GT and Flying Spur looks to have been introduced, while the range of active safety technology should advance, too. The flagship W12 engine is expected to receive upgrades to boost efficiency, but don’t expect anything dramatic across the rest of the range. The V8 is relatively new, too, and the 6-cylinder plug-in hybrid model still isn’t on sale after a lengthy delay. Question marks remain over the diesel model, which was officially axed from the firm’s line-up in 2018. A change in attitude towards the fuel was blamed for its removal at the time, but since then, sibling brand Audi has introduced several large-capacity S-badged diesel models to its range. +++ 

+++ A free-trade agreement in the face of the BREXIT is crucial to ensure the future of the automotive industry in the United Kingdom, according to Ford UK chairman Graham Hoare. “A free-trade agreement is necessary for the viability of our businesses. We’re putting huge amounts of investment into an electric future. We’re embracing digital activities, which is another burden”, he said. “We need to do everything we can to avoid that exposure and reinforce the message in every conversation we have for the survival of the auto industry. We need to steadfastly hold that view and support our government partners in delivering that aspiration”. SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes, who has consistently lobbied for a free-trade agreement with the European Union, said: “Brexit is still the biggest threat to the long-term future of the industry. There would still be industry here without a deal, but it will look very different. The challenges to this industry (Covid-19, Brexit, electrification, autonomy) are all happening at once and the scale of change is unprecedented. “It’s a very agile industry. That’s why we need to work with government and other stakeholders to try and make a bright future”. Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark said: “The bottom line is that any that slows down components and costs us more cash and time, and anything that puts more cost to the customer, is going to reduce either profitability or demand. We see a significant hit from a hard Brexit, but we have put measures in place and would have to take price adjustment accordingly. A deal for our industry would be decisive in enabling us to grow and develop at the rate we have over the past 10 years”. Bentley has doubled its warehousing capacity in preparation for Brexit, an implementation which has been able to be stress-tested over the last few months due to Covid-19. “We now have between 5 and 10 days’ provision compared to 2 before”, said Hallmark. “It costs us millions per year; millions we didn’t want to spend. We’ve used that to stockpile components”. Nadhim Zahawi, minister for business and industry, said while addressing the summit: “The UK is a significant exporter of vehicles to Europe. Avoiding tariffs should be crucial for both sides. Alongside that, we’ve already agreed deals with Switzerland, South Korea and South Africa, and we’re continuing discussions with others such as Japan and Turkey. We’re committed to removing tariffs with partners and negotiating free-trade agreement with the EU”. Zahawi also announced £78 million of grant funding for the UK automotive industry, intended to help businesses develop expertise in green automotive technologies. The funding will benefit companies including Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and McLaren. The SMMT’s second annual trade report for 2020 said that car and light commercial vehicle production volumes are expected to fall by a third to 920.000 units this year as a result of the pandemic. It claims that if a tariff-free deal is in place, full recovery is predicted to take up to 5 years, with output reaching pre-crisis levels of 1.35 million units by 2025. However, it said a no-deal scenario could result in volumes falling below 850.000 by 2025; the lowest level since 1953. This would mean a £40 billion cut in revenues, on top of the £33.5 billion cost of pandemic-caused production losses over the period. +++ 

+++ CATERHAM boss, Graham MacDonald, has outlined his company’s electrification strategy in an exclusive interview, along with the firm’s potential plans to shift into the SUV market. MacDonald told us that Caterham won’t be introducing an all-electric model any time soon as the technology is too expensive to develop in-house and doesn’t yet suit the Seven’s driving characteristics. However, MacDonald added that it’s something which his engineers are actively monitoring. “We recognise that the future is electrification but, as you know, we utilise main brand engines. So we’ve used the Suzuki engine, we use the Ford engines just now, so we wouldn’t be naïve enough to think we could develop our own EV powertrain; we’d be looking to use an off-the-shelf package”, MacDonald explained. “We’ve looked into it, but there’s a weight disadvantage to the Caterhams. Part of the mantra of the Caterham is lightweight: ‘just add lightness’ as we call it. But currently, we think an all-electric powertrain would add more than 300 kg to what is, essentially, a 500 kg car”. MacDonald is also concerned about the cost implications of launching an electric Caterham; today’s technology would almost double the cost of Seven. However, once all-electric technology becomes the norm, Caterham is ready to make the jump to an EV. “I am sure, as time goes on that all these major manufacturers and major battery manufacturers are all working to get more lightweight, longer range, cheaper batteries and more efficient motors”, MacDonald continued. “And, when that comes down to a point where Caterham can talk to, say, Ford or Nissan and say “can we buy your powertrain and put it in a Caterham”, we’ll be there knocking on their doors”. MacDonald also mentioned Caterham’s potential shift into the SUV market. Back in 2012, Caterham and Renault drafted an agreement that would have seen the pair co-develop an SUV, in a bid to expand the British firm’s sales in Asia. The plans were ultimately scrapped, but MacDonald still recognises the amount of business in mainstream segments and remains willing to consider further partnerships. He said: “As part of the deal with Renault, the first stage was meant to be the Alpine equivalent, and then, from that, it was moving on to an SUV, because we all know that that is the way the world works just now. That is the mainstay of most families and we indeed know that it’s the backbone of Porsche. “Now, that idea’s been shelved, unless we can do a deal to Caterham-ise a standard product of another manufacturer and go into a partnership there. You know, a bit like Williams did with the Clio. I see that as a vision for the future, if we can find a partner that’s willing to do that with Caterham, but we certainly won’t be developing an SUV off our own back”. +++ 

+++ Motorpoint, the largest independent car retailer in the United Kingdom, has conducted a survey that revealed that over a third of people asked are planning to stop car sharing once the CORONA VIRUS lockdown measures are fully lifted. The web-based questionnaire found that 41.3 % of 750 respondents now think that giving people a lift is a thing of the past. Corona virus cleanliness could be damaging your steering wheel  Study reveals personal cost of van drivers’ coronavirus efforts  4 in 10 drivers fear catching coronavirus from a petrol pump. Traffic is slowly starting to increase as lockdown measure slowly ease up. According to the RAC there’s already been a 19 % increase in the number of vehicles on the road between late March and early June. “The results of our poll are clearly understandable given Covid-19 and definitely reflect the desire by people to maintain social distancing at all times when outside of their home, whether it’s travelling to work, visiting friends or simply popping to the shops for a loaf of bread and some milk”, said Mark Carpenter, chief executive officer of Motorpoint. Motorpoint, which has branches all over the UK, has been providing home delivery on its entries stock list of more than 5.000 low mileage, nearly new cars and light commercial vehicles. It did, however re-open its branches on June 1 with new safeguarding measures in place such as social distancing, contactless vehicle collections, and unaccompanied test drives. +++ 

+++ FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES (FCA) has secured a €6.3 billion credit line backed by the Italian government. Previous reports from mid-May suggested FCA was attempting to secure a share of the government’s coronavirus emergency financing scheme. The court’s approval came following an endorsement from the economy ministry and the loan will be issued by Intesa Sanpaolo, Italy’s biggest retail bank. The firm, which has its financial headquarters in London, earlier scrapped its dividend payments to shareholders after a planned €8.4 billion sale of reinsurer PartnerRe, owned by the holding firm of the Agnelli family alongside the controlling share of FCA, collapsed. The PSA Group, which has agreed a tie-up with FCA to create the world’s fourth largest car-making group, also scrapped its dividend for 2020. The decision allowed them to keep €1 billion for day-to-day operations during the coronavirus crisis. Italian state investment into FCA has been a controversial issue because the company’s holding is registered to the Netherlands. Any conditions imposed upon the loan by the Italian government remain unconfirmed. Almost every car manufacturer has suffered extensive financial setbacks or share price drops during the pandemic, which caused car registrations during April to fall sharply. Europe is only now easing out of its lockdown measures and it’s expected the market will gradually return to healthier figures. A primary reason for FCA seeking the merger with PSA was to bolster its European arm, which has struggled over the years with poor sales, low margins on mainstream cars and under-funded premium brands such as Maserati and Alfa Romeo. The French group’s expertise in the market, along with its superior progress on electrification, is hoped to help FCA recover its success in the region. +++ 

+++ In most parts of the world, traditional cars are losing ground to crossovers and SUVs, but not in Japan, where customers are still thrilled by small vehicles. This has forced HONDA to withdraw the Civic Sedan from the Land of the Rising Sun, as the 4-door model was not the moneymaker that they expected it to be, with 1.619 units sold in the last fiscal year, compared to 250.000 examples of the N-Box minicar. Nonetheless, the nameplate hasn’t left the country for good, as the 5-door hatchback is still on sale and will be joined by the updated Civic Type R hot hatch starting this summer. Meanwhile, the Civic is still popular with U.S. buyers, as Honda sold 325,650 units in our market last year. +++ 

+++ KIA has revealed a new manual gearbox using an electronic linkage for the clutch, rather than a mechanical system, which has been designed for use in the brand’s next fleet of 48 volt mild hybrid cars. The system, called intelligent manual transmission (iMT), promises to cut CO2 emissions and boost fuel economy, while the company claims it retains a natural, mechanical clutch pedal feel. The iMT works alongside the belt driven starter-generator integrated into the powertrain as part of the 48 volt mild hybrid system. Using a system like it means that the stop-start system can cut in to switch the engine off at higher speeds, allowing for longer periods of engineless coasting. The chosen gear remains engaged and the clutch opens even with the engine off, so the engine can restart seamlessly in drive when the driver touches the accelerator pedal at the end of a coasting period. The 48 volt system can bring the engine speed instantly back to the correct revs, but if the car has slowed too much and engine speed is too low to resume in the same gear, it can restart the engine in neutral; something it also does if the clutch pedal is pressed. Kia says the iMT possesses the same operation feel and engagement as a traditional mechanical gearbox, and even has greater controllability of the clutch’s biting point thanks to electrical management. The iMT is being launched on Kia models with the new Smartstream 48 volt mild hybrid powertrains. The first car to get it will be the latest Ceed in 1.6 CRDi diesel mild hybrid form. It’s also coming to the newly facelifted Rio in 1.0-litre T-GDi petrol form, with more models to receive the iMT transmission later in 2020. +++ 

+++ A report out of Japan claims that the eagerly-anticipated LEXUS LC F project has been killed off due to the economic uncertainty triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. The F model was due to top out the LC range of models and was first spied in the midst of testing roughly 2 years ago. It would have given the Japanese car manufacturer a rival to the BMW M8 Competition and likely been the brand’s fastest ever production model, probably eclipsing the iconic Lexus LFA. Now, it seems that Lexus has decided to discontinue the project due to the costs and manpower required to finish the car’s development and actually bring it to the market. All previous indications have pointed towards the Lexus LC F using a newly-developed twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine. In fact, Lexus confirmed it was developing such an engine late last year to compete in this year’s Nurburgring 24 Hours which was due to take place in May but has been rescheduled for September. At the time, Lexus revealed this engine would later by used “on future road cars such as sports cars”. However, since then, the coronavirus pandemic has turned the world on its head and the brand’s plans appear to be up in the air. There could still be some future for the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8. Lexus will continue development of the powertrain and may use it in its SUVs while also allowing Toyota to use it in its large pickups in North America. Additionally, it is possible the current Lexus LC 500 will be updated with a de-tuned version of this engine to replace the current naturally-aspirated 5.0-liter V8. +++ 

+++ PORSCHE has upgraded its 718 Cayman and Boxster range for the 2021 modelyear by adding more goodies to their standard features list. As such, all 718 variants, including the T, S and GTS 4.0 models, will come standard with automatic 2-zone climate control, heated front seats and auto-dimming mirrors with rain sensors for this new model year. Like last year, all models come standard with a 6-speed manual gearbox, but can be fitted optionally with a 7-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic. Speaking of the PDK, you can finally get it on the 718 Cayman GT4, 718 Spyder and the 718 GTS 4.0 models for the first time ever. However, be prepared to wait, because 6-cylinder 718 variants equipped with the PDK gearbox should reach dealers early next year. Still, if you place an order now for a new 2021 model year 718 Boxster GTS 4.0 and Cayman GTS 4.0, know that they should arrive in showrooms before the end of 2020. Both variants are powered by a 4.0-liter naturally aspirated 6-cylinder boxer unit, putting down 400 hp and 420 Nm of torque. That’s good enough to get you from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4.4 seconds, even with the 6-speed manual gearbox as standard. Top speed is rated at 293 km/h. Opting for a 718 GTS model means getting the following performance features as standard: Sports Seats Plus, Sport Chrono Package, Sport Exhaust System, PASM Sport Suspension, a mechanical limited-slip differential with Porsche Torque Vectoring, and satin black 20-inch wheels. +++ 

+++ A federal judge in Detroit ordered the chief executives of automakers General Motors (GM) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to meet by July 1 to try to RESOLVE the racketeering lawsuit. U.S. District Court Judge Paul Borman called on GM boss Mary Barra and FCA chief Mike Manley to meet in person to try to resolve a case that could drag on for years. “What a waste of time and resources now and for the years to come in this mega-litigation if these automotive leaders and their large teams of lawyers are required to focus significant time-consuming efforts to pursue this nuclear-option lawsuit if it goes forward”, Borman said at the end of a hearing during which FCA asked the judge to dismiss GM’s lawsuit. Borman said instead, the companies need to focus on building cars and keeping people employed at a time when the coronavirus has hurt the U.S. economy and the country is also dealing with issues of racial injustice after the death of George Floyd, a Black man whose death in police custody in Minneapolis triggered worldwide protests. GM filed the racketeering lawsuit against FCA last November, alleging 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 is seeking “substantial damages” that one analyst said could total at least $6 billion. Barra and Manley should meet, taking into account social distancing to keep them safe, to “explore and indeed reach a sensible resolution”, Borman said in the hearing, which was broadcast online. It is common for judges to order parties to try to resolve disputes out of court. But it is unusual that the chief executives of 2 big companies be instructed to meet face-to-face, not just to settle their differences but also to serve a greater good. A GM spokesman said the No. 1 U.S. automaker has a strong case and “we look forward to constructive dialogue with FCA consistent with the court’s order”. FCA officials said in a statement they still believe the lawsuit is meritless, but acknowledged Borman’s concerns and said they “look forward to meeting to discuss them and ideally put this matter behind us”. Borman said he wanted to hear from Barra and Manley personally at noon on July 1 to provide him with results from their discussion. +++ 

+++ RIVIAN has announced it will move most of its operations to a new facility in Irvine, California. A report states that any new programs from the electric car startup will take place in California, in a bid to consolidate the company’s tech resources in a single location. It is understood founder and chief executive RJ Scaringe is behind the move. “Of Rivian’s 2.300 employees, approximately 1.000 are based in California and 750 in Michigan, and we are consolidating some engineering teams to our locations in California to improve workflows and reduce environmental impact from travel”, the spokesperson said. “We’ve recently completed an expansion at our Michigan location and it will remain an important presence for us. We are also committed to creating a vibrant and inviting manufacturing presence in Illinois, where all Rivian vehicles will be produced. As we grow, we’ll keep evaluating and evolving our footprint and geography”. Word of the move comes roughly a month after Rivian signed a pair of new leases for facilities in California, totaling more than 250.000 square feet. It is also reported that the company is working on a 190.000 square-foot office in Orange County which could serve at its new headquarters, replacing the current HQ in Michigan. It remains unclear how the move to California will impact Rivian’s re-furbished factory in Illinois, which was once owned by Mitsubishi. In January, the carmaker announced a near-$30 million investment at the site. +++ 

+++ Just when his electric vehicle (EV) company TESLA seemed to be pivoting away from using cobalt in its batteries, it signs a long-term supply deal for the controversial metal with Glencore. This from the man who has vowed to eliminate cobalt from the Tesla product mix because of its financial cost and the reputational cost of a metal associated with child labour and poor safety conditions at artisanal mining operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the world’s dominant producer. Tesla’s not the first auto company to lock in future cobalt supplies with a miner. BMW did the same last year, also with Glencore as well as with the Bou-Azzer mine in Morocco. But Tesla is the standard-bearer for the EV revolution and its deal with Glencore has strategic significance for the global battery raw materials supply chain. It’s a boost for cobalt’s prospects, both in terms of physical demand and, more importantly, in the apparent admission that cobalt isn’t going away as a battery material any time soon. It’s also a warning to other auto companies that if they want cobalt, they’re going to have to take control over their own supply chain. Tesla and its battery partner Panasonic have until now largely used a nickel-cobalt-aluminium (NCA) formula in their lithium-ion batteries. Other automotive companies targeting the passenger vehicle market have adopted nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) technology. Everyone has been trying to reduce the amount of cobalt in the metallic mix. Cobalt is expensive, currently trading around $33.000 per tonne on the London Metal Exchange. It has a history of volatility both in terms of price and supply, which is dominated by production, both official-sector and artisanal, in the Congo. The human cost of artisanal mining also weighs heavy on an industry that is driving towards a green and socially responsible future. Tesla’s desire to shift away from cobalt usage seemed to be borne out by the revelation its new Chinese plant would use cobalt-free batteries. Lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) batteries have been around a long time, are cheaper than cobalt-containing batteries, but lack energy density. The biggest market is China, where they are used in vehicles that don’t need extensive range or high performance, such as municipal garbage trucks. However, it seems that Chinese LFP battery makers such as CATL have been quietly improving the technology to the point that Tesla is now interested in using it in its Model 3 cars in China. But it’s also clear from the Glencore deal that Tesla, however reluctantly, is going to continue using cobalt in other markets. Tesla’s willingness to consider a range of battery types is testament that the EV revolution is going to be characterised by multiple chemistries depending on vehicle type and geographic market. And some of them at least are going to use cobalt. Tesla’s deal to buy 6.000 tonnes per year of cobalt from Glencore’s Congo operations is a double boost for the market, representing a long-term affirmation of demand and a short-term way of clearing excess stocks. The cobalt market has yet to recover from the crash that followed the price boom of 2017-2018 as too much supply, particularly from the Congo’s artisanal sector, swamped demand. Glencore last year placed its Mutanda mine in the Congo on 2-year care and maintenance, while its Katanga mine was carrying stocks of almost 13.000 tonnes at the end of 2019. Those stocks have weighed heavily on the price. Fastmarkets’ assessment of standard-grade cobalt currently sits at an 11-month low of $14.75 per kilogram ($30,250 per tonne). However, Glencore has recently concluded a flurry of supply deals with battery-makers and now with Tesla, signalling the company “has placed a strategic focus on forward selling its built-up hydroxide stocks”, according to analysts at Roskill. The research house estimates that Glencore has now locked in sales representing around 82% of production at Katanga. That, combined with Mutanda on care and maintenance, “significantly reduces the volumes of cobalt available in the open market”. That may translate into an accelerated price recovery when the next EV-led demand surge happens. It also means there’s potentially less around for everyone else. There are several new cobalt mines in the planning or development stage but the Congo and its artisanal miners are going to remain the dominant supplier for the foreseeable future. That simple fact explains why Tesla has moved directly to ensure its own supply with the largest non-Chinese producer in the country. Other automotive makers may well take heed. Tesla’s move directly to take responsibility for its cobalt supply isn’t without risk. Glencore may be a London-listed multinational, but it’s not immune to the negative headlines that go with doing business in the Congo. It is under intense regulatory scrutiny; the Swiss Attorney General’s Office (OAG) last week joining the list of ongoing investigations into its conduct in the country. Last year saw the death of 43 “illegal” miners on Glencore’s Kamoto concession, a human tragedy that was compounded by the government’s decision to send in the army to forcibly clear the area. Tesla, though, has evidently decided the risk of not getting enough future cobalt outweighs the potential reputational risks of taking supply directly from the Congo. Such direct mine sourcing is not the norm for auto companies. They don’t, for example, directly buy the iron ore that goes into the steel they use. Or the bauxite that makes the aluminium. But cobalt is different. There’s not much around and too much of what is around comes from the Congo. The EV revolution may have been stalled by Covid-19, but the build-out of battery manufacturing capacity has continued uninterrupted. And with the European Union in particular focusing its industrial stimulus package on “green” technology, the next EV wave may already be building. Tesla’s reluctant commitment to cobalt is a warning sign for other automakers they may have to do the same if they want to be sure they’ve got enough of the stuff to meet that coming demand surge. +++ 

+++ The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it had opened an investigation into 63.000 TESLA MODEL S cars after reports of media-control unit failures that led to the loss of the use of touchscreens. The auto safety agency said the preliminary evaluation, covering 2012-2015 model year vehicles, comes after it received 11 complaints alleging premature failure of the media-control unit due to memory wear-out. A complete unit failure results in the loss of audible and visual touchscreen features, such as infotainment, navigation, and web browsing, and loss of the rear-camera image display when in reverse gear, the agency said. The NHTSA said the failure does not affect vehicle-control systems. Tesla used the same unit in 159.000 Model S (2012-2018) and Model X (2016-2018) vehicles built by Tesla through early 2018. The memory control unit uses an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor with an integrated 8GB eMMC NAND flash memory device, NHTSA said. The flash devices have a finite lifespan based on the number of program or erase cycles, NHTSA said. Failures resulting from memory wear-out “are likely to occur after periods of progressively degraded performance (e.g., longer power-up times, more frequent touchscreen resets, intermittent loss of cellular connectivity, loss of navigation)”, the agency said. Some complaints said the failure could result in a loss of charging ability and that other safety alerts could be impacted. One driver said he could not clear fogged windows because he could not change climate controls. Another complaint said the failure disabled safety monitors associated with Tesla’s driver-assistance system Autopilot. The complaints said Tesla requires owners to pay to replace the unit once the warranty expires. +++ 

+++ Tesla grants itself the right to impose a 1 year ban for those who return their new cars if it determines they acted in bad faith. While there are plenty of new TESLA MODEL Y owners out there who just love the wheels off their new electric crossover, there are also those who are reporting serious defects. These reportedly range from paint problems, interior fit issues and other general quality quibbles. Some of these issues are so bad that people are even returning their car to Tesla and asking for a refund. In this instance, Tesla can actually ban these people for a year, if it deems the return was in any way improper. Once you have returned your vehicle, the return process is final and may not be cancelled. At this time, we are not able to facilitate vehicle exchanges. If you decide to order another vehicle, you may not order the same trim for a period of 12 months but may order another vehicle in a different trim at any time. However, if you are found to have abused this policy or have acted in bad faith, you will be prohibited from purchasing any vehicle for a period of 12 months. The excerpt from the manufacturer’s support page sounds like it leaves room for interpretation on Tesla’s part. It’s not clear what it refers to when it talks about ‘bad faith’ so it enables the automaker to possible ban people who complain about the issues they had with their new Tesla online, especially in a very visible way such as through YouTube videos. This doesn’t just apply to new Teslas purchased in North America, but in Europe and probably other markets as well. There are also Tesla Model S,3,X owners worldwide with paint issues. They have become so common they are not news anymore. What is news is clients suing Tesla for the issues, such as Jean-François Bellerose did in Canada. Or another inspection, such as the one Trudgill had. The Tesla customer tried to solve his problem with the help of the Motor Ombudsman. This official resolution body helps car buyers solve issues by submitting the vehicles to an independent inspection. In case it points out any problem, carmakers in the United Kingdom that have a legal agreement with the Motor Ombudsman are obliged to fix them. Trudgill learned that Tesla does not have such a deal with the entity. He was then left with discussing the matter with his finance company. “They are liable for the condition of the vehicle at the point of sale. I argued that the paint quality is not up to standard”. That argument was enough for the finance company to require a paint inspection to Dekra, a renowned car inspection provider in Europe and Latin America. “Along with all the issues I’ve already mentioned, the paint varied from 150 micrometers to 175 micrometers on the bonnet, and everywhere else varied from 120 micrometers down to 46 micrometers!” Apart from informing that the paint job “is not of a good standard for a new vehicle”, the report also states that it has “thinning in places and paint flake with blemishes in others”. It also says that “the difference in paint thickness is not commensurate with other makes of new vehicles”. The inspector mentions our articles on the paint issues and stresses the report “has been carried out without prejudice” and that his “overriding duty is to the court”. That implies the report can be used in a lawsuit if the finance company does not come to reasonable terms with Tesla. What about Trudgill? “I’m hoping for a significant chunk of money back so that I can have it resprayed when it needs it more”. I have no idea if Tesla managed to fix the paint shop in Fremont in the days it had to stop the plant due to Covid-19. If it didn’t, the company lost a fantastic opportunity to please its customers with better quality paint and to save a lot of money on repairs and legal compensations. +++ 

+++ TOYOTA holds a $293 million stake in Uber Technologies, as it partners with the ride-hailing company to further expand into new mobility services, Toyota’s latest corporate governance report showed. The Japanese automaker has also unloaded shares in some of its suppliers, adjusting its portfolio to reflect partnerships with rival automakers and technology firms as it transforms into a mobility services company, the report showed. Reporting the total size of its stake in Uber, which became a listed company last year, Toyota said it held 10.25 million shares valued at 31.15 billion yen ($292.46 million) as of March 30. That is around 0.6% of Uber’s outstanding shares. Toyota, one of the world’s biggest automakers, said it had reduced its shareholdings in 24 companies and increased them in 10, including 2 listed companies. In the past year, it took a stake in rival Suzuki as the pair deepen cooperation around the development of lower emission vehicles. Toyota sold its stakes in cutting tool manufacturer OSG Corporation, Nippon Steel Corporation, automotive lights and interior mirrors maker Ichikoh Industries, and transmission belt maker Mitsuboshi Belting. “If Toyota determines a shareholding is no longer meaningful or the meaning of a shareholding has been diluted due to changes in business environment or other reasons, it will proceed with the sale of such shares”, the automaker said in the report. Toyota currently has an interest in 174 firms, including 65 listed companies, compared with 200 firms in 2015, of which 80 were listed companies. Toyota’s biggest shareholders remained the same, although investors including Nippon Life Insurance, JPMorgan Chase Bank and State Street Bank and Trust Company slightly increased their stakes, the latter two through proxy Mizuho Bank. +++

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