Newsflash: Lotus Evija komt later dan gepland


+++ The next iteration of Google’s ANDROID mobile operating system is set for a significant update that will allow Android Auto to operate wirelessly on most devices running the operating system. Android Auto has offered wireless connectivity on Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy phones for more than 2 years. However, in a recent update made to the Android Auto support page, Google confirmed that the system will work wirelessly on any smartphone with the upcoming Android 11.0, as long as the device supports 5GHz Wi-Fi. This is great news for those that like to use Android Auto but would rather do without the cable. However, it’s worth pointing out that the infotainment systems of cars need to be able to support wireless Android Auto and as it stands, very few can, with Ford and BMW among the few that do offer wireless Android Auto support. In the European Union, Google added smartphones must comply with additional regulatory requirements to use 5GHz Wi-Fi in the car. There will be no wireless support available in Japan and Russia, unfortunately. Using Android Auto wirelessly does come with a drawback; battery life. Running the app oftentimes quickly drains the battery of a smartphone, meaning you probably won’t be able to run the app for long journeys without plugging in and also topping up your device’s battery. In an ideal world, all cars and smartphones will offer wireless Android Auto and wireless charging but that probably won’t happen anytime soon. Either way, this is a big win for Android users. +++ 

+++ At first glance, the ASTON MARTIN Valkyrie looked destined to be an automotive grand slam. In 2016 the British automaker signed an engineering alliance with Mercedes-Benz and both the DB11 and new Vantage were released. But after the resurgence in 2016, the company took a dive in recent years, losing an estimated €135 million in just the first quarter of 2020. So where did it all go wrong, and will the Valkyrie still become a reality? Sure, the project kept going and we have a working engineering sample, but what happens now that 2020 is nearly over? Even Aston Martin hasn’t an idea, but things aren’t looking great for what started out as the brand’s springboard back into motorsports. Reports suggest that not only does the vehicle have reliability issues, but it also appears to be very difficult to drive. With the initial hype behind the car, this surely comes as a kick in the stomach to Aston Martin. It’s a head-scratcher for the British automaker as the Valkyrie seems to have all the ingredients to be fast around any circuit in the world. It boasts a Cosworth-built 6.5-litre V12 with assistance from a Rimac KERS hybrid system which together can produce 1.200 hp. Aside from the powerplant, the entire aerodynamics package is the brain-child of Adrian Newey, one of the best aerodynamicists in F1 history. Things are looking bleak at the moment for the Aston Martin project, but the end of the road isn’t as near as it may seem. In the 1970s, Porsche essentially gambled the entire company to achieve its Le Mans fame with the 917, but it didn’t happen overnight. The first iteration of the race car was so difficult to control that Dicky Atwood, one of the drivers, was happy when it broke down towards the end of the German automaker’s first attempt at the 24-hour race. But they didn’t give up; they persevered and are now the most successful manufacturer in history at the Circuit de la Sarthe. So let’s see what Aston Martin can come up with, we don’t doubt they have the engineering prowess to combat the issues they face. +++ 

+++ After its postponement back in April due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 BEIJNG AUTOSHOW remains on track to take place in late September in the Chinese capital city. The event, which is the largest car show in China, will run from September 26 through October 5, with media days taking place on September 26-27, as per the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade. This is the same schedule that was announced back in April, but only after the pandemic showed signs of slowing down by mid-March in the People’s Republic. In order to make the event safe for participants and visitors alike, the organizers will implement various safety measures. However, it’s unclear whether or not capacity will be limited in any way, although that might be a good idea seen as how sporadic cluster infections have emerged in several Chinese cities these past few months. Last month, the virus spread from a wholesale food and meat market in Beijing, infecting no fewer than 335 local residents, according to Chinese officials. In order to not lose control of the situation, the Beijing municipal government ramped up testing and locked down residential areas near the market, and on August 6, officials stated that all patients that were infected had been cured and released from hospitals. Since its introduction back in 1990, the Beijing Auto Show has become one of the world’s most important car fairs. The event is held every 2 years, alternating with the Shanghai Auto Show. +++ 

+++ General Motors has issued a “stop delivery” order to its dealers on “certain” CHEVROLET CORVETTE models both new and used, related to a recall for the car’s “frunk” it is filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The recall (separate from a different frunk issue) centers around a “flying frunk” issue, as the front trunk of the C8 Corvette has opened unexpectedly in several instances while the car is in motion. The results are potentially catastrophic, with blocked forward vision and undesirable aerodynamics, but we haven’t heard of any instances of the flying-frunk recall issue causing a crash so far. The 2020 model-year Corvettes have been sold out for some time, but customers looking forward to taking delivery of their cars soon will now have to wait until an undetermined time to do so. It’s still not entirely clear as to what causes the problem, but it appears the issue stems from owners not shutting the frunk properly or inadvertently opening it from inside the car. General Motors spokesman Kevin Kelly says “GM’s internal analysis indicates that the few reports of hood openings were related to drivers inadvertently pressing the hood release button on the keyfob while the vehicle was stopped and in park”. There is a warning system built into the car which is supposed to give the driver a visual and audible alert to warn them the front trunk isn’t closed securely, and that speed is limited to 150 kph until the frunk is shut properly. GM wants to reduce that speed to 40 kph and modify the C8’s keyfob to prevent accidental openings. In an official statement, GM said: “General Motors has decided to voluntarily recall certain 2020 model-year Chevrolet Corvette vehicles for a potential issue with the vehicle’s front trunk lid. If drivers ignore the vehicle’s visual and audible warnings that the front trunk lid is open, they can drive the vehicle in that condition at speed, which could increase the likelihood that the wind force is sufficient to inadvertently flip open the hood. GM is finalizing a software repair for the vehicles’ Body Control Module (BCM) to limit vehicle speed to 40 kph when the hood is not completely closed and latched. The software update will also provide a driver information-center message indicating that the top speed is limited to 40 kph. In addition, the operation of the hood release on the keyfob will be modified to reduce the likelihood of inadvertent hood release actuations. The interior door-trim switch and release button located inside the front trunk compartment are also modified to require a longer press-time”. As for when the fix will be available, Kelly says “In terms of timing for the software availability, our engineers are working around the clock to finalize the necessary software updates and we will release it to our dealers and customers as soon as possible”. +++ 

+++ More than twothirds of drivers would be ‘uncomfortable’ with the prospect of DRIVERLESS CARS being allowed on British motorways next year, according to a new survey. The YouGov poll asked drivers if they would be comfortable or uncomfortable with “the idea of driverless cars” on British motorways. Of the 1.947 adults surveyed, 36 % said they would not be comfortable at all with the prospect and 33 % saying they would not be ‘very comfortable’. Just 6 % of respondents said they would be ‘very comfortable’, with 17 % saying they would be ‘fairly comfortable’, while 9 % said they didn’t know. The survey follows the government’s ‘call to evidence’ on the planned introduction of cars using advanced automated lane keeping systems (ALKS) in the UK next year. Described as ‘traffic jam chauffeur technology’, ALKS would allow cars to entirely control themselves at speeds of up to 60 kph in heavy traffic conditions on motorways. Despite the phrasing being used in the wider media, the proposed ALKS technology is not ‘driverless’ but is intended as an advanced assistance system. Regulations mean that ALKS systems can be activated only when a driver is present, with monitoring safeguards in place to ensure the driver is ready to regain control should the situation require it. But the UK government has previously announced plans to allow limited trials of fully autonomous cars on British roads in 2021 and the survey results show that efforts will be required to convince the public they are safe. Notably, the results shows that younger people are more open to the prospect of driverless technology. Among 18- to 24- year olds, just 19 % said they would be ‘not comfortable at all’ with driverless cars, compared with 47 % of 50- to 65- year olds, and 50 % of those aged 65 and over. +++ 

+++ Yes, electrification is coming to more FERRARI sportcars in the future. It’s an inevitable trend for both efficiency and performance, but it won’t be coming to the entry-level Portofino or the suave Roma; not in the near term and likely not ever, at least in the current generation. During a press event for the Roma, Ferrari officials allegedly said such electrification was never meant for the front-engined, rear-drive coupe. Adding electric motors and battery packs to existing internal-combustion architecture is never an easy task, and it seems a hybrid configuration was never on Ferrari’s radar when developing the Portofino. As such, the Portofino-based Roma also gets a pass, giving a win to fans of pure internal- combustion power. There was never a smoking-gun moment that pinned electricity to either the Roma or Portofino. However, Ferrari’s announcement of 15 new models by 2022 left many people to speculate that hybrids would play a large role in that number. Ferrari confirmed that over half of those offerings would indeed be hybrid models, but this new report seems to squash all talk about hybrids populating the lower end of Ferrari’s lineup. That is, the existing low end, anyway. Of course, low end is certainly subjective in this context. The Portofino is an exceptional GT car in the classic sense, with its 3.9-litre twin-turbocharged V8 generating 600 hp from its front-mid-engine location. The Roma offers even more (620 hp to be exact) and the Portofino could see a similar power bump for the 2021 model year. Meanwhile, we’ve seen numerous Ferrari test cars in the vicinity of Maranello with curious exhaust notes. It’s believed these are mules for the automaker’s V6 hybrid powertrain, which could materialize as a new mid-engine sports car to replace the F8 Tributo. +++ 

+++ When looking at a brand new car, regular people know instantly whether they like it or not without giving it too much thought or knowing the exact reasons why they feel that way. When a car designer looks at a brand new vehicle, it’s a completely different story, though. Designers see things the rest of us don’t and can find precise explanations as to why the styling of a certain vehicle works or not. For the past several months, Frank Stephenson has been giving us valuable insight into how the mind of a car designer works. The former Ford, Mini, BMW, Maserati, Ferrari, Fiat and McLaren designer has dissected his most iconic designs as well as commented on the styling of production vehicles and concept cars launched recently. With the FORD Bronco being the most talked about new model for the past month or so, it was inevitable that Stephenson would share his opinion on the all-new off-roader. Right off the bat, you should know Stephenson doesn’t agree with the “retro-styled” label applied to the Bronco. That’s understandable for a designer who has penned his fair share of reinvented icons (2001 Mini, 2007 Fiat 500), but his take is it wouldn’t be fair for designers to call the new Bronco a retro creation. He says the new Bronco “an absolute stunner of an evolution” of the original and I have to agree with that. While the new SUV pays tribute to the first generation by using certain design cues, it does its own thing from a styling point of view. +++ 

+++ GENERAL MOTORS is overhauling its Chinese line-up with a greater emphasis on electric cars and smart-driving technology to stem a slide in sales after more than 2 decades of growth in a country that contributes nearly a fifth of its profit. GM’s new China boss Julian Blissett told it would renew its focus on luxury Cadillacs, roll out bigger but greener SUVs and target entry-level buyers with low-cost micro electric vehicles (EVs). He said new technologies such as EVs and cars with near hands-free driving for highways would play a key role in GM’s China initiatives, which are part of a push to regain momentum lost in the face of intense competition and shifting tastes. Blissett, who replaced China veteran Matt Tsien this year, spoke ahead of GM’s Tech Day event in Shanghai, where he and chief executive Mary Barra are expected to announce some of the new technology and product rollout plans. “This market is rapidly electrifying. Cadillac is on a path to very heavy electrification. Buick is also going to heavily electrify”, said Blissett, adding that GM’s Chinese brands Baojun and Wuling would also go down the electric route. “The market is changing dramatically. So the concept of standing still in China doesn’t work”. GM sells its Chevrolets, Buicks and Cadillacs in China as well as its local brands Wuling and Baojun and has been one of the foreign success stories in the world’s biggest auto market along with Volkswagen. But GM sales have taken a hit, falling to 3.1 million vehicles in 2019 from a record 4 million in 2017. A slowdown in China’s economy and the resulting weakness in its auto market have been a big factor behind GM’s sales slump, but analysts say competition has become fierce too. Toyota, Volkswagen and Honda have been eating into GM’s business while Chinese automakers such as Geely and Great Wall are making better-quality cars that can compete more effectively with the global giants. GM is also facing competition from Tesla, while Lynk & Co and Polestar, brands affiliated with Volvo, have rolled out sleek eye-catching designs that Chinese consumers crave. In 2017, GM China had a 14.3 % share of overall sales of 28.2 million vehicles. By 2019, that had fallen to a share of 12.2 % out of 25.4 million cars. Blissett said the key objective of its strategy was to get back to sales of 4 million vehicles a year as soon as possible. “Our business is a high engineering cost, high capital cost business, so, without scale, it’s quite difficult to make money. We do need to return to that”, he told. He said he could not give a precise timeframe for when GM would hit its goal because of the uncertainty about how fast economies around the world recover from the coronavirus fallout. Some GM officials have admitted privately that its brands, especially Chevrolet, have been slow to introduce more SUVs in China as they became increasingly popular. However, both Buick and Chevrolet now have 4 SUVs each and Cadillac has 3, Blissett said. Analysts have also said the promotion of its top-end Cadillac brand came at the expense of Buick and Chevrolet sales, and that it failed to match rivals with their sleeker designs. Blissett said GM would sell bigger SUVs, many of them electric, for its Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac brands, though traditional gasoline-powered SUVs still offered GM “huge opportunities” to boost sales in China. GM also wants to transform Wuling into a brand more focused on micro, electric “people-mover” vans, he said. “In the next 5 years, more than 50 % of our capital and engineering deployment will go towards electrification and autonomous-drive technology. That should give you an indication where GM is betting on its future”, GM’s Blissett said. “Chinese consumers are very embracing of technology, be that technology on the phone, be that e-commerce, be that intelligent driving technology, be that electrification. Although Europe and the U.S. have fairly significant plans on a governmental and market point of view, the electrification of cars is going to happen much faster here in China”, he said. “We intend to be right in the heart of that market. So, we will heavily play in the EV space. And that’s the reason why we are investing as we are”. GM’s Wuling and Baojun brands have borne the brunt of falling sales over the past 2 years as lower-income consumers bought fewer cars in the face of slower growth and as competition from Chinese rivals at the entry level intensified. There are signs of life at Wuling, however, with sales up 9.7 % in the second quarter of 2020. GM hopes its new Wuling Mini EV launched this year, a micro 2-door car, and a series of similar cars in the pipeline, will help it win back share. Before EV subsidies, the EV can cost as little as 28,800 yuan ($4,150) for a basic model. To be sure, GM has made blunders, such as equipping some compact cars with unpopular 3-cylinder engines. That hit GM sales significantly and it had to resurrect a 4-cylinder gasoline engine for some models. Still, analysts said much of the body blow GM’s brands took in China has come from local brands that have significantly improved the quality of their cars and as Japanese and German rivals boosted sales despite a weaker overall market. Beijing’s emphasis on greener vehicles has also significantly pushed up the costs associated with the designing and manufacturing cars, which have combined to trigger a shake-up of China’s auto industry. Already, small Chinese brands such as Lifan have gone out of business while French carmaker PSA has scaled back its operations significantly and Renault, which is in a global alliance with Nissan, packed up and left. “There is a revolution going on in the industry”, said Blissett. “There are also winners and losers in the global brands. The trend is actually for the local brands to lose share if you look at the total trend. Luxury is a gain in share”. Analysts expect the consolidation in the auto industry to continue unabated in the coming years, with more failures, and also more mergers and acquisitions. China auto industry expert Michael Dunne said if GM failed to manage its numerous brands in China properly, one might end up becoming a casualty. “The introduction of Cadillac has had the effect of knocking Buick down a notch in the eyes of Chinese consumers”, he said. “Buick is tilting more towards where Chevrolet plays, and as a result the 2 brands are crowding each other and are now throwing weaker punches”. +++ 

+++ GM KOREA boss Kaher Kazem visited the automaker’s Changwon plant to review the investment status of its next-generation products, the firm said. GM Korea said: “The visit was made to check whether facility investment for new global products is progressing as planned amid the uncertainty in the business environment, such as heavy rain, heat wave and the pandemic. Kazem and a group of officials visited the construction site to monitor safety compliance and whether the investment plan set in 2018 is proceeding on schedule, the firm said. On the day, GM Korea’s labor union and management held the 6th round of negotiations this year at the Changwon plant. +++ 

+++ The HYUNDAI MOTOR GROUP has a lot on its plate, with several new vehicles in development, and it appears that they might be planning yet another car that could bear the Bayon nameplate. Filed in mid-May with the Europe Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), the moniker falls under the “automobiles, sports cars, vans (vehicles), trucks, motor buses, electric vehicles, parts and accessories for automobiles” category, or almost anything on wheels. The only ‘Bayon’ reference has nothing in common with the automotive industry as, according to Wikipedia, it is a Khmer temple located in Angkor, Cambodia, built in the late 12th or early 13th century, with many serene and smiling stone faces. Now, the Bayon does not fit the Genesis nomenclature, so it is either reserved for Hyundai or Kia, if they’re actually planning to use it and it’s not just an idea that will eventually be shelved, like many others. So, what could it be? That’s a question that nobody outside the Korean group can answer, but if were to take a guess, we would say that it could either be a new crossover with a youthful styling, considering the temple’s smiling-face statues, or an electric/electrified vehicle. Or maybe both, as zero-emission crossovers and SUVs are very popular these days. It could also be used on a derivative of a current or future model, so there are almost endless possibilities. +++ 

+++ LOTUS has pushed back the launch of its Evija hypercar by a minimum of 5 months as a result of delays in the testing programme caused by the pandemic. The Evija, a 2.000 hp all-electric hypercar, was set to be with the first customers by the end of this year but that will now happen towards the end of the first half of 2021. Customers have been informed of the changes in a letter sent this week. Lotus boss Phil Popham told that the Evija’s delay was caused by lockdowns, travel restrictions and the need for quarantines, meaning the firm has not been able to test its 4 dynamic prototypes in the variety of conditions needed. “We have lost 5 months of testing, mainly in continental Europe”, he said. “We have missed hot weather testing in Spain. It’s not as simple as moving everything to the right as you have to book facilities and there’s a queue, with everyone in the same boat”. Popham said it is still “a moving target” around where testing will take place and the firm is in “catch-up mode” but it has already invested in extra engineering resource to get the Evija ready for production. He couldn’t rule out further delays due to the evolving global situation in the Covid-19 pandemic but he said being open and honest with a five-month delay was fair and right for customers, given the fact that the firm has lost five months of testing. However, Lotus said it has used the delay in on-the-road testing to focus on development in other areas and, to that end, had made improvements to the Evija’s aerodynamics and downforce, as well as finding that its power is actually above 2.025 hp rather than the 2.000 hp quoted at its reveal last summer. Of the 130 Evijas due to be built, Popham said there are 70 people the firm is in discussions with, many of those already deposit holders. A world tour to show the car to potential customers had to be postponed in March when the pandemic hit Europe and North America, but events are now being reorganised to that end. Popham said the firm’s all-new sports car, due next year to sit alongside the Elise, Exige and Evora models, is in a different stage of development from the Evija and has not yet been affected by the pandemic as the Evija has been. +++ 

+++ MERCEDES has a long and proud history of creating some amazing V12 engines, but had things gone a little differently in the 1990s, it may have actually started using a W18. Yes, an engine with 18 cylinders, or 2 more than the Bugatti Chiron. At the time, Mercedes was producing the W140-generation S-Class and was looking to make a new flagship variant, with engineers initially coming up with the idea of an 8.0-liter W18. That engine was known as the M 216, yet never progressed past the blueprint stage. To make such a massive engine fit beneath the hood of the S-Class, Mercedes used a W shape with 3 banks of 6 cylinders joined together at an angle of 75.5 degrees each. The result was an engine that was no longer than a traditional inline 6 cylinder and could have actually shared many parts with 6 cylinder engines of the day. Mercedes-Benz thought about offering the engine in 2 different S-Class variants, each with its own power figures. The entry-level model would have been known as the 800 SEL and could have pumped out 490 hp and 750 Nm. An even more powerful variant with 680 hp and 800 Nm would have topped the range. While it would have been amazing to see an 8.0-liter W18 engine used in a production car, executives at Mercedes-Benz decided that the 6.0-liter V12 the company was also developing at the time fulfilled all requirements for both large sedans and sports cars. +++ 

+++ Chinese electric car startup NIO has established an 800 million yuan ($115.68 million) joint venture with partners including CATL to facilitate its battery swap initiative. The joint venture, called Weineng, has been established to offer battery management services for a program Nio unveiled, which is called BaaS, or battery as a service. William Li, Nio’s founder and CEO, said BaaS will enable people to buy an electric car without the battery pack. They can pay a monthly rental fee for use of the batteries at Nio’s battery swap stations. The battery pack is the most expensive component of an electric car, usually accounting for around half of a car’s total cost. Li said the service slashes electric cars’ price tags and is thus expected to make them more competitive compared with gasoline cars. “We believe with BaaS, more customers of gasoline cars will consider electric vehicles”, Li said. So far Nio has 143 battery swapping stations around China, where it takes minutes to swap spent battery packs for fully charged ones. Li said Nio is building a station every week and plans to build 300 new stations in 2021. The Chinese government is promoting the adoption of vehicles with batteries that can be swapped between different makes and models. The battery swap mode, conducive to extending the life of batteries, will help enhance safety and lower costs for new energy vehicle buyers, said Xin Guobin, vice minister of industry and information technology in late July. +++ 

+++ NISSAN has been ordered to pay several hundreds of millions of yen in back taxes in connection with misuse of funds by the Japanese automaker under former boss Carlos Ghosn, sources familiar with the matter said. Japanese taxation authorities concluded that Nissan failed to declare around 1 billion yen in taxable income over 5 business years through March 2019, with the company given around 250 million yen in tax penalties, sources said. With regard to Ghosn’s alleged financial misconduct, the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau had already found last year that Nissan failed to declare about 150 million yen in taxable income in three business years through March 2014. The taxation authorities proceeded to look into the accounting for a period beyond the three years, resulting in the latest finding. In a report submitted to the Tokyo Stock Exchange in January, Nissan said that Ghosn inappropriately received about 140 million yen ($1.3 million) as stock-linked compensation. He also used a company business jet for private trips, costing a total of $4.4 million. In an in-house report released last September, Nissan claimed that Ghosn made or attempted to make Nissan spend at least 15 billion yen illicitly in addition to his remuneration. According to the sources, the taxation authorities are apparently refusing to let Nissan include some of these expenses (those incurred by the company’s headquarters) as necessary business costs for tax deduction. Ghosn, a former chairman of Nissan, was arrested in November 2018 by Japanese prosecutors for alleged financial misconduct. After being released from a detention facility in Tokyo, he jumped bail and fled to Lebanon in late 2019. Ghosn has denied the allegations. +++ 

+++ PORSCHE has launched an internal investigation into the suspected manipulation of petrol engines. Porsche has informed Germany’s automotive watchdog KBA, the Stuttgart prosecutor’s office, as well as U.S. authorities of suspected illegal changes to hardware and software that could affect exhaust systems and engine components, the paper said. “Porsche is regularly and continuously reviewing technical and regulatory aspects of its vehicles”, a Porsche spokesman said. “As part of such internal examinations Porsche has identified issues and has, just like in the past, proactively informed authorities”. The spokesman said that the issues relate to vehicles developed several years ago, adding that there were no indications that current production was affected. The carmaker is working closely with authorities, he said. Engines developed between 2008 and 2013 are the subject of the investigation, including those of the Panamera and 911 models. Apart from discussions with employees, meeting protocols and hundreds of thousands of emails were being examined in search of evidence, adding KBA has launched an official investigation. +++

+++ Every summer, children and pets are accidently left in vehicles with sometimes tragic results. To counter the problem, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers have pledged to make REAR SEAT REMINDER TECHNOLOGY standard in virtually all cars and trucks by the 2025 model year. However, many rear seat reminder systems are relatively basic. Tesla doesn’t do basic, so they’ve asked the Federal Communications Commission to approve a “short-range interactive motion-sensing device” that could not only detect children and animals but also intruders. The company wants to use a millimeter wave radar system that consists of four transmitters and three receivers that “operate at higher power levels than allowed under existing rules”. It promises to be better than traditional rear seat reminder systems as Tesla said the sensors could ‘see through’ soft materials such as a blanket covering a child. The company also said the sensors could detect “micromovements like breathing patterns and heart rates”, while also being able to distinguish between a child and an object placed on a seat. The company went on to say the system can reduce false alarms and detect things that could potentially be missed by camera-based system. Of course, the sensors would also have other benefits and Tesla noted they could be used to “assess body size to optimize airbag deployment in a crash”. They could also be used as intrusion sensors as they could detect someone reaching into a vehicle from an open window. There’s no word on when the technology could show up in future models, but the FCC is seeking public comment through September 21st. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 19 children have died from heatstroke so far this year after being left behind or trapped in vehicles. That’s actually a relatively low number as there were 52 deaths in 2019 and 53 in 2018. +++ 

+++ Electric car leader TESLA reported surprise second quarter global sales revenue of $6.03 billion despite the Covid-19 upheaval, with its Shanghai gigafactory making a great contribution by delivering 31.000 cars while the company’s 3 US factories suspending production for nearly 2 months. China has become an important earner for Tesla. The 31.000 cars comprised one third of Tesla’s total global sales volume from April to June. According to the company’s second quarter fiscal results, sales revenue in China jumped 103 percent year-on-year to reach $1.4 billion, accounting for 23.14 % of the company’s total top line. Based on the performance of the Shanghai gigafactory, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said during the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai last month that they are building an engineering team in China to come up with more original engineering research and development in the country. Tesla’s rapid development in China is closely related to the efforts made by the Lingang Special Area Administration (part of the China Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone) where the new energy vehicle maker is located. In July 2018, Tesla signed an agreement with the Lingang Special Area Administration to build a production base in Lingang. With total investment of 50 billion yuan ($7.2 billion), the Shanghai gigafactory is Tesla’s first such facility outside the United States. It is also the largest foreign-invested manufacturing project in Shanghai. The Shanghai gigafactory started churning out its first cars on November 7, only 16 months after the agreement was signed. The high efficiency of Lingang as well as the number of favorable policies in the area will help undergird Tesla’s ambitions, said the company’s global vice-president Tao Lin. Zhu Zhisong, executive deputy director of the Lingang Special Area Administration, said the successful example of Tesla has been promoted to more companies, making the “Tesla model” a highlight of Lingang. Zhu added that industrial land can be used for multiple purposes, which is first tried out in Lingang based on Tesla’s example. One-stop services are provided for new investment projects in terms of project construction permits and authorization. “Lingang will work as a testing site for deepened opening-up. It is our job to carry out more reforms and make more breakthroughs so that Lingang can grow into an internationally influential special economic zone”, Zhu said. Moves by companies reflect their appreciation of the high efficiency of Lingang. Publicly available information showed that total fixed asset investment registered in Lingang rose 32.8 % year-on-year during the first half, while total industrial output increased 26 % from a year earlier. A total of 141 new projects had been signed in Lingang during the first 6 months, with investment reaching 176.7 billion yuan. While company operations were much affected by Covid-19 during the first quarter, the Lingang administrative body came up with favorable tax policies to help companies endure difficulties. To further facilitate Tesla’s operations, the tax bureau carried out tax credit ratings and tax refund application revisions at the same time, and the company will likely receive tax breaks given its massive initial investment. Wu Jian, director of the Lingang tax bureau, said the Tesla model will be applied to the rest of Lingang. “The high efficiency experienced by Tesla will become the new normal for all companies registered in the area. More innovative tax services will be incubated in Lingang so that companies can seek more sustained development here”, Wu said. +++ 

+++ TOYOTA said its domestic vehicle production would be 1 % higher than initially planned in September, as its plants resume output levels following a steep drop because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The company plans to produce roughly 2.300 more cars and trucks than its initial plan for around 230.000. Vehicle production at the world’s No.2 automaker is recovering at home and abroad since global output fell by more than half year-on-year in April and May, when plants were shuttered to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Toyota declined to comment on global production plans for next month, but the company has said it expects global sales will be 15 % lower in the July-September quarter from last year, and 5 % lower in October-December. By early 2021, sales will be 5 % higher on the year. Toyota plans to sell 7.2 million vehicles in the year to March; down 20 % from a year ago. +++ 

+++ A U.S. judge dismissed portions of a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit accusing VOLKSWAGEN of defrauding American investors in connection with the automaker’s diesel emissions scandal. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco granted VW’s motion to dismiss claims it misled investors when issuing more than $13 billion of bonds and asset-based securities in 2014 and 2015. The judge rejected as premature VW’s request to block the SEC from obtaining injunctive relief and to disgorge profits. He also refused former Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn’s request to dismiss related SEC claims against him. Volkswagen said it was pleased with the decision. “As this case proceeds, we intend to demonstrate that the SEC’s allegations are without merit”, the company said. A lawyer for Winterkorn declined to comment. The SEC did not respond to a request for comment. The case arose after VW was in 2015 caught using illegal software during U.S. pollution tests to make it appear its diesel vehicles met government emission standards. That discovery triggered a global backlash that has cost the German automaker more than €29 billion, including $4.3 billion in U.S. criminal and civil fines in 2017. VW has admitted to secretly installing the software in roughly 500.000 U.S. vehicles. But regulators and investors have said it should have warned sooner about the breadth of the scandal. VW has said it underestimated the financial fallout. Breyer agreed with VW that SEC claims based the ABS offerings must be dismissed because the Department of Justice had already settled them in connection with the 2017 settlement. He also dismissed some claims that VW misled bondholders in financial statements and the risk of recalls. Breyer said the SEC sufficiently argued Winterkorn knew VW was using false financial statements, and rejected his argument that some claims be dismissed because he ran Volkswagen from Germany. +++ 

+++ Chinese electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer XPENG said it hopes to raise up to $1.11 billion in its initial public offering (IPO) in New York, seeking to ride the enthusiasm for EVs even as U.S.-China relations remain strained. The company said it intends to sell 85 million shares American depositary share (ADS), each representing 2 class A ordinary share, priced between $11 and $13 per share. At the top end of the range, XPeng’s valuation stood at $9.17 billion. The IPO comes at a time when U.S.-listed Chinese companies are facing tightened scrutiny and strict audit requirements from U.S. regulators, as tensions escalate between 2 of the world’s biggest economies. The Chinese EV maker said existing investors Alibaba Group, Coatue, and Qatar Investment Authority had indicated interest in buying up to $200 million, $100 million and $50 million, respectively, of the ADSs being offered. Backer Xiaomi Corp had also indicated interest in buying up to $50 million of the ADSs. Alibaba will own all of XPeng’s class C ordinary shares, representing 14.9 % of the voting power of its total shares immediately after the completion of the offering, XPeng said. XPeng’s IPO comes after rival Li Auto, another Chinese electric vehicle startup, raised $1.09 billion in its IPO on Nasdaq last month. Share prices of EV makers including Tesla and Nio have surged in recent months. “Investors can’t seem to get enough exposure to electric vehicle stocks. We are comparing Xpeng with Li Auto, which went public in July and is up 28 % from its IPO and to Nio”, Kathleen Smith, Principal, Renaissance Capital, provider of institutional research and IPO ETFs, said. Founded in 2014, Guangzhou-based XPeng delivered its first Xpeng G3 vehicle to customers in December 2018 and launched a second model in April this year. The company manufactures cars in 2 factories in China. BofA Securities, JP Morgan and Credit Suisse are among the underwriters for the IPO. +++

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