Automotive trends, Auto industry trends, Automotive market research, Automotive market analysis, auto industry news

Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 14th July 2019

Musk says price will skyrocket; managing the decline of combustion engines; and why are factories for electric cars so expensive? Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 8th July to 14th July 2019. A PDF version can be found here.

Before you read the detail, what were my favourite stories of the past week…?

News is arranged by company and topic. Stories that apply to more than one company or topic are duplicated.

Find our archive here.

SIGN UP TO GET THE WEEKLY BRIEFING EMAILED TO YOU

News about the major automakers

BMW (history)

  • Sold 647,504 cars globally in Q2 2019, an increase of 1% on a year-over-year basis. (BMW)
  • Said that it had moved production of engines destined for South Africa out of the Hams Hall, UK, plant to ensure that EU-South Africa rules of origin requirements continue to be met. (The Guardian)
  • Invested in Maniv Mobility’s new $100 million fund. (Economic Times of India)
  • Unveiled the all-electric version of the Mini, saying there had been 40,000 expressions of interest. (BMW)

Daimler (history)

  • Sold 607,126 globally cars in Q2 2019, a drop of (3)% on prior year. (Daimler)
  • Issued a profit warning for Q2 2019, having only just issued a profit warning a few weeks ago, saying it had lost €(1.6) billion, down from a profit of €2.6 billion last year. Daimler blamed higher recall costs, likely fines relating to diesel vehicles and a mysterious product planning decision concerning vans. (Daimler)

FCA (history)

  • Investing €700 million to produce the all-electric Fiat 500e in Mirafiori, Italy. (FCA)
  • FCA said that it withheld some of its US sales chief’s pay packet because he was implicated in a scheme to exaggerate sales figures, not because he cooperated with the investigating authorities, as he alleges. The lawsuit implies that up to 90% of senior executive compensation at FCA comes in bonuses and stock grants. (Detroit News)

Ferrari

  • There is a five year waiting list of customers who want to commission a one-off from Ferrari, and unless you are in the top 250 customers globally — however that is defined — you don’t have a chance. (Autocar)

Ford (history)

  • Recalling around 58,000 Focus cars to correct problems that can deform the fuel tank. (Ford)
  • Ford and VW announced the terms of a tie-up for autonomous vehicles. VW will merge its autonomous driving efforts (with a claimed value of $1.6 billion) with Argo AI and stump up a further $1 billion in cash, plus hand over $500 million to Ford to buy into the project. After the transaction is complete, Ford and VW will hold an equal share in a business, they say, worth $7 billion. (VW)
  • Has agreed to build up to 600,000 MEB-based electric cars and could “almost double” that figure if a second product, currently under discussion between the two parties, gets the go ahead. (VW) Ford will pay licensing fees on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis. (Reuters) with implied ~€15,000 per vehicle of revenue for VW. (Ford) Ford’s electric vehicles will be made in European Ford factories, but which one stays a secret for now (hint: there are impending capacity crunches in Saarlouis and Valencia). (Seeking Alpha)
  • Ford and VW’s collaboration on commercial vehicles saves “several hundred million euros”. (VW)
  • Ford and VW might share some of the behind the scenes infrastructure related to autonomous cars but haven’t decided yet. (Seeking Alpha)
  • Argo AI will “continue to seek new partners” after VW buy-in. (Argo)
  • Recalling around 58,000 Focus cars to correct problems that can deform the fuel tank. (Ford) Ford will also recall about 7,500 Rangers because of seat belts that weren’t fitted properly. (Ford)

Geely (includes Volvo) (history)

  • Issued a profit warning saying the net profits in the first half would be about (40)% down on 2018. (Geely)

General Motors (history)

  • The head of artificial intelligence at Cruise thinks it might take a lifetime to get self-driving cars to work properly in all locations and driving conditions. (IEEE Spectrum)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

Mazda

  • Recalling 262,000 US vehicles to fix problems with engines stalling. (Fox)
  • Toyota will now make an SUV at the new US joint venture plant with Mazda (still under construction), rather than the previously planned car. The impact on Mazda’s production plans is unclear. (Toyota)

Nissan (includes Mitsubishi) (history)

  • Mitsubishi will invest in ride hailing firm GoJek (the Mitsubishi trading company had already been announced as an investor but this is the first time the motor company has come on board). (Mitsubishi)
  • Nissan and Mitsubishi merged their Japanese finished vehicle logistics operations. (Mitsubishi)
  • Alliance Ventures invested in Maniv Mobility’s new $100 million fund. (Economic Times of India)

Renault (history)

Tata (includes JLR) (history)

  • JLR sold 128,615 cars in April to June 2019 (fiscal Q1), a drop of (11.6)% on prior year. (JLR)

Tesla (history)

  • A leaked internal email suggested further production increases at the Fremont, USA, factory and a full year 2019 production target of far more than 400,000 cars. (Bloomberg)
  • CEO Musk said that customers shouldn’t expect a refreshed Model S or Model X and that only a series of “minor ongoing changes” were planned. (Business Insider)
    • Significance: With Model S and X sales falling fast, Tesla may find that it is less immune to product ageing than the company thinks, despite Musk’s belief that the Model S remains an unparalleled product.
  • Seeking a restraining order from a researcher aligned to a group of Tesla short sellers. Tesla say the man, who tries to count car deliveries and shadows autonomous test vehicles, puts their employees at risk. (Detroit News)
  • A Tesla supplier is reportedly preparing to double shipments to Tesla, setting tongues wagging about an explosion of Model 3 volume. The other possibility is that it has won some work from other suppliers (or the whole thing is an inaccurate rumour). (Digitimes)
  • Elon Musk said prices for Tesla cars would rise “significantly” when the company has cracked the self-driving problem because they would be capable of functioning as robotaxis and would thus be far more valuable. (Electrek)
    • Significance: Musk’s comments imply that although he believes the cost of self-driving is already included in current production (as yet unproven because Tesla doesn’t actually have a self-driving suite that works), the market would allow the company to reap outsize profits — this is known colloquially as price gouging and normally fails because of competitive pressure (a phenomenon already encountered by Tesla and responsible for setting transaction prices at a level too low to make profits).

Toyota (history)

  • Created a sub-brand called “Toyota Professional” to sell commercial vehicles in Europe. (Toyota)
  • Will now make an SUV at the new US joint venture plant with Mazda (still under construction), rather than the previously planned car. (Toyota)
  • Selling all of Toyota’s interest in driveline supplier Yutaka Seimitsu to JTEKT. (Toyota)
  • Toyota and Denso will establish a 49% / 51% joint venture to develop advanced semi-conductors. (Toyota)

VW Group (history)

  • Delivered 2,759,700 vehicles in Q2 2019, a drop of (2.8)% versus prior year. (VW)
  • Bentley unveiled the EXP 100 GT concept, an all-electric GT with (intended) self-driving capability that represents the product Bentley hopes to sell in 2035. The sleek design implies that Bentley believe all sensors required for autonomous driving will be integrated into the bodywork by then. (Bentley)
  • VW has set a target to become “balance sheet CO2 neutral” by 2025, implying extensive use of renewable energy and carbon offsets. The move may be partly aimed at EU CO2 regulations which imply that the emissions from the entire vehicle lifecycle will be considered. (VW)
  • VW highlighted how much of the forthcoming ID3 electric vehicle components are made in-house. (VW)
  • CEO Diess said VW preferred Ford / Argo to other options because he wanted an American technology partner and to work with a strong OEM. It wasn’t clear how this was different to (US-based) Aurora and their OEM partners Hyundai / KIA and FCA. (Seeking Alpha)
  • VW’s parking subsidiary PayByPhone acquired Mirada Connect. (FINSMES)
  • VW’s head of procurement says that the automotive industry is “obliged” to find a way to consolidate internal combustion assets without uncontrolled insolvencies. (Reuters)
    • Significance: These comments further show that the industry is waking up to the need for radical solutions to the decline of internal combustion engines. Pre-planned consolidation was the route Ad Punctum and Evercore ISI championed in a 2018 research piece titled E-FIRST.
  • Ford and VW announced the terms of a tie-up for autonomous vehicles. VW will merge its autonomous driving efforts (with a claimed value of $1.6 billion) with Argo AI and stump up a further $1 billion in cash, plus hand over $500 million to Ford to buy into the project. After the transaction is complete, Ford and VW will hold an equal share in a business, they say, worth $7 billion. (VW)
  • Ford agreed to build up to 600,000 MEB-based electric cars and could “almost double” that figure if a second product, currently under discussion between the two parties, gets the go ahead. (VW) Ford will pay licensing fees on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis. (Reuters) with implied ~€15,000 per vehicle of revenue for VW. (Ford)
  • Ford and VW’s collaboration on commercial vehicles saves “several hundred million euros”. (VW)
  • Ford and VW might share some of the behind the scenes infrastructure related to autonomous cars but haven’t decided yet. (Seeking Alpha)

Other

  • Aston Martin’s CEO worries about requirements for tens of kilometres of electric-only range, saying plug-in hybrids are a “bad solution” for sports cars because of the additional weight of the larger electric engine. V12 engines will last “at least until the next generation”, but can easily imagine it going longer. (The Drive)
  • Seres, aka SF Motors, has reportedly made around one third of US staff redundant and is postponing the US market launch (and potentially abandoning plans to manufacture locally), citing difficult conditions in China. (The Verge)
  • Chinese automaker JAC was fined 170 million RMB (about $25 million) for excessive real world emissions compared to test results. (Caixin)
  • NIO delivered 3,553 cars in Q2 2019. (NIO)

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • The US government is removing the escalation of financial penalties for exceeding fuel economy standards. (Reuters)

Suppliers

  • Dana’s CEO thinks people are underestimating the staying power of the internal combustion engine — although he admits that this view is contingent on hybrids, rather than fully electric vehicles — ruling the roost. (Reuters)
  • ZF says it is providing the entire electric powertrain for the Mercedes EQC, including controls. (Xinhua)
  • Weber Automotive declared insolvency amid a fight over funding between its owners. (Reuters)
  • Bosch invested in on-demand manufacturing start-up Xometry. (Bosch)
  • Denso and Metair subsidiary Smiths set up an aftermarket parts joint venture in South Africa. (Autocar)
  • Toyota and Denso will establish a 49% / 51% joint venture to develop advanced semi-conductors. (Toyota)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Lidar developer Luminar said it has now raised $250 million and that its sub $1,000 sensor will be on production vehicles from 2022 onwards. Luminar claims to be “working with… 12 of the world’s top 15 automotive companies”, but this does not imply firm production contracts. (Luminar)
  • Hyundai Mobis and Yandex said they had produced a prototype self-driving car in six weeks. (Korea Times)
    • Significance: The speed with which the prototype was built underlines that the challenge isn’t fitting a car with sensors and linking the steering, power and brakes to a central control unit, it is developing software that uses the sensor set to drive the vehicle safely.
  • Volvo Trucks says that in commercial trials of self-driving vehicles, it is already trialling a cost per tonne moved revenue model and exploring the possibility that it might not sell the trucks outright. (Reuters)
  • Waymo says it has now simulated 10 billion miles of driving. (TechCrunch)
  • Pony.ai’s CEO thinks there will be “thousands or tens of thousands” of autonomous vehicles on the road within the next three to five years. (Time)
  • The head of artificial intelligence at GM’s Cruise division thinks it might take a lifetime to get self-driving cars to work properly in all locations and driving conditions. (IEEE Spectrum)
  • Elon Musk said prices for Tesla cars would rise “significantly” when the company has cracked the self-driving problem because they would be capable of functioning as robotaxis and would thus be far more valuable. (Electrek)
  • Argo AI will “continue to seek new partners” after VW buy-in. (Argo)

Electrification (history)

  • Chinese battery maker SVOLT is reportedly planning a European factory. (Reuters)
  • REE emerged from stealth mode saying it had developed a highly flexible vehicle platform using in-wheel motors and steer by wire that was already interesting Mitsubishi and FCA amongst others. (REE)
  • LG Chem is reportedly looking to build a second US battery factory. (Reuters)

Connectivity

  • Niu has collected 85 terabytes of journey data from the 710,000 scooters the company has sold — which have collectively covered 3 billion kilometres. (CNBC)

Other

  • Refraction is building an autonomous delivery robot with a target price below $5,000, partly enabled by a 15 mph top speed which reduces the need for expensive sensors. (TechCrunch)
  • Electric bike maker Pure EV raised $25 million. (Economic Times of India)
  • Bicycle sharing network Yulu is reportedly in talks to raise $15 million. (LiveMint)
  • Scooter rental firm Bird is establishing a European headquarters in Paris. (The Verge) The CEO says that, with the latest scooters, Bird can make $1.27 on every ride. (TechCrunch)

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Automotive trends, Auto industry trends, Automotive market research, Automotive market analysis, auto industry news

Auto Industry Briefing — Our Most Recent Edition

Musk says price will skyrocket; managing the decline of combustion engines; and why are factories for electric cars so expensive? Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 8th July to 14th July 2019. A PDF version can be found here.

Before you read the detail, what were my favourite stories of the past week…?

News is arranged by company and topic. Stories that apply to more than one company or topic are duplicated.

Find our archive here.

SIGN UP TO GET THE WEEKLY BRIEFING EMAILED TO YOU

News about the major automakers

BMW (history)

  • Sold 647,504 cars globally in Q2 2019, an increase of 1% on a year-over-year basis. (BMW)
  • Said that it had moved production of engines destined for South Africa out of the Hams Hall, UK, plant to ensure that EU-South Africa rules of origin requirements continue to be met. (The Guardian)
  • Invested in Maniv Mobility’s new $100 million fund. (Economic Times of India)
  • Unveiled the all-electric version of the Mini, saying there had been 40,000 expressions of interest. (BMW)

Daimler (history)

  • Sold 607,126 globally cars in Q2 2019, a drop of (3)% on prior year. (Daimler)
  • Issued a profit warning for Q2 2019, having only just issued a profit warning a few weeks ago, saying it had lost €(1.6) billion, down from a profit of €2.6 billion last year. Daimler blamed higher recall costs, likely fines relating to diesel vehicles and a mysterious product planning decision concerning vans. (Daimler)

FCA (history)

  • Investing €700 million to produce the all-electric Fiat 500e in Mirafiori, Italy. (FCA)
  • FCA said that it withheld some of its US sales chief’s pay packet because he was implicated in a scheme to exaggerate sales figures, not because he cooperated with the investigating authorities, as he alleges. The lawsuit implies that up to 90% of senior executive compensation at FCA comes in bonuses and stock grants. (Detroit News)

Ferrari

  • There is a five year waiting list of customers who want to commission a one-off from Ferrari, and unless you are in the top 250 customers globally — however that is defined — you don’t have a chance. (Autocar)

Ford (history)

  • Recalling around 58,000 Focus cars to correct problems that can deform the fuel tank. (Ford)
  • Ford and VW announced the terms of a tie-up for autonomous vehicles. VW will merge its autonomous driving efforts (with a claimed value of $1.6 billion) with Argo AI and stump up a further $1 billion in cash, plus hand over $500 million to Ford to buy into the project. After the transaction is complete, Ford and VW will hold an equal share in a business, they say, worth $7 billion. (VW)
  • Has agreed to build up to 600,000 MEB-based electric cars and could “almost double” that figure if a second product, currently under discussion between the two parties, gets the go ahead. (VW) Ford will pay licensing fees on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis. (Reuters) with implied ~€15,000 per vehicle of revenue for VW. (Ford) Ford’s electric vehicles will be made in European Ford factories, but which one stays a secret for now (hint: there are impending capacity crunches in Saarlouis and Valencia). (Seeking Alpha)
  • Ford and VW’s collaboration on commercial vehicles saves “several hundred million euros”. (VW)
  • Ford and VW might share some of the behind the scenes infrastructure related to autonomous cars but haven’t decided yet. (Seeking Alpha)
  • Argo AI will “continue to seek new partners” after VW buy-in. (Argo)
  • Recalling around 58,000 Focus cars to correct problems that can deform the fuel tank. (Ford) Ford will also recall about 7,500 Rangers because of seat belts that weren’t fitted properly. (Ford)

Geely (includes Volvo) (history)

  • Issued a profit warning saying the net profits in the first half would be about (40)% down on 2018. (Geely)

General Motors (history)

  • The head of artificial intelligence at Cruise thinks it might take a lifetime to get self-driving cars to work properly in all locations and driving conditions. (IEEE Spectrum)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

Mazda

  • Recalling 262,000 US vehicles to fix problems with engines stalling. (Fox)
  • Toyota will now make an SUV at the new US joint venture plant with Mazda (still under construction), rather than the previously planned car. The impact on Mazda’s production plans is unclear. (Toyota)

Nissan (includes Mitsubishi) (history)

  • Mitsubishi will invest in ride hailing firm GoJek (the Mitsubishi trading company had already been announced as an investor but this is the first time the motor company has come on board). (Mitsubishi)
  • Nissan and Mitsubishi merged their Japanese finished vehicle logistics operations. (Mitsubishi)
  • Alliance Ventures invested in Maniv Mobility’s new $100 million fund. (Economic Times of India)

Renault (history)

Tata (includes JLR) (history)

  • JLR sold 128,615 cars in April to June 2019 (fiscal Q1), a drop of (11.6)% on prior year. (JLR)

Tesla (history)

  • A leaked internal email suggested further production increases at the Fremont, USA, factory and a full year 2019 production target of far more than 400,000 cars. (Bloomberg)
  • CEO Musk said that customers shouldn’t expect a refreshed Model S or Model X and that only a series of “minor ongoing changes” were planned. (Business Insider)
    • Significance: With Model S and X sales falling fast, Tesla may find that it is less immune to product ageing than the company thinks, despite Musk’s belief that the Model S remains an unparalleled product.
  • Seeking a restraining order from a researcher aligned to a group of Tesla short sellers. Tesla say the man, who tries to count car deliveries and shadows autonomous test vehicles, puts their employees at risk. (Detroit News)
  • A Tesla supplier is reportedly preparing to double shipments to Tesla, setting tongues wagging about an explosion of Model 3 volume. The other possibility is that it has won some work from other suppliers (or the whole thing is an inaccurate rumour). (Digitimes)
  • Elon Musk said prices for Tesla cars would rise “significantly” when the company has cracked the self-driving problem because they would be capable of functioning as robotaxis and would thus be far more valuable. (Electrek)
    • Significance: Musk’s comments imply that although he believes the cost of self-driving is already included in current production (as yet unproven because Tesla doesn’t actually have a self-driving suite that works), the market would allow the company to reap outsize profits — this is known colloquially as price gouging and normally fails because of competitive pressure (a phenomenon already encountered by Tesla and responsible for setting transaction prices at a level too low to make profits).

Toyota (history)

  • Created a sub-brand called “Toyota Professional” to sell commercial vehicles in Europe. (Toyota)
  • Will now make an SUV at the new US joint venture plant with Mazda (still under construction), rather than the previously planned car. (Toyota)
  • Selling all of Toyota’s interest in driveline supplier Yutaka Seimitsu to JTEKT. (Toyota)
  • Toyota and Denso will establish a 49% / 51% joint venture to develop advanced semi-conductors. (Toyota)

VW Group (history)

  • Delivered 2,759,700 vehicles in Q2 2019, a drop of (2.8)% versus prior year. (VW)
  • Bentley unveiled the EXP 100 GT concept, an all-electric GT with (intended) self-driving capability that represents the product Bentley hopes to sell in 2035. The sleek design implies that Bentley believe all sensors required for autonomous driving will be integrated into the bodywork by then. (Bentley)
  • VW has set a target to become “balance sheet CO2 neutral” by 2025, implying extensive use of renewable energy and carbon offsets. The move may be partly aimed at EU CO2 regulations which imply that the emissions from the entire vehicle lifecycle will be considered. (VW)
  • VW highlighted how much of the forthcoming ID3 electric vehicle components are made in-house. (VW)
  • CEO Diess said VW preferred Ford / Argo to other options because he wanted an American technology partner and to work with a strong OEM. It wasn’t clear how this was different to (US-based) Aurora and their OEM partners Hyundai / KIA and FCA. (Seeking Alpha)
  • VW’s parking subsidiary PayByPhone acquired Mirada Connect. (FINSMES)
  • VW’s head of procurement says that the automotive industry is “obliged” to find a way to consolidate internal combustion assets without uncontrolled insolvencies. (Reuters)
    • Significance: These comments further show that the industry is waking up to the need for radical solutions to the decline of internal combustion engines. Pre-planned consolidation was the route Ad Punctum and Evercore ISI championed in a 2018 research piece titled E-FIRST.
  • Ford and VW announced the terms of a tie-up for autonomous vehicles. VW will merge its autonomous driving efforts (with a claimed value of $1.6 billion) with Argo AI and stump up a further $1 billion in cash, plus hand over $500 million to Ford to buy into the project. After the transaction is complete, Ford and VW will hold an equal share in a business, they say, worth $7 billion. (VW)
  • Ford agreed to build up to 600,000 MEB-based electric cars and could “almost double” that figure if a second product, currently under discussion between the two parties, gets the go ahead. (VW) Ford will pay licensing fees on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis. (Reuters) with implied ~€15,000 per vehicle of revenue for VW. (Ford)
  • Ford and VW’s collaboration on commercial vehicles saves “several hundred million euros”. (VW)
  • Ford and VW might share some of the behind the scenes infrastructure related to autonomous cars but haven’t decided yet. (Seeking Alpha)

Other

  • Aston Martin’s CEO worries about requirements for tens of kilometres of electric-only range, saying plug-in hybrids are a “bad solution” for sports cars because of the additional weight of the larger electric engine. V12 engines will last “at least until the next generation”, but can easily imagine it going longer. (The Drive)
  • Seres, aka SF Motors, has reportedly made around one third of US staff redundant and is postponing the US market launch (and potentially abandoning plans to manufacture locally), citing difficult conditions in China. (The Verge)
  • Chinese automaker JAC was fined 170 million RMB (about $25 million) for excessive real world emissions compared to test results. (Caixin)
  • NIO delivered 3,553 cars in Q2 2019. (NIO)

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • The US government is removing the escalation of financial penalties for exceeding fuel economy standards. (Reuters)

Suppliers

  • Dana’s CEO thinks people are underestimating the staying power of the internal combustion engine — although he admits that this view is contingent on hybrids, rather than fully electric vehicles — ruling the roost. (Reuters)
  • ZF says it is providing the entire electric powertrain for the Mercedes EQC, including controls. (Xinhua)
  • Weber Automotive declared insolvency amid a fight over funding between its owners. (Reuters)
  • Bosch invested in on-demand manufacturing start-up Xometry. (Bosch)
  • Denso and Metair subsidiary Smiths set up an aftermarket parts joint venture in South Africa. (Autocar)
  • Toyota and Denso will establish a 49% / 51% joint venture to develop advanced semi-conductors. (Toyota)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Lidar developer Luminar said it has now raised $250 million and that its sub $1,000 sensor will be on production vehicles from 2022 onwards. Luminar claims to be “working with… 12 of the world’s top 15 automotive companies”, but this does not imply firm production contracts. (Luminar)
  • Hyundai Mobis and Yandex said they had produced a prototype self-driving car in six weeks. (Korea Times)
    • Significance: The speed with which the prototype was built underlines that the challenge isn’t fitting a car with sensors and linking the steering, power and brakes to a central control unit, it is developing software that uses the sensor set to drive the vehicle safely.
  • Volvo Trucks says that in commercial trials of self-driving vehicles, it is already trialling a cost per tonne moved revenue model and exploring the possibility that it might not sell the trucks outright. (Reuters)
  • Waymo says it has now simulated 10 billion miles of driving. (TechCrunch)
  • Pony.ai’s CEO thinks there will be “thousands or tens of thousands” of autonomous vehicles on the road within the next three to five years. (Time)
  • The head of artificial intelligence at GM’s Cruise division thinks it might take a lifetime to get self-driving cars to work properly in all locations and driving conditions. (IEEE Spectrum)
  • Elon Musk said prices for Tesla cars would rise “significantly” when the company has cracked the self-driving problem because they would be capable of functioning as robotaxis and would thus be far more valuable. (Electrek)
  • Argo AI will “continue to seek new partners” after VW buy-in. (Argo)

Electrification (history)

  • Chinese battery maker SVOLT is reportedly planning a European factory. (Reuters)
  • REE emerged from stealth mode saying it had developed a highly flexible vehicle platform using in-wheel motors and steer by wire that was already interesting Mitsubishi and FCA amongst others. (REE)
  • LG Chem is reportedly looking to build a second US battery factory. (Reuters)

Connectivity

  • Niu has collected 85 terabytes of journey data from the 710,000 scooters the company has sold — which have collectively covered 3 billion kilometres. (CNBC)

Other

  • Refraction is building an autonomous delivery robot with a target price below $5,000, partly enabled by a 15 mph top speed which reduces the need for expensive sensors. (TechCrunch)
  • Electric bike maker Pure EV raised $25 million. (Economic Times of India)
  • Bicycle sharing network Yulu is reportedly in talks to raise $15 million. (LiveMint)
  • Scooter rental firm Bird is establishing a European headquarters in Paris. (The Verge) The CEO says that, with the latest scooters, Bird can make $1.27 on every ride. (TechCrunch)

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Automotive trends, Auto industry trends, Automotive market research, Automotive market analysis, auto industry news

Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 7th July 2019

Hypercars for all; jobs for the masses; and are Norwegians making everyone else look silly? Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 1st July to 7th July 2019. A PDF version can be found here.

Before you read the detail, what were my favourite stories of the past week…?

  • You Wanted MoreAston Martin’s CEO says he could have sold 900 Valkyrie hypercars, and regrets limiting production to 150 units. If correct, that would be nearly 50% more than LaFerrari, despite a far higher price tag. Do enough buyers really exist? If so, can we expect to see the next Aston Martin hypercar (Valhalla) nearing four figures?
  • Paper ThinA coalition of car companies and suppliers released what they termed a framework for autonomous driving. It’s a whopping 157 pages long, but don’t hold out hope that all your questions will be answered, most of them are simply acknowledged by the report, with no firm answers provided beyond. To carry out tests, the authors recommend simulations with human drivers controlling other simulated vehicles. Thing is, if we test self-driving cars that way, lots of human will have to drive lots of computer-generated miles. Will simulated driving become the new content moderation, employing tens of thousands across the globe?
  • The World’s Greatest Almost half the cars sold in Norway over the past six months are capable of zero emission travel. Not only that, but the fleet average CO2 emissions registered 59 g / km, meaning that Norway is already compliant with 2030 European targets many are labelling as near impossible! Okay, there are incentives involved and, yes, Norway’s citizens are richer than most, but why not look on the bright side… if the Norwegians are there now — with today’s technology at today’s prices — surely other countries can get there with the technology of the future (as yet unrealised scare stories about battery raw material costs notwithstanding)?

News is arranged by company and topic. Stories that apply to more than one company or topic are duplicated.

Find our archive here.

SIGN UP TO GET THE WEEKLY BRIEFING EMAILED TO YOU

News about the major automakers

BMW (history)

  • CEO Harald Krüger will not seek a second term as CEO (the current term was due to end in 2020). (BMW)
  • German media reports on the main candidates for the CEO position speculated that senior executive departures are likely after the decision has been made. Sharp elbows have reportedly been out for months. (Handelsblatt)
  • BMW and Daimler finalised an (already announced) agreement to jointly develop L4 self-driving systems (i.e. the owner doesn’t need to concentrate, but the car may only be capable in a limited number of environments). The two companies will pool a team of 1,200 development engineers and hope to launch the first products in 2024. (Daimler)

Daimler (history)

  • BMW and Daimler finalised an (already announced) agreement to jointly develop L4 self-driving systems (i.e. the owner doesn’t need to concentrate, but the car may only be capable in a limited number of environments). The two companies will pool a team of 1,200 development engineers and hope to launch the first products in 2024. (Daimler)
  • Spent €50 million on a new electromagnetic compatibility testing centre. (Daimler)

FCA (history)

  • Announced some changes to the team heading up Maserati. (FCA)
  • Will buy 8 speed automatic transmissions from ZF. (ZF)

Ford (history)

  • Releasing a track-only version of the GT. Just 45 examples will be built, at a cost of $1.2 million each. (Ford)
  • Although Ford celebrates the success of the F-150’s all-aluminium body, the experience of the next-generation Explorer, which uses the material only sparingly, suggests it is still too expensive for vehicles where manufacturers cannot claim a hefty premium for fuel economy. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Highlighting the difficulty of pricing in the UK market, despite the need to recover from sterling devaluation, Ford launched a “scrappage scheme” offering customers £2,000. (Autocar)
  • Sold 650,336 vehicles in the US during Q2 2019, down (4.1)% on a year-over-year basis. (Ford)
  • Ford and VW are reportedly close to an overarching deal that will see Ford sell a share of self-driving unit Argo AI to VW in exchange for access to the MEB electric vehicle platform. The value of the self-driving technology is apparently lower than Ford hoped because VW reckons it won’t be commercially available in large numbers for such a long time. (Handelsblatt)
  • French unions won a court judgement against the company saying it had failed in a duty to employ 1,000 workers at the site under the terms of a grant. However, the judges stopped short of condemning Ford’s decision to close the plant, saying they weren’t qualified to rule on the economic merits. (Usine Nouvelle)

Geely (includes Volvo) (history)

  • The Geely and Lynk&Co brands sold 285,092 units in Q2 2019, a fall of (25)% on a year-over-year basis. (Geely)
  • Volvo sold 179,506 cars in Q2 2019, a 5% increase on the same period a year earlier. (Volvo)
  • Volvo has a new CFO. (Volvo)
  • Lotus’s new hypercar (previously known as Type 130) will be called Evija. (Lotus)

General Motors (history)

  • Reported US sales of 746,659 units in Q2 2019, a drop of (1.5)% on a year earlier. (GM)

Honda (history)

  • Developing one and two seat electric cars, believing them to be the best way to transport the elderly. (Japan Times)
  • Creating a retrofit kit that will allow some features of Honda’s driver assistance suite even on older vehicles. (Honda)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • Hyundai says that continuously variable valve duration (CCVD) technology provides a 5% improvement in fuel economy. (Hyundai)
  • Might enter NASCAR when new rules come into force for 2021. (Autoweek)

Mazda

  • Recalling tens of thousands of Mazda 3 cars to stop their wheels falling off. (The Guardian)

Nissan (includes Mitsubishi) (history)

  • Renault and Nissan might stop publishing their customary annual cost saving declaration. (Reuters)

PSA (includes Opel/Vauxhall) (history)

  • Continuing the recent trend of removing national sales companies in lower volume locations, Opel announced a distributor had been selected for Ireland. (Opel)
  • The EU said it would take a closer look at €20.7 million in aid from the Spanish government to support further investment in the Vigo factory. (Europa Press)

Renault (history)

  • French Police raided Renault’s headquarters apparently looking for dirt on Carlos Ghosn. (Reuters)
  • Renault and Nissan might stop publishing their customary annual cost saving declaration. (Reuters)

Suzuki

  • Maruti Suzuki’s woes continue with a fifth consecutive month of production cuts. (The Hindu)

Tata (includes JLR) (history)

  • Confirmed plans for an all-electric replacement for the XJ large saloon at the Castle Bromwich, UK, factory and a “range” of other electric products. Whilst making the announcement, JLR’s CEO said that unless battery factories are built in the UK, car plants will have to be relocated to wherever they are made (JLR)

Tesla (history)

  • Reported Q2 2019 deliveries of 95,200 cars, up 34% on a year-over-year basis. Tesla said orders were being placed more quickly than they could build cars but declined to provide specifics (although the balance sheet contains clues). Tesla will stop reporting the number of cars in transit inventory. Model S and X remained weak. (Tesla)

Toyota (history)

  • Says that a new generation of solar panels has increased charging rate by a factor of four. Toyota has a Prius test vehicle that generates around 860 W (in Japanese sunshine), good for a claimed 44.5 km of highway driving (the old system provided just over 6km). (Toyota)

VW Group (history)

  • Aims for 50% of Chinese sales to be electric vehicles by 2035. (VW)
  • VW expects solid state batteries to become cost competitive in the late 2020s and says that most of the production equipment and 60% of the tooling is the same as lithium ion cells, so newly built factories won’t become obsolete even if the technology changes. (Reuters)
  • Bentley’s boss wants to build an all-electric car but says that current technology (specifically the battery energy density) won’t allow him to create a vehicle with long range that isn’t too heavy, and that he might have to wait until 2025 for the right batteries to come along. (Autocar)
  • Ford and VW are reportedly close to an overarching deal that will see Ford sell a share of self-driving unit Argo AI to VW in exchange for access to the MEB electric vehicle platform. The value of the self-driving technology is apparently lower than Ford hoped because VW reckons it won’t be commercially available in large numbers for such a long time. (Handelsblatt)

Other

  • Borgward has lost the site of its planned factory in Bremen, Germany due to inactivity. (WirtschaftsWoche)
  • Aston Martin’s CEO says he wishes he hadn’t limited the Valkyrie hypercar to a production run of 150 cars because demand is so great that he could have sold 900 of them. (carsales)
    • Significance: Given the £2.5 million price tag, a 900 unit run would be unprecedented (La Ferrari sold 649 cars and the relatively cheap F40 reached just over 1,300 — albeit when the addressable market was smaller). Since Ferrari’s newest special editions will only have 499 examples at €1.6 million, the remarks look like hyperbole. Aston Martin will have another chance when they release the Valkyrie’s successor.

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • US light vehicle SAAR in June of 17.29 million units was down (0.5)% on prior year. (Wards)
  • German passenger car registrations for June of 325,231 units fell (4.7)% versus a year earlier. (KBA)
  • French June sales of 230,965 passenger cars, dropped (8.4)% from prior year. (CCFA)
  • Passenger car sales in the UK during June of 223,421 cars fell (4.9)% on a year-over-year basis. (SMMT)
  • Italian passenger car registrations for June of 171,626 units, fell (2.1)% versus the prior year. (UNRAE)
  • Spanish sales of passenger cars in June of 130,519 units fell (8.3)% on a year-over-year basis. (ANFAC)
  • Norwegian sales of new passenger cars in the first half of 2019 reached 78,209 units. 35,200 (45)% of these were zero emission vehicles. The average CO2 emissions of passenger cars sold was 59 g/ km. (BIL)
  • Bulgaria’s government reportedly plans to ban imports of diesel cars which do not meet the Euro 4 emissions standards (i.e. pre-2005 vehicles). (Novinite)

Suppliers

  • Teijin is acquiring composites supplier Benet Automotive. (Teijin)
  • Inzi Controls is building a $50 million battery plant in Hungary. (Budapest Business Journal)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • Didi Chuxing said that it had dropped over 300,000 drivers after a safety review. (TechCrunch)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Self-driving car developer Tier IV raised over $100 million from investors including Yamaha. (VentureBeat)
  • Valeo said it had orders for €500 million worth of lidar sensors. (Reuters)
  • Testing equipment firm AB Dynamics acquired simulation company rFpro. (Autocar)
  • A coalition of carmakers and suppliers published a shared white paper on safety in autonomous vehicles. The paper places a heavy emphasis on the role of sensor fusion algorithms (loosely, taking data from several sensors and combining it into a single worldview), a catch-all term that will mean different things to different people. It does lay down a marker by talking about a “degraded mode” (a back-up system) and calling for a mixed sensor suite that includes lidar. (BMW)
    • Significance: The study does a better job of highlighting the problems verifying the roadworthiness of self-driving systems than it does in providing clear answers about how it can be performed. For instance, whilst discussing the difficulties of simulation, about the same about of space is given to considering gravitational forces as modelling the reaction of other drivers to the car’s decisions. A driver in the loop model (e.g. use human drivers to drive the other cars, as if it is a great big computer game) is the get out of jail free card — could being a simulator driver become the next big gig — tens of thousands could be required if this is really how we are going to test self-driving cars.
  • Visiblezone says it can detect pedestrians that self-driving cars aren’t able to directly see by monitoring signals from mobile phones and other electronic devices the people are carrying. (TechCrunch)
  • Driver assistance developer ZongMu raised $14.5 million. (VentureBeat)
  • BMW and Daimler finalised an (already announced) agreement to jointly develop L4 self-driving systems (i.e. the owner doesn’t need to concentrate, but the car may only be capable in a limited number of environments). The two companies will pool a team of 1,200 development engineers and hope to launch the first products in 2024. (Daimler)

Electrification (history)

  • Continental showed off a hybrid vehicle with a 30 kW (40 PS) motor powered by a 48V system. These type of hybrid set-ups promise lower costs than (traditional) high voltage equipment. (Continental)
  • Ola Electric raised $250 million from SoftBank. (Business Standard)
  • Toyota says a new generation of solar panels has increased charging rate by a factor of four. Toyota has a Prius test vehicle that generates around 860 W (in Japanese sunshine), good for a claimed 44.5 km of highway driving (the old system provided just over 6km). (Toyota)
  • VW expects solid state batteries to become cost competitive in the late 2020s and says that most of the production equipment and 60% of the tooling is the same as lithium ion cells, so newly built factories won’t become obsolete even if the technology changes. (Reuters)

Connectivity

  • Amazon keeps customer voice recordings, transcripts and details of their discussions with Alexa devices forever, unless the user manually deletes them. (ZDNet)
  • Samsung says people won’t be using smartphones in five years, preferring multiple displays connected wirelessly to each other instead. (ZDNet)
    • Significance: If Samsung are right (and they know a thing or two about electronics), car makers need to be thinking more seriously about how the car can interact with external devices — beyond CarPlay and Android Auto — and how customers can mount and power different screens in the car without a proliferation of ugly plastic add-ons.

Other

  • Electric scooter rental service Dott raised $30 million. (TechCrunch)
  • Electric bus maker Proterra is reportedly exploring an IPO. (Reuters)
  • A profile of bicycle sharing firm Ofo’s failure suggested that the root cause was getting on the wrong side of too many big investors. (Technode)
  • Electric scooter rental start-up Wind Mobility raised $50 million. (TechCrunch)

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Automotive trends, Auto industry trends, Automotive market research, Automotive market analysis, auto industry news

Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 30th June 2019

Renault and Nissan love arguing; buyers are happy with hybrids if they are cheap; and is the start-up bubble deflating? Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 24th June to 30th June 2019. A PDF version can be found here.

Before you read the detail, what were my favourite stories of the past week…?

News is arranged by company and topic. Stories that apply to more than one company or topic are duplicated.

Find our archive here.

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News about the major automakers

BMW (history)

  • Confirmed new targets for electrification (leaked last week) calling for 25 models by 2023 at a special event. From 2020 onwards, BMW will program hybrid vehicles so that only the electric motor powers the car in city centres. Although BMW didn’t say this, it seems likely that BMW will submit the scheme to the EU as an eco-innovation to gain credit for CO2 lowering technologies not fairly represented within the WLTP test cycle. (BMW)
  • Showed a concept called Vision M Next, a likely i8 successor. If the concept carries through to production then the car will remain a PHEV, despite earlier rumours that it would be all-electric. (BMW)
  • Plans to introduce adaptive cruise control that can stop at red lights. (BMW)
  • Believes that diesel engines will continue to be sold for another 20 years and gasoline engines have 30 years left, but not necessarily in all markets. The firm plans to phase out the 1.5 litre diesel used in smaller cars. (Automotive News)
  • Says that, if there were sufficient demand, it could launch 100 electrified cars by 2023 as an illustration of the flexibility of BMW’s engineering platform. BMW also believes that solid state batteries will not reach maturity until the 2030s. (Autocar)
  • CEO Krüger reportedly faces a fight to get his contract extended beyond May 2020, with the board rumoured to be eyeing up two senior executives as potential successors. (Handelsblatt)
  • After BMW pulled out of a sponsorship deal, Bayern Munich football club reportedly plans to sue for between €10 million – €20 million — probably enough for a new centre forward’s right shin. (FAZ)
  • Plans an initial X5 fuel cell powered car in the early 2020s, and might add more offerings by 2025. BMW says that currently the fuel cell stack alone costs €80,000. (Forbes)

FCA (history)

  • Announced a series of launch partners for the information and payments functions of FCA’s Uconnect infotainment system. Only recently-built models will be capable of using it. (FCA)
  • Resurrected the Voyager minivan nameplate, but only to use it in place of Pacifica on the cheapest models. There won’t be any sheet metal changes. (Fox)

Ford (history)

  • Issued a press release mainly rehashing existing announcements into one place. Ford’s manual transmission joint venture (with Getrag, owned by Magna) will sell the Kechnec Transmission plant in Slovakia to Magna — adding about 1,000 people to the list of those “impacted” by Ford’s prior announcements, for about 12,000 in total. (Ford)
  • Plans to offer an electrification option (it isn’t clear if this means PHEV or just 48V) on all European products and will manufacture a range of all-electric vehicles in Europe too. Ford considers itself on track to meet the 2020 and 2021 EU CO2 targets without facing fines. (Ford)
  • Unveiled the Puma, a small crossover to be produced at the Craiova, Romania plant. Although the new entry will overlap with Ecosport in Ford’s line-up, the company believes that the differences in package and styling are big enough to merit a separate product. (Ford)
  • Ford’s marketing team believes that driverless cars are “a little bit in the distance”. (Arabian Business Times)

General Motors (history)

  • Released its latest sustainability report. (GM)
  • Rumoured to have stopped work on a next generation Camaro. (Muscle Cars & Trucks)

Honda (history)

  • Released its most recent sustainability report. (Honda)
  • Issued what Honda says will be the last Takata-related airbag recall in the US — for 1.6 million vehicles. (Fox)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • Teaming up with oil giant Saudi Aramco to explore hydrogen production and distribution. (Hyundai)
  • Not going ahead with a £20 million mega vanity dealership on the outskirts of London, UK. Hyundai pointed to the existing dealer network and online sales as areas where the money would be better spent. (Motor Trader)

Mazda

  • Wants to do away with touchscreens because Mazda reckons they are too distracting for drivers, preferring a combination of head up display and menu controllers (the latter is distracting in its own right). (Mazda)
  • Took a 2% stake in the MONET self-driving technology program led by Toyota. (Honda)

Nissan (includes Mitsubishi) (history)

  • Nissan’s CEO said he was postponing talks on further integration between alliance partners, preferring to focus on his firm’s financial recovery, warning the alliance could break apart “quickly” if Nissan wasn’t happy. (Reuters)
  • The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance VC unit invested in The Mobility House, a company that uses batteries from electric cars to provide storage for power grids. (Renault)
  • Mitsubishi is moving US headquarters from California to Tennessee. (Mitsubishi)

PSA (includes Opel/Vauxhall) (history)

  • Announced (as rumoured) that the next generation Astra will be produced at the Rüsselsheim, Germany factory. PSA said it will make the car at two locations — the other will be Ellesmere Port, UK, if there isn’t a no deal Brexit. (PSA)
  • German unions worry that — even with the new Astra alongside Insignia production — Rüsselsheim will not be safe until there is enough volume to justify three shift production. (FAZ)
  • Opel has written to around 500 German engineers telling them to transfer to Segula’s newly-formed engineering operations or risk dismissal. Employees appear concerned that Segula’s like-for-like job guarantees may not be all they seem, citing a works council made up of workers without an Opel legacy and implied wriggle room for Segula if the new business has fewer employees than expected. (Handelsblatt)
  • New vehicles from the DS brand will have a powertrain option that offers 300 hp or more. (Autocar)

Renault (history)

  • French president Macron said that nothing would justify changing Renault’s ownership stake in Nissan, or the French government’s shareholding in Renault and told managers to get on with running the alliance instead of trying to change it. (Bloomberg)
  • Nissan’s CEO said he was postponing talks on further integration between alliance partners, preferring to focus on his firm’s financial recovery, warning the alliance could break apart “quickly” if Nissan wasn’t happy. (Reuters)
  • The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance VC unit invested in The Mobility House, a company that uses batteries from electric cars to provide storage for power grids. (Renault)

Suzuki

  • Took a 2% stake in the MONET self-driving technology program led by Toyota. (Honda)

Tata (includes JLR) (history)

  • Reportedly planning to confirm production of an all-electric XJ replacement in Castle Bromwich, UK. (Telegraph)
  • Unsure whether there will be any potential to price for Bharat Stage VI emissions standards in India (due to be implemented from April 2020 onwards) to recover technology costs. (Autocar)
  • JLR wants UK dealers to have an average of around 900 sales per site (including fleet) annually once it has completed a program to reduce dealer numbers to about 125. (Automotive Manager)

Tesla (history)

  • News media picked up on a Tesla team dedicated to advanced battery research and questioned Tesla’s commitment to its long-term relationship with Panasonic. It wasn’t clear whether the work in question was any different to the normal type of advanced R&D that most OEMs do, which often overlaps with products that are externally supplied once mass production begins (or indeed, if it relates to cars at all). (CNBC)
  • Tesla’s head of production left (to work down the road for Lucid). (Electrek)

Toyota (history)

  • Plans to spend $2 billion on developing and building electric cars in Indonesia. (Reuters)
  • Let some other automakers buy into the MONET self-driving partnership, including Toyota’s own subsidiary Daihatsu, leaving Toyota with a ~37% stake. (Honda)
  • On a year-to-date basis, 57.5% of Toyotas sold in the UK are hybrids. (Toyota)

VW Group (history)

  • Reportedly will present plans to expand the strategic alliance with Ford at the July board meeting. (Bloomberg)
  • Truck unit Traton had its IPO without much fanfare. (Reuters)
  • Workers at VW’s much-rumoured new plant in Turkey would likely be paid between €1.40 – €2.40 per hour, according to local unions. (FAZ)
  • Launched an all-electric car sharing service in Berlin, Germany, with plans to expand into other European cities during 2020. (VW)
    • Significance: With a 2,000-strong fleet planned for the German capital, plus other cities, the new scheme looks to be a method for creating a used supply of electric cars — especially once the ID3 enters production.

Other

  • Subaru and Isuzu joined the MONET self-driving partnership alongside Toyota, SoftBank, Honda, Suzuki, Mazda and Hino. (Honda)
  • Lightyear unveiled the One, a €149,000 all-electric car augmented with solar panels across much of the body that will help it achieve a claimed range of between 500km and 800km most of the time. (Lightyear)
  • Faraday Future has reportedly undergone another wave of staff cuts. The company now claims 350 US employees — down from around 1,000 — but some of them are on unpaid leave. (The Verge)

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • Provisional EU 2018 fleet CO2 data showed an increase in fleet average emissions for both cars and vans. (EEA) The trade body complained that tough rules risked putting carmakers at a major disadvantage, but it wasn’t entirely clear what this meant since the advantage would surely lie with… other carmakers. (ACEA)
  • The EU finalised a trade deal with the Mercosur block. (EU)
  • The European car maker’s body now expects a (1)% year-over-year fall in sales for 2019. The previous forecast was for 1% growth. (ACEA)
  • ACEA published an updated fact book covering the European automotive industry. (ACEA)
  • Sino-US trade talksare back on, according to Donald Trump, and new tariffs are suspended (for now). (Reuters)

Suppliers

  • Cummins is buying fuel cell company Hydrogenics in a $290 million deal. (Cummins)
  • Wabco shareholders approved ZF’s takeover offer. (ZF)

Dealers

  • UK used car site Motorway raised £11 million. (TechCrunch)
  • Remarketing firm KAR is relaunching its recently acquired European arm (formerly CarsOnTheWeb) as ADESA (KAR) and completed the separation of salvage division IAA. (KAR)
  • Chinese online used car site Renrenche is reportedly sacking 60% of staff. (Reuters)
  • Spanish firm Bipi raised €6.5 million to offer all-in monthly vehicle rentals. (Europa Press)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • Uber has been talking with regulators in Senegal and Ivory Coast about market entry. (Reuters)
  • Grab invested in UK multi-modal app SPLYT as part of an $8 million round. (Auto Rental News)
  • VW launched an all-electric car sharing service in Berlin, Germany, with plans to expand into other European cities during 2020. (VW)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Researchers showed that by hijacking the GPS signal sent to a car they could make it perform dangerous manoeuvres (e.g. by telling the car that it was a few metres to the left or right of the real position). The tests were performed using a Tesla but the company said any car using similar technology would be affected in the same way. The attack highlights the important of redundancy through multiple pieces of information, including ground truth (where the car works out its position from data such as the location of kerbs and roadsigns). (Computing)
  • Uber now has 1,300 employees working on advanced technologies (e.g. driverless cars and air taxis). (TechCrunch) This week the firm acquired AI training firm Mighty AI. (GeekWire)
  • Drive.ai collapsed, with Apple picking up the pieces by hiring some of the 90-strong team. (SF Chronicle)
  • Autonomous bus developer Navya raised $20 million in bonds from Korean supplier ESMO, who will gain exclusive distribution rights for selected Asian companies. (Navya)
  • Brightway Vision, developers of an image sensor with claimed benefits in poor weather and low light conditions, raised $25 million from investors including lighting company Koito. (Brightway)
  • Suzuki, Subaru, Isuzu and Mazda joined the MONET self-driving partnership alongside Toyota, SoftBank, Honda and Hino. Each of the new companies will take a 2% stake. (Honda)
  • Starsky Robotics started operating trucks without drivers inside in San Francisco. The vehicles still have people monitoring them to ensure safe driving, but they sit in drone-esque remote locations. (Business Insider)

Electrification (history)

  • Indian delivery firm Flipkart wants electric vehicles to make up 40% of its fleet by March 2020. (Reuters)
    • Significance: This merits attention for two reasons: Firstly, Flipkart is adopting a more ambitious target than most Western companies, despite affordability arguments for electrification surely mattering more in a poorer country (although many of the vehicles in question will not be two wheelers and quadricycles); secondly, Flipkart is owned by Walmart — who might take a close interest in the outcome.
  • Electric car firms in China might need to revisit their cashflow assumptions. Kandi (part owned by Geely) has only just received government subsidies relating to vehicle sales between 2015 and 2017 — a not insignificant figure of almost $130 million. (Kandi)
  • South Korean battery firms welcomed moves by the Chinese government to stop “recommending” native battery suppliers for electric vehicles over foreign rivals. (ET News)
  • Charger supplier Wallbox raised €15 million in a round led by Spanish power firm Iberdrola. (Iberdrola)
  • The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance VC unit invested in The Mobility House, a company that uses batteries from electric cars to provide storage for power grids. (Renault)
  • BMW believes that solid state batteries will not reach maturity until the 2030s. (Autocar)

Connectivity

  • Hyundai Autron and Wind River are jointly developing a connected vehicle software suite. (Wind River)

Other

  • Google’s Sidewalk Labs released a master plan for a section of Toronto, Canada, giving an indication of the way the company believes technology could affect city planning and transport. (Sidewalk Labs)
  • Mobile refuelling service Booster raised $56 million with investments from Total and Enterprise. (Auto Rental)

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Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 23rd June 2019

New cars for old people; self-driving brains that use modular decision making; and VW’s blockbuster plant closure plan. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 17th June to 23rd June 2019. A PDF version can be found here.

Before you read the detail, what were my favourite stories of the past week…?

News is arranged by company and topic. Stories that apply to more than one company or topic are duplicated.

Find our archive here.

SIGN UP TO GET THE WEEKLY BRIEFING EMAILED TO YOU

News about the major automakers

BMW (history)

  • Rumoured to be planning a more aggressive electric vehicle strategy that would see 25 models on sale by 2023 (the current target is 25 by 2025) and an annual growth target of 30%. (FAZ)
  • Recalling about 560,000 5 and 6 series models to fix corrosion problems. (Der Spiegel)
  • The Quandt family representatives on BMW’s board gave an interview where they explained the great burden of their family wealth. (Manager Magazin)
  • Doesn’t plan to replace the 2 Series and is developing a plan to get customers to choose SUVs in future. (Autocar)
  • Enlisted the help of synthesiser guru Hans Zimmer (Beverley Hills Cop / Miami Vice theme tunes) to help develop sounds for BMW’s all-electric vehicles. (BMW)
    • Significance: Competitors need to get on the phone to Ramin Djawadi’s (Iron Man / Pacific Rim / Game of Thrones) agent if they want to have any hope of besting the aural sensation Zimmer must have lined up for us.

Daimler (history)

  • Issued a profit warning saying that Group EBIT in 2019 would not be higher than the previous year, blaming a “high three digit million” euro cost for actions related to diesel vehicles. (Daimler)
  • Ordered to recall 60,000 diesel powered vehicles by German regulators because of claimed defeat devices. Daimler maintains that it hasn’t done anything wrong. (Reuters)
  • Signed an MoU for an Egyptian assembly plant with the national government. There will also be an, as yet unnamed, local partner involved. (Daimler)

FCA (history)

  • A close confidante of FCA’s Chairman has reportedly been spotted in Tokyo making overtures to Nissan about a potential merger with Renault. (Les Echos)

Ford (history)

  • A long puff piece suggested Jim Farley is still very much in contention for the CEO position when Jim Hackett leaves and sought to make a virtue of his outsider’s perspective. Seasoned Farley-watchers will be interested to discover that he has switched from suede loafers to brogues (for reasons that the article did not explore). (Detroit Free Press)

General Motors (history)

  • Comments by GM’s president sparked rumours of an electric Hummer. (Fox News)
  • GM’s electric bikes have gone on sale. (Cycling Weekly)
  • Reportedly wants the UAW to agree to a greater amount of temporary workers in order to control costs and preserve benefits for the permanent staff members. Experts believe that the unions may be reluctant to cede to GM’s demands in the light of the plant closures / unallocation. (Bloomberg)

Honda (history)

  • Wants to cut about 35% of the UK dealer network over the next two years, seeking a minimum of 200 retail sales annually per site. The company is also changing how sales targets and bonuses are set, relying more on historical data and the dealer’s view than Honda’s sales team. (Automotive Manager)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • Unveiled the new Kia Seltos compact SUV. (Kia)

Nissan (includes Mitsubishi) (history)

  • Announced plans to add Renault’s chairman and CEO to two of the new oversight committees. (Nissan)
  • Renault and Nissan signed an “exclusive” deal with Waymo for mobility services in France and Japan. (Renault)
  • Nissan is being sued by its partner in a Middle East distribution joint venture, who claims that Nissan didn’t maintain the level of exclusivity it had initially promised. (WSJ)

PSA (includes Opel/Vauxhall) (history)

  • Started production at the new factory in Kenitra, Morocco. (PSA)
  • Opel expressed satisfaction with new order levels for the forthcoming electric Corsa but said that exact figures wouldn’t be released until a later date. (FAZ)
  • Workers at the Kaiserslautern, Germany, plant agreed a series of efficiency actions that will see more early retirements and some new press shop facilities. (PSA)
  • PSA’s Free2Move brand has started trials of a monthly rental service. Customers can switch cars each month and all running costs are included. Prices seem more reasonable than schemes run by premium brands — around €300 per month for a B segment car. (PSA)
  • Iran Khodro believes it has the right to use Peugeot logos on locally produced cars because the French manufacturer abruptly pulled out of the country, even though PSA disagrees. (IFP)

Renault (history)

  • Renault and Nissan signed an “exclusive” deal with Waymo for mobility services in France and Japan. (Renault)
  • CEO Bollore dismissed recent rumours that Renault could reduce its stake in Nissan. (Reuters)
  • Nissan plans to add Renault’s chairman and CEO to two of the new oversight committees. (Nissan)

Tata (includes JLR) (history)

  • Moody’s downgraded Tata Motor’s debt rating, with a negative outlook. (Economic Times of India)
  • JLR’s CEO said the brands are not for sale, scotching recent rumours of interest from PSA. (Auto Express)

Tesla (history)

  • Leaked documents apparently show that Tesla won’t meet the quarterly production targets CEO Musk set for employees in May, Musk’s recent comments imply he still has faith. (Business Insider)
  • Reportedly restructuring its Asia Pacific sales operations so that China, Hong Kong and Taiwan will be a distinct division and the other markets will report into head office. (Bloomberg)
  • Tesla’s Grohmann (manufacturing engineering) division is developing a “giant, giant, giant” machine that will revolutionise manufacturing as we know it, according to the head of automotive. (Clean Technica)

Toyota (history)

  • Reportedly concluded that a factory in Saudi Arabia would need a government subsidy covering half the manufacturing costs to be viable. (Reuters)
  • Brought forward the date that the Japanese dealer network will be integrated to May 2020. (Toyota)

VW Group (history)

  • Plans to write 60% of the software in the car, up from 10% today by forming a team of 5,000 software engineers who will write a “vw.os” that all VW Group cars will use. (VW)
  • CEO Herbert Diess says that about half of VW’s engine and gearbox plants will need to close in the next 10 years, but expects battery production to compensate. (Autocar)
    • Significance: It is a startling admission by VW, one very much in line with the findings of the E-FIRST report co-authored with Evercore ISI in late 2018. Diess’s expectation that redundancies will be offset by increases in electric powertrain production seems to be based on Tesla and Panasonic’s labour usage at the Gigafactory, but for this to soak up VW’s surplus labour, the company would need to build a far greater proportion of battery cells in-house than it is currently planning.
  • VW’s German car sharing brand WeShare will charge its electric vehicles through exclusive overnight use of the facilities in supermarket car parks. (VW)
  • VW’s newest car factory will reportedly be in Turkey, beating rival bids from Romania, Serbia and Bulgaria. The Turkish government has apparently agreed a three digit million euro support package. A firm decision is expected soon, with Bulgarian officials on standby to scupper the deal if they get a chance. VW’s underperformance in the local market seems a partial justification for the move. (Handelsblatt)
  • CEO Diess has reportedly told the team delivering the new Golf that he will be very unhappy with them if they don’t start delivering vehicles before the end of 2019. (Automotive News)
  • Porsche will offer a three-pronged portfolio of all-electric, hybrid and combustion engine only powertrains for at least the next 10 years. (USA Today)
  • Opened a new data centre in Norway that uses hydropower, letting VW claim it is carbon neutral. (VW)

Other

  • SAIC intends to start manufacturing cars in Egypt through a joint venture. (China Daily)
  • Thai firm Energy Absolute says there have already been 4,500 orders for the Mine Mobility all-electric hatchback, 3,500 of them came from a group of taxi drivers in Bangkok. (Electric Drive)
  • Aston Martin’s forthcoming hypercar, thus far dubbed the 003, will be called the Valhalla. CEO Andy Palmer says his company is learning about mid-engined cars from a variety of methods, one of which is osmosis-by-lunchtime-conversation. (Auto Express)

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • European passenger car registrations in May of 1,443,708 units were up 0.04% on a year earlier. (ACEA)
  • The Spanish government intends to review a law passed by the Balearic Islands (a group of islands in the Mediterranean Sea) which bans diesel vehicles by 2025 and all internal combustion engines by 2035. Carmakers hope that the law is found unconstitutional. (ANFAC)
  • Japan intends to introduce measures that will reduce the number of accidents caused by older drivers after a series of high profile crashes, and might force them to only drive cars with emergency braking. (Economic Times of India)
    • Significance: Carmakers have always struggled to market cars to older owners because although the group have specific needs that feature-rich (higher revenue) cars could solve, they simply don’t like being reminded that they are old. Could government action make a virtue of expensive added equipment and boost margins, or will they encourage people to drive less (and buy fewer cars)?

Suppliers

  • Johnson Matthey’s boss says that diesel will be around for ages. (The Telegraph)
  • Zenuity will be the preferred supplier of autonomous driving technology to Geely — not a massive surprise since Zenuityis part owned by Volvo. (Zenuity)
  • Axalta announced a “strategic review” of its business. (Axalta)

Dealers

  • Wholesale auctioneer BCA is reportedly the target of a £1.9 billion takeover offer. (FT)
  • Used car website Droom raised $10 million. (Deal Street Asia)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • Via says it has much better utilisation rates than all other competitors in New York because the company’s cars have passengers in them 87% of the time, whilst the nearest rivals are 58% utilised. (Via)
  • Careem’s CFO suggested that even after the firm is acquired by Uber in early 2020, both brands might coexist because it is better for competition — although it isn’t clear what evidence the logic is based on. (Reuters)
  • Ride hailing start-up OnTime is launching in Southern China with backing from Tencent. (Tech In Asia)
  • Ride hailing network Micab has a new CEO. (Tech In Asia)
  • Didi Chuxing started offering rides by third party rivals within its app. (Tech In Asia)
  • VW’s German car sharing brand WeShare will charge its electric vehicles through exclusive overnight use of the facilities in supermarket car parks. (VW)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Lidar developer Velodyne has reportedly recruited investment bankers to prepare for an IPO, with a target valuation in excess of $1.8 billion. (Business Insider)
  • Insurance underwriters Lloyds of London expect driverless car technologies to change motor insurance within the next five years. (Bloomberg)
  • Innovusion’s new lidar unit has a claimed detection range of 200 metres and a $35,000 price tag. (Innovusion)
  • SafeAI came out of stealth mode, after raising $5 million, as a developer of self-driving software for off-highway vehicles. (TechCrunch)
  • ArgoAI is releasing a public dataset containing map data, object classification and movement patterns of various road users. Since the data covers only 1,000 hours of driving it is unlikely to have a great commercial value. (ArgoAI)
  • Humanising Autonomy raised $5 million to develop software that predicts the movements of pedestrians, with the results being fed into a self-driving vehicle’s decision making process. (TechCrunch)
    • Significance: Given the complexity of the task of developing self-driving vehicle brains, it seems possible that companies which become specialist in identifying particular elements of the driving environment could have a role, both because they can sell their technology to multiple platforms and also because, as companies start to think about redundancy, alternative ways of processing the data could be advantageous.
  • Renault and Nissan signed an “exclusive” deal with Waymo for mobility services in France and Japan. (Renault)

Electrification (history)

  • The German government plans to support three battery making alliance. (Reuters)
  • Charging operator ChargePoint has been acquired by Engie. (Fleet Europe)

Connectivity

  • Clavister and Tieto will collaborate to offer cyber security products for connected vehicles. (Telematics News)

Other

  • Scooter rental firm Vogo apparently wants to raise $50 million. (Live Mint)
  • Motorbike rental firm Bounce raised $72 million. (Deal Street Asia)
  • SoftBank’s CEO says most of the investors in the firm’s $100 billion Vision fund are ready for more and want to join the second mega fund. (Reuters)
  • Bicycle rental firm Yulu wants to raise about $20 million and Bajaj Auto might become an investor. (Times of India)
  • Bajaj Auto took a 27% stake in Maharashtra Scooters. (Autocar)

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Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 16th June 2019

Phantom “production-ready” self-driving cars; electric car start-ups struggling to raise money; and why have VW dropped Aurora? Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 10th June to 16th June 2019. A PDF version can be found here.

Before you read the detail, what were my favourite stories of the past week…?

News is arranged by company and topic. Stories that apply to more than one company or topic are duplicated.

Find our archive here.

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News about the major automakers

BMW (history)

  • Said that competition was a more powerful motivator than money in persuading drivers of plug in hybrid vehicles to use electric only mode in city centres. (Automotive News)
  • Ansys and BMW are developing software that will assess the capabilities of self-driving systems and allow various sensors to be compared against one another using example real world data collected by BMW. Ansys will then offer the system to third parties, where they have “exclusive rights” — presumably BMW will still bank some form of royalty fees. (Ansys)

FCA (history)

  • Signed a deal with charging networks Enel and Engie to provide coverage for FCA customers with electric vehicles in Europe. (FCA)

Ford (history)

  • Opening a new research centre in Tel Aviv, Israel, mainly to house existing subsidiary SAIPS. (Ford)
  • Lyft rebranded the Ford GoBike scheme in San Francisco as Bay Wheels. (Lyft)
  • Issued a series of recalls, including 1.2 million Explorer SUVs (and a smaller number of other vehicles) to correct suspension fatigue; plus 123,000 pick-up trucks to correct an earlier recall for powertrain calibration. (Ford)
  • VW’s CEO reportedly told managers an autonomous vehicle partnership with Ford was almost complete. (Reuters)
  • Workers at the Bridgend engine plant voted in favour of being prepared to strike but didn’t pull the trigger. (BBC)

Geely (includes Volvo) (history)

  • Geely and LG Chem created a joint venture to produce batteries for electric vehicles. The initial investment is $188 million, implying that either operations will start out small or more money will quickly be needed. (Geely)
  • Volvo said it had developed a production vehicle “ready” for self-driving in collaboration with Uber. (Volvo)
  • LEVC revealed the long-awaited van based on the London Taxi. The firm claims best in class ownership costs, implying a price point substantially below that of the taxi, given the size of the load bay. (LEVC)

General Motors (history)

  • Investing $150 million at the Flint, USA, plant to increase annual capacity for heavy duty pick-up trucks by 40,000 units. (GM)
  • GM’s VC unit invested in Spring Labs, who are developing a blockchain-based method for sharing and tracking financial transactions. (Spring Labs)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • Deepened an existing partnership with Aurora to develop driverless cars by making an investment of an undisclosed amount (rumoured to be sub-$30 million) in the firm. (Kia)
  • As rumoured, Kia will stop producing cars at one of the three Chinese joint venture plants at the end of June, the factory will instead be used to make electric cars for a domestic brand (said to be Human Horizons). (Yonhap)
  • Hyundai’s chairman called on G20 energy ministers to support the creation of a hydrogen economy that could support zero emission vehicles. (Hyundai)
    • Significance: Japanese and Korean car makers seem particularly convinced of the potential for hydrogen powered vehicles but it seems as though they have not yet done enough to make others feel the same.

Nissan (includes Mitsubishi) (history)

  • Appeared to back down from an earlier stance that Renault executives shouldn’t be on the new oversight committees Nissan intends to establish. (Les Echos)
  • Off-the-record sources said new Renault chairman Senard has decided that the CEOs of both Renault and Nissan are “irritants” impeding good relationships between the alliance partners. (Reuters)

PSA (includes Opel/Vauxhall) (history)

  • Opel has supposedly been told by German regulators to recall Adam and Corsa models fitted with oxygen sensors that can give faulty readings under some conditions and lead to excessive emissions. (Bloomberg)
  • PSA say that electric motors require only about 30% to 40% of the workforce that a comparable small internal combustion engine needs. (Les Echos)

Renault (history)

  • Off-the-record sources said new Renault chairman Senard has decided that the CEOs of both Renault and Nissan are “irritants” impeding good relationships between the alliance partners. (Reuters)
  • Renault Chairman Senard told shareholders that he was confused about the French government’s attitude towards the proposed merger with FCA because it had been the finance minister’s idea in the first place. (WSJ)
  • Agreed terms of a wage deal with Renault-Samsung workers in South Korea. They will get a $10,000 bonus but no pay rises. Union bosses wouldn’t agree to Renault’s request to stop striking until at least 2021. (Yonhap)

Tata (includes JLR) (history)

  • Recalling I-Pace electric vehicles to fix problems with the regenerative braking. (Inside EVs)

Tesla (history)

  • CEO Musk told shareholders that Tesla had a “decent short at a record quarter on every level” and stressed that there was absolutely no demand problem for the firm’s cars. None whatsoever. The steep drop in Model S and X volumes is not relevant. (CNBC)
  • In off the cuff remarks, CEO Musk suggested that at very high production levels it could make sense for Tesla to own mines and guarantee supplies of raw materials. (TechCrunch)
    • Significance: Whilst Musk’s comments should be taken with a pinch of salt, they imply that somehow the supply chain logic of every other part of the vehicle is wrong and vertical integration is best — why don’t car companies own iron mines and steel companies?
  • Will enter the insurance market soon, pending an unspecified acquisition that Tesla needs to make. (CNBC)

Toyota (history)

  • Announced a reorganisation, mainly affecting the engineering team structure. (Toyota)
  • Planning to announce more partners for the Monet self-driving vehicle venture this month (currently Toyota, SoftBank, Honda and Hino Motors have stakes). (Reuters)
  • Reportedly intends to reduce the bonuses of top managers by around 5% because of rising spending. (Japan Times)

VW Group (history)

  • Ended the self-driving vehicle development partnership with Aurora. (FT)
    • Significance: Since FCA’s deal with Aurora (alongside BMW and Waymo) implies non-exclusivity, it is odd to see VW abandon the relationship — even with Ford waiting in the wings — unless it believed that Aurora’s technology was greatly inferior.
  • CEO Diess reportedly told managers an autonomous vehicle partnership with Ford was almost complete. (Reuters) He also said that an alliance with Ford was a wise move because the company was becoming too China-oriented in its thinking and a US perspective was a useful counterbalance. (Manager Magazin)
  • Audi recalled about 540 e-tron all-electric SUVs in the USA saying it needed to repair seals that could allow water into the battery compartment. (Inside EVs)
  • VW’s partner in Algeria is reportedly under investigation for corruption. (Economic Times of India)
  • Hopes that an IPO of truck unit Traton will raise about €1.9 billion. (VW)
  • VW’s plant in Tennessee, USA, voted against unionisation, but given the closeness of the vote (712 to 626), it seemed likely that this won’t be the last try. (Reuters)
  • Invested €900 million in battery producer Northvolt for about 20% of the firm and confirmed plans to create a joint venture that will have a 16 GWh factory. (VW)

Other

  • Xpeng’s CEO said the poor share price performance of publicly traded electric car companies (i.e. Tesla and NIO) was making it more difficult for him to raise money, and even harder for anyone not planning to launch a product in the next few months. (CNBC)
  • Ultima says its new RS model can go faster than 250mph. If you want one, there is a two year waiting list, unless you are prepared to build it yourself in which case that can be cut to a mere six months. (Ultima)
  • Evergrande is reportedly finding it difficult to bring electric cars into production. (Caixin) but apparently intends to spend $23 billion building three factories that collectively can build vehicle components, 500 GWh of batteries and 1 million cars annually. (Global Times)
    • Significance: Unless I’ve got my maths wrong, the 500 GWh of battery capacity number either doesn’t make sense or implies that 80% – 90% of the capacity would be for third parties.
  • Electric vehicle start-up Aiways invested $253 million in a Changan subsidiary, reportedly in order to get production permits for its new range of cars. (China Daily)
  • Ares Design showed the production version of the Panther ProgettoUno with 650hp on tap and a €615,000 price tag. The car’s technical specifications are very similar to the Lamborghini Huracán. (Ares Design)
  • Workhorse raised $25 million, saying it has enough to bring the N-Gen truck to production. (Workhorse)

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • Outgoing UK prime minister Theresa May said the UK would commit to a plant that would see almost nil greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. (BBC)
  • French ministers said the government would go ahead with plans to end sales of (purely) gasoline and diesel powered vehicles by 2040 via a new mobility law. (Reuters)
  • The penny is starting to drop in Germany that more expensive emissions legislation and (non-mandatory) safety tests are forcing manufacturers out of smaller, cheaper, car segments. (FAZ)

Suppliers

  • The head of the Spanish dealer association says a drop in sales of 100,000 units annually equates to around 3,000 staff losing their jobs. (Coche Global)
  • Continental showed a prototype dashboard that uses clever displays to create a 3D image that doesn’t require special glasses. The new technology will be in production from 2022. (Autocar)
  • Toyoda Gosei invested $1 million in QBIT Robotics, gaining a 7.6% stake. (Toyoda Gosei)
  • Yanfeng might soon start making interiors that use materials produced as a by-product from paper making instead of oil-based plastics. (Yanfeng)
  • Veoneer will buy Nissin Kogyo out of their US joint venture and the two agreed a clearer formula for funding the remaining non-US plants. (Veoneer)
  • Denso and Honeywell agreed to collaborate on engines for electric air taxis. (Honeywell)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • Short term rental firms Zoomcar and Drivezy are said to be in merger talks. (Deal Street Asia)
  • The CEO of Bolt (formerly Taxify) said the ride hailing service had demonstrated “a few profitable quarters”, but didn’t explain how he was measuring it. (Business Insider)
  • Citymapper is shutting down its bus routes in London, blaming regulation and the poor economics of offering ridesharing with only a few vehicles. (Citymapper)
  • French firm Ucar is offering users cars for €105 per month if they agree to rent them out (with some leg work involved for the owner to ferry the car around) and says that if they maximise the service, the net monthly rental could fall to €49. (Ucar)
  • Go-Jek acquired recruitment start-up AirCTO to help it bring in new staff faster. (Deal Street Asia)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Uber says that self-driving cars will probably still have accidents but that they will never have another crash like the other than killed a pedestrian last year and let journalists tour its test site. (CBS)
  • Innoviz said it raised $170 million in its latest round ($132 of it was already announced). (Innoviz)
  • Other road users “bully” autonomous cars, according to Uber which has recorded numerous incidents of drivers cutting across and abusing right of way. Given that these are situations regular drivers are likely to frequently encounter, Uber didn’t offer any statistics about how much worse it is for a driverless vehicle. (V3)
  • Sense Photonics raised $26 million to develop lidar sensors. (Sense Photonics)
  • Uber (Volvo XC90) and Argo AI (Ford Fusion / Mondeo) unveiled updated versions of their self-driving cars, claiming to be one step closer to production. Uber drew attention to the integration of Volvo’s underlying safety features so that the car comes to a safe stop if the software (or human driver) disengages. (Uber) / (Argo AI)
    • Significance: This idea of a third generation car seems to have been popularised by GM’s Cruise division but notion of cleanly packaging all the sensors to make something look production ready seems slightly odd when set against the absence of a self-driving AI that works. Companies are in effect implying that they have perfected the sensor suite without knowing if it is actually true.
  • Yandex outlined the differences local weather and traffic signs made to training a self-driving car. (Yandex)
  • Luminar plans to sell a lidar sensor that enables driver assistance functions such as emergency braking and steering for $500, less clear is whether manufacturers will plump for it over camera based systems. (Reuters)
  • Ansys and BMW are developing software that will assess the capabilities of self-driving systems and allow various sensors to be compared against one another using example real world data collected by BMW. Ansys will then offer the system to third parties, where they have “exclusive rights” — presumably BMW will still bank some form of royalty fees. (Ansys)
  • Hyundai and Kia deepened an existing partnership with Aurora to develop driverless cars by making an investment of an undisclosed amount in the firm. Aurora said it raised $600 million in total Series B funding. (Aurora) and made no mention of losing VW as a partner. (FT)
    • Significance: Since it was earlier rumoured that Aurora had rebuffed VW’s offers of investment, this seems like a change in strategy.

Electrification (history)

  • Ford’s ex-CEO Mark Fields said electric vehicle demand would only grow slowly and lots of carmakers were going to look silly in the next 2 – 3 years for making investments in cars no one wants. (Automotive News)
  • Charging network Fastned filed for an IPO hoping to raise €27 million. (Fastned)
  • VW invested €900 million in battery producer Northvolt for about 20% of the firm and confirmed plans to create a joint venture that will have a 16 GWh factory. (VW)

Other

  • Air taxi start-up Lilium says a flight from Manhattan  to JFK airport (about 20 miles) will take six minutes and cost about $70. Commercial flights are slated for 2025. That works out at about 8 times faster than a taxi for around 1.5 times the price. (CNBC)
  • Scooter rental firm Bird confirmed that it acquired smaller rival Scoot. The Scoot brand will remain (presumably to prevent regulators re-appraising Scoot’s operating permits in San Francisco). (Bird)
  • Uber displayed a mock-up of the interior for its forthcoming air taxi. (Futurism) and says that although at launch per mile costs will be above $5 they will fall to around $2 in the “near term” and match car ownership (e.g. sub $1 per mile) in the “long term”. (TechCrunch)
  • Uber and AT&T are experimenting with the use of 5G networks for air taxis and drones — in particular they are studying at what altitude the signal becomes unreliable. (ZDNet)
  • CATL, Hellobike and Alibaba’s Ant Financial are creating a joint venture to build batteries for electric bikes and operate a network of battery swapping stations. (Reuters)
  • Boeing is buying aerospace interiors company EnCore. (Reuters)
    • Significance: The supply chain of aerospace, where companies buy an empty tube (save for some wiring) and use third parties to fit it out to fulfil brand-specific needs likely has some parallels for a world of ubiquitous on-demand transport. This move by Boeing to integrate aircraft supply and fitting could be a hedge against recession (fewer new planes, more refits) or be based on a belief that a firm with combined expertise can offer more; or both.

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Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 9th June 2019

Share the past as well as the future; FCA dancing with multiple self-driving suitors; and are Ford staff right to be unhappy? Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 3rd June to 9th June 2019. A PDF version can be found here.

Before you read the detail, what were my favourite stories of the past week…?

News is arranged by company and topic. Stories that apply to more than one company or topic are duplicated.

Find our archive here.

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Apology

Last week I made a stupid joke about Volvo’s efforts to improve safety. It was unfunny, unwarranted and not something I am proud of. This weekly review aims to keep you well informed, with enjoyable moments amongst the detail, and improve Ad Punctum’s reputation along the way. I didn’t do that last week, and I am sorry.  

News about the major automakers

BMW (history)

  • Announced a collaboration with JLR on next generation electric drives, based on the unit that will debut in the BMW iX3 SUV. Both companies will independently produce drives from common designs. (BMW)
  • Invested in data processing firm Yellowbrick Data. (FINSMES)
  • Opened a new plant for 3 Series in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. (BMW)
  • Will make “safety-relevant” European traffic data available without licence feeds from 1st July. (BMW)

Daimler (history)

  • Will start marketing the China-only Denza brand, created in collaboration with BYD, through Mercedes-Benz dealers in China in a bid to increase demand. (China Daily)
  • Adding a new city to its US subscription scheme pilot, and a new tier for AMG models. (TechCrunch)
  • The CEO of Torc Robotics — in which Daimler recently took a majority stake — believes autonomous trucks will develop more quickly than robotaxis over the next decade, with the first applications on daily long haul routes of 300 miles or so. (Trucking Info)

FCA (history)

  • Called off the merger proposal with Renault, saying the French government had been unreasonable. (FCA)
  • Being sued by the executive in charge of US sales, claiming he is victimised for cooperating with a regulatory probe into sales reporting. Although he oversaw the discredited reporting practices for many years, he says that they had been in place long before that. (Reuters)
  • Recalling almost 300,000 US pick-up trucks to fix problems with seat belts and air bags. (FCA)
  • Partnered with Aurora to develop self-driving technology. (Aurora)
    • Significance: FCA now has relationships with three different self-driving groups: BMW / Mobileye; Waymo and Aurora. Although the impact on variable costs and package of having a third party system remain unclear (because no one has a working system), FCA’s strategy shows that with sufficient volume, doors remain open to collaboration.

Ferrari

  • Formula 1 teams are reportedly set for a $175 million cost cap in 2021 — excluding engines, drivers and marketing costs. Although this would probably force the Ferrari team to reduce its footprint (and potentially cede some competitiveness), it could be positive for profits if prize and sponsorship income were unchanged. (Motorsport)

Ford (history)

  • Released its latest sustainability report. Revealingly, Ford’s employees appear less than impressed with the current state of the firm. In the 2016 report Ford’s internal surveys found 81% were satisfied with the company. That fell to 71% in 2017 and 60% last year. (Ford)
  • Will start production of battery packs at the Valencia, Spain, factory. Unions fretted that this was partial compensation in advance for as-yet unannounced workload reductions in other areas of the plant. (Europa Press)
  • Ford’s Chinese JV with Changan was fined $23.6 million because of the way it set resale guarantees. (Arab News)
  • Executives said that there had been interest from several companies in Ford’s shuttered Russian sites and the company was keen to sell them. (Economic Times of India)
  • Confirmed plans to close the Bridgend engine factory in late 2020 once deliveries of engines to Jaguar Land Rover cease. Production of Ford’s 1.5 litre engine will stop in early 2020. (Ford)
    • Significance: Ford blamed falling demand and under-utilisation but the decision taken several years ago to only install only a fraction of the plant’s then nearly 1 million units of annual capacity appears to have precipitated an inevitable decline. As with the closure of Honda’s Swindon plant, mainstream national politicians refused to get involved, presumably in case Ford decided to say it was because of Brexit (which it doesn’t appear to be).
  • The head of Ford’s automotive division believes that if fuel prices rise, US customers will switch to hybrid SUVs rather than passenger cars and so the company’s decision to exit car segments won’t be impacted by economic factors. He also denies that the firm is behind competitors in developing battery electric vehicles. (Ford)
  • Ford has three major suppliers for steel in North America and negotiates yearlong contracts, with renewals staggered so that they take place once per quarter (with one quarter off so the purchasing team can rest). (Ford)

General Motors (history)

  • Expanded the amount of US and Canadian highway mapped for the Super Cruise hands-off driving system from 130,000 to 200,000 miles, and added some ability to drive through intersections. (Detroit News)
  • GM’s president says forthcoming all-electric vehicles will be profitable despite intending to charge “very average” transaction prices and that cost parity between electric and conventionally powered cars will arrive “sooner than people think”. (Bloomberg)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • Kia’s new compact SUV will be called the Seltos. (Kia)
  • Will use sensors and algorithms developed by Israeli firm MDGo in a pilot project to assess occupant condition after an accident. (Hyundai)
  • Released the first images of the new XCeed Crossover model. (Kia)
  • Although Kia is exploring new business models relating to mobility and transportation and a service, the company is struggling to see a route to profitability and is especially troubled by how to cope with residual value risk when providing new cars in alternative schemes. (Forbes)

Mazda

  • Mazda executives admitted that the firm may have to pay some fines in 2020 for missing European fleet CO2 targets but says everything will be sorted out by 2021 when the company launches a new BEV. (Automotive News)
  • The new Mazda 3 sports an internal combustion engine augmented by a 24V electric motor — 48V is becoming de rigeur, 12V is old money. (Mazda)
    • Significance: Cheaper than 48V, Mazda appears to be taking a partial regulatory cost hit to electrically augment engines now, with the potential to go to a more capable 48V system should regulatory demands force the firm’s hand. The 24V also suffers from relatively poor NEDC to WLTP performance compared to many 48V systems.

Nissan (includes Mitsubishi) (history)

  • Renault complained that it was under-represented in Nissan’s new corporate governance plan, but didn’t object to the new framework, threatening to abstain from any shareholder vote (and effectively block the move). Nissan called the stance “regrettable”. (Nissan)
  • Nissan could refuse to support any revamped merger proposal between FCA and Renault unless the latter sells some of its Nissan stake. (Reuters)

PSA (includes Opel/Vauxhall) (history)

  • Launched Free2Move Rent, a service offering online booking for short term rental. PSA says that by the end of the year, 20,000 cars and commercial vehicles will be on offer. (PSA)
  • The all-electric Corsa clearly isn’t aiming to make too much of a sales impact. Opel has set the car’s price at almost €30,000. (Opel) The car Opel really hopes people will buy is the Grandland X plug-in hybrid. (Opel)
  • Peugeot’s UK boss said the brand had walked away from 5,000 fleet deals since 2017 to protect margins and that he wants to weed out loss-making dealers, threatening any site that makes a loss in 2019 with the cancellation of its franchise agreement. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, PSA intends to immediately pass through tariff costs via increased wholesale prices. (Automotive Manager)

Renault (history)

  • FCA called off the merger proposal with Renault, saying the French government had been unreasonable. After agreeing to job guarantees, improved financial terms and governance structures, it seems as though demands to get Nissan’s buy-in were the final straw. (FCA)
    • Significance: Given that FCA called off talks less then two weeks after going public, in the face of entirely predictable French government demands, the question seems to be, were they poorly advised or unrealistically optimistic? Renault’s management, FCA’s advisers and FCA’s own globetrotting executives should surely have expected some degree of government arm-twisting given the state’s large shareholding and similar manoeuvres in other industrial M&A.
  • Said an audit concluded that some of the expenses by Renault-Nissan’s jointly-owned Dutch subsidiary raised “concerns” and that it would work with Nissan to take action against Carlos Ghosn. (Renault)
  • Threw a spanner in the works of Nissan plans to change the corporate governance structure, complaining that Renault was under-represented in the new plan, but not objecting to the new framework. (Reuters)
  • As wage negotiations with Renault Samsung bosses faltered, many line workers appeared to break ranks with union calls for an all-out strike. Union leaders said it was gossip spread by malicious managers. (Korea Times)
  • The French government is prepared to reduce its stake in Renault if it helped to safeguard the future of the alliance with Nissan. (AFP)
  • Nissan could refuse to support any revamped merger proposal between FCA and Renault unless the latter sells some of its Nissan stake. (Reuters)

Tata (includes JLR) (history)

  • Announced a collaboration with BMW on next generation electric drives, based on the unit that will debut in the BMW iX3 SUV. Both companies will independently produce drives from common designs. (JLR)
  • JLR’s design chief is moving on professionally, but will remain as a consultant. (JLR)

Toyota (history)

  • Developing a dedicated electric vehicle platform for mid-sized and large passenger vehicles,. The first project will be a C-sized SUV that both companies will badge and market separately. (Subaru)
  • Said that electric vehicles were more popular than it had anticipated in 2017 and product plans had therefore been revisited. Amongst the vehicles now planned is a mini car with heavily restricted performance (e.g. maximum speed of 60 km/h) and various standing and sitting electric scooters. Toyota will have six global BEVs (including the Suzuki, Daihatsu and Subaru collaborations) and will expand the range of battery suppliers it works with. (Toyota)

VW Group (history)

  • Agreed with unions that 4,000 German jobs can be eliminated by 2023 in VW’s digitalisation initiative, but only in exchange for guarantees that there will be no involuntary redundancies until 2029. VW executives had previously talked about up to 7,000 posts going. (VW)
  • After months of rumours, the sale of transmissions maker Renk is reportedly imminent. (Reuters)

Other

  • NEVS acquired electric hub motor developer Protean. (Protean)
  • Gordon Murray plan to build 100 V12-powered T.50 supercars, with deliveries starting in 2022 and prices in excess of £2 million. (Gordon Murray)
  • Great Wall started production at a new factory in Russia. (Great Wall)
  • Chinese electric vehicle maker Bordrin Motor raised $361 million. (Deal Street Asia)

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • President Trump abruptly called off his threat to implement US tariffs on Mexican imports, citing improved anti-immigration practices. (Reuters)
  • US light vehicle industry SAAR in May reached 17.31 million units, up 3% on prior year. (Wards)
  • May passenger car registrations in the UK of 183,724 units fell (4.6)% compared to a year earlier. (SMMT)
  • German passenger car registrations in May of 332,962 vehicles rose 9.1% from a year earlier. (KBA)
  • In May, France had 193,948 passenger car registrations, an increase of 1.2% from prior year. (CCFA)
  • Spain saw 125,625 passenger cars registered during May, a drop of (7.3)% from prior year. (ANFAC)
  • Passenger car registrations in Italy during May totalled 197,307 units, a (1.1)% decrease versus prior year. (UNRAE)
  • China’s government will encourage new car sales in rural areas and has told cities to stop restricting the number of permits available to electrified vehicles. (Economic Times of India)

Suppliers

  • Bharat Forge increased its holding in electric motorcycle company Tork Motors to almost 49%. (Autocar)
  • Michelin enlisted GM to help testing airless tyres. The main claimed benefit is that tyres will not need to be replaced because of punctures or damage, and that fuel economy deterioration due to inconsistent tyre pressure will be a thing of the past. (Michelin)
  • Joyson simplified operations in India by combing two separate joint ventures. (Autocar)
  • ZF has developed an airbag that uses input from crash sensors to determine that a side impact is imminent and then opens on the outside of the vehicle to provide additional cushioning. ZF claims a 40% reduction in accident severity, although it isn’t clear how this is determined. (ZF)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • Hertz announced a “subscription” scheme that offers a wide range of vehicles, with up to two changes per month for $999, or a posher selection for $1,399. (Hertz)
  • Uber’s COO and marketing chiefs lost their jobs because the CEO wants greater day-to-day control. (ZDNet)
  • Uber said its accounts were under review by US tax authorities and a write down in unrecognised tax benefits of $141 million is expected. (Reuters)
  • India’s government will reportedly demand that ride hailing companies convert at least 40% of their fleets to electric vehicles by 2026. (Reuters)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Interest in autonomous technology by the United States Parcel Service (USPS) led industry observers to wonder whether the firm might specify some degree of future-proofing in a much anticipated order to replace its mainly 90’s era fleet of short distance delivery vans. (Trucks)
  • Quanergy said it would not accept the patent ruling in Velodyne’s favour, and that the Velodyne puck wouldn’t work if it were not for Quanergy’s intellectual property. (Quanergy)
  • Apple is reportedly in talks to buy self-driving start-up Drive.ai. (The Information)
  • Self-driving vehicle developer Gatik.ai emerged from stealth mode, saying Walmart are an early customer for a pilot program. (TechCrunch)
  • FCA partnered with Aurora to develop self-driving technology. (Aurora)

Electrification (history)

  • Industry insiders appear concerned at the lack of a transparent pricing mechanism for lithium, a key raw material in most electric vehicle battery designs. (Reuters)
  • NEVS acquired electric hub motor developer Protean. (Protean)
  • India’s government will reportedly demand that ride hailing companies convert at least 40% of their fleets to electric vehicles by 2026. (Reuters)

Connectivity

  • A group comprised of HERE, TomTom, Daimler, BMW, Ford and Volvo are undertaking a vehicle to everything (V2X) test program across Germany, Spain, Finland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden. (Daimler)
  • Cohda Wireless and Sasken technologies will jointly develop V2X hardware and software. (Telematics News)

Other

  • Bus maker TEMSA has a new owner. (TEMSA)
  • Flying car builder NFT showed off the Aska and claims people could subscribe to partial ownership for between $200 to $300 per month. (CNET)
  • Scooter rental firm Bird plans to launch electric mopeds, a higher speed offering with room for two. (The Verge) The company has reportedly agreed to acquire smaller rival Scoot. (TechCrunch)
  • 10,000 surplus bicycles, discarded by Ofo and oBike as they abandoned operations in Singapore have found a new lease of life as transport for students in Myanmar. (Tech In Asia)
  • Bicycle and scooter rental service Grow Mobility merged with payments start-up Flinto. (TechCrunch)
  • Amazon’s CEO believes that within ten years, robots will be able to reliably grip objects with a similar dexterity to a human hand. (Reuters)
    • Significance: Contrary to popular belief, the assembly stage of a car is still almost entirely manual, with little philosophical difference between a Rolls-Royce Phantom and a Ford Fiesta (from a manufacturing engineer’s viewpoint — conveyor method and production tempo notwithstanding). Robots that could grasp and assemble nuts, bolts and cables, would be a significant productivity step (and be bad news for low-skilled jobs).

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Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 2nd June 2019

Smaller pay packets for fat cats; saving money by thinking differently; and how loyal will young customers be? Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 27th May to 2nd June 2019. A PDF version can be found here.

Before you read the detail, what were my favourite stories of the past week…?

News is arranged by company and topic. Stories that apply to more than one company or topic are duplicated.

Find our archive here.

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News about the major automakers

BMW (history)

  • Unveiled the 3rd generation 1 Series, now front wheel drive. Sales will start in September. (BMW)
  • Released an updated X1 small SUV. (BMW)
  • The all-electric Mini derivative will start production in November 2019. (BMW)
  • Perhaps inspired by their former colleagues at Byton, BMW will put a massive screen in the iNEXT. (BMW)

Daimler (history)

  • Says that it will cost more than €500 million, and take up to ten years, to develop self-driving trucks that can operate within geo-fenced areas. Daimler sees the US as the most lucrative initial market. (Daimler)

FCA (history)

  • FCA’s code names when developing the merger offer for Renault were apparently: Fermi (FCA); Rutherford (Renault) and Newton (the combined entity / deal). (Detroit Free Press)
  • Reportedly may sweeten the merger deal in Renault’s favour by offering a special dividend and basing the new company’s headquarters in France. (Reuters)
  • France’s finance minister said the government would have several conditions, including job guarantees, to agree to a Renault-FCA merger, but was cautiously supportive. (Reuters)

Ferrari

  • Announced the SF90 Stradale, a forthcoming PHEV model that will boast a combined 1,000 hp output from a V8 engine and three electric motors. (Ferrari)
  • Ferrari F1 sponsor Philip Morris’s COO said that anyone who thinks the Mission Winnow branding on Ferrari’s cars reminds them of the Marlboro cigarettes logo should “see a doctor”. (Telegraph)

Ford (history)

  • Stopped selling the Edge in several European markets, including the UK. (Fleet News)

Geely (includes Volvo) (history)

  • Lotus will unveil the Type 130 all-electric hypercar on 16th July and says the model will be limited to 130 examples and built at the Hethel, UK, factory. (Lotus)
  • Volvo invested in virtual reality company Arjo. (Volvo)
  • Volvo developed a new way of simulating crashes between cyclists and cars, to reduce accident severity. (Volvo)

General Motors (history)

  • Increasing pick-up truck production at the Ford Wayne, USA plant. (GM)
  • Will produce Chevrolet Trailblazer SUVs in South Korea, and export them to the USA. (Yonhap)
  • US regulators said they were checking whether GM had properly implemented a 2014 seat belt recall. (Reuters)

Honda (history)

  • Honda’s research says that younger buyers in the USA prefer passenger cars over minivans, and the brand believes that staying in the segment whilst rivals leave will protect the future. (Forbes)
  • The Honda e electric city car will have camera wing mirrors as standard. (Honda)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • Hyundai and Kia are developing an electric commercial vehicle that weighs itself so that it can select the most efficient motor settings. Because the system uses accelerometers, it can avoid costly air suspension. (KIA)
  • Hyundai is opening a mobility research centre in Russia. (Hyundai)
  • Hyundai wants to sell hydrogen fuel cell systems to rivals, rather than have them develop their own. (FT)

Nissan (includes Mitsubishi) (history)

  • Nissan will dock the CEO’s pay by 50% because of his role in the Ghosn scandal. (Nissan)
  • Nissan’s CEO said the firm wasn’t opposed to FCA’s proposed merger with Renault. (Nissan)
  • The Infiniti brand’s will move from Hong Kong to Japan as part of cost-cutting measures. (Nissan)

PSA (includes Opel/Vauxhall) (history)

  • CEO Tavares reportedly told senior PSA executives that the FCA-Renault proposal would be a virtual takeover of the French manufacturer with the benefit mainly accruing to FCA. (Bloomberg)
  • Faurecia took a stake in cyber security firm GuardKnox. (Autocar)
  • Lucky Motors expects to finalise a deal to produce PSA vehicles in Pakistan from knock down kits within the next two months and says the project will cost $15 million. (Dawn)

Renault (history)

  • FCA may reportedly sweeten the merger deal in Renault’s favour by offering a special dividend and basing the new company’s headquarters in France. (Reuters)
  • France’s finance minister said the government would have several conditions, including job guarantees, to agree to a Renault-FCA merger, but was cautiously supportive. (Reuters)

Suzuki

  • Took away the chairman’s salary for a year and slashed the president’s as punishment for their failure to identify and rectify improper conduct in end of line inspections. (Japan Times)
  • Maruti Suzuki scheduled plant shutdowns to reduce inventory. (Bloomberg)

Tesla (history)

  • CEO Musk exhorted employees to catch up on vehicle deliveries and help Tesla to achieve a record quarter. (Reuters)
  • Rumoured to be combining Model S and X production onto a single line to make room for facilities to make the Model Y. A refreshed Model S is rumoured to be on the way for September. (CNBC)
  • Elon Musk implied that the forthcoming Tesla pick-up truck will have a retail price of under $50,000. (Inside EVs)
  • Started to take orders for Chinese-built Model 3 vehicles, which will be cheaper than the imported version. (Reuters)

Toyota (history)

  • Launching a new plant in Myanmar to build pick-up trucks. (Toyota)
  • Unveiled an updated Lexus RX SUV. (Lexus)

VW Group (history)

  • Rumoured to have concerns that a 20 GWh battery supply deal with Samsung will ultimately only deliver 5 GWh because of differences over production volumes and point in time demands. VW said that it still regarded Samsung as a major supplier. (Bloomberg)
  • Showed a concept interior with infotainment controlled via a holographic interface. (VW)
  • Audi advertising executives were presumably so exhausted by the process of securing the rights to Tomoyasu Hotei’s “Battle Without Honor or Humanity” that afterwards they paired it with an underwhelming e-tron advert. (YouTube)
  • Workers at the Chattanooga, USA, plant will vote on whether to unionise. (Reuters)
  • The Traton truck division will have a dual-listing on the Frankfurt and Nasdaq exchanges. (VW)
  • SEAT and JAC signed the detailed cooperation agreement that will see the two develop electric cars together and experiment with new mobility services in Hefei, China. (VW)
  • Porsche used 7,654 different suppliers in 2019. (VW)
  • Porsche believes that by the time the all-electric Macan becomes available, public perception will have moved enough that it can be a sales success. The US-market subscription program is apparently going so well that it will be expanded to more cities, and that the average customer age is lower than car buyers. (Automotive News)

Other

  • NIO announced Q1 2019 sales of 3,989 units and revenue of $228 million, with an operating loss of $(390) million, substantially worse than Q4 2018. NIO is in the final stages of agreeing detailed terms to receive 10 billion RMB (about $1.45 billion) from investment firm Beijing E-Town, hoping it will help find a factory. If the deal closes, NIO will have three different joint ventures. (NIO)
  • Isuzu and Cummins announced a collaboration to develop diesel engines. (Cummins)

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • UK car production in April fell (44.7)% versus a year earlier as plants took shut downs planned for the original Brexit timing cut production. (SMMT)
  • US president Trump announced a series of automatically escalating tariffs on Mexican imports, unless the country reduces the flow of migrants, to his satisfaction. (CNBC)
  • Carmakers complained that a regional court in Russia had been making corrupt decisions by awarding excessively high damages in consumer protection cases. (Moscow Times)
  • China may respond to US tariffs with restrictions on exports of rare earth metals, according to well-informed local newspapers. (Reuters)

Suppliers

  • Saint-Gobain acquired acoustic and thermal insulation supplier Pritex. (Autocar)
  • Chipmaker NXP will buy Marvell’s wireless connectivity business. (Reuters)
  • Consultancy Ricardo says that using fewer, more powerful, electronics controllers in cars, rather than the multiple units in today’s models, will save $500 per unit. (Autocar)
  • Infineon agreed terms to acquire Cypress Semiconductors in a $10 billion deal. (Reuters)

Dealers

  • Chinese used car dealer Uxin is raising $230 million in debt. (TechCrunch)
  • Scout24 is interested in buying EBay’s car listings business. (Reuters)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • Uber announced financial results for Q1 2019. Net revenue of $3.1 billion rose 20% on a year-over-year basis whilst the operational loss of $(1.03) billion was more than double the loss in the same period a year earlier. Uber says it now has 93 million monthly users and that one day it will make money. (Uber)
  • Ideanomics and iUnicorn (Shenma Zhuanche) formed a joint venture to provide financing to ride hailing drivers, underpinned by almost 110,000 of existing iUnicorn orders. (Ideanomics)
  • Bus operator FirstGroup said it will sell the Greyhound coach service, citing “limited synergies” with the rest of the business. (Reuters)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Waymo will start testing self-driving trucks alongside the existing minivan fleet in Phoenix, USA. (Detroit News)
  • Lyft and Aptiv’s pilot robotaxi program in Las Vegas has passed 50,000 journeys. (Lyft)
  • An MIT study concluded that robotaxis would have higher per mile costs than Uber today. (Business Insider)
  • Chinese firm Neolix says it is ready to start mass production of small driverless delivery vans and aims to produce 1,000 vehicles in the first year, quickly rising to 30,000, selling for around $30,000 each. (SCMP)
  • Velodyne trumpeted winning a patent case against Quanergy. (Velodyne)
  • Sensor company TriEye raised $17 million. (Reuters)
  • Daimler says that it will cost more than €500 million, and take up to ten years, to develop self-driving trucks that can operate within geo-fenced areas. Daimler sees the US as the most lucrative initial market. (Daimler)

Electrification (history)

  • Three Indian state-owned companies created a joint venture to secure raw materials for electric vehicle batteries through buying mines that can supply lithium and cobalt. (Economic Times of India)
  • Chakratec launched a high-power charger which uses kinetic recovery (rather than a battery) to boost output from local grid levels. (Chakratec)
  • Tesla co-founder Martin Eberhard has established a new battery start-up called Tiveni. (Electrek)
  • Charging provider Ionity (a VW Group / Ford / BMW / Daimler JV) said it had contracts in place to build 95% of the intended 400-station network. (Porsche)
  • Market researchers in the US said that due a glut of new electric vehicles about to appear on sale, the average model can only expect to sell 11,900 units per year. (Reuters)
  • Germany’s government proposed a new raft of measures to improve CO2, including increased incentives for buying electric cars. The plan is to offer €4,000 on cars priced under €30,000 (e.g. the VW ID3), an existing €2,000 manufacturer contribution would presumably remain. (BMVI)
  • VW is rumoured to have concerns that a 20 GWh battery supply deal with Samsung will ultimately only deliver only 25% of the plan because of differences over production volumes and point in time demands. VW said that it still regarded Samsung as a major supplier. (Bloomberg)

Connectivity

  • Amazon is reportedly interested in buying US prepaid cellular carrier Boost Mobile. (Deal Street Asia)
  • Chipmaker NXP will buy Marvell’s wireless connectivity business. (Reuters)

Other

  • Flying car start-up Alaka’i said it was developing a fuel cell powered vehicle with a range of 400 miles. (Futurism)
  • Electric motorbike manufacturer Ather Energy raised $51 million. (Autocar)

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Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 26th May 2019

Stingy electric car charging stations; buy-what-you-see car showrooms; and can FCA and Renault do a deal without Nissan? Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 20th May to 26th May 2019. A PDF version can be found here.

Before you read the detail, what were my favourite stories of the past week…?

News is arranged by company and topic. Stories that apply to more than one company or topic are duplicated.

Find our archive here.

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News about the major automakers

BMW (history)

  • Says that it will only participate in motorsport which relates to core brand values such as electrification (Formula E) and handling (DTM touring cars). (BMW)
  • Launching an electric scooter with a 12km range that will retail for €800. (BMW)
  • Recalling a small number of i3 models for electronic components that could cause a shutdown. (Green Car Reports)
  • The BMW / Daimler mobility joint venture acquired Validated, a service for companies to subsidise travel costs for employees and customers. (Validated)
  • There was media speculation that CEO Harald Krüger might not have his contract renewed. (Business Times)

Daimler (history)

  • Opening a new factory making truck cabins in Russia. (Daimler)
  • The BMW / Daimler mobility joint venture acquired Validated, a service for companies to subsidise travel costs for employees and customers. (Validated)

FCA (history)

  • Made a public proposal (FCA stressed it was not an offer) for a 50:50 merger with Renault, following weeks of secret meetings between executives of the two firms. FCA estimates that a combined business could save €5 billion annually by 2025, mainly in the fields of purchasing, R&D efficiency and manufacturing economies of scale. The firm foresees €3 billion – €4 billion of implementation costs. FCA says that since it is worth more, its shareholders will have to be paid a €2.5 billion special dividend. (FCA)
    • Significance: Although many welcomed the move, FCA appear to have an optimistic view of their worth, especially given the tough European CO2 outlook which the company is poorly positioned to weather.
  • CEO Mike Manley told employees that even if a merger with Renault went ahead, it could take a year. (Reuters)

Ford (history)

  • US insurance data shows that, as promised, the aluminium-bodied F-150 pick-up is no more expensive to repair than steel-bodied rivals. In fact, repair costs are about 7% lower. (Automotive News)
  • Despite reducing the production footprint and portfolio in Russia, Ford’s joint venture hopes that 99% of dealers will continue with the brand. (World News Monitor)
  • Ford wants to use fold-up robots to deliver packages. They will sit in the boot/trunk when not in use. (Ford)

Geely (includes Volvo) (history)

  • Everything in Lynk&Co showrooms will be for sale, including sofas and coffee cups. (Automotive News)
  • Volvo wants to sell 10,000 cars in South Korea this year. (Korea Times)
  • Will use voice recognition from Nuance for in-car assistants. (Nuance)

General Motors (history)

  • Will reduce the number of cities in which the Maven car sharing scheme operates from 17 to nine, saying that it wants to focus on demand and growth. (Wall Street Journal)

Honda (history)

  • Recalling 137,000 SUVs to fix problems (unrelated to Takata) with the airbags. (Reuters)
  • Claims 25,000 expressions of interest for the Honda e electric city car. (Express)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • Received over 17,000 pre-orders from Indian customers for the Venue SUV. (Autocar)
  • Hyundai’s executive vice chairman says the company needs to focus on customers more and look at what competitors are doing less, citing a need to boost R&D efficiency as the greatest challenge. (Hyundai)
  • Kia showed some sketches of what the interior of the next generation small SUV will look like. The designers should probably expect a call from BMW. (Kia)

Nissan (includes Mitsubishi) (history)

  • FCA says that if the proposed merger with Renault went ahead, Nissan and Mitsubishi would save €1 billion per year on top of current alliance plans. (FCA)
  • Mitsubishi will reportedly change the sizes of SUVs in the next generation to create a gap of around 200mm between the overall lengths of different models. (Autocar)

PSA (includes Opel/Vauxhall) (history)

  • Released pictures of the next generation Corsa. (Opel)
  • 1,340 German engineering staff have apparently agreed to take voluntary redundancy from Opel. (Handelsblatt)

Renault (history)

  • FCA Made a public proposal (FCA stressed it was not an offer) for a 50:50 merger with Renault, following weeks of secret meetings between executives of the two firms. FCA estimates that a combined business could save €5 billion annually by 2025, mainly in the fields of purchasing, R&D efficiency and manufacturing economies of scale. The firm foresees €3 billion – €4 billion of implementation costs. FCA says that since it is worth more, its shareholders will have to be paid a €2.5 billion special dividend. (FCA)
  • Renault’s board said they will study the FCA proposal with interest. (Renault)
  • France’s finance minister said the status quo of the Renault-Nissan alliance was harming Renault. (Reuters)

Tata (includes JLR) (history)

  • Reported full year financial results for the year ending March 2019. Revenue of 301 KCr (about $43 billion) rose 3.7% on a year-over-year basis, JLR’s revenue fell (6.1)% with Tata Motors up 20.3%. There was a full year loss of (1.720) KCr but JLR had some good news: 4th quarter free cash flow of £1.4 billion. (Tata)
  • JLR’s CFO is leaving, to be replaced by the chief transformation officer. (JLR)
  • Started talks with factory workers in Coventry about job losses when production of the XJ ends in the summer. JLR confirmed that the nameplate will continue. (Birmingham Mail)

Tesla (history)

  • CEO Elon Musk told employees that there had been more than 50,000 orders in the second quarter so far and that the current production rate of Model 3 was about 900 cars per day. (Business Insider)
  • An investment analyst says he has it on good authority that Apple wanted to buy Tesla for $240 a share in 2013, and that the interest may be re-ignited given recent falls in Tesla’s share price. (CNBC)
  • Will only let owners charge until their batteries are 80% full at some charging stations, to reduce queues. Tesla says that charging less, together with higher peak charging rates, will increase capacity by 34%. (Economic Times of India)

VW Group (history)

  • Scania will spend $344 million to upgrade a truck factory in Brazil. (Reuters)
  • Created a service called We Experience to sell physical services located nearby to drivers. (VW)
  • A VW board member said the company was in the process of detailed planning for a battery factory with Northvolt and might add further European locations. (Reuters)
  • Audi’s on-demand short term rental service will have about 10,000 cars in the fleet by late 2019. (VW)
  • Audi’s CEO says the brand will be the benchmark for electric cars in two to three years. (Manager Magazin)
  • Audi will spend €40 billion on R&D and manufacturing assets between now and 2023, with €14 billion of that going towards electric vehicles, autonomous driving and digitalisation. (Audi)

Other

  • Streetscooter will develop a hydrogen fuel cell delivery van alongside electric offerings. It will be based on the same Ford Transit chassis used for the Work XL. (DHL)

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • In elections for the European parliament, about 35% of UK voters supported no deal Brexit parties in what was seen by many as a proxy referendum. Politicians were left to ponder the significance. (BBC)

Suppliers

  • Veoneer said it would raise $600 million – $700 million through a mix of new shares and debt. (Veoneer)
  • First Sensor says it has been approached with a takeover offer by TE Connectivity. (Reuters)
  • Denso expects $10 billion in annual revenue by 2025 from autonomous and mobility service offerings. (Denso)
  • German regulators have given Bosch a €90 million fine for the firm’s role in the diesel scandal. (Manager Magazin)
  • British Steel entered insolvency. (BBC)
  • Denso invested in Quadric.io, a company developing a chip to control autonomous robots. (TechCrunch)
  • Schaeffler’s CEO told staff that times are tough and will probably get even harder. (Handelsblatt)
  • Continental opened a new centre dedicated to 3D printing in Germany (3rd parties can use it too). (Continental)

Dealers

  • Indian online used car marketplace Spinny raised $13.2 million. (Deal Street Asia)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • Nigerian ride hailing firm Gokada raised $5.3 million. (TechCrunch)
  • Consumer Reports found that one in six Uber and Lyft vehicles have outstanding safety recalls against them. It wasn’t clear what the rate is for the average private vehicle. (Auto Rental News)
  • GM will reduce the number of cities in which the Maven car sharing scheme operates from 17 to nine, saying that it wants to focus on demand and growth. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The BMW / Daimler mobility joint venture acquired Validated, a service for companies to subsidise travel costs for employees and customers. (Validated)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Researchers say that autonomous cars operating as a swarm can reduce traffic by 35% compared to the same volume of manually-piloted vehicles. (BBC)
  • TuSimple is undergoing trials with self-driving trucks for long distance routes in partnership with the US Postal Service, saying that it is targeting jobs that require multiple drivers. (Reuters)
  • Aurora is buying lidar developer Blackmore. (Aurora)
  • Immense Simulations, a maker of digital replicas of cities, raised $4.6 million. (Reuters)

Electrification (history)

  • A study of UK consumers said only one in four would consider buying an all-electric car at present. Customers still seem to be conscious of range, and even if a reliable 300 mile range was on offer 10% of drivers said that they still wouldn’t be interested. (BBC)
  • A VW board member said the company was in the process of detailed planning for a battery factory with Northvolt and might add further European locations. (Reuters)

Other

  • Ravin.ai, a firm developing automated vehicle inspections (e.g. post rental) raised $4 million. (Auto Rental News)
  • Bosch believes that air taxis will probably cost about $550,000, once mass production begins. (IEEE Spectrum)
  • US bus company Gillig launched an all-electric bus with a 444 kWh pack. (Gillig)
  • Bicycle rental firm Lime replaced its CEO. (TechCrunch)

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Automotive trends, Auto industry trends, Automotive market research, Automotive market analysis, auto industry news

Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 19th May 2019

Life moving more slowly; hands-off highway driving by Nissan; and is Ford managing its restructuring the right way? Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 13th May to 19th May 2019. A PDF version can be found here.

Before you read the detail, what were my favourite stories of the past week…?

News is arranged by company and topic. Stories that apply to more than one company or topic are duplicated.

Find our archive here.

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News about the major automakers

BMW (history)

  • Invested in on-demand manufacturing start-up Xometry. (FINSMES)
  • Has simulated 240 million km (150 million miles) of autonomous driving so far. (BMW)
  • Called off a plan to sponsor German football club Bayern Munich after Audi refused to end their deal early and then made an improved counteroffer. (Manager Magazin)
  • Rumoured to be planning a switch for the next generation i8 to an all-electric powertrain. (Autocar)
  • Confirmed that plans for a plant in Debreen, Hungary are unchanged. (Reuters)

Daimler (history)

  • Following rumours that he might be planning to reduce Daimler’s involvement with Renault and Nissan, incoming CEO Källenius said “the intensity of cooperations will increase” as the company battles against rising product costs associated with electric cars. (Economic Times of India)
  • Reorganised the financial services executive team to give more prominence to mobility. (Daimler)

FCA (history)

  • Received a credit rating upgrade from Moody’s. (FCA)
  • Maserati will be the first FCA brand to use self-driving technologies developed together with BMW. (Business Times)
  • Maserati will drop Ferrari engines by the end of 2022. (Motor Authority)
  • Recalling almost 210,000 vehicles to deal with wiring harness problems. (FCA) There is also a recall for about 485,000 pick-up trucks to fix tailgates that might open suddenly. (FCA)

Ford (history)

  • CEO Hackett sent an email to employees telling them that 7,000 staff would be made redundant by August 2019 (including some job losses already announced), with 20% of senior managers going as part of an effort to reduce the number of management layers from 14 to nine. Hackett’s email shed some light on the current inefficiency at Ford as only 35% of managers currently have at least six people reporting directly to them (excluding subordinates of the direct reports), a level Ford sees as “healthy”. Even after the reorganisation, that number will only be 80%. (CNBC)
    • Significance: Even though Ford regards nine management layers as an improvement, eight should be enough (assuming the CEO as the top tier) if all managers had 6 or more direct reports. Since many management consultants recommend a direct report ratio of 1:8, some people may question whether Ford has gone far enough. It isn’t clear how well Ford will manage the ageing of the remaining workforce.
  • Outgoing CFO Shanks said the company was not undergoing a normal restructuring and would very different (and be much stronger) when the task was completed. He believes that a 6% return over the cycle (not just peak year) is possible in Europe and says that since this includes a joint venture, return on invested capital would be great. (Ford)
  • Ford will meet the CO2 targets in Europe for 2020 and beyond with no fines or credit purchases, per outgoing CFO Bob Shanks. (Ford)
  • Ford plans to increase the amount of locally produced Lincoln models sold in China. (Reuters)
  • Ford-owned Autonomic will partner Fujitsu to develop cloud-based fleet management software and will then offer the service to other carmakers. (Telematics News)
  • Ford executives believe that rivals are underestimating the benefit of hybrid vehicles and have become too obsessed with all-electric vehicles. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Recalling about 275,000 vehicles in North America for two different gearbox problems. (Ford)
  • Unions at Ford’s Bridgend plant believe that compulsory job cuts are looming because there are 1,500 employees and (they say) future production plans that support only 550 people. (Wales Online)

Geely (includes Volvo) (history)

  • The CEO of Group Lotus says Porsche is the brand’s benchmark and target, but is wary of copying everything, for example committing to motorsport for the sake of it. (Autocar)
  • Volvo started with a shortlist of 10 battery suppliers before narrowing to two. (Automotive News)
  • By 2020, Volvo will have sufficient battery capacity secured for plug-in hybrids to make up 25% of overall production, should there be customer demand. (Bloomberg)
  • Geely opened a new development centre in Germany and hopes to employ 500 people there soon. (Geely)
  • Volvo and Polestar signed “multi-billion dollar” battery supply agreements with CATL and LG Chem. (Volvo)

General Motors (history)

  • The Chevrolet Bolt is apparently selling well in South Korea, despite only being offered in a limited number of dealers. (Inside EVs)
  • GM’s new electronic platform will be capable of collecting 4.5 TB of data per hour. (GM)

Honda (history)

  • Taking orders for the Honda e electric city car, with deliveries set to start in summer 2018. (Honda)
  • After earlier announcing a partnership, Honda has now led an £8.6 million investment round in Moixa. (Electrive)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • Hyundai and Kia will invest a collective €80 million in electric car developer Rimac and will work with the Croatian company on high performance electric and fuel cell vehicles. Porsche took a 10% stake in Rimac last year. (Kia)
  • Kia teased images of the new small SUV it plans to unveil in the summer. (Kia)

Nissan (includes Mitsubishi) (history)

  • Nissan reported earnings for the fiscal year ended March 2019. Revenue of 11.6 trillion JPY (about $105 billion) dropped (3.2)% on a year-over-year basis whilst operating profit of 318 billion JPY (about $2.9 billion) fell (44.6)% YoY. Nissan believes that in the next fiscal year sales will rise slightly but revenue and operating profit will both be worse. (Nissan)
  • Nissan reportedly wants to take a 25% stake in a Chinese electric car brand and has shortlisted WM Motor, Zhejiang Hozon and CHJ Automotive. (Deal Street Asia)
  • Said that lidar need further work to be worthwhile, given the relative costs and capabilities of radar and cameras. Unlike Tesla, Nissan appeared to leave the door open for application in future, and has made less extravagant promises about when the technology will be commercially available. (Reuters)
  • Announced a plan for Renault’s CEO to join the Nissan board, whilst current CEO Saikawa stays in charge of Nissan, despite indicating he might be ready to stand down. (Nissan)
  • Standard & Poor’s said Nissan had a negative credit rating outlook. (The Mainichi)
  • Mitsubishi’s current CEO Osamu Masuko will become chairman and Takao Kato will take over as CEO. (Mitsubishi)
  • Outgoing CEO Masuko says he will remain in charge of alliance discussions with Renault and Nissan. (Japan Times)
  • Will debut hands-off highway driving on the forthcoming Skyline. (Nissan)

PSA (includes Opel/Vauxhall) (history)

  • Reportedly gave 1,700 Opel engineers a blunt choice: join Segula or take redundancy. (Handelsblatt)
  • Creating a new brand for selling used cars called Spoticar. (PSA)
  • Said that, despite shared underpinnings with the next-generation Astra, Opel / Vauxhall plants in the UK and Germany would not produce the new Peugeot 308. (Automotive News)

Renault (history)

  • Says that Renault Samsung’s South Korean operations will remain an important part of the global research and development operations. (Korea Herald)
  • Engaged Publicis to create content that, Renault hopes, will make people want to sit in their cars for longer. (Renault)
  • Nissan announced a plan for Renault’s CEO to join the board, whilst current CEO Saikawa stays in charge, despite indicating he might be ready to stand down. (Nissan)

Tata (includes JLR) (history)

  • JLR’s CEO said he hadn’t been involved in any discussions with PSA about a sale but that he couldn’t speak for Tata because he is just “a normal employee in this empire”. (Bloomberg)
  • Although the economies of scale from sharing vehicle components are attractive JLR’s CEO says that, if they mean giving up control of key product or strategy elements, they may not be worthwhile. (Bloomberg)

Tesla (history)

  • CEO Musk told employees in a call-to-arms email that the company had only ten months of cash left, at the current burn rate, and announced restrictions on spending. (Electrek)
    • Significance: Whilst many observers agree that Tesla seems to run very lean on cash, what is more surprising is the CEO Musk has only just gone to the market and apparently is conscious of asking for too little. Why not raise more?
  • Slightly increased the price of the entry level Model 3 to $35,400 — still $35,000 if you round down. (CNN)
  • The US Safety regulator said it was investigating a fatal accident where a Model 3 had been in Autopilot mode leading up to the crash. (Reuters)
  • Completed the acquisition of Maxwell Technologies. (Tesla)
  • Moved production of superchargers to the under-utilised Gigafactory 2 plant. (Reuters)

Toyota (history)

  • Said that the US government’s stance again car imports made it feel unwelcome. (Toyota)

VW Group (history)

  • Announced a plan to invest almost €1 billion into building a factory for battery cells in Salzgitter, Germany. Unions welcomed the move. (VW)
  • Confirmed rumours that it is interested in selling Man Energy and Renk to raise cash. (VW)
  • Decided that the IPO for truck division Traton is back on, after deciding in March that market conditions wouldn’t deliver the hoped for returns. It should happen before the summer break. (VW)
  • The VW ID3 will have a top speed of 160 km/h (100 mph). (VW)
    • Significance: Cutting back on top speeds will significantly improve range and reduces the motor size required (saving weight and therefore adding to range, plus costing less).

Other

  • Aston Martin reported Q1 2019 revenue of £196 million on wholesales of 1,057 cars. An operating loss of £(2.2) million was considerably worse than prior year. Aston Martin said that planned fixed cost increases were responsible for the loss (with the positive news yet to come). (Aston Martin)
  • McLaren unveiled a new mid-engined GT car. (McLaren)
  • Ineos might make a fuel cell powered version of the Grenadier. (Autocar)
  • The CEO of WM Motor said that new brands aiming for the premium end of the market will struggle against established marques, and it is better to focus on mainstream customers. He concedes however that even though this is what WM is doing, it isn’t yet profitable. (Autocar)
  • Bolt Mobility unveiled its purpose-built two seater car sharing vehicle called the Nano. Prices start at $9,999. (Bolt)
  • Pïech is aiming to create a three car portfolio with a four seat GT and an SUV joining the sports car already unveiled as a concept. (Auto Express)
  • Ace EV wants to start building electric vehicles in Australia from next year onwards with a mini car, a four seat hatchback and small commercial vehicle on offer. (Which Car)
  • Pininfarina workers loaned out to support the Bolloré BlueCar program are getting nervous about job security after the French firm declined to confirm ongoing production plans. (Torino Oggi)

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • The US government said that car imports were a national security risk but that it would defer taking any specific actions for six months to allow time for negotiations with trading partners. (CNBC)
    • Significance: the linkage between automotive sales and the ability to invest in defence technologies was surely higher in the days of GM owning Hughes, but that’s none of our business…
  • European passenger car sales in April of 1,351,352 units fell (0.5)% year-over-year. (ACEA)

Suppliers

  • Denso and Aisin are in talks that could see Aisin take over parts of Denso’s powertrain components business, with Denso taking a larger stake in Aisin, possibly through buying shares from Toyota. (Denso)
  • Aisin invested in lidar developer AEye. (Aisin)
  • Toyoda Gosei invested in optics firm Imuzak, partly to help with developing vehicle materials that do not interfere with lidar signals. (Toyoda Gosei)
  • Grammer reported Q1 2091 revenue of €534 million and EBIT of €24 million. (Grammer)

Dealers

  • Indian used car website Cars24 is reportedly in line to receive $80 million from investors. (Economic Times of India)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • Ola’s international operations have been growing rapidly and are now apparently responsible for one third of company revenues. (Economic Times of India)
  • Non-emergency ambulance service Uzurv raised $5 million. (FINSMES)
  • Xpeng started a limited ride hailing pilot in Guangzhou, China. (TechCrunch)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • AEye said (sensibly enough) that although detection range was often cited as a lidar metric, a better measure would be the range at which objects were detected (i.e. the system understands that they are things rather than erroneous results). AEye said it can detect objects at up to 1 km. (AEye)
  • Nissan said that lidar need further work to be worthwhile, given the relative costs and capabilities of radar and cameras. Unlike Tesla, Nissan appeared to leave the door open for application in future, and has made less extravagant promises about when the technology will be commercially available. (Reuters)
  • BMW has simulated 240 million km (150 million miles) of autonomous driving so far. (BMW)
  • Nissan will debut hands-off highway driving on the forthcoming Skyline. (Nissan)

Electrification (history)

  • Samsung is reportedly offering a battery cell with an energy density of 500wh/L to top carmakers. (ET News)
  • CATL and LG Chem will supply batteries for all-electric vehicles to Volvo. (Volvo)
  • Incoming Daimler CEO Källenius sees a 8:1:1 ratio of nickel, manganese and cobalt becoming the standard in the next generation, with some suppliers moving to 9:0.5:0.5. (Economic Times of India)
  • China says it has found a way to dramatically reduce the cost of extracting lithium, a key raw material in electric vehicle batteries. (SCMP)
  • Northvolt has signed a battery supply deal with VW Group’s Scania. (Reuters)

Connectivity

  • Stratio hopes to launch AI-based condition monitoring that will improve vehicle availability. (Stratio)
  • HERE and Mitsubishi Electric will offer a real-time road hazard alert system to automakers that combines HERE’s maps and Mitsubishi’s precision position sensors. (HERE)
  • Michelin is acquiring telematics provider Masternaut. (Michelin)
  • A UK think tank has released a stages of connectivity matrix that the UK government hopes will in time become as widely referenced as the SAE model for autonomy. (Telematics News)
  • Ford-owned Autonomic will partner Fujitsu to develop cloud-based fleet management software and will then offer the service to other carmakers. (Telematics News)
  • GM’s new electronic platform will be capable of collecting 4.5 TB of data per hour. (GM)

Other

  • Air taxi developer Lilium has started test flights of its all-electric aircraft. (The Verge)
  • Electric scooter company VOI said customers have logged 2 million rides and the firm intends to expand into 150 European cities. (Reuters)

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