Automotive trends, Auto industry trends, Automotive market research, Automotive market analysis, auto industry news, automotive intelligence, automotive strategy, .automotive research consultants

Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 20th September 2020

Monthly charges for driver assistance; self-driving hyperbole; and start-up shenanigans. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 14th September to 20th September 2020. 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)

  • Will fit vehicles with road condition and grip availability monitoring software from 2021 onwards. (Tactile Mobility)

Daimler (history)

  • Daimler’s head of heavy trucks admitted that presently the brand’s only plan to accommodate spending on fuel cells, battery power and traditional diesel for the next generation of logistics vehicles was to triple the budget and that costs will only be contained through cooperation. (Handelsblatt)
  • Will release an all-electric heavy truck in 2021 with a plan for a long haul version and fuel cell powered model to come around 2025. (Daimler)
  • Confirmed a settlement with US authorities, and an accompanying lawsuit, over diesel emissions irregularities that will cost the company about $2.2 billion. Daimler sounded relieved that it has escaped a monitoring program of the type imposed on VW. (Daimler)

FCA (history)

  • FCA and PSA changed the terms of their merger deal to preserve cash. FCA shareholders will get a smaller special dividend before the companies are combined but the spin-off of Faurecia will be delayed so that FCA’s owners can share in the spoils. (FCA)
  • The European Investment Bank increased its loans to FCA to nearly €800 million. (EIB)

Geely (includes Volvo) (history)

  • Volvo’s head of online sales says that 10% of new car volume coming from short term leasing schemes such as Care by Volvo is a “realistic goal within a reasonable time frame”. He sees greater online sales as inevitable given the choices available to consumers in other industries and that unless OEMs take the lead, dealers will respond to the trend, but in a fragmented way. (Autocar)
  • Kandi established a subsidiary to hold its battery swapping technology, a move the company thinks will make it easier to attract investment. (Kandi)

General Motors (history)

  • Set the ongoing price for the Super Cruise automated highway driving function at $25 per month, once a three year trial period (starting when the vehicle is new) expires. There will be a lower fee — $15 per month — if the owner already subscribes to some of GM’s other connected services. Unlike Tesla’s Autopilot activation fees, GM owners have to pay upfront for the technology and are then subject to ongoing maintenance fees. (Business Insider)
  • Believes that flying cars will be a good application for batteries and electric motors. (Detroit Free Press)
  • GM expects each Cadillac dealer will need to invest $200,000 to be able to sell all-electric models. The money will go into workshop equipment, chargers and training rather than new showroom space. (Detroit News)
  • GM thinks that its electric motors will be a source of competitive advantage because the power electronics are integrated into the design, saving weight and space. The company has designed several modular front and rear axle set ups which can accommodate a range of motor sizes and outputs. (GM)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • As part of an existing commitment to have 11 battery electric vehicles by 2025, the Kia brand said that by 2027 it will release 7 new battery vehicles by 2027 (a slightly different timeframe). The first is set to be unveiled in 2021 – Kia says the project name is CV, likely the same as the Imagine concept from 2019. (Kia)
  • Released the next generation Hyundai Tucson mid-size SUV. (Hyundai)
  • Selling fuel cell units for use as stationary generators. (Hyundai)

Nissan and Mitsubishi (history)

  • Unveiled the Z Proto, a preview of the forthcoming 370Z sportscar replacement. (Nissan)
  • Says that 30% of customers for the Nissan Juke choose a two tone paint scheme. (Nissan)

PSA (history)

  • Opel disbanded yet another national sales company in favour of an importer model. This time, Hungary. (Opel)
  • FCA and PSA changed the terms of their merger deal to preserve cash. FCA shareholders will get a smaller special dividend before the companies are combined but the spin-off of Faurecia will be delayed so that FCA’s owners can share in the spoils. (FCA)

Suzuki

  • Unveiled the Swace, a car based on the Toyota Corolla. (Autocar)

Tata (includes JLR) (history)

  • Revealed a minor refresh for the Jaguar F-Pace. (JLR)

Tesla (history)

  • Reportedly interested in setting up a technical centre in Bengaluru, India according to local officials who promptly leaked details of their meeting with the firm. (Economic Times of India)

Toyota (history)

  • In-house marketing company Delphys is being restructured to better prepare it for the rise of digital media. (Toyota)
  • Toyota executives in India said the company would put market expansion plans on hold due to the high taxes imposed on vehicle sales. (Europa Press)

VW Group (history)

  • VW has met the conditions laid out by the independent monitor appointed in the wake of the diesel scandal and has now exited the special supervision process. (VW)
  • VW’s top legal executive says that whilst, due to its size, VW Group may have compliance breaches in future, a problem as large as the diesel scandal could no longer lie undetected. (FT)
  • Raised €2 billion through a green bond that VW will use to develop electric vehicles. (VW)
  • Rumoured to be selling the Bugatti brand to Rimac in return for a bigger share in the Croatian company. (Car)

Other

  • Atlis, developers of a battery electric full size pickup truck, are hoping to raise $25 million through an offering of shares to the public with the company remaining private (a funding option available in the USA so long as the amounts aren’t too high and certain disclosure protocols are met). (Atlis)
  • Evergrande announced a rights issue that will raise around $520 million. (SCMP)
  • Nikola’s founder stepped down as chairman, to be replaced by Steve Girsky, one of the brains behind GM’s bankruptcy, after the company failed to completely restore investor confidence following a research note published by a short seller which said some of the brand’s early prototypes had been less capable then they seemed (the company admitted to pushing one down a hill rather than doing the work to get it running properly). (Nikola)
  • HAAH, which plans to assemble vehicles in the USA using plans supplied by Chery under the Vantas brand announced that it will have a second brand, called T-GO. (HAAH)

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • A report saying that EU negotiators had rejected a UK proposal for post-Brexit trade that electric vehicles should be able to count Japanese components as local content because both the UK and EU would have separate trade deals with Japan — a mechanism known as “cumulation” — will frighten manufacturers. (FT)

Suppliers

  • It was a tough week for tyre factory workers in Europe. Bridgestone announced that it will close the Béthune, France, plant (Bridgestone) and Continental could shut the Aachen, Germany, site. (Industry Europe)
  • Following the announcement of another round of job cuts — around 7,000 globally — German unions complained that Mahle was not taking a 2016 labour contract, which guaranteed a future for all the firm’s German plants, seriously. (IG Metall)
  • TT Electronics is acquiring magnetic products specialist Torotel. (TT Electronics)
  • Garrett Motion put itself into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and agreed that investment firm KPS Capital should take over its assets in a $2.1 billion deal. (Garrett)
  • LG Chem plans to separate its battery business, although it says there are no firm plans to have an IPO for the new unit. (LG Chem)
  • Brembo wants to become a solutions provider and will invest in artificial intelligence for R&D activities, plus brand building so that its products become “cool”. (Brembo)

Dealers

  • Online used vehicle trader Spotawheel raised €10 million. (TechCrunch)
  • ASEAN online car marketplace iCar Asia (owner of several brands) is reportedly up for sale. (Deal Street Asia)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • Uber is reportedly interested in selling some of its stake in Didi Chuxing to raise cash. (Bloomberg) The company sold its European freight operations to sennder. (Reuters) It also refinanced $500 million in debt. (Uber)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Although Uber has escaped charges over the death of a pedestrian after they were run over by one of the company’s test vehicles, the safety driver has been charged with homicide. (BBC)
  • Human Horizons will offer automated parking on the HiPhi X. The brand calls the system “Level 4 autonomous driving”. (Human Horizons)
    • Significance: The term Level 4 for self-driving on a closed course stretches the SAE definitions to breaking point and suggests that before long they will either need to be revised or completely abandoned.

Electrification (history)

  • Electric vehicle conversion specialist XL Fleet merged with a special purpose vehicle in a deal that values the company at around $1 billion. (XL Fleet)
  • Infrastructure providers Aral, Vattenfall and BP will collaborate to offer fleets a comprehensive charging service on the go, and to install wallbox chargers at their home base. (Vattenfall)

Connectivity

  • INRIX and Here will offer a white label parking availability and booking service. (Here)

Other

  • Proterra launched the ZX5, a new battery electric bus. (Proterra)
  • Volocopter is accepting deposits for flights in the company’s air taxis. The only catches? The firm can’t say where the fight will be or when it will happen. At €300 per trip, the pricing suggests the democratisation of short term air transport is some way away. (Volocopter)

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Automotive trends, Auto industry trends, Automotive market research, Automotive market analysis, auto industry news, automotive intelligence, automotive strategy, .automotive research consultants

Auto Industry Briefing — Our Most Recent Edition

Monthly charges for driver assistance; self-driving hyperbole; and start-up shenanigans. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 14th September to 20th September 2020. 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)

  • Will fit vehicles with road condition and grip availability monitoring software from 2021 onwards. (Tactile Mobility)

Daimler (history)

  • Daimler’s head of heavy trucks admitted that presently the brand’s only plan to accommodate spending on fuel cells, battery power and traditional diesel for the next generation of logistics vehicles was to triple the budget and that costs will only be contained through cooperation. (Handelsblatt)
  • Will release an all-electric heavy truck in 2021 with a plan for a long haul version and fuel cell powered model to come around 2025. (Daimler)
  • Confirmed a settlement with US authorities, and an accompanying lawsuit, over diesel emissions irregularities that will cost the company about $2.2 billion. Daimler sounded relieved that it has escaped a monitoring program of the type imposed on VW. (Daimler)

FCA (history)

  • FCA and PSA changed the terms of their merger deal to preserve cash. FCA shareholders will get a smaller special dividend before the companies are combined but the spin-off of Faurecia will be delayed so that FCA’s owners can share in the spoils. (FCA)
  • The European Investment Bank increased its loans to FCA to nearly €800 million. (EIB)

Geely (includes Volvo) (history)

  • Volvo’s head of online sales says that 10% of new car volume coming from short term leasing schemes such as Care by Volvo is a “realistic goal within a reasonable time frame”. He sees greater online sales as inevitable given the choices available to consumers in other industries and that unless OEMs take the lead, dealers will respond to the trend, but in a fragmented way. (Autocar)
  • Kandi established a subsidiary to hold its battery swapping technology, a move the company thinks will make it easier to attract investment. (Kandi)

General Motors (history)

  • Set the ongoing price for the Super Cruise automated highway driving function at $25 per month, once a three year trial period (starting when the vehicle is new) expires. There will be a lower fee — $15 per month — if the owner already subscribes to some of GM’s other connected services. Unlike Tesla’s Autopilot activation fees, GM owners have to pay upfront for the technology and are then subject to ongoing maintenance fees. (Business Insider)
  • Believes that flying cars will be a good application for batteries and electric motors. (Detroit Free Press)
  • GM expects each Cadillac dealer will need to invest $200,000 to be able to sell all-electric models. The money will go into workshop equipment, chargers and training rather than new showroom space. (Detroit News)
  • GM thinks that its electric motors will be a source of competitive advantage because the power electronics are integrated into the design, saving weight and space. The company has designed several modular front and rear axle set ups which can accommodate a range of motor sizes and outputs. (GM)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • As part of an existing commitment to have 11 battery electric vehicles by 2025, the Kia brand said that by 2027 it will release 7 new battery vehicles by 2027 (a slightly different timeframe). The first is set to be unveiled in 2021 – Kia says the project name is CV, likely the same as the Imagine concept from 2019. (Kia)
  • Released the next generation Hyundai Tucson mid-size SUV. (Hyundai)
  • Selling fuel cell units for use as stationary generators. (Hyundai)

Nissan and Mitsubishi (history)

  • Unveiled the Z Proto, a preview of the forthcoming 370Z sportscar replacement. (Nissan)
  • Says that 30% of customers for the Nissan Juke choose a two tone paint scheme. (Nissan)

PSA (history)

  • Opel disbanded yet another national sales company in favour of an importer model. This time, Hungary. (Opel)
  • FCA and PSA changed the terms of their merger deal to preserve cash. FCA shareholders will get a smaller special dividend before the companies are combined but the spin-off of Faurecia will be delayed so that FCA’s owners can share in the spoils. (FCA)

Suzuki

  • Unveiled the Swace, a car based on the Toyota Corolla. (Autocar)

Tata (includes JLR) (history)

  • Revealed a minor refresh for the Jaguar F-Pace. (JLR)

Tesla (history)

  • Reportedly interested in setting up a technical centre in Bengaluru, India according to local officials who promptly leaked details of their meeting with the firm. (Economic Times of India)

Toyota (history)

  • In-house marketing company Delphys is being restructured to better prepare it for the rise of digital media. (Toyota)
  • Toyota executives in India said the company would put market expansion plans on hold due to the high taxes imposed on vehicle sales. (Europa Press)

VW Group (history)

  • VW has met the conditions laid out by the independent monitor appointed in the wake of the diesel scandal and has now exited the special supervision process. (VW)
  • VW’s top legal executive says that whilst, due to its size, VW Group may have compliance breaches in future, a problem as large as the diesel scandal could no longer lie undetected. (FT)
  • Raised €2 billion through a green bond that VW will use to develop electric vehicles. (VW)
  • Rumoured to be selling the Bugatti brand to Rimac in return for a bigger share in the Croatian company. (Car)

Other

  • Atlis, developers of a battery electric full size pickup truck, are hoping to raise $25 million through an offering of shares to the public with the company remaining private (a funding option available in the USA so long as the amounts aren’t too high and certain disclosure protocols are met). (Atlis)
  • Evergrande announced a rights issue that will raise around $520 million. (SCMP)
  • Nikola’s founder stepped down as chairman, to be replaced by Steve Girsky, one of the brains behind GM’s bankruptcy, after the company failed to completely restore investor confidence following a research note published by a short seller which said some of the brand’s early prototypes had been less capable then they seemed (the company admitted to pushing one down a hill rather than doing the work to get it running properly). (Nikola)
  • HAAH, which plans to assemble vehicles in the USA using plans supplied by Chery under the Vantas brand announced that it will have a second brand, called T-GO. (HAAH)

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • A report saying that EU negotiators had rejected a UK proposal for post-Brexit trade that electric vehicles should be able to count Japanese components as local content because both the UK and EU would have separate trade deals with Japan — a mechanism known as “cumulation” — will frighten manufacturers. (FT)

Suppliers

  • It was a tough week for tyre factory workers in Europe. Bridgestone announced that it will close the Béthune, France, plant (Bridgestone) and Continental could shut the Aachen, Germany, site. (Industry Europe)
  • Following the announcement of another round of job cuts — around 7,000 globally — German unions complained that Mahle was not taking a 2016 labour contract, which guaranteed a future for all the firm’s German plants, seriously. (IG Metall)
  • TT Electronics is acquiring magnetic products specialist Torotel. (TT Electronics)
  • Garrett Motion put itself into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and agreed that investment firm KPS Capital should take over its assets in a $2.1 billion deal. (Garrett)
  • LG Chem plans to separate its battery business, although it says there are no firm plans to have an IPO for the new unit. (LG Chem)
  • Brembo wants to become a solutions provider and will invest in artificial intelligence for R&D activities, plus brand building so that its products become “cool”. (Brembo)

Dealers

  • Online used vehicle trader Spotawheel raised €10 million. (TechCrunch)
  • ASEAN online car marketplace iCar Asia (owner of several brands) is reportedly up for sale. (Deal Street Asia)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • Uber is reportedly interested in selling some of its stake in Didi Chuxing to raise cash. (Bloomberg) The company sold its European freight operations to sennder. (Reuters) It also refinanced $500 million in debt. (Uber)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Although Uber has escaped charges over the death of a pedestrian after they were run over by one of the company’s test vehicles, the safety driver has been charged with homicide. (BBC)
  • Human Horizons will offer automated parking on the HiPhi X. The brand calls the system “Level 4 autonomous driving”. (Human Horizons)
    • Significance: The term Level 4 for self-driving on a closed course stretches the SAE definitions to breaking point and suggests that before long they will either need to be revised or completely abandoned.

Electrification (history)

  • Electric vehicle conversion specialist XL Fleet merged with a special purpose vehicle in a deal that values the company at around $1 billion. (XL Fleet)
  • Infrastructure providers Aral, Vattenfall and BP will collaborate to offer fleets a comprehensive charging service on the go, and to install wallbox chargers at their home base. (Vattenfall)

Connectivity

  • INRIX and Here will offer a white label parking availability and booking service. (Here)

Other

  • Proterra launched the ZX5, a new battery electric bus. (Proterra)
  • Volocopter is accepting deposits for flights in the company’s air taxis. The only catches? The firm can’t say where the fight will be or when it will happen. At €300 per trip, the pricing suggests the democratisation of short term air transport is some way away. (Volocopter)

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Automotive trends, Auto industry trends, Automotive market research, Automotive market analysis, auto industry news, automotive intelligence, automotive strategy, .automotive research consultants

Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 13th September 2020

More blockchain speed required; massive money for advanced research; and the start of a big move in online retail. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 7th September to 13th September 2020. 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)

  • Chose a new agency group to lead marketing communications for Europe. Unusually, the team will not be entirely marketing specialists and will include strategy consultants from Berylls. (BMW)
  • Cut the ribbon on a new battery plant in Tiexi, China, doubling local capacity. (BMW)
  • Invested in 3D printing marketplace Xometry. (FINSMES)

Daimler (history)

  • CEO Källenius says that coronavirus has made him question the firm’s competitive strengths and that he is willing to eliminate underperforming models. (FT)
  • Lost a patent infringement case brought by Sharp. Daimler says it will appeal. The ultimate sanction could be a stoppage of sales in Germany but Daimler considers this unlikely since a sub-supplier is now paying a licence fee and the case is about historic royalties. (Handelsblatt)
  • Collaborated with Off White, who have helped Nike to make several ranges of extraordinarily expensive trainers, to make a concept G-Class that explores future interpretations of luxury. Apparently this means abandoning materials that damp noise, vibration and harshness. (Daimler)

FCA (history)

  • Maserati unveiled the new MC20 sports car. The design has been in development for only 2 years. (Maserati)
  • In detailing the organisation for the MC20’s Italian launch, Maserati made the unbelievable claim that 7,500 meals were served, yet only 4,000 cups of coffee were drunk. (Maserati)

Ford (history)

  • Selected by the Canadian autoworkers’ union as the lead company in pattern bargaining. (Detroit News)
  • Said in an investor presentation that logging data from connected cars was helping to choose what content to delete from cars to make them cheaper to build. Ford gave a specific example of showing how often owners locked the car using the rear doors — where it found the answer varied by vehicle line. (Ford P10)
  • The forthcoming Mustang Mach E will identify drivers based on the signature of their key fob and mobile phone, so that individual settings are applied before they even settle in. The car’s infotainment system will learn all sorts of regular habits, such as regular routes and phone calls, assuming owners don’t find it creepily effective. (Ford)

General Motors (history)

  • Took an 11% stake in hydrogen electric truck company Nikola and agreed to supply battery and fuel cell technology, plus engineer and build the already announced Nikola Badger pick-up truck. GM received the equity, worth around $2 billion at current levels for free in return for unspecified in kind consideration (e.g. the technology transfer). The forecast value of the supply contracts is another $2 billion. Since the Badger was announced in 2020 and is planned to launch in 2022, GM’s engineering team will have to get a move on, even if it runs of the forthcoming all-electric platform that will be used for the new Hummer. (GM)
  • Sold the Lang Lang, Australia, test track to VinFast. (Economic Times of India)
  • Says that using a next generation battery management system from supplier Analog Devices will reduce wiring within the battery pack by up to 90%, reducing weight, and increasing pack density. (GM)
  • Announced a fleet supply deal with Uber that will offer substantial discounts (the same level that employees receive) to Uber drivers if they buy a GM electric car. (GM)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • Hyundai’s marketing department need to start saying potential names out loud before committing to them. The brand’s latest camper van conversion is called the “Porest” — seemingly a clever combination of the donor vehicle (Porter) and the idea of leisure (rest). (Hyundai)

Nissan and Mitsubishi (history)

  • Nissan’s COO says the tipping point for electrification will be when battery cost falls below $95 / kWh, but that Europe is already in the midst of a change despite prices still being above that level. (Autocar)
  • The Japanese government has reportedly provided massive loan guarantees for banks giving Nissan credit, and would be on the hook for around $1.2 billion if the company failed. (FT)
  • Nissan plans to raise $8 billion is US dollar bonds after Japanese bond issues raised less than hoped. (Nikkei)
  • Has now produced half a million Nissan Leaf all-electric car (over two generations). (Nissan)
  • Nissan’s COO confirmed that the next generation Micra will be developed and built by Renault. (Reuters)

PSA (history)

  • Opel continued its clear out of national sales companies in smaller European markets, announcing an importer had been chosen for Serbia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Albania. (Opel)

Renault (history)

  • In a memo to staff, new CEO de Meo said that the company would probably need to increase cost saving targets for the restructuring plan announced before he started to escape the “red zone”. He called the cashflow projections he has seen “alarming” and suggested that there was scope for 25% price increases in mid-size cars, whilst cutting the portfolio by around one third. (Reuters)
  • Renault and Nissan are hoping to bag a sizeable slice of Uber’s demand for electric vehicles in the near term, signing a fleet deal with the ride hailing operator to sell vehicles to drivers. (Renault) A separate release by GM about a similar scheme in the USA indicates that drivers will be entitled to heavy discounts. (GM)
  • Testing a blockchain-based parts tracking system called XCEED sponsored by several major suppliers. Methods to increase the current capacity of 500 transactions per second must be found if the system is to be used across the supply base. (Renault)
  • Dacia unveiled new Sandero and Logan models. (Dacia)

Suzuki

Tata (includes JLR) (history)

  • Reportedly exploring the sale of stakes in Tata Technologies and a construction machinery joint venture with Hitachi to raise cash. (Live Mint)

Tesla (history)

  • Once Tesla’s Chinese plant is running at full steam, the plan is reportedly to export cars to Europe and Asian markets. (Reuters)

Toyota (history)

  • Toyota’s advanced research institute — to be rebranded as Woven — is launching a venture fund with an $800 million war chest. (Toyota)
  • Announced an online store selling used cars across Japan. The company hopes to expand the offering into new cars in future. (Toyota)

VW Group (history)

  • The Traton truck unit increased its takeover bid for Navistar. (Navistar)
  • The head of Škoda’s Czech organised labour complained that the company plans to move too much production out of the Czech Republic, calling it a campaign against the brand. His comments could bring him into conflict with VW’s union leader in Germany who has applauded such moves in the past. (Reuters)
  • Highlighted the challenges of procuring ethically sourced batteries by revealing that 134 suppliers and 18 mines are used to produce component parts for VW Group’s batteries. (VW)
    • Significance: With VW forecasting battery electric vehicle production rising by an order of magnitude in the next few years, keeping tabs on suppliers threatens to become a substantial bureaucratic overhead.
  • Former CEO Winterkorn will face trial in Germany, charged with fraud over the diesel emissions scandal. (Reuters)
  • Showed off the station wagon and rugged estate versions of the new Golf. (VW)

Other

  • Lucid revealed the production version of the Air, with the brand’s CEO saying it was aiming squarely at the Mercedes S-Class (which sold 71,300 units globally in 2019 including 12,500 in the USA). The car boasts a massive 113 kWh battery (good for almost 520 miles) and a price tag well north of $100,000. Lucid says cheaper versions with lower range will become available post launch. (Lucid) Executives announced at the launch event that the second product – already confirmed as an SUV – will be called Gravity. (TechCrunch) The company also intends to launch a range of stationary storage products. (Economic Times of India)
  • McLaren is contemplating a sale and lease back of its headquarters in a bid to raise cash, despite recent statements from the Formula 1 team that there was no longer a problem with liquidity. (The Guardian)
  • VinFast acquired GM’s Lang Lang, Australia, test track. (Economic Times of India) There was also a new limited edition SUV announced: The President, which has a $164,000 price tag and of which only 500 will be built. (Nikkei) The brand’s parent denied that it was interested in selling off some of the non-automotive businesses in its portfolio to raise money. (Reuters)
  • After the high of announcing a tie-up with GM, Nikola had to vehemently deny claims made in a research note that the company’s technology was sub-par. (Nikola)

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • Under the recently-signed Formula 1 commercial contract, new teams will have to pay $200 million to enter the championship, with the money going to existing teams. Good news for the likes of Daimler, Ferrari, McLaren and Renault should anyone have a big enough chequebook. (Autosport)

Suppliers

  • Schaeffler announced a new restructuring plan aimed at saving €250 million – €300 million annually. The firm is looking to cut around 5% of the workforce. (Schaeffler)
  • The CEO of German steel supplier Salzgitter is not interested in a merger with Thyssenkrupp’s ailing steelmaking division. (Reuters)
  • Kongsberg’s CEO stepped down. The firm appointed interim co-CEOs whilst a replacement is found. (Kongsberg)
  • Battery supplier Envision is reportedly hunting around for a new site in France. (Reuters)
  • KCC Glass is acquiring all of the Korea Autoglass joint venture it operates with AGC. (Yonhap)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • Uber’s target is for 100% of trips to be in all-electric vehicles by 2040, with an earlier target of 2030 for US, Canada and Europe. The company is creating an $800 million fund to help drivers buy new cars. (Uber) The company is negotiating large discount programs with OEMs such as GM, Nissan and Renault.
  • Indian all-electric ride hailing business BluSmart Mobility raised $7 million. (Live Mint)
  • Rental operator Europcar is in talks with lenders over a debt restructuring. (Auto Rental News)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Lidar developer Ouster raised $42 million. (Ouster)
  • A Cruise blog post gave an overview of the complexity involved with machine learning for self-driving vehicles – and demonstrated that the group have no intention of writing detailed rules for coping with extreme manoeuvres, seeing the task as “impossible”. (Cruise)
  • Waymo published a blog explaining how it combines real world data with scenarios for rare problems it stages at a test track called Castle. (Waymo)
  • ZF has teamed up with Aeva to bring the latter’s lidar technology into production. It is unclear how this affects ZF’s existing relationship with Ibeo, which it part-owns (the rumour is that the stake is up for sale). (Aeva)

Electrification (history)

  • A study of British car buyers found half of those asked will NEVER buy an electric car because of a shortage of charging points. The disconnect between a transient number of charging points and a supposedly absolute level of disinterest didn’t stop headline writers from seizing on the news. (The Telegraph)
  • Charging provider Wallbox acquired Spanish firm Electromaps. (Europa Press)
  • GM says that using a next generation battery management system from supplier Analog Devices will reduce wiring within the battery pack by up to 90%, reducing weight, and increasing pack density. (GM)

Connectivity

  • Nvidia is acquiring chip designer ARM from SoftBank in a $40 billion deal. (BBC)
  • Parking app SpotHero is acquiring Canadian rival Rover Parking. (FINSMES)

Other

  • AYLI says that it has letters of intent from a buyer who wants lots of the electric motorcycles the company has under development. (AYLI)
  • Ad-funded bicycle rental firm HumanForest raised £1.8 million. (TechCrunch)

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Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 6th September 2020

Saintly limited series cars; Renault’s massive punt on Alpine; and two powerhouses get together. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 31st August to 6th September 2020. 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 new Rolls-Royce Ghost. Plutocrats’ chauffeurs will be relieved to know that the days of rushing round to the back of the car are over — the Ghost is equipped with power opening doors. (Rolls-Royce)
  • Rolls-Royce’s CEO says that the brand is set to be profitable in 2020, thanks to massive pricing power, and will set up a second shift to deal with the anticipated demand for Ghost. He isn’t sure yet whether the new limousine or the Cullinan SUV will emerge as the brand’s biggest seller. (Automotive News)

Daimler (history)

  • Unveiled the new S-Class. The car comes with all the usual mod-cons, plus new occupant monitoring sensors which enable gesture recognition and automation of some functions by pre-empting the need based on the movement of the driver. Mercedes have also fitted an optional rear steering system for enhanced manoeuvrability in congested city centres. (Daimler) Daimler executives told assembled journalists that the target letter for the S-Class’s specification was 689 pages long. (Reuters)
  • Daimler will not be investing in additional capacity in Germany, preferring to build where it sells (e.g. more production in China). CEO Källenius admitted that the restructuring plans were now intended to be deeper than when they were first announced (pre-coronavirus). (FT)
  • There is likely to be a Maybach version of the all-electric EQS limousine, with Daimler executives suggesting that there were “opportunities”, almost certainly code for the program having been already approved. (Bloomberg)
  • Daimler’s boss remains open minded about an expanded future cooperation with Aston Martin but says that he can’t comment on any initiatives at present. (Top Gear)
  • Issued a €1 billion green bond that will fund development of low CO2 transport and sustainability measures. Daimler will pay just 0.75% interest. (Daimler)
  • Setting up a new test site in Albuquerque, USA to develop self-driving trucks with the recently acquired Torc Robotics team. (Daimler)
  • Daimler says that the factory building the new S-Class will be 25% more efficient than when the previous generation was built. (Reuters)

FCA (history)

  • Unveiled the three-row Jeep Grand Wagoneer, a vehicle that is intended to push the brand upmarket, as well as increase volumes. There will also be a shortened version, called simply Wagoneer, that is yet to be revealed. The vehicles are set to be launched in 2021. (FCA) The head of the Jeep brand sees the vehicle’s competitors as the Range Rover and Cadillac Escalade. (Reuters)

Ferrari

  • Production of the GTC4Lusso — the closest thing Ferrari had to a family car — has ended. (Motor1)

Ford (history)

  • Confirming earlier rumours, Ford announced plans for an early retirement program, aiming to get 1,400 North American employees off the payroll. (Detroit Free Press)

Geely (includes Volvo) (history)

  • Cyan Racing, which traditionally handles motorsport for Volvo and Geely in Europe, announced a continuation edition of the 1960’s Volvo P1800 coupe. Unlike recent efforts from Bentley and Aston Martin, the car is substantially upgraded versus the original, boasting higher power, lower weight and a steeper price tag — a cool half million dollars. (Autocar)
  • Volvo is acquiring a Swedish dealer group with the intention of rolling out a set of IT tools and processes that allow for seamless transactions online and at the dealership, so that customers won’t have to restart orders just because they choose to drop into a dealership, or vice versa. Volvo’s plan is to hone to system in Sweden and then deploy in other markets around the world. (Volvo)

General Motors (history)

  • GM and Honda intend to create a partnership in North America that will see vehicles and powertrains shared, with joint purchasing efforts that seek to leverage the scale of the two companies. (GM)
    • Significance: Although the companies don’t mention the products involved, the deal could mean GM can still participate in car and minivan / MPV segments that it has recently abandoned on the basis of cost efficiency and offset some of the technologies it can no longer cost effectively develop in-house after selling Opel.

Honda (history)

  • GM and Honda intend to create a partnership in North America that will see vehicles and powertrains shared, with joint purchasing efforts that seek to leverage the scale of the two companies. (GM)

Nissan and Mitsubishi (history)

  • Nissan says it has developed a new method of working with carbon fibre to produce car parts. Although the company is cagey on the details, it claims that development time has halved and cycle time can be reduced by 80%, indicating that the facility and tooling costs can be substantially reduced, although not to the point where the parts are cheaper than aluminium or steel (although extreme performance demands could demand carbon fibre’s use). (Nissan)
  • The launch of the next generation Qashqai has reportedly been delayed until the middle of 2021. (FT)

PSA (history)

  • Formed a joint venture with Total, owner of the Saft battery development brand, called Automotive Cells Company (ACC) that will produce batteries in France and Germany. The intention to form the joint venture was announced in January 2020 and the production sites are PSA powertrain plants. (Total)
  • Unveiled a minor design for the Peugeot 3008 (PSA) and 5008. (PSA)

Renault (history)

  • Announced a reorganisation led by new CEO de Meo. There will be four major divisions: Renault; Dacia; Alpine and New Mobility, with de Meo himself heading the Renault brand. He hopes that the changes will put an emphasis on profitability over volume. (Renault) As part of the move Renault has decided that the Alpine brand needs more, rather than less, attention and will become the constructor name for the Formula 1 team, whilst Renault will continue as engine supplier. Given the lack of success from similar expansion efforts for Alfa Romeo and Jaguar, it remains to be seen whether giving such a considerable marketing push to a marque with only a single vehicle will pay off. (Renault)

Tesla (history)

  • Plans to raise $5 billion through issuing new stock. (Tesla)
  • Despite its rocketing share price and recent improvements in financial performance, Tesla was not added to the USA’s S&P 500 stock index. (Reuters)
  • Rumours swirled over a flying visit made by CEO Musk to VW’s headquarters. VW’s CEO sought to quash the more colourful theories by saying Musk had simply stopped by to test drive the ID3 all-electric compact car, and been slightly rude about its top speed. (LinkedIn)

VW Group (history)

  • Porsche is looking for collaborators to develop synthetic “efuels” that have lower carbon emissions than fossil fuels, even offering to jointly build small scale factories to pioneer the technology. The brand also hopes that CO2 regulators might credit brands with developing the products. (Porsche)
  • Porsche is borrowing about 400 production workers from nearby Audi facilities to help meet demand for the all-electric Taycan. (Automobilwoche)
  • The chairman of VW’s works council thinks that by 2023, when VW has several factories producing electric vehicles at full tilt, people will start talking about VW more than Tesla. He also expressed a lack of interest in a four day working week, reportedly under consideration by other German car makers (e.g. Opel), saying VW has plenty of work for its employees to do. (Manager Magazin)

Other

  • Byton, which suspended operations in July, will reportedly raise about $300 million by forming a new company called Shengteng, and hopes to get mass production underway again soon. (Caixin)
  • Daimler’s boss remains open minded about an expanded future cooperation with Aston Martin but says that he can’t comment on any initiatives at present. (Top Gear)
  • Lotus is being sued by Williams Advanced Engineering because Lotus took electrical work on the forthcoming Evija inhouse. (Autocar)
  • Gordon Murray announced a track focused version of the recently unveiled T.50 hypercar. The T.50s will cost over £3 million and only 25 will be built. (Gordon Murray)

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • The UK government decided that now is a good time to take a hard stance on Brexit, with the top negotiator saying how red the country’s red lines are and the prime minister expected to declare that he would be comfortable with trading with the EU on WTO terms. (BBC)
  • US light vehicle SAAR of 15.2 million in August was down (11)% versus prior year but was the strongest industry level seen since February. (Wards)
  • UK passenger car registrations in August of 87,226 units fell (5.8)% on a year-over-year basis, dampening hopes of an industry recovery glimmers of hope in July. (SMMT)
  • German passenger car registrations of 251,044 units in August fell (20)% compared to prior year. (KBA)
  • French passenger car sales in August of 103,631 units was a drop of (20)% versus August 2019. (CCFA)
  • Spanish passenger car registrations of 66,925 units in August fell (10)% compared to prior year. (ANFAC)
  • Italian passenger car sales in August were down only (0.4)% versus prior year, at 88,801 units. (UNRAE)

Suppliers

  • Magna is buying Chongqing Hongli Zhixin (宏立至信) a seating supplier with which it has had a joint venture in China since 2015. (Magna)
  • Valmet expects sales of battery packs to exceed revenue from contract manufacturing within five years. (Valmet)
  • Bosch acquired 26% of swappable battery pack maker Sun Mobility. (Economic Times of India)
  • Continental announced an expanded cost saving plan (the company originally announced a recovery plan in September 2019) with a target of saving €1 billion annually by 2023. About 30,000 jobs globally will be affected, but not all of them will go. (Continental)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • Uber and Yandex’s Russian ride hailing joint venture is spinning off its self-driving division. Yandex will take the lion’s share of the autonomous business (73)%, with Uber retaining a 19% stake. (TechCrunch)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Allegro MicroSystems acquired lidar developer Voxtel. (Allegro)
  • Self-driving truck firm Ike says that Ryder, DHL and NFI have signed up to use Ike’s kit on 1,000 of their trucks, which the company hopes can replace drivers on highway trips. Rather than selling an entire vehicle, Ike will modify existing trucks and sell a subscription to its software and hardware. (Ike)
  • Uber and Yandex’s Russian ride hailing joint venture is spinning off its self-driving division. Yandex will take the lion’s share of the autonomous business (73)%, with Uber retaining a 19% stake. (TechCrunch)

Electrification (history)

  • Bosch remains convinced that, for heavy trucks, hydrogen fuel cells are a better bet than battery electric vehicles. The key reason is that the battery sizes necessary for long range add to vehicle weight, potentially at the cost of reduced payload. (Bosch)
  • Battery developer QuantumScape will list via a merger with a special purpose vehicle. (Reuters)
  • The UK’s automotive trade body, the SMMT, reckons that it will cost almost £17 billion to prepare the country’s infrastructure for mass adoption of electric vehicles by installing more chargers. (SMMT)

Other

  • Japanese flying car start-up SkyDrive raised around $35 million. (Deal Street Asia)
  • Volta showed off the prototype of the 16 tonne heavy truck it intends to produce from 2022 onwards. The design of the vehicle had already been shown in 2019 as a render. (Volta)

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Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 30th August 2020

Porsche pushes forward with new retail models; trying to understand the markets; and in-wheel motors getting their time in the spotlight. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 24th August to 30th August 2020. 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.

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News about the major automakers

BMW (history)

  • Cutting staff and shifts at the Mini plant in the UK. (BBC)

Daimler (history)

  • Ineos and Daimler are reportedly close to agreeing the sale of the Hambach, France, factory. (Manager Magazin)
  • Daimler announced that it was selling 1,800 all-electric vans to Amazon, but the share price didn’t jump by a bajillion dollars — even though it plans to deliver them this year. (Daimler)
  • Estimates of Daimler’s headcount reductions continued to grow, and fluctuate. Some said 20,000 jobs would go. (Automotive News), whilst others said that, net of unfilled positions, the number was 30,000. (Manager Magazin)

FCA (history)

  • Recalling around 186,000 pick-ups trucks because the floor mats could foul the pedals. (FCA)

Ford (history)

  • Reportedly set to announce 1,000 job losses in North America as part of profit recovery efforts. (Bloomberg)
  • Undertaking a trial of vehicles that can park themselves. Ford’s press release implies that the sensor set is the same that cars with the L2 driver assistance package will receive, plus some upgraded software that can interact with local infrastructure to safely find a parking space. (Ford)
  • Recalling a small amount of vehicles because side impact airbags might not have been installed correctly. (Ford)

General Motors (history)

  • The UAW union are up in arms because GM is using salaried staff to cover for hourly absenteeism (related to coronavirus) at the Wentzville, USA, plant. (Detroit Free Press)

Honda (history)

  • Toyota and Honda are starting a joint research project called Moving e that will see a fuel cell bus used as a mobile generator, focused on disaster relief efforts. Toyota will provide the bus whilst Honda will contribute generator expertise. (Honda)
  • Kicked off the (previously announced) formal processes for integrating Keihin, Showa and Nissin Kogyo into Hitachi, in which Honda will take a share. (Honda)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • Hyundai’s Ioniq brand hopes to capture legions of teenage fans after enlisting the services of K-Pop sensations BTS to create a new brand song. (Hyundai)

PSA (history)

  • Rumoured to be planning large land sales at Opel’s Rüsselsheim base to raise cash. (Wirtschaftswoche)
  • Opel’s boss is open to a four day week if it helps to save jobs and is cheap. (Handelsblatt)

Tata (includes JLR) (history)

  • Tata wants cashflow to increase enough to repay almost $6.5 billion of debt over the next three years. (Reuters)
  • After Ford’s Bridgend engine factory closes, JLR will take over manufacturing of V8 engines (which it owns the development cycle and IP for) at the Wolverhampton plant, taking on equipment and staff from the Ford plant to do so. (Autocar)

Tesla (history)

  • Hackers targeted Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory but were thwarted by a double agent. (Reuters)

Toyota (history)

  • Toyota and Honda are starting a joint research project called Moving e that will see a fuel cell bus used as a mobile generator, focused on disaster relief efforts. Toyota will provide the bus whilst Honda will contribute generator expertise. (Honda)

VW Group (history)

  • Porsche has pushed back the launch timing for the all-electric Taycan Cross Turismo shooting brake model because demand for the saloon variant is so strong. (Autocar)
  • Porsche unveiled a major refresh for the Panamera four door. (Porsche)
  • Whilst others are ending their experiments with short term car leasing, Porsche is expanding further in North America, adding more cities and a new monthly offering that makes subscribers commit to a single car. (Porsche)
    • Significance: Porsche’s brand strength, and portfolio diversity, appear to position the company well for an offering that is similar to joining a car club but with greater convenience. It is unclear whether other brands have the same cachet required to promote themselves in this way.

Other

  • Borgward has gone silent on plans for a full-scale European launch after underwhelming sales in the Chinese market and problems with at its parent. (Autocar)
  • Ineos and Daimler are reportedly close to agreeing the sale of the Hambach, France, factory. (Manager Magazin)
  • Electric hub motor maker REE and Mahindra will develop commercial vehicles together. (REE)
  • The founder of electric truck maker Nikola is giving away part of his shareholding to loyal employees. (Nikola)
  • Bollinger plans to make an all-electric commercial vehicle on the same platform as the SUV and pickup truck that have already been unveiled and a manufacturing partner will be announced soon. (Bollinger) The brand’s founder says the firm is in the process of raising investment, with the annual sales target remaining in the low four-digits, and that several special purpose entities had approached the company with a view to a listing as used by Fisker, Canoo, Luminar et al. (Reuters)
  • Spyker is back, thanks to a partnership with racing outfit BR Engineering, and plans to put three models into production from 2021 onwards. Since two of them were unveiled in 2013 and 2016, it is unclear how positive the customer response will be. (Spyker)
  • Workhorse is using Hitachi to provide financing and consultancy services. (Workhorse)
  • Nio announced another share issue. (Nio)
  • McLaren showed off the new carbon fibre chassis that will underpin its next generation models. (McLaren)
  • Xpeng’s initial product offering went great guns and the firm is now worth over $10 billion. (Reuters)
  • Chinese car maker Lifan agreed a restructuring plan with creditors. (China Daily)

News about other companies and trends

Suppliers

  • Shiloh Industries agreed a deal to sell most of itself to an investment firm. (Shiloh)
  • Hella is reportedly considering selling off its driver assistance unit. (Bloomberg)
  • Honda kicked off the (previously announced) formal processes for integrating Keihin, Showa and Nissin Kogyo into Hitachi, in which Honda will take a share. (Honda)

Dealers

  • Mexican used car website Kavak is merging with Argentina peer Checkars. (Reuters)
  • OKXE.vn a Vietnamese website for selling motorbikes raised $5.5 million. (Deal Street Asia)
  • CoPilot, an app that gives car buyers information on the best prices, raised $10 million. (Business Journals)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • Lyft and Uber are reportedly preparing plans to licence their brands in California to fleet operators as a contingency measure, as the legality of their current practice of treating drivers as contractors rather than employees hangs in the balance. (New York Times)
  • Ride hailing advertising firm Firefly is acquiring Strong Outdoor. (TechCrunch)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Qualcomm and Veoneer will collaborate on an integrated self-driving hardware and software suite. (Veoneer)
  • Uber’s self-driving car unit released an updated safety report. (Uber)
  • Self-driving truck company Ike also released a new safety report. (Ike)

Electrification (history)

  • Motiv Power raised $15 million. (Reuters)
  • Mitsubishi has licenced Paice Hybrid’s technology. (Paice)
  • Electric hub motor maker REE and Mahindra will develop commercial vehicles together. (REE)
  • Toyota and Honda are starting a joint research project called Moving e that will see a fuel cell bus used as a mobile generator, focused on disaster relief efforts. Toyota will provide the bus whilst Honda will contribute generator expertise. (Honda)
    • Significance: Although the idea has clear application potential, it is less obvious how to transport all the hydrogen required to the disaster area.

Other

  • Additive manufacturing company Desktop Metal is listing via a merger with a special purpose vehicle in a $2.5 billion deal. (Reuters)
  • Bicycle rental firm Bolt (not the same as the ride hailing company) raised $11 million and changed its name to Zoomo. (FINSMES)

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Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 23rd August 2020

Daimler: connecting people; learning to love battery swapping; and giving investors what they want. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 17th August to 23rd August 2020. A PDF version can be found here.

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

  • You Can’t Make Old Friends Mercedes has connected 500,000 older cars by fitting adaptors to the vehicle’s OBD port. The scheme has been going for several years and there are plenty of similar aftermarket products, but Mercedes is pushing the idea far further than most rival OEMs. It isn’t clear why it is such an outlier. In a world where OEMs drool over the potential of mystical “big data”, why haven’t they taken the opportunity to (cheaply) glean more information from vehicles that are already on the road?
  • Wind Of Change Nio plans to offer a battery subscription service. It isn’t cheap (about $140 per month) but users get a hefty discount to the list price. More interestingly, it combines battery rental with battery swapping — the first real attempt since Project Better Place (which used smaller batteries). Even more interestingly, if the scheme works well in China, Nio will bring it to the West, giving European and American consumers a first taste of battery swapping. How will others react if the scheme takes off?
  • Easy Lover Rumours persist that GM might spin off its electric vehicle business to cash in on investor appetite for pure electric plays. The operational issues with splitting out a subset of a business which spans many brands makes my brain ache. But why try so hard? If Fisker — who plan to make an electric car using olde worlde VW’s electric vehicle platform — can raise loads of money by simply putting new sheet metal on top, why don’t GM just (1) resurrect Saturn, (2) make it electric-only, (3) sign a technology licencing agreement and (4) release it into the ether, pocketing a couple of billion dollars for their trouble? For that matter, why not Ford with Mercury and FCA with Plymouth?

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

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News about the major automakers

BMW (history)

  • Rolls-Royce claim that their initial attempts at reduce NVH in the cabin of the new Ghost were too successful and engineers had to add some noise back in to prevent the experience being too eery. (Rolls-Royce)

Daimler (history)

  • Has now updated 500,000 older vehicles with retrofit adaptors that give limited connected features. (Daimler)
    • Significance: Although the modems are unable to offer read/write functionality, the user benefit and data gathering potential at a relatively low cost (c. $50 / unit) make the Mercedes Me scheme worthwhile.
  • Rejected a proposal by German unions to move workers onto a four day week that would have protected jobs but harmed productivity. Unions remain open to fewer hours with a partial reduction in net pay. (Manager Magazin)
  • The French government are reportedly suspicious about Ineos’s proposed takeover of the Hambach, France, factory and have commissioned consultants Roland Berger to review the plans. (Consultancy.eu)

FCA (history)

  • Recalling around 132,000 cars because component position sensors in the engine might stop working properly and cause the engine to stall. (FCA)

Ferrari

  • Signed a new agreement with F1 governing the commercial rights and revenues between 2021 – 2025. (Ferrari)

Geely (includes Volvo) (history)

  • Kandi is exploring options for a North American plant. (Kandi)

General Motors (history)

  • Said that 40% of forthcoming GM products for China will be electrified, and all will be locally built. GM is excited by the potential for complexity reduction (such as 500 ICE engine and transmission combinations down to 19 – although it isn’t clear if this spans the same portfolio size the directional saving is real). (GM)
  • Appears committed to making owners pay for long term use of the “Super Cruise” driver assistance suite, but has yet to decide how much it will cost. Owners of older vehicles were granted an additional year of the technology at no cost to give executives breathing room. (Motor1)
  • Further rumours that GM could spin off its electric car business rallied shares. (Bloomberg)
    • Significance: Given that GM has no specific all-electric brands, the rationale for, and operational execution of, a divestment remains unclear — apart from tapping into the market’s appetite for electrified vehicle assets. This week’s tech day where it was clearly demonstrated that electric vehicles underpin the medium-term business plan in China. A potential motivation could be to create a GM “good bank” of assets considered undervalued by the markets and leave a rump GM saddled with legacy technologies and obligations; pretty much a repeat of GM’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy…

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • Reportedly planning a new factory in Singapore to make electric vehicles. (Straits Times)

Tata (includes JLR) (history)

  • JLR is looking at ways to include more recycled content in the aluminium used in car bodies, saying that production CO2 emission savings of 26% are on offer if they succeed. (JLR)
  • Despite recent moves by others, notably Daimler but not BMW, away from using the technology in passenger cars, JLR believes that hydrogen power has a “key place” in the portfolio. (Autocar)
  • After last week denying that it was about to sell part of the passenger car division, Tata had to deny that it was looking to sell part of JLR. (Tata)

Toyota (history)

  • Will use Amazon’s cloud computing services to run some of Toyota’s mobility services. (Toyota)

VW Group (history)

  • Agreed to increase the pay of Mexican workers by 5.5%. (Reuters)
  • Started production of the ID4 all-electric crossover. (VW)
  • Porsche is reportedly reviewing past models for potential problems with engine emissions. (Reuters)

Other

  • Indian start-up EVage hopes to launch an all-electric delivery van, and then move on to products as varied as a city car and SUV built from the same architecture. (Economic Times of India)
  • Canoo plans to list via a merger with a special purpose vehicle that will see the firm valued at $2.4 billion. (Canoo)
  • A US importer is reportedly on the verge of making a takeover offer for Mahindra’s Ssangyong. (Yonhap)
  • Bollinger announced a new headquarters and plans to grow the organisation. (Bollinger)
  • Electric commercial vehicle firm XOS Trucks (originally Thor) raised $20 million from investors including supplier Metalsa’s parent. (XOS)
  • Nio plans to offer a battery leasing service, complete with battery swapping, enabling customers to reduce the upfront cost of their vehicle. (Nio) If the scheme is successful, Nio hopes to expand outside China. (AP)

News about other companies and trends

Suppliers

  • UK tuning business Mountune appears to be up for sale. (Autocar)
  • Valmet will start low volume contract manufacturing in Germany in 2021. (Valmet)
  • US president Trump called for a boycott of Goodyear after the company said workers would not be allowed to wear baseball caps supporting his campaign (or any other, but that was beside the point). (MarketWatch)

Dealers

  • Indian online used car marketplace CarDekho plans to open 1,000 physical sites by 2022. (Deal Street Asia)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • A Californian court ruled that people driving for ride hailing services such as Uber and Lyft were employees rather than contractors. As a result, Uber and Lyft said they would suspend services in the state, but then backtracked after being told the ruling wouldn’t be immediately implemented and should be decided in a referendum instead. (Lyft)
  • Multimodal travel start-up Omio raised $100 million. (TechCrunch)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Lidar developer Luminar agreed to list via a merger with a special purpose vehicle that will have a market capitalisation of around $3.4 billion, and over $500 million in cash. (Luminar)
  • Aurora’s boss shrugged off suggestions that the firm needs to have large OEMs signed up as partners, after seeing collaborations with several OEMs dissolve. He says the company has more than enough money and is confident that his team will do a better job than rivals of developing self-driving technologies. (FT)
  • Former employees of Zoox are trying to sue the company, saying that it should have sold itself to GM’s Cruise unit, rather than Amazon who offered more money overall, but less for executives. (Reuters)
  • Ibeo says its new lidar sensor has a 260m range and is ready for production in a ZF-owned plant. (Ibeo)
  • GM appears committed to making owners pay for long term use of the “Super Cruise” driver assistance suite, but has yet to decide how much it will cost. Owners of older vehicles were granted an additional year of the technology at no cost to give executives breathing room. (Motor1)

Electrification (history)

  • Nio plans to offer a battery leasing service, complete with battery swapping, enabling customers to reduce the upfront cost of their vehicle. (Nio) If the scheme is successful, Nio hopes to expand outside China. (AP)

Other

  • The Williams F1 team has been sold to an investment firm. (The Guardian)

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Auto Industry Briefing — fortnight ending 16th August 2020

Honda’s splendid isolation; putting fleet sales in context; and lithium companies playing hardball. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 3rd August to 16th August 2020. 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.

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News about the major automakers

BMW (history)

  • Reported Q2 2020 revenue of €20 billion, down (22)% versus prior year and an EBIT loss of €(666) million compared to a €2.2 billion profit in Q2 2019. BMW tried to stay positive by expressing confidence in complying with 2020 CO2 regulations in Europe and sees the full year automotive EBIT margin between 0% – 3%. (BMW)
  • The Free Now ride hailing joint venture between BMW and Daimler is profitable in major European markets, including the UK, according to the boss of UK operations. (Business Insider)

Daimler (history)

  • Says that online tools for customers are going great guns, with increased use of chatbots and 98% of Chinese customers completing their finance contracts via the internet rather than in person. (Daimler)
  • Gave an overview of the MO360 software system that Daimler uses to link its factories. Mainly Daimler simply stated the obvious about how different elements of the factory are linked but they also revealed that each factory can saves 10 tonnes of paper per year by going paperless. (Daimler)
  • Settled claims covering diesel emissions in 250,000 US vehicles in a class action lawsuit and agreed the level of fines it must pay the authorities. The total bill will be around $3 billion ($2.2 billion in fines and compensation plus an undetermined amount to ensure compliance). (Daimler)
  • Mercedes and CATL will collaborate on new battery technology. Mercedes is calling its approach to future vehicles “electric first”, perhaps inspired by the 2018 E-FIRST (electric first) paper written by Evercore ISI and Ad Punctum, which first coined the phrase? (Daimler)
  • The Free Now ride hailing joint venture between BMW and Daimler is profitable in major European markets, including the UK, according to the boss of UK operations. (Business Insider)

FCA (history)

  • Contemplating a recall of 1 million SUVs with engines that have excessive tailpipe emissions. (Detroit Free Press)

Ferrari

  • Ferrari reported Q2 2020 sales of 1,389 cars, down (48)% on a year-over-year basis. Revenue of $571 million fell (42)% whilst adjusted EBIT of $23 million fell (90)% versus 2019. The company assumes revenue and adjusted EBIT in the full year will be at the bottom end of expectations. (Ferrari)

Ford (history)

  • Announced the retirement of CEO Hackett and widely predicted promotion of COO Farley. The changes are effective 1st October but Hackett will remain on the payroll until 2021. (Ford) External reception to Farley’s appointment was mixed. Whilst some media reported glowing praise from peers and industry experts, others – claiming to represent the views of company insiders – saw the move as a mistake.
  • Put a sales stop on PHEV Kugas and told owners who have taken delivery of cars not to charge them. (Autocar)
  • Recalling 558,000 Edge and MKX SUVs because the brake hoses could leak. (Detroit News)
  • Gave a presentation to investors about opportunities in the European business, where the prepared materials focused almost entirely on improving the commercial vehicle unit. During the introduction, the head of IR was at pains to recognise the presence of Henry Ford III (a member of her team), despite him having no active role in the presentation. In the Q&A, the regional CEO said the Kuga PHEV makes up 50% of the vehicle’s sales. He declined to say that electric vehicles would be profitable, even from the product shared with VW, instead preferring to commit to profitability from the overall business during the transition phase. The profit goal remains 6% margin with a commitment to reach the target even with lower volumes. (Ford)
  • Ford now claims over 165,000 orders for the Bronco. (Ford)

Geely (includes Volvo) (history)

  • Geely’s first half 2020 revenue was 36.8 billion RMB (about $5.3 billion), down (23)% on a year-over-year basis. The net profit was 2.3 billion RMB (about $330 million), down (43)%. (Geely)
  • Geely unveiled the Preface, a sedan that sits on the same platform used for Volvo’s XC40. (Geely)
  • Sharing the CMA platform with Geely and Lynk&Co has helped Volvo double the purchasing scale compared with building the vehicle alone (with manufacturing in different regions, some parts will be dual sourced). (Volvo)
  • Kandi Technologies reported Q2 2020 revenue of $19 million and net income of $4 million. (Kandi)

General Motors (history)

  • CFO Suryadevara left to work in the finance industry. An interim CFO was appointed, (John Stapleton, the regional finance chief for North America) whilst the company searches for a successor. (GM)
  • Has almost fulfilled the ventilator manufacturing contract imposed on the company by the US government, although Ventec, GM’s partner, will continue to make them at GM’s factory. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Unveiled the Cadillac Lyriq, the brand’s first all-electric car. (GM)

Honda (history)

  • Reported Q2 2020 (Honda’s fiscal Q1) revenue of 2.1 trillion JPY (about $20 billion), down (47)% on a year-over-year basis. The operating loss was (114) billion (about $1 billion), down from a profit of around $2 billion in the prior year. Although motorcycles and financial services were profitable and other businesses were near breakeven, the automotive arm lost 195 billion JPY (about $1.8 billion). In the full year, Honda hopes to make a profit of around 200 billion JPY (about $1.8 billion). (Honda)
  • The Japanese government reportedly tried to matchmake Honda and Nissan, but Honda rejected the approach. (FT)
  • Recalling 1.6 million US vehicles to fix several problems including faulty sensor readouts on the instrument panel; rear cameras that don’t turn on or suffer water damage; and sliding doors that won’t close properly when it gets too cold. (Detroit News)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • Aptiv and Hyundai-Kia’s autonomous technology joint venture will be called Motional. (Motional)
  • Kia unveiled the Sonet, a small value crossover that will be produced in India and exported globally. (Kia)
  • Kia showed off the facelifted Stinger. (Kia)
  • Hyundai will use “Ioniq”, hitherto a vehicle name, as a sub-brand for all-electric cars. The first two models, Ioniq 5 and Ioniq 6, will based off the 45 and Prophecy concept cars respectively. (Hyundai)

Nissan and Mitsubishi (history)

  • Carlos Ghosn says he will release a tell-all book at the end of the year. (Car Advice)
  • The Japanese government reportedly tried to matchmake Honda and Nissan, but Honda rejected the approach. (FT)
  • The chairman of Mitsubishi Motors is stepping down. (Nikkei)
  • Granted workers at the Barcelona, Spain factory cluster a temporary reprieve. The plant will now close at the end of 2021, one year later than planned. (Nissan)

PSA (history)

  • The head of the Free2Move mobility unit said that external investment might be welcomed in future, but at present the focus is on getting the organisation running properly. (Reuters)

Subaru

  • Reported Q2 2020 financial results (fiscal year Q1). Revenue of 457 billion JPY (about $4.3 billion) fell (45)%, driven by volume halving from the previous year. An operating loss of 16 billion JPY (about $150 million) compared to a healthy profit in Q2 2019. (Subaru) The firm has now provided full year guidance, expecting full year revenue of 2.9 trillion JPY (about $27.5 billion) and operating profit of 80 billion JPY (about $760 million). (Subaru)

Tata (includes JLR) (history)

  • Jaguar’s classic department is making (via restoration) a special edition E-Type that matches the original 1966 Geneva Motor Show cars. Taking a leaf out of Aston Martin’s book, you can only buy a double pack of a coupe and a convertible. (JLR)
  • Tata Motors denied that it was looking to offload 49% of the passenger car business saying that although the unit had been structured in a way to allow external investment, no immediate changes are on the horizon. (Tata)

Tesla (history)

  • A German case where a driver changing the windscreen wiper settings using the central screen was penalised under the rules designed for using mobile phones whilst driving received broad attention. Although the menu complexity was cited as an issue, the court put the onus on the driver to only adjust settings when it was safe to do so. (BBC)
  • Started offering an in-house wrapping service at Chinese dealerships. (Electrek)
  • Announced a 5:1 stock split, the main benefit of which is lowering the stock price for a single share for retail investors. (TechCrunch)
  • CEO Musk said that if it turns out people don’t like the real life Cybertruck, Tesla can just build a more conventional looking one on the same running gear. (Business Insider)

Toyota (history)

  • Reported Q2 2020 (Toyota’s fiscal Q1) revenue of 4.6 trillion JPY (about $43.5 billion), down (40)% on a year-over-year basis. Operating income of 13.9 billion JPY (about $130 million) as losses in North America and Europe were just offset by profitability in Japan and Asia. The full year forecast is revenue of 24 trillion JPY (about $227 billion) and operating income of 500 billion JPY (about $4.7 billion) from sales of 9.1 million vehicles, (13)% lower than 2019/20. (Toyota)

VW Group (history)

  • Porsche SE invested in connected car software firm Aurora Labs. (Porsche SE)
  • An employee reportedly at the centre of an investigation into spying on VW purchasing negotiations was found dead in suspicious circumstances. (Manager Magazin)
  • Porsche is reportedly planning a new plant in Slovakia to create car bodies. (Reuters)

Other

  • Gordon Murray took the covers off the T50 hypercar. (Gordon Murray)
  • Hyperion unveiled the XP1, a hydrogen powered supercar with a 2.2 second 0 – 60 mph time, that the firm hopes to have in production by 2022. (Hyperion)
  • Nio reported Q2 2020 sales of 10,331 cars, the company’s best ever quarter. Revenues of 3.5 billion RMB (about $500 million) rose 147% on a year-over-year basis. However the company continued to make an operating loss, of (1.16) billion RMB (about $164 million). (Nio)
  • XPeng filed documents for an IPO. (SEC)
  • Ineos said that although it hasn’t finalised a deal to take over Daimler’s Hambach, France, plant, it is no longer planning to create new factories in Wales and Portugal to build the Grenadier. (Business Live) Jaguar Land Rover lost a court case to stop production of the Grenadier on the basis it was too similar to the Defender. (Car and Driver)
  • Fisker says that Magna will build the company’s forthcoming Ocean SUV. (Reuters)
  • Lucid’s CEO says he won’t share the firm’s technology with any other business. (Green Car Reports)
  • One of Faraday Future’s early prototypes will go to auction. (TechCrunch)
  • Nikola reported a Q2 2020 loss of $(87) million. The company isn’t yet making any revenue. (Nikola) The company confirmed that it was interested in sharing technology with Hyundai, but the South Korean company was yet to reciprocate. (Reuters) Investors were massively cheered by an order for 2,500 refuse lorries. (Reuters)
    • Significance: Investor interest in individual orders seems unpredictable. Whilst Nikola’s order for rubbish trucks was applauded, no one seemed to care that Piaggio won a contract for 5,000 scooters from the Italian post office. What do these numbers prove?
  • Mullen Technologies will list via a merger with special purpose vehicle Net Element. (Net Element)
  • Workhorse reported Q2 2020 financial results. Revenue was $92,000 and the net loss was $(131) million, mainly blamed on non-cash interest costs. The company hopes that the merger of Lordstown and DiamondPeak will value its 10% Lordstown stake at $160 million. (Workhorse)
  • Faraday Future plan to offer a version of the FF91 all-electric car with a spa mode that features lie flat seats and a massive screen that flips down from the ceiling. (Faraday Future)
  • Online sleuths reckon there are about 30,000 orders for Rivian’s debut pickup truck. (Inside EVs)
  • Electromobility Poland revealed the two all-electric cars it plans to build under the Izera brand. (Izera)

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • US light vehicle SAAR in July of 14.52 million units was (14)% lower than prior year. (Wards)
  • German passenger car registrations in July of 314,938 units fell (5.4)% versus prior year. (KBA)
  • French passenger car registrations of 178,982 units in July rose 3.9% versus 2019, with fewer selling days. (CCFA)
  • Passenger car registrations in Spain during July of 117,929 units rose 1.1% versus 2019. (ANFAC)
  • July saw 136,455 passenger cars registered in Italy, down (11)% on July 2019. (UNRAE)
  • July UK passenger car registrations of 174,887 grew 11.3% versus July 2019. (SMMT)

Suppliers

  • Continental reported Q2 2020 revenue of €6.6 billion and EBIT of €(829) million. (Continental) Continental formed a joint venture for fluid connectors with smaller specialist firm aft Automotive. (Continental)
  • Veoneer completed the sale of its US brakes business to ZF. (Veoneer)
  • Adient reported Q2 2020 revenue of $1.6 billion and EBIT of $(269) million. (Adient)
  • BorgWarner reported Q2 2020 revenue of $1.4 billion and an operating loss of $(78) million. (BorgWarner)
  • Delphi (soon to merge with BorgWarner) reported Q2 2020 revenue of $628 million and an operating loss of $(60) million. (Delphi)
  • Bridgestone’s Q2 2020 revenue was 603 billion JPY (about $5.7 billion) and adjusted operating loss was (1.5) billion JPY (about $15 million). (Bridgestone)
  • Lear reported Q2 2020 revenue of $2.4 billion and a net loss of $(294) million. (Lear)
  • Kongsberg reported Q2 2020 revenue of €154 million and adjusted EBIT of €(33) million. (Kongsberg)
  • Allison Transmission reported Q2 2020 sales of $377 million and net income of $23 million. (Allison)
  • Grammer’s Q2 2020 revenue was €281 million, EBIT was €(22) million. (Grammer)
  • Martinrea reported Q2 2020 revenue of $461 million and a net loss of $(147) million. Despite the loss the company plans to pay a dividend. (Martinrea)
  • China Automotive Systems reported Q2 2020 sales of $83 million and an operating loss of $(5) million. (CAAS)
  • Schaeffler reported Q2 2020 revenue of €2.3 billion and EBIT of €(150) million. (Schaeffler)
  • Magna reported Q2 2020 revenue of $4.3 billion and an operating loss of $(789) million. The company will still pay a dividend. (Magna)

Dealers

  • Used car marketplace Spinny acquired Truebil. (Deal Street Asia)
  • Used car marketplace Carro raised an additional $11 million. (Deal Street Asia)
  • CarParts.com hopes to raised $52 million through a rights issue. (CarParts.com)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • Uber reported Q2 2020 revenues of $2.2 billion, a (29)% drop on a year-over-year basis. As revenues from ride hailing dropped (67)%, delivery rose 103%, and at $1.2 billion accounted for more than half of the company’s revenues, overtaking ride hailing for the first time. The company’s preferred adjusted EBITDA was a loss of $(837) million. (Uber)
  • Lyft reported Q2 2020 revenue of $339 million, down (61)% versus prior year reflecting a (60)% drop in active riders. The net loss was $(437) million. (Lyft)
  • Uber acquired taxi software maker Autocab. The plan is to use Autocab’s platform to get taxi companies to bid on trips for Uber customers, in markets where Uber isn’t active. (Autocab)
  • Grab reportedly raised $200 million. (Bloomberg)
  • Ride hailing service TADA’s owner raised $5 million. (Deal Street Asia)
  • Specialist ride hailing insurance start-up Buckle raised $31 million. (Buckle)
  • Hertz’s revenues fell (70)% in Q2 2020 versus prior year, even as the US fleet size remained steady. (Hertz)
  • The Free Now ride hailing joint venture between BMW and Daimler is profitable in major European markets, including the UK, according to the boss of UK operations. (Business Insider)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Anthony Levandowski, the engineer at the centre of an intellectual property theft case that Uber lost to Google, was sentenced to 18 months in prison. The judge said he wanted to make an example of him. (BBC)
  • Michigan plans to create a 40 mile stretch of road with a lane dedicated to self-driving vehicles. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Aptiv and Hyundai-Kia’s autonomous technology joint venture will be called Motional. (Motional)

Electrification (history)

  • Electric charging operator ChargePoint raised $127 million. (TechCrunch)
  • The CEO of lithium supplier Livent called for automakers to offer lucrative longer term contracts to encourage investment in mining capacity. Although he called hopes for lower prices when capacity investments are required “voodoo economics”, he didn’t offer an opinion on the effect of higher prices on demand. (Reuters)
  • Battery materials developer Coreshell Technologies raised $4 million. (Reuters)

Other

  • Electric scooter manufacturer Veo started fitting indicators to its products. (Veo)
  • Cocoa Motors launched a four wheeled balance board that the firm calls a “car in a bag”. (Cocoa Motors)

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Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 2nd August 2020

Big order numbers for Bronco; in search of working capital; and the French love E-FIRST. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 27th July to 2nd August 2020. A PDF version can be found here.

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

  • Mr. Writer 150,000 customers have placed orders for the new Ford Bronco. Hooray! This is the first time we’ve seen anyone quickly rack up a serious six digit pre-order number that merits mention in the same sentence as Tesla Model 3 or Cybertruck. But is talking about it off the cuff in an earnings call, as opposed to social media manipulation, the right way to build buzz?
  • Shout Workhorse published their IPO prospectus this week. The firm hopes to raise $675 million to move its truck from the prototype stage into production. Slide 23 illustrates some of the problems in the maths for start-ups… even though the company plans to build lots of expensive trucks, there isn’t anything in there for working capital — potentially a three digit million sum for the initial inventory — although there is a healthy “contingency” pot. Is this an oversight or have they invented a way to get negative working capital?  
  • This Is What You Came For After 2025, PSA says fully electric is the way forward. They showed off a new midsize car platform they’ve designed to have a big battery in the middle. If you don’t want (or can’t afford) a fully electric model, you can fit a hybrid in the front and reduce the battery size. It all sounds very like the E-FIRST proposal Ad Punctum and Evercore ISI made in late 2018: put the compromise on the internal combustion engine, not the electric bit. Coming in the same week as Renault’s new CEO sang the praises of the E-Tech motor-as-generator cars he has been driving, should other brands revisit their architectures?

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

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News about the major automakers

BMW (history)

  • BMW iVentures invested in connected technology company GenXComm. (BMW)

Daimler (history)

  • When the Citan’s successor launches in 2022, there will be a more carlike version called T-Class. (Daimler)
  • Agreed a series of cost saving measures with German unions. Most employees will work two hours less per week, without sacrificing any pay and bonuses will be either dropped or converted into time off. Union officials conceded that redundancies had not be avoided, but that packages would be voluntary. (Daimler)

FCA (history)

  • Reported Q2 2020 revenue of €11.7 billion, down (56)% versus prior year. Adjusted EBIT of €(928) million fell from a €1.5 billion profit in the prior year. Analysts were impressed that the North American unit made a small profit despite a (62)% drop in shipments. (FCA)
  • CEO Manley said that the trend for OEMs to progressively outsource component manufacture was “dangerous” and he expects competitors to get more involved in battery manufacture than they are today. (Seeking Alpha)
  • CEO Manley believes that GM and Ford have been too quick to develop all-electric pickup trucks but implied that the Ram brand will be able to quickly react if the forthcoming GM and Ford trucks are a hit. (Detroit News)

Ford (history)

  • Ford’s Q2 revenue of $19.4 billion, (50)% down on 2019, and adjusted EBIT loss of $(1.9) billion cheered investors who had been primed to expect a loss of closer to $(5) billion. Ford is now forecasting a full year loss, because of continued weakness and the cost of launching F-150. Whilst the all-electric Mustang Mach-E will launch this year, shipments won’t be significant enough to move the needle on revenue or profit. (Ford)
  • 150,000 customers have put down refundable $100 deposits for Ford Broncos. (Ford – Earnings transcript p4)
    • Significance: Bronco’s reservation numbers are the first to hold a candle to Tesla (admittedly the Model 3 heyday had a $1,000 tag, so there could be some price elasticity). The financial value of the deposits matters far less than the ethereal buzz such numbers attract.
  • Ford says that using legged robots, rather than static laser scanners, to survey a plant takes about half the time. There is also a potential to use airborne drones which are already used for mapping outdoors. (Ford)
  • Will commence fully online sales in the UK later this year, although the level of involvement from a human dealer in completing the transactions remains unclear. Ford’s top UK salesman admitted that the move could lead to job losses in dealerships. (Auto Express)

General Motors (history)

  • Reported Q2 2020 revenue of $16.8 billion, down (53)% versus prior year, and a $(536) million loss (on an adjusted basis). GM lost $(101) million in North America and continued to splash out on autonomous vehicles, albeit lopping almost one third of 2019’s spending level. GM was happy to talk about a scenario where profit recovered in the second half, but stressed that this was not the same as guidance. (GM)
  • CEO Barra refuses to rule out anything that might increase shareholder value — including renaming the company or spinning off the electric vehicle unit. (Seeking Alpha)
    • Significance: Talking about spin-offs in concept is all very well, but GM’s portfolio is defined by brand, no powertrain choice. How would an exercise to spin off electric vehicles be organised when there is no electric-only brand?
  • Partnering with the EVGo network in the USA (Nissan’s partner) to offer widespread fast charging. (GM)
  • Although the unveiling of the all-electric GMC Hummer truck has been delayed (from May), the start of production still seems to be on track for late 2021. (GM)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • Wants to take over the former GM site in St Petersburg, Russia. (Business Korea)

Mazda

  • Reported Q2 2020 sales of 244,148 cars, down (31)% on prior year. (Mazda)
  • In Q2 2020 (fiscal Q1), Mazda’s revenue of 377 billion JPY (about $3.6 billion), down (56)% on a year-over-year basis. The operating loss was (45) billion JPY (about $(430) million) — but this excluded the full impact of the factory shutdowns, which Mazda classed as a special item. By the end of the fiscal year (March 2021), Mazda expects sales to have recovered such that the year over year drop is only (8)%, with improvements in China partially offsetting a (14)% drop in other regions. The company expects to about breakeven in the next three quarters. (Mazda)

Nissan and Mitsubishi (history)

  • Nissan’s Q2 2020 (fiscal Q1) sales of 1.17 trillion JPY (about $11.1 billion) fell (51)% versus prior year. Operating income of (154) billion JPY (about $(1.5) billion) fell from a modest profit in Q2 2010, and excluded the cost of coronavirus shutdowns. In the full fiscal year (to March 2021), Nissan expects volumes to be (16)% lower than in the prior year, with the proviso that no second wave is assumed. (Nissan)
  • Reckons that 500km is the minimum range for a large all-electric vehicle. (Autocar)
  • Piloting a scheme for users to pay for parking by plugging in their electric cars and allowing to be discharged. (Nissan)
    • Significance: Paying for parking via allowing power to be drawn from the battery could be a successful entry route for broader vehicle to grid (V2G) schemes.
  • Mitsubishi produced 106,820 vehicles in Q2 2020, a drop of (66)% from prior year. (Mitsubishi)
  • Nissan and Mitsubishi are considering building an all-electric kei car together, which would leave Suzuki (Nissan’s historic partner) in the lurch. (Mitsubishi)

PSA (history)

  • Reported first half revenue of €25.1 billion, a drop of (34)% versus prior year. Operating income of €482 million fell (81)%. The firm made €820 million of cost reductions versus 2019 1st half. (PSA)
  • Announced that it has been working on an electrified platform, called eVMP, that focuses on packing as much battery into the centre of the cabin as possible. The platform is totally optimised for electric vehicles, but will be flexible for hybrid versions too. (PSA)
  • Opel has given up its national sales company and turned to an importer model in Romania. (Opel)
  • Faurecia reported first half 2020 revenue of €6.2 billion, down (31)% on a year over year basis and an operating loss of €(114) million, down from a €645 million profit in the prior year. (Faurecia)
  • Separating the Free2Move mobility organisation so that, whilst it remains 100% owned by PSA, decisions can be made without reference to what the car business needs. (PSA)

Renault (history)

  • Renault reported first half revenue pf €18.4 billion, down (34)% from prior year. An EBIT loss of €(2) billion fell from a €1.5 billion profit in the prior year. (Renault)
  • Renault’s new CEO says that in the four weeks he has been on board the company has taken as many product decisions as in the preceding two years. He believes that the Renault brand needs to become less reliant of smaller city cars and move into the C or C+ segment (an area where Renault has ceded ground in recent years). He implied a product onslaught around 2023 / 2024 would improve things. He also believes that Renault’s E-Tech hybrid (a motor as generator set up without a conventional gearbox) is the right way for hybrids in Europe. (Seeking Alpha)

Subaru

  • Produced 92,927 cars in Q2 2020, a drop of (65)% from the prior year. (Subaru)

Suzuki

  • Reported Q2 2020 (fiscal Q1) sales of 425 billion JPY (about $4 billion), down (53)% on a year-over-year basis. Operating income of 1.3 billion JPY (about $12 million) fell (98)%. The company refused to give full year guidance, citing the continued spread of coronavirus in India. (Suzuki)

Tata (includes JLR) (history)

  • Reported Q2 2020 (fiscal Q1) revenue of 31,983 Cr INR (about $4.3 billion), down (48)% on a year-over-year basis. JLR’s revenue (included in the prior number was £2.9 billion, down (44)% YoY. There was a before tax loss of (6,184) Cr INR (about $(820) million), of which £(413) million was attributable to JLR. (Tata)  
  • JLR’s new CEO is ex-Renault boss Thierry Bolloré. He will start in September. (JLR)

Toyota (history)

  • Sold 1.85 million vehicles in Q2 2020, down (31)% on the prior year. Sales in China were up versus 2019. (Toyota)
  • Toyota’s automated driving unit will split into two divisions. One will concentrate on self-driving vehicles whilst the other will work on infrastructure technologies and business models that extend beyond making and selling vehicles. Both will be branded as “Woven City”. (Toyota)
  • Taking a stake in electric drive maker BluE Nexus (a joint venture between Denso and Aisin Seiki). (Toyota)

VW Group (history)

  • VW Group’s Q2 2020 revenue was €41.1 billion, a fall of (37)% versus prior year. Operating profit was €(2.4) billion, down from over €5 billion in 2019. VW blamed the entire drop on volume and mix, exchange and poor performance in the non-car making arms. The firm still aims to be profitable in the full year and pay a dividend in 2020, albeit less than was originally planned. (VW)

Other

  • Aston Martin Q2 2020 revenue of £67 million, dropped (68)% on a year-over-year basis. The operating loss of £(83) million fell from a £(36) million loss in the prior year. The firm disclosed a restatement to prior year financials that reduced 2019 EBIT.  Aston Martin said revenues were in down partly because of de-stocking – dealer inventory now sits at about three months of sales. Although the DBX is in production, the sportscar factory won’t restart until the end of August. (Aston Martin)
  • McLaren is now financially secure, according to the F1 team’s boss. (Motorsport.com)
  • Chinese all-electric vehicle company XPeng has reportedly raised $300 million, on top of the $500 million the firm recently announced. (CNBC)
  • Fisker didn’t finalise a deal to use VW’s MEB platform by the end of July as planned but the firm remains upbeat, hoping that an agreement will be reached by September. Fisker believes it has credible back-up options should the talks with VW fail. (Reuters)
  • Lucid’s self-driving suite will be branded DreamDrive. The company says that the hardware (including lidar) will be capable of SAE L3 driving, and over time the software will be too. (Lucid)
  • Lordstown plans to list via a merger with a special purpose vehicle called DiamondPeak. (Lordstown)
    • Significance: Lordstown’s plan calls for $675 million to get the vehicle into production and achieve a cash flow positive condition. $320 million of this is reserved for unforeseen contingencies. Missing from the plan appears to be working capital, which could easily reach three digits if sales aren’t immediate.

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • European manufacturers association ACEA published a new data book. (ACEA)

Suppliers

  • ZF is merging its electric powertrain division with the unit that makes traditional drivetrains and says it will no longer develop parts for vehicles that exclusively use internal combustion engines. (ZF)
  • Toyoda Gosei will offer in-car wireless charging using technology supplied by Ossia. The companies claim that devices can be charged even if they are several feet from the power source. (Toyoda Gosei)
  • Faurecia is buying into a seating joint venture with BAIC by taking over the DAS Group’s stake. (Faurecia)
  • Alfa is divesting its stake in Nemak, which will become separately listed. (Alfa)
  • Dana reported Q2 2020 revenue of $1.1 billion (down (53)% YoY) and a net loss of $(173) million. (Dana)
  • Aptiv reported Q2 2020 revenue of $2 billion (down (46)% YoY) and a net loss of $(369) million. (Aptiv)
  • American Axle’s Q2 2020 sales were $515 million (down (70)% YoY), with a net loss of $(213) million. (AAM)
  • Visteon reported Q2 2020 sales of $371 million (down (48)% YoY), with a net loss of $(45) million. (Visteon)
  • Meritor reported Q2 2020 sales of $514 million (down (56)% YoY) and a net loss of $(36) million. (Meritor)
  • Goodyear reported Q2 2020 sales of $2.1 billion (down (41)% YoY) and a net loss of $(696) million. (Goodyear)
  • Michelin saw a (33)% drop in tyre shipments during Q2 2020. 1st half light vehicle revenues fell (24)% compared to prior year. Light vehicle revenue of €4.4 billion and operating income was €(35) million. (Michelin)
  • Stoneridge’s Q2 2020 sales were $100 million (down (55)% YoY) and a net loss of $(22) million. (Stoneridge)
  • Faurecia reported first half 2020 revenue of €6.2 billion, down (31)% on a year over year basis and an operating loss of €(114) million, down from a €645 million profit in the prior year. (Faurecia)
  • Continental claims to have the most powerful supercomputer in the automotive industry. (Continental)

Dealers

  • Online used car seller Auto1 raised €255 million. (Reuters)
  • Classifieds company Auto Trader acquired AutoConvert, which helps dealers offer financing. (Motor Trader)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Toyota’s automated driving unit will split into two divisions. One will concentrate on self-driving vehicles whilst the other will work on infrastructure technologies and business models that extend beyond making and selling vehicles. Both will be branded as “Woven City”. (Toyota)

Electrification (history)

  • Nissan is piloting a scheme for users to pay for parking by plugging in their electric cars and allowing to be discharged. (Nissan)

Connectivity

  • Cybersecurity firm Cybellum raised $12 million. (Cybellum)

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Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 26th July 2020

Waymo in sales mode; Ford lets MobilEye co-brand driver assistance; and GM’s sunny view of the future. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 20th July to 26th July 2020. 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)

  • Rolls-Royce’s boss suggested that the yet-to-be-unveiled Ghost will contain design features reflecting the move towards “post-opulence” – a consumer trend identified by the firm’s inhouse luxury trend research unit. Traditionalists fear not, there will still be “a sense of theatre and magic”. (BMW)

Daimler (history)

  • Reported Q2 2020 financial results (after announcing preliminary figures last week). Group revenue of €30.2 billion fell (29)% on a year-over-year basis whilst EBIT of €(1.7) billion compared to a €(1.6) billion loss in the prior year. Free cash flow was positive and Daimler expects to make a profit in the full year. (Daimler)
  • Reorganising the manufacturing and research areas so that powertrain, covering all fuel types and electrification, will sit within a single group (which will report into the R&D head). (Daimler)
    • Significance: It is unclear whether the move is to simplify reporting or something deeper — perhaps in time a divestment? Grouping all powertrain activities into a single group is not new, having been implemented and sometime unwound by other manufacturers. What gives this significance is the impending transition to electrification (in countries with good infrastructure), and the difficult choices over capital allocation and labour that this raises.
  • Reckons that by 2025, 25% of new Mercedes sales will take place online. Despite this, the brand is moving relatively slowly to digitalise sales systems so that customers can use the same order details at home or in the dealer (as they can with Tesla today): by 2021 Mercedes will only operate the system in three markets. (Daimler)
  • Colleagues are reportedly sniping at Daimler’s head of in-car software, telling reporters writing a near puff piece on his efforts to overhaul Daimler’s coding competence that he isn’t good at managing people. (Handelsblatt)

FCA (history)

  • Signed an agreement for self-driving vehicles with Waymo. FCA will be the exclusive provider of vans for Waymo to use in delivery services and FCA will exclusively use Waymo’s self-driving technology for L4 (occasional self-driving) capabilities in all its vehicles. This calls into question the fate of FCA’s collaborations with BMW / MobilEye and Aurora to develop self-driving technologies. (FCA)
  • FCA’s offices were search by German authorities investing emissions cheating. (Reuters)
  • Images purporting to be of a near-production Alfa Romeo Tonale small all-electric SUV leaked online. (Autocar)

Ford (history)

  • Will use Intel’s MobilEye to supply camera sensors for safety features such as automatic headlights and adaptive cruise control. As part of the deal, Ford will sport MobilEye branding inside the infotainment system. (Ford)
    • Significance: The public co-branding of certain safety systems implies that Ford is interested in pursuing this route in future (e.g. Argo) and that MobileEye sees it as useful to build the brand. It will be interesting to see whether consumers notice, now or if and when the supplier changes.
  • Recalling about 25,000 cars because the power seats could scrape against the wires underneath them, 1,330 trucks because they are missing some heat shielding that stops the floor becoming hot, and a small number of cars and vans to fix faulty airbags. (Ford)
  • Installing a new press line, costing $30 million, at the Craiova, Romania plant. Ford said this was so the factory wouldn’t have to import so many parts from other factories. (SeeNews)
    • Significance: With coronavirus imposing spending freezes across much of the automotive world, going ahead with an investment in a press line suggests that either Ford needs the capacity in other press shops or that it wants to be in a position to restructure other plants without Craiova being affected.
  • The rave reception for the new Bronco earned CEO Hackett a puff piece interview where he talked about what hard work the turnaround of Ford has been and how happy he is that the company is on the up. (Business Insider)
  • Secured a £500 million loan guarantee from the UK government. (The Guardian)

Geely (includes Volvo) (history)

  • Volvo reported 1st half 2020 revenue of 111.8 billion SEK (about $12.8 billion), down (14)% on a year-over-year basis. An EBIT loss of (989) million SEK (about $(113) million) compared to a 5.5 billion SEK (about $630 million) profit in 2019. The brand is expecting a fast recovery and thinks sales volumes in the second half of 2020 might match those of 2019. (Volvo)
  • Volvo and Geely’s merger talks have been put on hold (Geely owns almost 100% of Volvo anyway) because of the need to finalise the latter’s listing in Shanghai, which is consuming corporate resources. (Reuters)

General Motors (history)

  • CEO Barra isn’t worried that a second wave of coronavirus will shut factories in the USA because of the precautions her company is taking. She thinks that in 2021, sales will be at 90% of 2019 levels. (Detroit News)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • Hyundai’s Q2 2020 revenue was 21,859 billion KRW (about $18.3 billion), down (19)% on a year-over-year basis. Profit before tax of 590 billion KRW (about $49 million) fell (57)%. A strong improvement in mix partially offset the massive volume reductions due to coronavirus. (Hyundai)
  • Kia reported Q2 2020 revenue of 11,369 billion KRW (about $9.5 billion), down (22)% versus 2019. Profit before tax of 211 billion KRW (about $18 million) fell (68)%. Kia saw a similar positive mix to Hyundai, but not as strongly. In Q2 sales in South Korea accounted for 39% of all revenue (it was 22% in Q2 2019). (Kia)

Nissan and Mitsubishi (history)

  • Mitsubishi reported fiscal Q1 2020/2021 (calendar Q2 2020) revenue of 229.5 billion JPY (about $2.2 billion), down (57)% on a year-over-year basis. An operating loss of (53.3) billion JPY (about $510 million) compared to a small profit in 2019. (Mitsubishi)
  • Mitsubishi announced a turnaround plan. The brand will concentrate on ASEAN and hopes to leverage experience in hybrids (including the plug-in kind) in increasing market share in the region to 11%. The next priority is Africa, Oceania and South America. There is also a target to cut fixed costs by (20)% compared with 2019. (Mitsubishi)
  • Mitsubishi said that the previous plan increased fixed costs by 30% but was largely successful in increasing revenue and sales (if you ignore coronavirus). The plant in Gifu, Japan, called Pajero Manufacturing, will be closed and the brand will not expand the portfolio in Europe. The plan calls for R&D spending to fall by about one third by 2022 (from 2019 levels) but capital spending will stay about the same.(Mitsubishi – look at the presentation)
  • Nissan is having trouble convincing workers at the Barcelona, Spain, plant to return for work after the impending closure of the factory was announced in May. (Reuters)

PSA (history)

  • Acquired Portuguese parts reuse specialist Amanhã Global as part of PSA vertical integration strategy to cover more of the vehicle lifecycle, in this case by providing reused parts more cheaply than brand new. (PSA)
  • Opel is moving from a national sales company to an importer in Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. (Opel)

Renault (history)

  • Sold 672,962 vehicles in Q2 2020, a drop of (43)% versus Q2 2019. The sole highlight was the all-electric ZOE model which saw a 23% increase, despite coronavirus related shutdowns. (Renault)

Tesla (history)

  • Reported financial results for Q2 2020. Automotive revenue of $5.179 billion fell (4)% versus 2019 whilst operating income of $327 million compared to a $(167) million loss in 2019. Tesla has now reported positive operating income and net income for the past four quarters, although most of this is explained by sales of emissions credits. Although it remains high, at $713 million, the value of advance customer deposits Tesla holds has started to fall again (it has been rising since Q3 2019). (Tesla)
  • On the earnings call CEO Musk confirmed that a small car and minibus are somewhere in the product plan. He also said that the self-driving software is developing quickly – although even on his well-worn route to work he still has to take the wheel sometimes. Austin was officially confirmed as the location for the next factory. (Seeking Alpha)
  • Filed a lawsuit against Rivian, accusing the firm of nicking employees and technology. (Bloomberg)
  • Rumours surfaced of a project codenamed “Palladium” — said to be a powertrain overhaul for Model S and Model X, and possibly more… (Electrek)

Toyota (history)

  • Reports that Toyota was asking for suppliers to reduce prices outside the normal negotiation window led to speculation that the company is acting in an uncharacteristically confrontational way. (Nikkei)

VW Group (history)

  • Announced that selected partners will be able to interface with machines and IT systems at VW plants via a specialised app store created by VW, Amazon and Siemens. (VW)
  • Was embarrassed by leaked tapes of secret recordings made by an unknown mischief-maker inside VW’s project team tasked with solving the 2016 dispute with supplier Prevent (who threatened VW with parts shortages unless they were granted lucrative future contracts). VW dismissed the materials, which included a variety of strong arm tactics and anecdotes about well connected movers and shakers, as scenarios. Prevent said they had no idea who made the recordings and they had never heard them. (Business Insider)
  • VW Group’s executive shake-up is reportedly set to continue with the VW brand’s head of sales apparently next in the firing line. (Handelsblatt)
  • Audi is working with Hager Group on bi-directional charging with the aim of developing a home charging facility that could help smooth grid demand. (Audi)

Other

  • AM General, famed maker of the US Army’s Humvee, is being sold to an investment firm. (AM General)
  • Twisted launched an all-electric version of the original Land Rover Defender (the company keeps a stock of bodies for rebuild). (Twisted)
  • The cycling team sponsored by Ineos will be renamed ahead of the Tour de France to the Ineos Grenadiers as part of a promotional push for the forthcoming model. (Team INEOS)
  • All-electric bus maker Proterra is reportedly considering an IPO. (Reuters)
  • Nikola is hoping to raise around $260 million by compelling owners of share purchase options warrants to use them or lose them. (Nikola)
  • AYLI plans to raise $100 million through an offering of cryptocurrency to fund the first stage of development for electric delivery trucks made of hemp and the rollout of a fleet of electric motorcycles. The cryptocurrency, called RevoltTOKEN is “entirely independent from ALYI and completely dedicated to ALYI”. (AYLI)
  • Electric commercial vehicle maker Via Motors reportedly hopes to raise $250 million. (Bloomberg)
  • Li Auto (formerly CHJ Automotive) updated their IPO prospectus with a target of raising $950 million, plus a further $380 million from a private placement of shares. (Nikkei)

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • The French scrappage bonus is becoming tougher to qualify for, from the beginning of August. The maximum household income will be lowered and only the lowest emitting non-electric models receive grants. (Les Echos)
  • European registrations of 758,166 light commercial vehicles in the first half of 2020 fell (33.8)% compared with the same period in 2019. (ACEA)

Suppliers

  • Bosch reorganised its automotive electronics and software units into one division. (Bosch)
  • Battery maker CATL raised $2.8 billion. (Deal Street Asia)
  • CIE Automotive’s Q2 2020 revenue was €386 million, down (57)% vs 2019. EBIT was €(14) million. (CIE)
  • Nidec’s Q2 2020 revenue was 337 billion JPY (about $3.2 billion), down (7)% on a year-over-year basis. Profit before tax of 28 billion JPY (about $263 million) fell (10)%. (Nidec)
  • Veoneer reported $184 million of revenue in Q2 2020, down (62)% versus prior year. The operating loss of $(64) million was actually an improvement on 2019. The company expects global industry will not make a full recovery until 2023. (Veoneer)
  • Valeo reported 1st half 2020 revenue of €7.1 billion and operating margin of €(840) million. The firm took a series of write-downs and has cut thousands of jobs. It will stop providing the indicator controls that sit behind steering wheels. (Valeo)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • Didi Chuxing launched Huaxiaozhu, a new brand providing ride hailing for cost conscious consumers. Since Didi’s existing infrastructure, drivers and standards are used, the basis for the savings is unclear. (Auto Rental News)
  • Gett raised an additional $100 million. (TechCrunch)
  • Rental company fleet management service Swoop raised $3.2 million. (Swoop)
  • Non-emergency medical transport marketplace Roundtrip raised $4 million. (FINSMES)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Netradyne says it has collected data from one billion miles of driving in North America. The company’s system monitors the driver and the external environment and Netradyne believes knowledge of how drivers approach the same roads differently according to environmental conditions and physical constraints gives it the edge over others trying to understand how to teach machines to drive. (Netradyne)
  • Velodyne and Hesai Photonics settled a legal dispute through a licencing agreement. (Velodyne)
  • Local Motors is partnering with Beep, hoping that users of the latter’s mobility as a service platform might be more likely to purchase a vehicle that can more easily be integrated into it. (Beep)
  • Radar developer Beijing Qinglei raised “millions of US dollars”. (Deal Street Asia)
  • Ford will use Intel’s MobilEye to supply camera sensors for safety features such as automatic headlights and adaptive cruise control. As part of the deal, Ford will sport MobilEye branding inside the infotainment system. Ford hasn’t committed to MobilEye’s “Roadbook” map-building program, but will experiment with it. (Ford)
  • FCA signed an agreement for self-driving vehicles with Waymo. FCA will be the exclusive provider of vans for Waymo to use in delivery services and FCA will exclusively use Waymo’s self-driving technology for L4 (occasional self-driving) capabilities in all its vehicles. This calls into question the fate of FCA’s collaborations with BMW / MobilEye and Aurora to develop self-driving technologies. (FCA)
    • Significance: The announcement leaves Aurora’s vision of selling to multiple OEMs seemingly in tatters, although it is still working with Hyundai-Kia.

Connectivity

  • Connected vehicle software start-up Sibros raised $12 million. (Sibros)

Other

  • Scooter rental is becoming blasé. Now you can subscribe to an electric bike thanks to German start-up DANCE. The only downside is that you can’t simply drop it on the pavement, because you’re the only one using it. (Reuters)

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Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 19th July 2020

PSA and FCA choose a new name; Porsche keeps up product spending; and will cool technology make it into your car? Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 13th July to 19th July 2020. A PDF version can be found here.

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

  • In The Name of Love PSA and FCA, once merged, will be called Stellantis. Whilst it would be odd for Ad Punctum to sneer at a Latin name, it leaves me as cold as Diageo 20 years ago. Yes, PSA might often be confused with the Singaporean ports operator, yes many think of Britain’s financial regulator when they hear FCA, but we knew they meant Peugeot, they meant Fiat (itself an acronym, I know), they meant Chrysler. Where is the romance?
  • Going For GoldPorsche’s cycle plan is unaffected by coronavirus. Bad news for competitors; the company is in the middle of a product overhaul and doesn’t want to stop. The next generation of products seems aimed squarely at Tesla, and now we can look forward to seeing them on time. How many others will be able to continue so serenely?
  • New Rules Mahle is making pistons with 3D printing. They say that, because the material structure can be varied so much, the pistons are lighter and higher performance (which you can turn into power or economy). The technology is too slow for mass manufacturing at the moment — it takes about 12 hours to print a set, and then further machining is required — but it is yet another example of the possibilities for improving internal combustion engines. Cool, but will it ever be cost effective?

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)

  • Launched the all-electric version of the X3, the iX3. (BMW) BMW’s CEO reckons that his company’s timing in releasing electric vehicles is “perfect”. (BMW)
  • Rolls-Royce claims to have the best air filtration in the World, but rather than follow Tesla’s “Bioweapon Defense Mode” naming example, Rolls went with “MEPS”. (BMW)
  • Signed a battery supply contract with Northvolt, starting in 2024 and worth €2 billion. (BMW)

Daimler (history)

  • Daimler announced preliminary results for Q2 2020, saying that they were better than the market had expected. Group EBIT was a €1.7 billion loss and €(700) million on an adjusted basis. (Daimler)
  • Will stop producing C-Class in Alabama, USA and the A-Class in Mexico. (Reuters)
  • Reportedly considering offloading the Iracemápolis, Brazil, plant and a majority stake in the Lab 1886 startup incubator. Products under threat apparently include the B-Class and various niche bodystyles such as CLA shooting brake, A-Class sedan and the burgeoning coupe / cabriolet line up. (Handelsblatt)
  • CEO Källenius said Volvo was a potential partner, but he had no plans to add brands to Daimler’s stable. He also sees a 700km range as the key milestone for electric vehicles in future. (Handelsblatt)

FCA (history)

  • Unveiled an updated version of the Maserati Ghibli. (Maserati)
  • After they merge, FCA and PSA will be called Stellantis. (FCA)

Ford (history)

  • Unveiled the resurrected Bronco, a rugged SUV in the Jeep Wrangler / Land Rover Defender mould. (Ford) A softer sibling, called the Bronco Sport was also shown off. (Ford)
  • Ford took a leaf out of Tesla’s book and launched a $100 refundable deposit for the early interest in the car. Executives were pleased with the down payments received, but cagey on how big they were. (Detroit News)
  • Launching a branded contract hire offer for UK fleets in conjunction with ALD. (Motor Trader)

General Motors (history)

  • Released its 2019 sustainability report. (GM)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • Hyundai and Kia now jointly plan to sell one million electric vehicles a year by 2025. The prior target was 670,000 units, including fuel cells. (Reuters)
  • Kia invested in a mobility joint venture called Purple M alongside Code2.ai, a South Korean transportation as a service firm. (Kia)

Nissan and Mitsubishi (history)

  • Unveiled the production version of the Nissan Ariya all-electric SUV. (Nissan) The yearly sales target is reportedly 100,000 once all major markets have launched. (Reuters)
  • Showed the Nissan Magnite SUV for emerging markets. The car is more highly styled than many entry-level rivals, which may give it a sales edge. (Autocar)
  • Nissan Airya’s used of the CCS charging standard appears to be the death knell for CHAdeMO. (Inside EVs)
  • Nissan has a new logo. (Design Week)
  • Reportedly expects full year production to drop (30)% on a year-over-year basis. (Reuters)

PSA (history)

  • Sold 1.033 million vehicles in the first half of 2020, down (46)% on a year-over-year basis. The company is confident that it will meet its 2020 EU fleet CO2 target. (PSA)
  • PSA’s retail arm is trialling a range of new digital capabilities, including trade-in value, upfront agreement of financing and home delivery. (PSA)
  • After they merge, FCA and PSA will be called Stellantis. (FCA) Apparently, the name was the second proposal after the initial idea was shot down in January. (Les Echos)

Tata (includes JLR) (history)

  • Tata Sons is reportedly looking to raise $1 billion to pump into various subsidiaries including Tata Motors. (Livemint)

Tesla (history)

  • A German court told Tesla they couldn’t use the Autopilot name, or refer to the potential for fully autonomous driving. CEO Musk said maybe the term Autobahn should be ruled illegal too. (BBC)

Toyota (history)

  • Recalling around 183,000 Tundra pickup trucks to fix problems with the indicators. (Toyota)

VW Group (history)

  • Volkswagen’s Sitech seating unit will become part a 50/50 seating joint venture with Brose. (VW)
  • Porsche’s in-house consultancy published a thought piece about capital allocation, the focus is almost purely on product selection. (Porsche)
  • Porsche’s CEO says that the product cycle plan is unaffected by financial pressures from coronavirus. (Porsche)
  • Imposed a hiring freeze in Germany that will last until at least the end of 2020. (Manager Magazin)

Other

  • Mullen raised $135 million in debt to fund a new plant for its forthcoming SUV. (Mullen)
  • Fisker confirmed it will list via a merger with a special purpose vehicle. The company claims an enterprise value of $1.9 billion and says it will get $1 billion to spend. (Fisker) The firm’s Ocean SUV will use VW’s MEB all-electric platform and batteries (hopefully) and there are eight products in the plan for launch by 2026. (Fisker)#
  • Xpeng raised a further $500 million. (Xpeng)

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • European passenger car registrations during June of 1,131,843 units fell (24)% on a year-over-year basis. In the first six months, sales of 5.1 million units fell (40)% versus prior year. (ACEA)

Suppliers

  • Mahle is making prototype pistons using additive manufacturing. Since each set takes around 12 hours to print, plus incremental precision machining, the technology isn’t mass production ready yet but is being used in limited-edition Porsche models. Mahle found that the ability to carefully choose where material is thicker (or thinner) inside the piston helps performance. (Mahle)
  • News that Toyota has started buying high end steel from China Baowu has reported rattled the car makers Japanese steel supply base. (Nikkei)
  • Linamar said the business would make a loss in Q2 2020, but not as bad as expected. (Linamar)
  • TomTom reported Q2 2020 revenues (41)% lower than prior year. (TomTom)
  • Grammer expects to lose around €(50) million in Q2 2020, revenue is about half. (Grammer)
  • Autoliv reported Q2 2020 revenue of $1 billion and an operating loss of $(243) million. The company cut personnel costs by (25)% on a quarter over quarter basis. (Autoliv)
  • Brose is forming a 50/50 joint venture for seating with VW that includes the latter’s Sitech operation. (VW)
  • BMW handed Northvolt a battery supply contract worth €2 billion. (BMW)

Dealers

  • Online car trader Cazoo, acquired used UK car supermarket chain Imperial Cars. (Automotive Manager)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • Uber acquired Routematch, which provides planning software to public transport fleets. (Uber) The firm reportedly hopes to sell a $500 million stake in Uber Freight. (Bloomberg)
  • Uber launched an intercity bus service in Egypt. Coupled with taxis, this could make for long distance door to door travel. (Startup MGZN)
  • Subscription firm Drover raised £20.5 million. (FINSMES)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Self-driving truck start-up Plus.ai is looking to raise $60 million. (The Information)
  • VW target Navistar acquired a minority stake in self-driving vehicle developer TuSimple and the two of them will create autonomous trucks together, with a plan to launch in 2024. (Reuters)

Electrification (history)

  • Battery supplier Britishvolt plans to site its new UK factory in St Athan, Wales. (BBC)
  • Nissan Airya’s used of the CCS charging standard appears to be the death knell for CHAdeMO. (Inside EVs)
  • Electric car incentives in Germany are so rich that some dealers are reportedly offering customers Renault Zoe leases for free. (Bloomberg)
  • Daimler CEO Källenius sees a 700km range as the key milestone for electric vehicles in future. (Handelsblatt)

Connectivity

  • Uber renewed a contract to use Google Maps. The companies agreed a change in the pricing model (which potentially incentivises Google to promote Uber’s fares above competitors. (Yahoo)

Other

  • Aston Martin’s recently departed boss is back, at the helm of bus maker Optare. (Autocar)
  • Cost estimating firm Munro is selling a detailed report for the BMW i3 for $10. Although the product is dated, the thinking about vehicle cost structure is contemporary. Anyone interested in how to think about vehicle cost should consider it. (Munro)

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