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 24th January 2021

VW’s electric platform short shelf life; Rivian’s mystery cash hoard; and a breakthrough for battery swapping? Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 18th January to 24th January 2021. A PDF version can be found here.

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

  • Let Me Let Go VW is working on a smash hit electric car, dubbed Project Trinity. In a bid to ensure that it is a great success, VW’s engineers are reportedly set to abandon the much-hallowed MEB dedicated electric platform. Why? Because they have apparently figured out a much better way to do things… the same reason they use every time they bin a mega platform. Will this next time be different?
  • Give It Away Rivian raised another $2.6 billion, taking the total to $8 billion. It normally takes around $1 billion – $1.5 billion to bring a vehicle to production at high volume, including the factory. Rivian has been developing two: a pickup and a van for Amazon. And maybe a smaller car too. It’s fair to say that extra money is needed for things like inventory, but it doesn’t really explain $5 billion or so. What are they planning to spend it all on?
  • Swap it Out SK Innovation took a stake in BAIC’s Chinese battery swapping business. It seems like the big drawback with battery swapping as it stands is that all the car makers have incompatible designs, resulting in unique swapping infrastructure. If battery suppliers like SK Innovation start getting involved, could standardisation become more likely?

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)

  • Ahead of the vehicle’s launch, BMW is clearly hoping to position the all-electric i4 as a superior driver’s car to the Tesla models it will compete against. (BMW)
  • CFO Peter says BMW is concerned that Chinese customers place a high importance on digital experience and it risks defections to the likes of Nio, if it isn’t competitive. (Reuters)

Daimler (history)

  • Unveiled the all-electric EQA (effectively a battery powered GLA with a new front grille). (Daimler)
  • Mercedes is confident it will resolve semi-conductor shortages soon. (Reuters)

Ford (history)

  • Stopping production at the Saarlouis, Germany, plant for one month because of the semiconductor shortage. (CNN)
  • US regulators forced Ford to recall 3 million cars to replace Takata airbag inflators on the driver side. Ford had already replaced passenger side units and wanted to avoid a second repair. (Reuters)

Geely (includes Volvo) (history)

  • Geely is working with Tencent on a range of subjects including digitalisation, autonomous driving, infotainment and low carbon technologies. (Geely)

General Motors (history)

  • Cruise raised an additional $2 billion from existing investors, with Microsoft joining in too. The software firm will supply cloud computing services to the autonomous vehicle unit as part of the deal. (GM)
  • Warned Indian authorities that if they stymied its efforts to close a car factory in the country, it might deter others from investing in the first place. (Reuters)

Honda (history)

  • Will start tests on Japanese roads using vehicles supplied by Cruise as a precursor to the launch of a robo taxi business once the Cruise Origin is available. (Honda)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • Invested in automated inspection company UVeye. (Autocar)

Nissan and Mitsubishi (history)

  • Nissan is closing its Almera, Philippines, assembly plant. (Nikkei)
  • Nissan declared itself satisfied with the post-Brexit trade deal and said it will move additional battery production to the UK. (BBC)

Renault (history)

  • Renault Samsung has offered voluntary redundancy to nearly all its workers. (Chosun Ilbo)

Stellantis (formed via the merger of PSA and FCA)

  • Published a post-merger overview to explain why the enlarged company will be so strong. Stellantis believes that vehicle costs will rise between 20% – 40% (based on figures from consultants) because of new regulations and technologies. (Stellantis)
  • Announced the key post-merger executive positions, and their holders. The structure is a matrix of brand heads (e.g. Jeep, Peugeot), regional sales groups (e.g. North America, Europe) and global functions (e.g. manufacturing, engineering). There are several points which appear unresolved — Jeep sitting as a sole “global SUV” brand rather than within the premium group; ex-FCA CEO sitting as “Head of the Americas” — separate to the head of North and South America — without an equivalent anywhere else in the World. (Stellantis)
  • CEO Tavares said that the Stellantis merger would protect jobs because the company would be so strong that it could afford to invest in great new products, even in an industry downturn. He also appeared to set aside plans for Peugeot to enter the US market, saying that it might be better to simply concentrate on existing brands and introduce European products under those marques (something that GM largely failed to do successfully). (Detroit Free Press)
    • Significance: It might later transpire that Mr Tavares means jobs have been preserved versus an imaginary level of cuts both companies would have needed to make if they remained independent. Workers at Opel / Vauxhall would certainly disagree with the statement that all jobs have been preserved following their takeover by PSA.
  • CEO Tavares, who until recently threatened the future of the Ellesmere Port, UK, plant if there wasn’t a post-Brexit trade agreement (which there now is), threatened the future of the Ellesmere Port, UK, plant if the government doesn’t step in with grants to bolster the business case for electric vehicles. He says the government needs to do this because it plans to end the sale of cars powered purely by internal combustion engines, which he called “brutally” changing the rules. (BBC)
    • Significance: As an international player with a strong historical presence in Italy, France and the USA, CEO Tavares is likely to feel confident in leaning on governments and unions in countries which are less important strategically (think Canada, UK, Spain and Germany).

Tesla (history)

  • Sued a recently hired, and then quickly fired, employee for allegedly stealing trade secrets. He claims that he simply made copies so he could work more easily from home. (CNBC)

Toyota (history)

  • Toyota manufacturing plants in Japan are reportedly loaning staff from aircraft parts makers such as Mitsubishi Heavy and Kawasaki Heavy to ramp up production. Their parent companies apparently have little for them to do, owing to a downturn in the aviation market. (Nikkei)

VW Group (history)

  • Announced preliminary financial results for full year 2020. Operating profit (excluding special items) was around €10 billion whilst automotive net cash flow was about €6 million. (VW)
  • As anticipated, VW “narrowly” missed its European fleet CO2 target for 2020 (i.e. by about 0.5 g/km CO2 against a target of around 98.5g/km). Rather than dwell on the failure, the company heralded the performance of the VW and Audi brands in meeting their emissions targets (thus pointing the finger of blame at SEAT and Škoda), whilst promising to fix the problem for 2021. There won’t be any hit to profits from the fines because VW has been reserving for them just in case. (VW)
  • Will stop selling the mainstream Golf in the USA, although sporty GTi and R models will still be available. (VW)
  • Porsche increased its investment in APX, a venture capital firm it owns with media giant Axel Springer. (Porsche)
  • Porsche launched a entry level version of the Taycan, in addition to a smaller battery and motor, the car has a lower maximum charging rate. With Porsche implying massive demand for the Taycan, it remains to be seen how many of this derivative will be sold. (Porsche)
  • After declaring a successful launch for the ID.3 and ID.4, VW is dissolving the special executive role dedicated to looking after electric cars. The incumbent will become head of development for all the brand’s cars. (VW)
  • Announced the formation of a Chinese joint venture with long-time partner FAW for all-electric premium vehicles. VW and Audi will own 60% of the company. (VW)
  • Reportedly looking at charging Bosch and Continental with some of the costs it will incur to deal with the shortage of semiconductors. (Handelsblatt)
  • Seeking to bury the mistakes of the past when changes to emissions rules have caught the company out, Audi said that it had already converted all engines over to the EU 6d standard. (Audi)
  • Rumour has it that VW’s next generation battery electric vehicle program, supposedly dubbed Project Trinity, will have a unique platform that will unleash massive new potential for manufacturing efficiencies. (Autocar)
    • Significance: If true, the move would indicate that VW is dispensing with the MEB platform after a single cycle of product, rather than the many generations executives initially promised, significantly eroding one of the key arguments in favour of dedicated mega-platforms: that they are so versatile you can use them over and over again.

Other

  • Rivian raised $2.6 billion in fresh funding, taking the total to $8 billion. (Rivian)
  • Aiways is reportedly looking to raise funds, whilst preparing for an old-school IPO later in 2021. (Deal Street Asia)
  • BYD raised $4 billion through a rights issue. (Nikkei)
  • Evergrande raised $3.4 billion through a share placement. (Economic Times of India)

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • European passenger car sales of 11.96  million units in 2020 fell (24)% on a year-over-year basis. In December they fell (4)%. (ACEA)
  • German chancellor Merkel reportedly told automotive industry bosses that she might have to order them to close plants to contain coronavirus. (Handelsblatt)

Suppliers

  • Semiconductor manufacturers, currently at the centre of a supply squeeze that has been leading to rolling automotive factory shutdowns, are reportedly demanding price rises of 10% – 20%. Chip making executives hinted that it was because their raw materials suppliers were too concentrated and they were trying to find out who really wants the chips badly enough. (Nikkei) The Taiwanese government said it had told local suppliers to prioritise automotive components. (Reuters)
  • Grammer reported preliminary financial results for 2020. Revenye was €1.7 billion and EBIT was a €(49) million loss, wholly explained by restructuring and one time effects. (Grammar)
  • Oshkosh Corporation completed its takeover of Pratt Miller. (Oshkosh)
  • Motherson acquired Turkish plastics supplier Plast Met Group. (Autocar)

Dealers

  • German online car seller Mobility Holding is preparing to float and might be worth €1.4 billion. (Reuters)
  • Refinancing company MotoRefi raised $9 million. (TechCrunch)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • Bolt Mobility acquired the assets of Last Mile. (FINSMES)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Waymo’s CEO says autonomous vehicles will be cheaper to build than many expect (although perhaps not GM’s Cruise unit, who have already been saying the same thing for a while). He also said that Tesla’s sensor set is markedly inferior to Waymo’s when it comes to autonomous driving. (Manager Magazin)
    • Significance: the statements may well prove to be correct, but since no one in the World has a self-driving vehicle which can be deployed at scale, let alone learn new geographies quickly, it is unclear what a good enough solution will look like. It is quite possible that all parties are underestimating the need for, and cost of, redundancy at all levels of the system.
  • Denso will use lidar units from Aeva to create integrated sensing systems for advanced driver assistance. (Denso)
  • GM’s Cruise raised an additional $2 billion from existing investors, with Microsoft joining in too. The software firm will supply cloud computing services to the autonomous vehicle unit as part of the deal. (GM)

Electrification (history)

  • Charging network Volta raised $125 million. (Volta)
  • Charging network EVGo is listing via a merger with a special purpose vehicle. Current owner LS Power will have a 74% stake in the firm once it goes public. (TechCrunch)
  • Battery maker SK Innovation took a 13.3% stake in BAIC’s battery swapping business. (ET News)
  • Battery developer StoreDot (Daimler is an investor) says it has proved a fast charging battery can be mass manufactured. (The Guardian)

Other

  • Air taxi firm Joby Aviation is reportedly looking to list. (Reuters)

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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

VW’s electric platform short shelf life; Rivian’s mystery cash hoard; and a breakthrough for battery swapping? Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 18th January to 24th January 2021. A PDF version can be found here.

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

  • Let Me Let Go VW is working on a smash hit electric car, dubbed Project Trinity. In a bid to ensure that it is a great success, VW’s engineers are reportedly set to abandon the much-hallowed MEB dedicated electric platform. Why? Because they have apparently figured out a much better way to do things… the same reason they use every time they bin a mega platform. Will this next time be different?
  • Give It Away Rivian raised another $2.6 billion, taking the total to $8 billion. It normally takes around $1 billion – $1.5 billion to bring a vehicle to production at high volume, including the factory. Rivian has been developing two: a pickup and a van for Amazon. And maybe a smaller car too. It’s fair to say that extra money is needed for things like inventory, but it doesn’t really explain $5 billion or so. What are they planning to spend it all on?
  • Swap it Out SK Innovation took a stake in BAIC’s Chinese battery swapping business. It seems like the big drawback with battery swapping as it stands is that all the car makers have incompatible designs, resulting in unique swapping infrastructure. If battery suppliers like SK Innovation start getting involved, could standardisation become more likely?

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)

  • Ahead of the vehicle’s launch, BMW is clearly hoping to position the all-electric i4 as a superior driver’s car to the Tesla models it will compete against. (BMW)
  • CFO Peter says BMW is concerned that Chinese customers place a high importance on digital experience and it risks defections to the likes of Nio, if it isn’t competitive. (Reuters)

Daimler (history)

  • Unveiled the all-electric EQA (effectively a battery powered GLA with a new front grille). (Daimler)
  • Mercedes is confident it will resolve semi-conductor shortages soon. (Reuters)

Ford (history)

  • Stopping production at the Saarlouis, Germany, plant for one month because of the semiconductor shortage. (CNN)
  • US regulators forced Ford to recall 3 million cars to replace Takata airbag inflators on the driver side. Ford had already replaced passenger side units and wanted to avoid a second repair. (Reuters)

Geely (includes Volvo) (history)

  • Geely is working with Tencent on a range of subjects including digitalisation, autonomous driving, infotainment and low carbon technologies. (Geely)

General Motors (history)

  • Cruise raised an additional $2 billion from existing investors, with Microsoft joining in too. The software firm will supply cloud computing services to the autonomous vehicle unit as part of the deal. (GM)
  • Warned Indian authorities that if they stymied its efforts to close a car factory in the country, it might deter others from investing in the first place. (Reuters)

Honda (history)

  • Will start tests on Japanese roads using vehicles supplied by Cruise as a precursor to the launch of a robo taxi business once the Cruise Origin is available. (Honda)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • Invested in automated inspection company UVeye. (Autocar)

Nissan and Mitsubishi (history)

  • Nissan is closing its Almera, Philippines, assembly plant. (Nikkei)
  • Nissan declared itself satisfied with the post-Brexit trade deal and said it will move additional battery production to the UK. (BBC)

Renault (history)

  • Renault Samsung has offered voluntary redundancy to nearly all its workers. (Chosun Ilbo)

Stellantis (formed via the merger of PSA and FCA)

  • Published a post-merger overview to explain why the enlarged company will be so strong. Stellantis believes that vehicle costs will rise between 20% – 40% (based on figures from consultants) because of new regulations and technologies. (Stellantis)
  • Announced the key post-merger executive positions, and their holders. The structure is a matrix of brand heads (e.g. Jeep, Peugeot), regional sales groups (e.g. North America, Europe) and global functions (e.g. manufacturing, engineering). There are several points which appear unresolved — Jeep sitting as a sole “global SUV” brand rather than within the premium group; ex-FCA CEO sitting as “Head of the Americas” — separate to the head of North and South America — without an equivalent anywhere else in the World. (Stellantis)
  • CEO Tavares said that the Stellantis merger would protect jobs because the company would be so strong that it could afford to invest in great new products, even in an industry downturn. He also appeared to set aside plans for Peugeot to enter the US market, saying that it might be better to simply concentrate on existing brands and introduce European products under those marques (something that GM largely failed to do successfully). (Detroit Free Press)
    • Significance: It might later transpire that Mr Tavares means jobs have been preserved versus an imaginary level of cuts both companies would have needed to make if they remained independent. Workers at Opel / Vauxhall would certainly disagree with the statement that all jobs have been preserved following their takeover by PSA.
  • CEO Tavares, who until recently threatened the future of the Ellesmere Port, UK, plant if there wasn’t a post-Brexit trade agreement (which there now is), threatened the future of the Ellesmere Port, UK, plant if the government doesn’t step in with grants to bolster the business case for electric vehicles. He says the government needs to do this because it plans to end the sale of cars powered purely by internal combustion engines, which he called “brutally” changing the rules. (BBC)
    • Significance: As an international player with a strong historical presence in Italy, France and the USA, CEO Tavares is likely to feel confident in leaning on governments and unions in countries which are less important strategically (think Canada, UK, Spain and Germany).

Tesla (history)

  • Sued a recently hired, and then quickly fired, employee for allegedly stealing trade secrets. He claims that he simply made copies so he could work more easily from home. (CNBC)

Toyota (history)

  • Toyota manufacturing plants in Japan are reportedly loaning staff from aircraft parts makers such as Mitsubishi Heavy and Kawasaki Heavy to ramp up production. Their parent companies apparently have little for them to do, owing to a downturn in the aviation market. (Nikkei)

VW Group (history)

  • Announced preliminary financial results for full year 2020. Operating profit (excluding special items) was around €10 billion whilst automotive net cash flow was about €6 million. (VW)
  • As anticipated, VW “narrowly” missed its European fleet CO2 target for 2020 (i.e. by about 0.5 g/km CO2 against a target of around 98.5g/km). Rather than dwell on the failure, the company heralded the performance of the VW and Audi brands in meeting their emissions targets (thus pointing the finger of blame at SEAT and Škoda), whilst promising to fix the problem for 2021. There won’t be any hit to profits from the fines because VW has been reserving for them just in case. (VW)
  • Will stop selling the mainstream Golf in the USA, although sporty GTi and R models will still be available. (VW)
  • Porsche increased its investment in APX, a venture capital firm it owns with media giant Axel Springer. (Porsche)
  • Porsche launched a entry level version of the Taycan, in addition to a smaller battery and motor, the car has a lower maximum charging rate. With Porsche implying massive demand for the Taycan, it remains to be seen how many of this derivative will be sold. (Porsche)
  • After declaring a successful launch for the ID.3 and ID.4, VW is dissolving the special executive role dedicated to looking after electric cars. The incumbent will become head of development for all the brand’s cars. (VW)
  • Announced the formation of a Chinese joint venture with long-time partner FAW for all-electric premium vehicles. VW and Audi will own 60% of the company. (VW)
  • Reportedly looking at charging Bosch and Continental with some of the costs it will incur to deal with the shortage of semiconductors. (Handelsblatt)
  • Seeking to bury the mistakes of the past when changes to emissions rules have caught the company out, Audi said that it had already converted all engines over to the EU 6d standard. (Audi)
  • Rumour has it that VW’s next generation battery electric vehicle program, supposedly dubbed Project Trinity, will have a unique platform that will unleash massive new potential for manufacturing efficiencies. (Autocar)
    • Significance: If true, the move would indicate that VW is dispensing with the MEB platform after a single cycle of product, rather than the many generations executives initially promised, significantly eroding one of the key arguments in favour of dedicated mega-platforms: that they are so versatile you can use them over and over again.

Other

  • Rivian raised $2.6 billion in fresh funding, taking the total to $8 billion. (Rivian)
  • Aiways is reportedly looking to raise funds, whilst preparing for an old-school IPO later in 2021. (Deal Street Asia)
  • BYD raised $4 billion through a rights issue. (Nikkei)
  • Evergrande raised $3.4 billion through a share placement. (Economic Times of India)

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • European passenger car sales of 11.96  million units in 2020 fell (24)% on a year-over-year basis. In December they fell (4)%. (ACEA)
  • German chancellor Merkel reportedly told automotive industry bosses that she might have to order them to close plants to contain coronavirus. (Handelsblatt)

Suppliers

  • Semiconductor manufacturers, currently at the centre of a supply squeeze that has been leading to rolling automotive factory shutdowns, are reportedly demanding price rises of 10% – 20%. Chip making executives hinted that it was because their raw materials suppliers were too concentrated and they were trying to find out who really wants the chips badly enough. (Nikkei) The Taiwanese government said it had told local suppliers to prioritise automotive components. (Reuters)
  • Grammer reported preliminary financial results for 2020. Revenye was €1.7 billion and EBIT was a €(49) million loss, wholly explained by restructuring and one time effects. (Grammar)
  • Oshkosh Corporation completed its takeover of Pratt Miller. (Oshkosh)
  • Motherson acquired Turkish plastics supplier Plast Met Group. (Autocar)

Dealers

  • German online car seller Mobility Holding is preparing to float and might be worth €1.4 billion. (Reuters)
  • Refinancing company MotoRefi raised $9 million. (TechCrunch)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • Bolt Mobility acquired the assets of Last Mile. (FINSMES)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Waymo’s CEO says autonomous vehicles will be cheaper to build than many expect (although perhaps not GM’s Cruise unit, who have already been saying the same thing for a while). He also said that Tesla’s sensor set is markedly inferior to Waymo’s when it comes to autonomous driving. (Manager Magazin)
    • Significance: the statements may well prove to be correct, but since no one in the World has a self-driving vehicle which can be deployed at scale, let alone learn new geographies quickly, it is unclear what a good enough solution will look like. It is quite possible that all parties are underestimating the need for, and cost of, redundancy at all levels of the system.
  • Denso will use lidar units from Aeva to create integrated sensing systems for advanced driver assistance. (Denso)
  • GM’s Cruise raised an additional $2 billion from existing investors, with Microsoft joining in too. The software firm will supply cloud computing services to the autonomous vehicle unit as part of the deal. (GM)

Electrification (history)

  • Charging network Volta raised $125 million. (Volta)
  • Charging network EVGo is listing via a merger with a special purpose vehicle. Current owner LS Power will have a 74% stake in the firm once it goes public. (TechCrunch)
  • Battery maker SK Innovation took a 13.3% stake in BAIC’s battery swapping business. (ET News)
  • Battery developer StoreDot (Daimler is an investor) says it has proved a fast charging battery can be mass manufactured. (The Guardian)

Other

  • Air taxi firm Joby Aviation is reportedly looking to list. (Reuters)

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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 17th January 2021

GM disrupts the disruptors; Sony’s mystery car project keeps going and Renault makes a bold move step towards the future. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 11th January to 17th January 2021. A PDF version can be found here.

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

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

Find our archive here.

SIGN UP TO GET THE WEEKLY BRIEFING EMAILED TO YOU

News about the major automakers

BMW (history)

  • Sold 2,324,809 cars in 2020, down (8.4)% on a year-over-year basis. Within the overall drop, there were increases for higher performance “M” badged models and heavily electrified vehicles (PHEV and BEV). BMW also confirmed that it had met the fleet average CO2 target set by the EU. (BMW)
    • Significance: Many had predicted that increasingly stringent CO2 rules in Europe would reduce sales of higher performance models, which generally produce more pollution (unless they have a hybrid drive, something that is coming soon). It will be interesting to see whether this was a last gasp push for sales (in 2020, manufacturers can exclude some of their worst performing vehicles from CO2 assessments), or a general trend towards sports models in spite of the overall market decline.
  • BMW’s head of sales and marketing highlighted features that the company is now building into all models, regardless of whether the customer specifies them, and then enabling online purchase and activation after delivery. He says that such features will become an increasingly large part of revenue generation from options. It should also cut down on complexity. (BMW)
  • Planning to roll-out online purchases for individually configured cars that would be delivered to the end customer without a showroom visit ever being necessary (often called end-to-end). BMW’s press release implies that dealers will still be involved with the service, although it may appear seamless to customers. (BMW)
  • Decided to shut its trial all-in vehicle leasing scheme “Access”, but suggested that it may not be the end of the service with spokespeople saying BMW was “in the process of developing the next iteration”. (The Verge)

FCA (history)

  • Working with electric air taxi firm Archer to design, and potentially help build, the latter’s products. (FCA)
  • Completed the merger with PSA to form Stellantis, which will begin trading on 18th January (depending on the stock exchange in question). (FCA)
  • Following in S&P’s footsteps, Moody’s announced a credit rating upgrade for FCA. (FCA)

Ford (history)

  • Announced a sweeping restructuring of its South America operations that will see all factories in Brazil close, and the end of the little-known Troller brand. Ford said the move would result in special items of $4.1 billion. Although Ford said that the coronavirus pandemic had influenced the decision, early comments by then-CEO Hackett about unspecified future footprint changes in South America suggest it was not a kneejerk reaction. (Ford)
  • Delaying shipments of early-build electric Mustang Mach E SUVs to carry out unspecified quality checks. Vehicle locations shared on social media indicated that many of the cars have left the factory (Detroit Free Press)

Geely (includes Volvo) (history)

  • Volvo renewed its €1.3 billion credit revolver. (Volvo)
  • Lotus will develop an all-electric sportscar with Renault’s Alpine brand. (Lotus)
  • Teaming up with Chinese online search giant Baidu to develop electric cars. (Nikkei)
  • Agreed a deal with Foxconn to make electric cars on a contract basis. (TechCrunch)

General Motors (history)

  • Announced a new business called BrightDrop, which will have its own vehicle, the EV600 all-electric delivery van. GM is planning to offer a suite of telematics and other software that will work with the vehicle to make it progressively easier for delivery companies to use the products and the existence of a motorised pallet truck hints at an autonomous vehicle that can not only drive itself around, but unload too. A minibus is also planned. (GM)
    • Significance: With BrightDrop, GM is announcing a series of hardware and software products that loosely rival offerings from the likes of Arrival and Lordstown / Workhorse. It also provides a clear template for traditional OEMs to launch start-up-like entities that may better attract investor and customer interest than using existing structures and brands.
  • Cadillac has designs on electric drones that can ferry its owners to areas that autonomous cars can’t reach. The presentation didn’t explain how the owner is supposed to explain to the passengers who shared the car ride that their drone only has room for one, and everyone else will need to proceed on foot. (TechCrunch)
  • GM’s head of product development says that, versus the Bolt, the next generation of products will see energy density double and battery price will fall by 60%. (Detroit Free Press)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • Building a factory for hydrogen fuel cells in China — at 6,500 systems per year, capacity isn’t significant. (Nikkei)

Nissan and Mitsubishi (history)

  • Nissan’s CEO was complimentary of Renault’s turnaround strategy. (Reuters)

PSA (history)

  • Completed the merger with PSA to form Stellantis, which will begin trading on 18th January (depending on the stock exchange in question). (FCA)
  • Sold 2.5 million vehicles in 2020, down (28)% on a year-over-year basis. It wasn’t all bad news though; sales increased in Eurasia, Middle East and Africa. In Quarter 4, sales of 311,176 units dropped (6)% from prior year. PSA confirmed that sales met its targets for fleet average CO2 in Europe.  (PSA)
  • Opel is reportedly so overwhelmed with orders for the electric Mokka that it has started cancelling hundreds of customer orders because it couldn’t commit to a build date within the next 12 months. (Handelsblatt)

Renault (history)

  • Presented a strategic update branded “Renaulution”. The intent to be disruptive was clear from page 1 as the report’s name was applied in graffiti-style text over the plainer fonts that Renault normally uses. (Renault)
  • The initial pages were understandable self-criticism: the company is too reliant on Europe for profits; international markets are unprofitable and overlay complex by comparison; there are too many sub-scale products in the portfolio (selling an average of 41,000 units per year); Renault’s brand is positioned differently across markets; in Europe Dacia sales are cannibalising Renault at the bottom end of the market and the two brands sell too many similar vehicles; volumes are too reliant on B-Segment (small cars), with too few C-segment (mid-sized) sales. (Renault)
  • Renault set updated financial targets: Around 3% operating margin by 2023 and around 5% by 2025. Despite targeting improved profitability, the cash target remains fairly level between 2023 and 2025. (Renault)
  • Renault says it can now develop a new car in under 3 years (where it re-uses the underpinnings of an existing product), down from around 4 years “before”. (Renault)
  • Believes that after 2025, European regulations will make internal combustion engines so expensive that they will cost more than fully electric or fuel cell powertrains. The plan is therefore to chop models so that there is only one diesel and one petrol engine available (down from three of each today). Diesels will become focused on commercial vehicles and the company will rely on electrification (i.e. an internal combustion engine with an electric motor fitted as well) to boost power levels. An intent to introduce even lower powered engines (down to 45 hp from 60 hp today) indicates an intent to further apply range extending engines. (Renault)
  • Renault expects the profitability of electric vehicles to grow strongly. Currently the firm says it is about the same as internal combustion engines versions (although prices are higher). By 2023, Renault expects all-electric models to be most profitable, followed by hybrids and then internal combustion engine products which become increasingly burdened with expensive technology and slip to the bottom of price lists. (Renault)
  • Plans to reduce manufacturing costs by 20% (from 2019 levels, so some of this includes previously stated targets). Renault already believes that it is best in class. Global capacity utilisation will be pushed to over 120% (measured against a two shift pattern), whilst volumes will drop form 3.9 million to 3.1 million units annually. There is also a target of reducing average vehicle costs by €600 per unit. (Renault)
  • Renault set new expectations for electric vehicle sales in Europe. By 2025, the target is that 30% of sales will be all-electric and another 35% will be hybrids (not all plug-ins). Electric vehicles are expected to be 40% more profitable on a gross margin basis. Through the various product actions, Renault expects to boost transaction prices from around €20,000 today to over €27,000 in 2025. (Renault)
  • The Dacia and Lada brands will be ruthlessly efficient; all models will be from the same Renault-Nissan component set and worse performing body styles will be dropped. The Alpine brand will be expanded, with the future range focusing on electrification and increasing to at least three vehicles, one of which will be an all-electric sportscar developed with Lotus. (Renault)
  • All of Renault’s non vehicle making activities (including captive finance) will be grouped under the brand “Møbilize”, although the template is somewhat similar to a mix of PSA’s “Free2Move” and Daimler’s mobility / financial services group, there are some key differences. The main one is that there will be purpose-built vehicles for mobility services (including short term car rental, ride hailing and delivery). Renault suggested that the batteries would be recycled units, which will save over €1,000 per unit. (Renault)
    • Significance: Although Renault has some smart ideas, it may continue to struggle with the same fundamental problem experienced by others — low demand for marginal ownership.
  • Sold 2.95 million vehicles in 2020, a (21)% drop on prior year. Renault met its targets for fleet average CO2 in Europe, as expected. (Renault)
  • Unveiled a new SUV for Dacia called the Bigster (Top Gear) and a small all-electric car badged as a Renault 5, which seems set to spawn an Alpine derivative. (Top Gear)
  • Renault and Plug Power are establishing a joint venture for hydrogen distribution and fuel cells. (ET News)
  • Renault’s wholly owned UK dealer group sold one of its London dealerships for £39 million. (Motor Trader)

Stellantis (formed via the merger of FCA and PSA)

  • The merger of PSA and FCA was formally completed. (FCA)

Tata (includes JLR) (history)

  • JLR sold 425,974 cars in 2020, (24)% down on a year-over-year basis. (JLR)
  • Speculation swirled about whether CEO Butschek would stay in his job. (Economic Times of India)

Tesla (history)

  • US authorities asked Tesla to recall about 160,000 Model S and Model X vehicles, saying that the memory on the cars has been overwhelmed and this can lead to unsafe operation. (Business Insider)

Toyota (history)

  • Settled a US probe into tardy reporting of emissions problems by agreeing to a $180 million fine. (Reuters)

VW Group (history)

  • VW Group delivered 2.8 million vehicles in Q4 2020, down (6)% on a year-over-year basis. Mainstream brands, and heavy trucks, lost volume but Audi and Porsche both saw increases. On a full year basis, VW Group sold 9.3 million units, down (15)%. The ID3 is already the group’s highest selling all-electric model. (VW)
  • Lamborghini delivered 7,430 cars in 2020, (9)% down year-on-year. The firm now says that it has a robust order book. (Lamborghini)
  • According to VW, there has been a massive surge in orders for electric vehicles from German fleets, with PHEV and BEV orders now running at 22% of sales, up from 5% in 2019. (VW)
  • Former CEO Winterkorn got some good news after a court case against him on charges of withholding information about the diesel scandal from investors was dropped. The bad news is that it only happened because there is another parallel case (about fraudulent emissions) that carries a stiffer penalty. (Economic Times of India)
  • VW’s Indian financial subsidiary is taking a majority stake in online lending platform KUWY. (Autocar)

Other

  • Nio raised $1.3 billion in debt. (Nio) CEO Li says that the company may enter the mass market, but that the Nio brand would be reserved for higher priced products. (Economic Times of India)
  • Donkervoort’s founder is retiring, to be replaced by his son. (Donkervoort)
  • Xpeng agreed a $2 billion credit line with several Chinese banks. (Reuters)
  • Sony showed videos at CES confirming that it has continued the development of the Vision S electric car it showed at last year’s event. (TechCrunch)
    • Significance: The seriousness of the work done implies that this is about far more than simply developing future technologies for Sony — simply put, it is far easier to modify an existing vehicle to carry lots of new kit than to build a new car from scratch.
  • Mahindra and Mahindra is making job cuts in North America, reportedly shedding half its 500 staff. The company said it was partly because projects had ended. (Economic Times of India)
  • Sono Motors is open to licencing its solar panel technology to other firms and has concluded a deal with autonomous vehicle developer EasyMile. (TechCrunch)
  • Spyker has reportedly finally shut up shop after a proposed deal fell through (RTL Nieuws)
  • Lucid is rumoured to be exploring a listing via a merger with special purpose entity at a valuation of around $15 billion. (Reuters)
  • Faraday Future is looking at listing too, but has set its sights lower – at around $3 billion. (Business Insider)
  • McLaren has an entry slot for Formula E in 2022, if it wants it. (McLaren)
    • Significance: It is unclear whether McLaren wants to participate in Formula E because of the branding benefits it perceives, or because it wants to utilise Formula 1 team employees.
  • Alibaba and SAIC launched a car brand called “IM”. (Nikkei)
  • Arrival thinks that factories will be designed by artificial intelligence in the future, and they will be so complicated that humans won’t be able to understand them. (Arrival)
    • Significance: With breakdowns a frequent occurrence in automotive factories today, either factories will continue to need clear walkways and zoning so that repair staff can easily access them, or machines will have to become massively reliable, or fiendishly clever robots will have to do the repair work. With line stoppages resulting from problems ranging from glue dripping onto sensors, to contamination from excess greasy residue on parts stemming from machining operations, to good old-fashioned collisions between misplaced parts and assembly equipment (even when humans are in charge). This will be no mean feat.

News about other companies and trends

Suppliers

  • AAM and Suzhou Inovance formed a partnership to make electric motors with integrated power electronics. (AAM)
  • Cipa and OmniVision will team up to develop driver monitoring solutions. (Cipia)
  • Continental demonstrated a screen developed with Leia that makes maps appear three dimensional. (Continental)
  • Hanon Systems announced a new CEO, company insider Min Suk Sung.  (Hanon)
  • Hella reported financial results from the first six months of its fiscal year (June to November 2020). Sales were €3.2 billion and EBIT was €94 million. (Hella)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • Ride hailing firm Gett raised $115 million in its latest funding round — up from a figure of $100 million that was reported last summer. (Gett)
  • Grab’s financial arm raised $300 million from investors. (Grab)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Autonomous street sweepers will soon go on trial in Singapore. (Bucher)
  • After earlier receiving $200 million in investment from bus maker Yutong, WeRide’s latest funding round has reached $310 million. (Nikkei)
  • Blickfeld unveiled a new lidar unit with a claimed range of 150m that can fit into a wing mirror. (Blickfeld)
  • Intel’s Mobileye unit will use its own lidar from 2025 onwards. (Intel)
  • Rinspeed unveiled the Citysnap at CES. Rather than prior concepts which focused on reusable platforms, this vehicle investigates how parts of the vehicle could make kerbside delivery, exploring ideas similar to those behind by GM’s BrightDrop hardware. (Autonomes Fahren)

Electrification (history)

  • Panasonic hopes to have a cobalt free, high density, battery in production in “two or three years”. (Nikkei)
  • Electric conversion company Motiv Power raised $20 million. (Motiv)
  • TDK reportedly wants to muscle into the battery supply game. (Nikkei)

Other

  • Electric bus company Proterra is listed through a merger with a special purpose vehicle in a deal that will value the firm at $1.6 billion. (Proterra)

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Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 10th January 2021

New logos and just about nothing else noteworthy. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 4th January to 10th January 2021. A PDF version can be found here.

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

  • New Look — both GM and Kia announced new logos. GM’s has a weird nod to the past; where the whole GM was underlined before, only M is underlined now. Additionally, even though GM is clearly an acronym of a name, the logo is now in lower case. Kia’s is written in an edgy logo that makes it hard to read. What’s next? Ford’s blue oval becomes a rhombus?
  • Apparently Nothin’ — No, I’m serious. Practically everything written in the review this week is just about sales volumes. There is so little real news that Mercedes were able to make headlines with a massive screen that isn’t even a massive screen (although it is three screens glued into one large border so it looks as though it could be a single piece). Will next week be more interesting?

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

Daimler (history)

  • Announced that the EQS (A forthcoming all-electric version of the S-Class) will boast a gigantic screen that stretches from the instrument cluster to the edge of the passenger door. Except it isn’t a single screen, it is a large piece of glass which has several different screens embedded in a way that makes it look like they could be one. (Daimler)
  • Delivered 735,605 Mercedes-Benz cars and vans in Q4 2020, down (1.3)% on a year-over-year basis, all explained by lower car sales. In the full year Mercedes sold 2,528,349 vehicles, just over (10)% down on 2019. The company also confirmed that it has met its targets for European fleet CO2. (Daimler)

FCA (history)

  • Sold 1,999,388 vehicles in the US and Canada in 2020, down (18)% year-over-year. (FCA)
  • Unveiled the next generation Jeep Grand Cherokee. (FCA)
  • Despite its short shelf life as a company, S&P raised its credit rating for FCA. (FCA)

Ford (history)

  • Sold 542,749 vehicles in the USA during Q4, down (10)% versus 2019. In the full year, Ford’s sales of 2.044 million fell (16)%. (Ford)

Geely (includes Volvo) (history)

  • Volvo sold 661,713 cars in full year 2020, down (6)% on prior year. (Volvo)
  • Volvo reckons that electric cars will account for over 60% of the output at its Ghent, Belgium, plant by 2022. (Volvo)
  • Geely plans to have 5,000 battery swap stations across China by 2025. (China Daily)

General Motors (history)

  • GM’s US deliveries of 771,323 units rose 4.8% on a year-over-year basis (in Q4 2019 GM was affected by the UAW strike). In the full year, GM’s sales of 2,547,339 vehicles dropped (12)%. (GM)
  • Sold 954,325 vehicles in China during Q4, a 14% increase over the prior year. In the full year, sales of 2.9 million units fell (6)% versus 2019. (GM)
  • Unveiled a new logo. It is still a box with the letter GM written inside, but now they are lower case and only the M is underlined, which GM thinks makes it look a little bit like a plug. (GM)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • Hyundai is targeting sales of 4.2 million in 2021. (Hyundai)
  • Hyundai sold 4.426 million vehicles in 2020, down (15)% versus prior year. (Hyundai)
  • Not to be outdone by GM, Kia unveiled a new logo. Kia says it reflects symmetry. It looks a bit like “KV”. (KV)
  • Said in a press release that it was working with Apple on an electric car, then issued a series of revisions, in the final  of which Hyundai simply acknowledged that it was working with potential partners. (BBC)

PSA (history)

  • Opel’s boss warned the German workforce that progress on job cuts had been insufficient and that he wanted to reduce the company’s pension burden. (Manager Magazin)

Renault (history)

Subaru

  • Created a CTO position to help it makes sense of emerging technologies. (Subaru)

VW Group (history)

  • CEO Diess believes that traditional automotive players, including VW, have failed to convince customers that they can survive in a new “competitive environment” and cautioned that there are some people in the company who haven’t faced up to the looming threat. (Bloomberg)
  • Bentley sold 11,206 cars in 2020, slightly up on 2019. (Bentley)

Other

  • Nio unveiled the ET7 saloon. When equipped with a 150 kWh battery, the car boasts a 1,000km range, according to the outdated NEDC standard. (Nio)
  • Rivian is reportedly looking to raise several billion dollars in an investment round that could see the firm valued at $25 billion. (Bloomberg)
  • Lucid is rumoured to be considering a factory in Saudi Arabia. (Green Car Reports)

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • US light vehicle industry in December of 16.3 million units fell about (3)% versus prior year. In the full year, sales fell about (8)%. (Wards)
  • UK Passenger car sales in December of 132,682 units fell (11)% versus prior year. Full year sales of 1.63 million cars fell (29)% from 2019 levels. (SMMT)
  • German passenger car sales in December of 311,394 vehicles rose 10% on a year-over-year basis. In the full year, 2.92 million customers snapped up a new motor, (19)% down on 2019. (KBA)
  • Spanish sales of 105,841 passenger vehicles in December were almost identical to a year earlier. Overall 2020 sales of 851,211 units fell (32)% from 2019. (ANFAC)
  • Italian passenger car sales of 119,454 units in December fell (15)% on a year-over-year basis. Full year sales of 1.38 million cars fell (28)% from 2019. (UNRAE)
  • French passenger car sales of 186,323 units fell (12)% compared to prior year. Full year 2020 sales of 1.65 million cars fell (26)% versus 2019. (CCFA)

Suppliers

  • MacLean-Fogg acquired smaller concern Master Automatic. (MacLean-Fogg)
  • Michelin announced a turnaround plan for its French operations that will see 2,300 job losses (split about equally between offices and factories). (Michelin)
  • Sensor company Tactile Mobility raised $10 million from investors including Nexteer. (FINSMES)
  • Hesai Photonics is hoping to list in Shanghai. (Caixin)

Dealers

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Nodar says it has developed a sensor with a range of 1,000m (although it prefers to talk about how accurate the measurement is when an object is 150m away). (Nodar)
  • Autonomous vehicle developer Oxbotica raised $47 million from investors including BP. (TechCrunch)
  • Infra-red sensor company FLIR is being acquired by Teledyne. (FLIR)
  • Waymo said it would only refer to self-driving cars as autonomous in future, suggesting a frustration that others (e.g. Tesla) has hijacked the term. (Waymo)

Electrification (history)

Other

  • CNH is reportedly still trying to see truck making arm Iveco. (Deal Street Asia)

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Auto Industry Briefing — three weeks ending 3rd January 2020

Let’s start the New Year off slowly by getting up to speed with what happened in the last few weeks. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 14th December 2020 to 3rd January 2021. A PDF version can be found here.

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

Find our archive here.

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News about the major automakers

BMW (history)

  • Says that 20% of its cars will be electric (seemingly to include plug-in hybrids) by 2023. (Reuters)

Daimler (history)

  • Announced the closure of the low volume Iracemápolis, Brazil, plant. (Daimler)
  • Teamed up with Infosys to boost its IT, cloud services and software engineering expertise. (Daimler)
  • Sold a one third share in the Mercedes F1 team to Ineos, and slightly boosted the holding of CEO Toto Wolff, so that all parties hold an equal stake. (Daimler)

FCA (history)

  • PSA and FCA will become one company, Stellantis, on 16th January 2021. FCA shareholders will receive a €2.9 billion special dividend when the deal closes. (FCA)
  • In anticipation of the completion of the merger with PSA, the first wave of FCA executives began to depart, starting with the HR chief. (FCA) FCA’s current CEO, Mike Manley, will become head of the Americas for the enlarged corporation. (FCA)
  • Extended a sponsorship deal with Juventus, Italy’s leading football club. FCA pays around €45 million per year. Although FCA’s chairman knows Juventus’s chairman well, it is unclear whether the firm benefitted from a friends and family discount. (FCA)
  • Suing cylinder block supplier Martinrea, claiming that the company allocated production capacity that should have been reserved for FCA to a competitor instead, and now FCA can’t build enough engines. Martinrea blamed a ham-fisted attempt by FCA to in-source the casting work, only to abruptly reverse course. (Detroit News)

Ford (history)

  • Called off a joint venture that was designed to merge Ford’s Indian operations with Mahindra and Mahindra (announced in 2019). The companies may still work together on discrete projects. (Ford)
  • Published its annual trends report, comprising attitudinal research from across the World. Ford discovered that people are more stressed than they were a year ago, that online shopping is on the increase, and that social contact has shrunk. (Ford)
  • Announced a series of executive moves, including the retirement of the heads of international markets and manufacturing. Ford also signalled the diminishing importance of internal combustion engines by changing the role of the executive in charge of powertrain engineering to cover a wider range of hardware. (Ford)
  • As thousands of newly-built F-150 pickup trucks reportedly appeared in and around Detroit, reporters hinted at launch problems with seat belts. Ford said it was simply carrying out enhanced quality checks. (Detroit Free Press)

General Motors (history)

  • GM is cautiously rolling out the use of 3D printing for production car parts. The Cadillac Blackwing will get some 3D printed hidden brackets and ducts and — most excitingly — the badge on top of the gear shift knob. (Detroit News)
  • Invested in the latest funding round for on-demand servicing firm Yoshi. (CNBC)
  • Recalling 840,000 vehicles to correct two problems. The first is that seat belts may not be properly secured. The second is that suspension parts may become corroded and fail. (Detroit News)

Honda (history)

  • Ending car production at the Greater Noida, India, plant with immediate effect, shifting production to another factory in the country. (Honda)
  • Recalling about 1.8 million vehicles to fix problems with faulty power window electrics; internal computers that display erroneous error messages; and drivetrain parts that corrode. (Reuters)
  • Withdrawing from the Russian market in 2022 after years of slow sales. (Nikkei)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • Appears to agree with external forecasts that see BEVs taking a majority of the global market share around 2040. (Hyundai)
  • Completed the purchase of GM’s former St Petersburg, Russia, plant. Executives said the firm still hasn’t worked out a definite plan to use the facility. (Economic Times of India)
  • Reportedly withdrawing the all-electric Kona from sale in South Korea after a series of recalls dented the car’s reputation. (Reuters)

Nissan and Mitsubishi (history)

  • Nissan is reportedly exploring a plan to sub-contract more of its European manufacturing to Renault and also let its alliance partner lead sales in smaller markets. (Reuters)
  • Long-winded post-Brexit trade negotiations apparently persuaded Nissan to import the all-electric Ariya into Europe from Japan and save on investment at the cost of a (predictable and declining) level of tariffs. (Nikkei)

PSA (history)

  • PSA and FCA will become one company, Stellantis, on 16th January 2021. (FCA)

Renault (history)

  • Unveiled the Lada Largus, based on the Dacia Logan/Sandero. (Lada)
  • Will present a new strategic plan on the 14th of January. (Renault)

Tata (includes JLR) (history)

  • JLR’s in-house VC unit invested in blockchain firm Circulor. (InMotion)
  • Unveiled a new sportscar, the Jaguar Vision Gran Turismo SV. The good news? You don’t need a driving licence to have one. The bad news? It only exists in a computer game. (JLR)
  • Stopped production in Castle Bromwich, UK, earlier than planned before Christmas, due to shortages of parts from suppliers. (Autocar)
  • Taking full ownership of the Indian bus making joint venture Tata has with Marcopolo. Over time the Marcopolo brand will be dropped from the local market. (Autocar)

Tesla (history)

  • Reported Q4 deliveries of 180,570 cars, up 61% on a year-over-year basis. Tesla refuses to report model line detail, but it looks as though Model Y is now selling about as well as Model 3. (Tesla)

Toyota (history)

  • Released a new environmental report with detail on its North American operations. (Toyota)
  • Launched the no-frills C+Pod all-electric city car in Japan. (Toyota)
  • Repurchasing and retiring 499 billion (about $4.8 billion) of preference shares issued in 2015 to finance R&D on more efficient vehicles. (Toyota)
  • Increased its shareholding in Portuguese bus maker Caetano. (Toyota)

VW Group (history)

  • VW’s board tried to stop the infighting by making a series of executive appointments (including Arno Antlitz, CFO of Audi, as the new VW Group CFO), seemingly matching the recommendations of CEO Diess. The board’s press release was full of praise for Diess’s contribution, but he wasn’t offered the contract extension he has been asking for (Diess is rumoured to have annoyed board members by drawing up a press release celebrating his contract extension, even though he hadn’t been granted one). The peace has seemingly been accomplished at the cost of creating a duplicate electric vehicle innovation team for the VW brand, mirroring a much heralded Audi-led effort, in return for which, unions have agreed to an as-yet undeveloped fixed cost saving plan. (VW)
  • As rumoured, Bentley will be managed by Audi. VW’s board also confirmed that there is no intention to sell Ducati or Lamborghini (but stayed silent about Bugatti). (VW)
  • Launched an app for prospective VW ID.4 customer that uses augmented reality to show them what the car might look like on their driveway. (VW)
  • Seemingly satisfied with the sales performance of the ID3, VW is ceasing production of the all-electric Golf. (VW)
  • Porsche’s experiments with metal parts made using additive manufacturing have led engineers to conclude that, providing the designs are optimised for printing, overall weight can be reduced, whilst maintaining or enhancing strength, and numerous fiddly assembly operations can be eliminated. (Porsche)
  • Confirmed that ongoing shortages of semiconductors stemming from coronavirus related factory closures mean that vehicle production will be disrupted in Q1 2021. The implication of VW’s press release is that the company has prioritised supply of all-electric models over conventionally powered derivatives. (VW) Reportedly, up to 100,000 vehicles could be lost. (Handelsblatt)
  • After proposing a concept for a mobile vehicle recharging robot in late 2019, VW announced that it had built some prototypes. (VW)

Other

  • Nio sold 17,353 cars in Q4 2020, up 111% on a year-over-year basis. Nio says that in December 40% of buyers opted to lease the battery. (Nio)
  • Nikola won’t be going into the rubbish lorry business after all. (Nikola)
  • Sono Motors raised €45 million in a Series C round. (Sono)
  • Alpha unveiled the ACE, an all-electric coupe with influenced by the Ford Escort Mk I and Porsche 959. (Alpha)
  • Rumours of an Apple car re-surfaced. The product will reportedly launch in 2024 and the business case is apparently underpinned by a breakthrough in battery technology — reasoning shared with Dyson’s failed project. (Reuters) The former head of Canoo said that Apple has been annoying suppliers because it keeps asking for information whilst being super secretive about its plans. (Handelsblatt)
  • Aston Martin’s boss says he isn’t sure whether the brand will continue to supply V12 engines under the forthcoming Eu7 emissions regime. (FT)
  • Canoo unveiled the all-electric delivery vehicle it plans to start making in 2022. (Canoo)
  • Byton has seemingly been rescued by Foxconn which plans to invest in, and make cars for, the ailing brand. Foxconn unveiled its own plans for an electric car in late 2020. (Bloomberg)
  • Troubled electric car start-up e.Go has been rescued by Next.e.Go. The new firm intends to restart production of the e.Go Life, says that it will sell CO2 credits to an unnamed OEM, and plans to build a factory in Greece. (Next.e.Go)
  • Mahindra’s Ssangyong unit filed for bankruptcy protection. The company expects to sell off most of its stake as part of a rescue deal and hopes the transaction will be complete by March. (Deal Street Asia)

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • The UK and EU negotiating teams went to the wire to finalise a trade agreement. Trade in vehicles and parts will remain tariff free – provided over 55% of the content comes from the UK or EU (page 466). (UK)

Suppliers

  • Hyundai Mobis announced the acquisition of Hyundai Autron’s semiconductor business. (Mobis)
  • Continental held an investor day where the firm set out targets to outgrow competitors. (Continental)
  • Britishvolt’s chairman stepped down to avoid a media firestorm. (BBC)
  • Arris Composites, which uses 3D printing to make small composite parts with comparable properties to metal, raised $49 million from investors including Bosch. (Bosch)
  • Magna and LG announced a joint venture to make electric vehicle motors and power electronics. (Magna)
  • In addition to building Fisker’s vehicle, Magna will supply the advanced driver assistance kit. (Magna)

Dealers

  • On-demand servicing firm Yoshi raised $23 million from investors including GM. (CNBC)
  • Online aftermarkets part supplier Casstime raised $35 million. (Tech In Asia)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • Ride hailing firm Bolt raised €150 million. (TechCrunch)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Aurora seemingly isn’t interested in taking on Uber’s Toronto autonomous vehicle research team, although it is absorbing the US team. (TechCrunch)
  • Autonomous vehicle developer WeRide raised $200 million from Yutong, a bus maker. The two companies plan to create a self-driving minibus. (TechCrunch)

Electrification (history)

Other

  • Electric scooter rental firm Superpedestrian raised $60 million. (Superpedestrian)

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Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 13th December 2020

Electric vehicle companies raising and spending mega-bucks; OEMs trying to drum up business for fuel cells; and thinking about the long term for ICE. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 7th December to 13th December 2020. A PDF version can be found here.

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

  • One Hand In My Pocket — Between them, Tesla, Nio, XPeng and Li Auto raised about the same amount in share issues as Renault is worth. Traditional OEMs will be (rightly) worried about all the cash flowing to would-be competitors. But, if making electric vehicles is so simple and mould-breaking, why do these companies need so much money to fund their product plans?
  • Why Hyundai and Toyota announced separate plans to start selling fuel cells more seriously to rivals.Putting to one side the issue of how popular the powertrain might ever become, and how capable a rival it will be to all-electric offerings, if OEMs are so happy to sell fuel cell technology to each other, why do they find it so hard to collaborate on internal combustion engines?
  • How Long Hyundai’s latest strategy update contained a commitment to go all-electric in richer countries by 2040, in line with what many of the countries themselves are already planning. On emerging markets, the firm is more circumspect, saying that it will encourage electric vehicle adoption and implying long-term demand for internal combustion engine vehicles. If traditional powertrain has another two decades or more of life, will OEMs and suppliers rediscover the joys of developing them?

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)

  • Committed to Amazon’s cloud services for all things data-related. BMW will have 5,000 specialists trained in using Amazon’s suite of services and will develop its own proprietary data sharing software. (BMW)
  • BMW’s purchasing division is committing to volumes + / – 20% with battery cell suppliers. (BMW)
  • Showed off some of the small 3D printed metal parts that are used on Rolls-Royce cars to replace hard-to-make low volume castings. (BMW)
  • CEO Zipse will head the European trade body, ACEA. (Europa Press)

Daimler (history)

  • Sold the Hambach, France, factory to Ineos. The plant will continue to produce the Smart small car in the short term before transitioning to Ineos’s forthcoming 4×4. Daimler sounded relieved that it hasn’t had to pay too big a dowry to offload the site. (Daimler)
  • Daimler’s truck division is collaborating with Linde to develop hydrogen refuelling infrastructure. (Daimler)
  • Spending €350 million to develop an new platform for commercial vehicles that can integrate fully electric and conventional powertrain. (Daimler)
  • Almost half of Daimler’s 2,000 parts suppliers have committed in writing to producing CO2 neutral parts within the next 20 years. (Daimler)

Ferrari

  • Ferrari’s CEO suddenly stepped down for personal reasons. Whilst the company searches for a successor, chairman Elkann will take over CEO responsibilities on an interim basis. (Ferrari)

Ford (history)

  • Added an off-road derivative of the F-150 positioned below the Raptor, called Tremor. (Ford)
  • Ford is experiencing launch problems with the Bronco. Journalists pointed the finger at leaky removable roofs, which suppliers located outside the USA have struggled to fix due to travel restrictions. (Detroit Free Press)

Geely (includes Volvo) (history)

  • Volvo will start making electric motors at its factory in Skövde, Sweden. (Volvo)
  • Kandi repudiated questions over the firm’s financial reporting raised by an investment firm. (Kandi)

General Motors (history)

  • After offering buyouts to Cadillac dealers who don’t see a future for electric vehicles, GM said it won’t be doing the same thing with the GMC brand. (CNBC)

Honda (history)

  • Honda’s Swindon plant had to stop production after problems with deliveries from suppliers. (The Guardian)
  • Invested in dealer ecommerce company Modal. (Modal)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • As rumoured, Hyundai has taken a majority stake in SoftBank’s robot maker Boston Dynamics. The deal will see Hyundai and its supplier affiliates owning 60% of the company, whilst Hyundai’s chairman will own 20%. (Hyundai)
  • Unveiled the Genesis GV70 SUV. (Hyundai)
  • Created a brand for hydrogen fuel cells called HTWO. The company implied that the name will be used for both Hyundai cars and power systems sold to third parties. (Hyundai)
  • Announced a update to its future strategy that will see all “major markets” have a fully electric line-up by 2040. In markets such as India, Russia and Brazil the company will “support democratization”. From 2021 the company plans to offer remotely upgradeable vehicles, although it was unclear which features will be in scope. Despite the negative impacts of coronavirus, Hyundai is aiming for an 8% operating margin. (Hyundai)
  • Recalling around 53,000 Kona, Soul and Nexo models to repair faulty brakes. (Reuters)

Subaru

  • Invested in audio processing firm DSP Concepts. (DSP)

Tata (includes JLR) (history)

  • JLR’s Castle Bromwich, UK, factory closed until Christmas, with coronavirus cited as the cause. (The Guardian)

Tesla (history)

  • Announced a share issue to raise $5 billion. (Tesla)
  • An internal email announcing that Model S and Model X production would take a longer than normal break over Christmas led to speculation that the models would get a refreshed design. (CNBC)

Toyota (history)

  • Confirmed that it will soon launch a new all-electric SUV, to be built in Japan. (Toyota)
  • There was speculation that Toyota will soon unveil a prototype electric vehicle powered by solid state batteries (which promise considerable size reductions over contemporary technology). (Nikkei)
  • Launched a new European division that hopes to sell hydrogen fuel cell technology to third parties. (Toyota)
  • Invested in simulation data company Parallel Domain. (FINSMES)
  • Doesn’t expect to build all-electric cars in the UK until some time after 2027 (if ever), suggesting that the Corolla’s replacement will be a hybrid. (The Guardian)

VW Group (history)

  • Bugatti reckons the Bollide has taken an aerodynamic leap forward by featuring retractable dimples on the engine air duct which can affect the airflow at the rear of the car depending on the speed and their position. (Bugatti)
  • Suffered stoppages at the Wolfsburg, Germany, plant because a German seat foam supplier was unable to fulfil commitments after coronavirus spread through its workforce. (VW)
  • Acquired majority ownership (75%) of Chinese joint venture JAC Volkswagen — an earlier announced move — and renamed the firm Volkswagen (Anhui) Automotive. VW also now owns 50% of JAC. (VW)
  • VW’s Chinese joint venture with SAIC is experimenting with an agent model in China for electric vehicles, where dealers get a fixed commission for each sale. (Reuters)
  • Bentley’s boss implied that the brand is planning to eventually put 150 kWh batteries in its largest vehicles to provide equivalent all-electric range with today’s combustion engine cars. (Autocar) He also said that there will be new internal combustion engine products to come before the company switches to all-electric in 2030. (Autocar)

Other

  • McLaren sold a stake in its racing operations to sports investor (MSP) in a deal that values the unit at £560 million. In time, MSP could own 33% of the team (depending on performance) after putting up £185 million. (McLaren) The CEO of McLaren’s automotive unit suggested that the company turn to a special purpose entity with a view to raising £300 million – £500 million in equity. (FT)
  • Nio announced a share issue that could raise around $2.5 billion. (Nio)
  • XPeng raised $2.2 billion from a rights issue. (Marketwatch)
  • Li Auto announced a rights issue worth around $1.5 billion. (Marketwatch)
  • Arrival’s CEO believes that the company’s plan to build vehicles in small modular factories that can be located close to customers will make existing OEMs look as obsolete and incomprehensible as video tapes. (Arrival)
  • Bollinger unveiled a series of design tweaks for the company’s all-electric SUV as it nears production. (Fox)
  • Great Wall is reportedly preparing to launch a new electric-only brand. When asked to comment, a spokesperson summoned their inner Eric Cantona to tell reporters, “the big tide has come, we will join the game”. (Reuters)
  • Rivian’s electric vehicle charging network will include units sited off the beaten track for more adventurous owners who want to charge their car and white water raft at the same time. (TechCrunch)

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • As the UK and EU struggled to agree a deal for post-Brexit trade, automakers continued to cross their fingers that everything would get sorted out at the last minute. (SMMT)

Suppliers

  • Meritor’s CEO is becoming the chairman, and will be replaced by the COO. (Meritor)

Dealers

  • Car leasing firm Finn.auto, which bundles carbon offsets in with the vehicle cost, raised €20 million. (TechCrunch)
  • Used car website Carsome raised $30 million. (TechCrunch)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • After Uber sold its self-driving business to Aurora (seemingly sent on its way with a dowry in exchange for 26% of the enlarged company), the company also sold off its air taxi business to Joby Aviation. (Business Insider)
  • Uber plans to raise over $1 billion in convertible debt. (Uber)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Amazon’s Zoox unveiled its autonomous robo taxi with a claimed top speed of 75 mph. (Zoox)
  • Lidar developer Innoviz will list via a merger with a special purpose vehicle. (Innoviz)
  • Driver monitoring start-up Eyesight rebranded as Cipia. (Cipia)

Electrification (history)

  • Britishvolt’s battery factory will be built in the North of England, rather than Wales. (Britishvolt)
  • Solid Power says it will have batteries with an energy density of 400 Wh / kg by 2022. (Solid Power)

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Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 6th December 2020

BMW bets on simulated racing over the real thing; Uber calls time on in-house self-driving vehicles; and Daimler is no longer as keen on start-ups. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 30th November to 6th December 2020. A PDF version can be found here.

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

  • Video Games BMW is scaling back its physical motorsport activities and investing more in sim racing. Spending that would have been dismissed a few years ago as being on computer games can now reach consumers that traditional media fails to. It was only a few years ago that OEMs were piling into Formula E, is sim racing next?
  • I Knew You Were Trouble Uber sold its self-driving unit to Aurora. The immediate benefit is in offloading a cash hungry business, but it must have been a difficult decision since the company’s path to profitability seems to lie with autonomy (or drastically scaling back). Does selling up indicate that Uber believes there will be a competitive marketplace for self-driving technology, or that development is so far away it was going to go bust trying?
  • Shake It Off Daimler is selling off a majority share in its Lab1886 in-house start-up incubator. After spending years trumpeting its ability to engage with newfangled businesses, Daimler has grown tired of writing cheques and decided to concentrate on the core business. Where to now for in-house VC units?

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)

  • BMW will exit Formula E (the all-electric single seater championship) saying it had “essentially exhausted the opportunities for… technology transfer”. (BMW)
  • As it withdraws from one category of physical motorsport, BMW says it will increase investment in, and technical support for, sim racing. (BMW)
  • Mini soon plans to launch souped-up Cooper Works versions of its all-electric Mini range. (Mini)
    • Significance: Many of the core attributes of electric vehicles lending themselves to a sporty driving experience: fast acceleration (thanks to instant torque); independent control of wheel speeds (if the car is dual motor); and a low centre of gravity (assuming the battery pack in the floor isn’t too much of a weight penalty). Therefore more manufacturers are likely to reposition their offerings as sports versions to drive incremental revenue.

Daimler (history)

  • Daimler nominated a new chairman: ex-BMW and VW boss Bernd Pischetsrieder (who has been a board member since 2014). If shareholders approve, he will take over at the beginning of April 2021. (Daimler)
  • Will start building trucks in China with existing joint venture partner Foton. (Daimler)
  • Daimler is selling off most of its Lab1886 in-house VC / start-up incubator. An investment firm will take a majority stake in the business and the digital services arm will be sold to Deloitte. (Daimler)
  • Agreed with German unions to create a €1 billion transformation fund. Although the press release was unclear about the exact intent, it appears to be so subsidise implementations of new technologies in German factories. (Daimler)
  • CEO Källenius says that Daimler wants to insource more components, believing that Daimler can make the parts more cheaply and free up money for investment in software. (FT)
  • Will pay German workers a €1,000 bonus for coping admirably with coronavirus. (Reuters)

Ford (history)

  • Creating a performance version of the Mustang Mech-E all-electric SUV. With a more powerful motor, Ford reckons the car can do 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds. Ford doesn’t say how much the upgrade will cost and some buyers might be underwhelmed by the range compared, which drops over (20)% compared to other models in the range. (Ford)
  • Said it had met its buyout goal for US salaried employees and cut a load of agency workers. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Ford says that its platform strategy, which involves sharing components over a smaller number of vehicles than rivals such as VW’s MQB, but across products which are more similar in size, allows capital expenditure savings of 75% for follow-on programs. (Ford p.15)
    • Significance: Unfortunately, since Ford’s presentation didn’t adjust for volume (i.e. fewer cars means less expensive tooling — although not in an exactly linear way), it isn’t clear that these savings are real on a like-for-like basis.
  • Delayed the launch of Bronco by about three months, blaming problems at suppliers suffering from staff with coronavirus. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Unions say that production at the Valencia engine plant is rising, indicating that demand in North America (where almost all the plant’s production goes) is picking up. (Europa Press)

Geely (includes Volvo) (history)

  • Kandi saw the same investor whose report proved to be the undoing of Nikola’s founder published claims that Kandi was overstating sales. (Reuters)

General Motors (history)

  • After GM gave Cadillac dealers the choice of either investing in facilities for electric vehicles or handing back their franchises, sources said about 150 sites took them up on their offer. (CNBC)
  • Cadillac had to revise online adverts for its Super Cruise driving assistance system after it told consumers they could “experience autonomous driving” if they bought it. (Automotive News)
  • Suffered a setback in labour negotiations with South Korean unions as members rejected a tentative deal. (Reuters)
  • Dealer contracts for selling the all-electric GMC Hummer reportedly contain provisions preventing dealers from using customer leads sourced from GM’s website for any purpose other than selling the truck to them. It isn’t clear whether this is for data protection reasons, or GM is trying to muscle in on dealer’s turf. (Automotive News)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • Gave an overview of the e-GMP platform that will underpin Hyundai’s forthcoming electric models. Hyundai touted the ability of the components to charge at 800V — currently the state of the art – indicating that the firm intends to release mainstream models that can charge at rates of up to 350 kW at a time when many rivals are producing cars capped at lower speeds. (Hyundai)

PSA (history)

  • Opel announced a slightly revised brand identity, complete with a new corporate colour — neon yellow. (Opel)

Renault (history)

  • CEO de Meo warned that small cars without battery electric powertrain could soon be a thing of the past. (Autocar)

Tesla (history)

  • CEO Musk says he is open to merging with a legacy auto maker, providing the terms were friendly. (TechCrunch)
    • Significance: Given Musk’s criticisms of the rest of the industry in the past, and Tesla’s seeming belief that in time it will capture a market the size of Toyota and VW Group combined, the interest in becoming something other than a pure play electric vehicle company seems odd… unless you want a source of cash.
  • Elon Musk implored employees to continue to cut costs, saying that if Tesla failed to meet market expectations for new products and profitability, its stock price could get crushed. (Business Insider)
  • Released a new diversity report. (TechCrunch)

Toyota (history)

  • Hopes that the new version of the hydrogen fuel cell powered Mirai will sell ten times as well as the outgoing model, partly because the price has dropped 20% but mostly because customers will want it more. (Toyota)
  • Announced a wide-ranging series of management moves, the biggest of which sees the CEO relinquishing his brand roles, which have been handed over to the head of the Lexus brand. (Toyota)

VW Group (history)

  • Like BMW, Audi is leaving the Formula E (all-electric single seater championship). It wants to enter the Dakar rally with an electric car instead. (Audi)
  • Says that re-using the factory design for all-electric vehicles, the latest plant in China cost 5% less than earlier installations, more than offsetting higher site specific spending. (VW)
  • Porsche is part of a group hoping to start production of synthetic fuels at a plant in Chile which will have capacity for 550 million litres per year by 2026, if everything goes according to plan. (Porsche)
  • The VW brand is stopping all forms of motorsport, and will dissolve the legal entity responsible for production and preparation of racing cars. Staff will be reassigned to mainstream roles. (VW)
  • Bentley says it has a retainer on five cargo jets to continue parts supply in the event of a hard Brexit. (The Guardian)
  • The head of VW’s Project Artemis (a forthcoming electric car that is set to wow us all) thinks that the complexity of electric cars will force industry consolidation — taking an opposing view to start-ups who think that there is no better time to muscle in. (Reuters)

Other

  • Aston Martin Chairman Stroll said that the firm will continue producing purely internal combustion engine powered cars well beyond 2030, speculating that they might make up 5% of sales mix. He said the first electric products will come out mid-decade. (FT) Aston Martin’s CEO promised to investigate how a dubiously sourced report questioning the environmental value of electric cars came to be associated with the brand. (The Guardian)
  • In Nio’s latest sales report (November), the company stopped giving model line detail. (Nio)
  • Aptera started taking deposits for its three wheeler all-electric car covered in solar panels. (Aptera)
  • The boss of Rimac said he is nervous about the rash of listings for electric car start-ups via mergers with special purpose entities. He believes that if they are not successful, it will make investors less receptive to his plans to list at a later date. (FT)
  • Dongfeng has created a $240 million investment fund with its partners. (Deal Street Asia)
  • Lucid says its factory will have 400,000 units of capacity by 2028. (Lucid)
  • Electric truck maker Lion Electric is going public via a merger with a special purpose vehicle in a $1.9 billion deal. The company expects to sell 6,000 vehicles over the next four years. (Northern Genesis)

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • US light vehicle SAAR of 15.55 million in November fell (9)% versus prior year. (Wards)
  • German sales of 290,150 passenger cars in November fell (3.0)% on a year-over-year basis. (KBA)
  • French registrations of 126,047 passenger cars in November fell (27)% versus prior year. (CCFA)
  • UK passenger car sales of 113,781 units in November fell (27.4)% versus prior year. (SMMT)
  • Italian passenger car sales of 138,405 units in November fell (8.3)% versus prior year. (UNRAE)
  • Spanish sales of 75,708 passenger cars in November fell (18.7)% on a year-over-year basis. (ANFAC)

Suppliers

  • Adient reported Q3 2020 (fiscal Q4) financial results. Revenue was $3.6 billion and EBIT was $50 million. (Adient)

Dealers

  • Indonesian online service booking start-up Otoklix raised $2 million. (Deal Street Asia)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • Major rental firm Europcar agreed a deal with creditors to cut its debt load. (Auto Rental News)
  • Uber sold its self-driving unit to Aurora (The Verge) and is rumoured to be in talks to sell its air taxi unit. (Reuters)
  • Whitelabel fleet management operator Ridecell raised $45 million from investors including Denso. (Ridecell)
  • Hertz is selling its fleet management arm, Donlen, to raise cash. (Automotive Fleet)
  • Grab is reportedly set to merge with regional rival Gojek. (Reuters)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Scale.ai, which builds software used by autonomous developers for sensor fusion raised $155 million. (FINSMES)

Electrification (history)

  • The US Postal Service delayed the decision over a massive electric vehicle fleet order until sometime in early 2021, hurting the stock market value of several companies including Workhorse. (USPS)

Connectivity

  • Bosch invested in Sfara, a company that creates software that turns smartphones into diagnostics kit. (Bosch)

Other

  • Electric scooter rental firm Voi raised $160 million. (Voi)
  • Electric scooter rental firm Revel is scaling back. (TechCrunch)

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Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 29th November 2020

Volvo elbows out dealers; VW wastes time on internal politics; and Nissan Note is the way forward. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 23rd November to 29th November 2020. A PDF version can be found here.

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

  • Trashin’ The Camp There is speculation that Volvo will completely take over distribution in Sweden. The brand has made two major moves: first, it acquired a dealer group, then it served notice on a large dealer in the country. Although several brands have experimented with an omnichannel agency model where OEMs can sell cars directly and pay dealers to handle final delivery and customer liaison, it has mostly been with a nod to traditional dealer-OEM relationships, rather than taking over retail as Tesla has. Taken together with its aspirations for the all-in leasing service “Care by Volvo”, is the Swedish brand the most innovative traditional OEM when it comes to retail?
  • Another Day In Paradise It seems that VW Group’s CEO and labour representatives are at each other’s throats again. Apparently angry that union officials are blocking promotions for his preferred candidates, CEO Diess has openly warned that efficiency gains could be lost and apparently asked for a contract extension to be confirmed far earlier than is normal to help him stamp his authority on the company. If the power play fails, he could be out. Will VW get its head in gear, or hit self-destruct?
  • A Groovy kind Of Love For a few years, Nissan has sold the Note in Japan with an optional motor as generator powertrain, in the updated model it will be all you can buy. What is motor as generator? It’s an electric car with a small battery that relies on a gasoline-powered motor to top it up. Some might call it a range extender but technically it is a bit different because the engine runs more often. Why choose that over an all-electric car? Cost. We’ve heralded motor as generator as part of the missing link in the transition to electric cars —  several European vehicles from the likes of Honda, Nissan and Renault will soon offer them. How long before the technology catches on?

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)

  • The parent company of Brilliance, BMW’s joint venture partner in China, filed for bankruptcy. (China Economic)

Daimler (history)

  • Daimler’s works council head complained that the deal with Geely to share engines, and specifically to make them in China, had been agreed without thinking about the impact on German workers. (Handelsblatt)
  • In dispute with unions over the future of the Untertürkheim, Germany, plant. Daimler wants to start making parts for electric cars there as part of a plan to reduce the site’s overall size but give it a clearer future. Unions are insisting on no loss of overall activity, a move Daimler says may cause it to revisit the overall plan. (FAZ)

Ford (history)

  • Appointed a new marketing chief, poached from eBay. (Ford)
  • Contemplating charging suppliers upfront for warranty problems, with the promise of handing money back if they resolve problems quickly. Ford executives believe that they’ve been giving suppliers an easy ride, suppliers wonder where in Ford’s cost estimating framework there is provision for sufficient profit to bear such shocks. (Reuters)
  • Journalists putting two and two together, following Marelli’s announcement of a power electronics factory in Cologne, Germany, have concluded that Ford’s plant in the same city will build electric vehicles on the VW MEB platform.  (Clean Technica)

Geely (includes Volvo) (history)

  • Volvo gave notice to terminate its contract with one of the major Swedish dealer groups, prompting speculation that it could be preparing to serve its home market purely though wholly-owned dealers. (Reuters)

General Motors (history)

  • Reportedly planning to apply for a US banking charter that will enable a more far-reaching automotive lending business and deposit-taking. (Reuters)
  • GM is apparently offering contract buyouts of up to $500,000 to Cadillac dealers who are reluctant to embrace an all-electric future for the brand (and the six figure price tag for facility investment that comes with it. (Automotive News)
  • Dropped its support for a lawsuit started by the outgoing Trump administration against California, which sought to dilute the state’s rights to set its own emissions scheme, in favour of adopting national standards. (Detroit Free Press)
  • GM and Nikola finalised an agreement to share hydrogen fuel cell technology, but it is narrower in scope than the previous plan to give GM a 20% stake in return for a deeper IP sharing relationship and agreement from GM to contract manufacture the Badger pickup. (Nikola)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • Hyundai and Kia will pay US fines of $71 million for taking too long to recall faulty vehicles, with a further $73 million deferred on the assumption of good behaviour from now on. In addition to the penalties, the brands agreed to invest $56 million in safety testing facilities. (Detroit News)

Nissan and Mitsubishi (history)

  • Unveiled a new version of the Note small car. Nissan will now only sell a motor-as-generator hybrid set up in Japan after the powertrain has proved to be very successful in the outgoing model. (Nikkei)

PSA (history)

  • PSA wholly-owned French dealer organisation is going to start working seven days per week, but Sundays will be exclusively for processing online orders and following-up leads from the internet. (PSA)
  • German dealers are suing Opel, saying that the brand isn’t doing enough to look after their profitability. Opel said it hoped that the matter could be resolved out of court. (Autohaus)

Renault (history)

  • Announced that the Flins, France, factory will stop making cars and become a vehicle retrofitting and recycling centre. (Renault)
  • The parent company of Brilliance, Reanult’s joint venture partner in China, filed for bankruptcy. (China Economic)

Tata (includes JLR) (history)

  • Unveiled a facelift for the Jaguar XF saloon. (JLR)

Tesla (history)

  • Recalling around 9,100 Model X cars because parts of the roof trim might fall down because they were glued in without the metal surfaces being properly prepared and 400 Model Y as suspension parts may detach because bolts weren’t properly tightened. (Reuters)
  • A researcher managed to fool Tesla’s Model X into letting him drive it away without a key. The attack required some special hardware and a particular set of skills but highlights vulnerabilities in the security design. Tesla said it will  rectify the problem ASAP. (Wired)
  • Setting up an assembly line in Shanghai, China, to make charging points. (China Daily)
  • CEO Musk wondered aloud about developing and building a compact car in Europe, a project he has previously wondered aloud about developing and building in China. (Reuters)

Toyota (history)

  • Invested in Carbice, a company developing cooling systems using carbon nanotubes. (Toyota)
  • Stopped production at the Karnataka, India, plant after a series of wildcat strikes. (Reuters)

VW Group (history)

  • Truck maker Scania acquired a local Chinese brand, indicating that it will soon begin local assembly. (Reuters)
  • Audi wants its factories to be CO2-neutral by 2025 but accepts that this won’t include emissions from the supply chain — particularly those involved in producing batteries. (VW)
  • Trouble seems to be brewing between CEO Diess and unions again, with Diess making several remarks about the need to continue applying pressure to transform the company and seeking an early extension of his mandate (currently he is contracted until 2023) as a way of obtaining a vote of confidence from the supervisory board. The board themselves are reportedly taking their time with the decision with some citing concerns over giving him an extension that would take him beyond the normal retirement age of 65. In the meantime, several of Diess’s preferred candidates for internal promotions (such as a new CFO) have reportedly been blocked. (Handelsblatt)
  • Might only sell the Passat as a station wagon in Europe to save on investment cost. (Bloomberg)
  • VW’s plan for its small electric car, dubbed ID 2, reportedly led by Chinese joint venture partner JAC, is to import the vehicle from China for several years before starting a European plant. (Handelsblatt)
  • VW’s product development chief says the firm is developing an MEB-Lite derivative of its platform for small cars and will have batteries with capacity of up to 45 kWh. (Autocar)
  • CEO Diess said that cars with batteries that are “too large and heavy are not good” for overall emissions. He indicated that a range of about 250 miles is reasonable. He also confirmed that the company had ceased its interest in a Turkish factory. (Automotive News)
    • Significance: Diess’s comment is less straightforward than it seems; owners with particularly hot or cold weather see far lower electric range than counterparts in more moderate climates.

Other

  • McLaren announced the name, and some teaser shots, of its forthcoming hybrid sportscar: Artura. (McLaren)
  • SAIC and Alibaba are creating a $1 billion fund to invest in smart car technologies. (The Star)
  • GM and Nikola finalised an agreement to share hydrogen fuel cell technology, but it is narrower in scope than the previous plan to give GM a 20% stake in return for a deeper IP sharing relationship and agreement from GM to contract manufacture the Badger pickup. (Nikola)

News about other companies and trends

Suppliers

  • Grupo Antolin reported Q3 2020 revenue of €1.1 billion and EBIT of €18 million. (Antolin)
  • Widely-used data provider IHS is merging with S&P in a $44 billion deal. (Fox)

Dealers

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • Car rental start-up Envoy, which specialises in creating schemes for apartments, offices and hotels, raised $11 million and received a secured loan to buy more vehicles. (Auto Rental News)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Autonomous delivery company Gatik raised $25 million. (FINSMES)
  • Radar developer Lunewave raised $7 million. (Lunewave)
  • Zoox’s co-founder is back with a new self-driving start-up, HYPR, and has raised $10 million. (Forbes)

Electrification (history)

  • Hydrogen powertrain supplier Plug Power raised $1 billion. (FINSMES)

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Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 22nd November 2020

GM’s statement of electric car intent; a potential investment bubble for robots; and a very sensible powertrain joint venture. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 16th November to 22nd November 2020. A PDF version can be found here.

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

  • Tha Crossroads GM says that by 2025, 40% of the vehicles it has on sale in the USA will be all-electric. The implication is that these will take a lower share of sales and GM is being tight-lipped on overall targets. But, if GM can be so confident about the US reception for electric vehicles, how can Ford and Fiat Chrysler be so relaxed about the outlook for their minimalist approach to the technology?
  • Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger BMW has created a unit to sell automated logistics robots that have been developed in-house. It follows on from the news that Hyundai is interested in purchasing robot maker Boston Dynamics (plus Tesla’s myriad acquisitions). Will robots be the new frontier for automotive firms to splash the cash in a desperate bid for unclear competitive advantage? In two years time will you even be able to call yourself a car company if you don’t have a robot strategy?
  • I Gotta Feeling Daimler and Geely will work together to make internal combustion engines for hybrid vehicles. They will produce them in separate factories for now but German unions were outraged at the thought that engines might be imported from China. The move makes total sense to me — powertrain consolidation is a necessary step on the path to greater electrification. Auto makers would be best to make win-win(ish) deals early rather than wait for everyone else to partner up. Will others follow Daimler and Geely’s example?

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)

  • Mini unveiled the Urbanaut concept. Equipped with a sliding side door and top-hinged windscreen, Mini hasn’t yet been brave enough to make an actual model of the design. (Mini)
  • Announced that internal combustion engine production in Europe will be directed to only two plants in future: Hams Hall, UK, and Steyr, Austria. The Munich, Germany, plant will lose its engine manufacturing role, but get a new production line for all-electric vehicles instead. (BMW)
  • Created a subsidiary called IDEALworks to sell automated logistics robots that BMW developed in-house. (BMW)
  • Confirmed that the next generation Mini Countryman will be built at the Leipzig, Germany, plant. The move sends a warning to the UK government that British production of the car should not be a given in future. (BMW)
  • BMW sales executives in South Africa wondered aloud whether the direct sales model the brand has piloted there should now be rolled out to other markets. BMW in the UK said it wasn’t planning any changes. (Autocar)

Daimler (history)

  • Unveiled the Maybach version of the new S-Class with a rose gold and burgundy paint job that is either fetching or gauche, depending on your point of view. Hopefully customers will at least appreciate that it takes a week to convert a standard S-Class painted body to a two tone finish. (Daimler)
  • Daimler and Geely will work together to design and build smaller internal combustion engines to use in hybrid electric vehicles. Engines will be produced at factories in Europe and China. Daimler appeared to warn its European workforce that should they become complacent, it might simply ship in more Chinese-produced engines. (Daimler)
  • Sources said that Daimler and Renault’s cooperation would continue despite the Geely news. (Reuters)
  • Daimler is reportedly hoping for hundreds of millions in annual cost savings from the engine deal. (Handelsblatt)

FCA (history)

  • PSA and FCA released the prospectus for their merger. (PSA)

Ford (history)

  • Ford wowed North American dealers with an unnamed whitespace product (rumoured to be a small pickup). (Ford)
  • The much-heralded new CIO won’t be joining Ford after all, instead he will spend more time with his family. (Ford)
  • Launching an online portal for selling used vehicles in the USA. (Detroit News)

Geely (includes Volvo) (history)

  • Daimler and Geely will work together to design and build smaller internal combustion engines to use in hybrid electric vehicles. Engines will be produced at factories in Europe and China. (Daimler)

General Motors (history)

  • Launched an insurance product that uses data from GM’s OnStar telematics suite. (GM)
  • Presented an updated strategy for electric vehicles. GM now plans to have 30 all-electric models by 2025 with annual sales above the 1 million units level it previously set for 2026. By mid-decade, GM expects battery costs to have reduced by 60% from today’s levels and energy density to have doubled, so batteries from the next generation of technology will be smaller and cheaper. By 2025, 40% of GM’s North American portfolio will be electric-only; it isn’t yet clear how this translates into volumes. (GM)
  • Says that the benchmark time to develop a new vehicle is now 26 months. (GM)
  • Unveiled a minor refresh for the Buick GL6, which now will be equipped for V2X (vehicle to everything) communication so that the car can talk to traffic lights. (GM)
  • Revealed the SUV variant of the all-electric Hummer, supposedly by mistake. (Detroit Free Press) Then (and you’re not going to believe this), they did it again. (CNBC)
  • GM president Reuss said that the firm has carefully evaluated whether to spin off its electric vehicle unit, but decided against it due to “dyssynergy”, but GM will report the group’s performance separately. (CNBC)
  • US regulators forced GM to recall 5.9 million vehicles to replace faulty Takata airbags, a move that the company had argued against. (Reuters)
  • South Korean workers have been striking over pay. GM executives said it was “basically being held hostage” and the company’s long term future in the country was under threat. (Reuters)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • Recent withdrawals from short term car rental haven’t put off Hyundai, which is launching a new scheme for all-electric cars in Spain called VIVe. (Hyundai)
  • Kia’s South Korean workers started partial strikes over wages and product allocations. (Reuters)

Nissan and Mitsubishi (history)

  • Nissan denied that it was interested in selling down its stake in Mitsubishi. (Nissan)
  • Rumoured to be contemplating an all-electric powertrain from full size electric pickup startup Hercules Electric to create an all-electric version of the Titan pickup. (Detroit News)

PSA (history)

  • PSA and FCA released the prospectus for their merger. (PSA)

Renault (history)

  • French unions approved Renault’s job cuts plan. (Les Echos)
  • Unveiled a “concept” version of the Kiger, a small SUV / crossover aimed at emerging markets. The vehicle clearly shares many components and some exterior bodywork with the Nissan Magnite. (Renault)

Subaru

  • Unveiled a new BRZ sports car. (Subaru)

Tata (includes JLR) (history)

  • Took legal action against VW Group’s SUVs in the USA, claiming that they infringed on JLR’s terrain response system (which makes it easier to drive off-road). (Detroit News)
  • Will test driver assistance and connected vehicle technologies in a new facility being built in Ireland. (JLR)

Tesla (history)

  • An announcement that Tesla will join the S&P 500 index sent its shares racing. (TechCrunch)

Toyota (history)

  • Invested in virus testing start-up SummerBio. (Toyota)
  • Patented the concept of a drone that will refuel cars. (Futurism)

VW Group (history)

  • Lamborghini and Bugatti will be run by the same person after Lamborghini’s prior CEO left to run Formula 1 and VW decided to hand the reigns back to the prior boss, who currently heads Bugatti. The announcement implied that in other respects the two brands will be independent, but there is no guarantee. (VW)
  • Opened a production line for electric motors in Tianjin, China. (VW)
  • Audi’s Silvercar rental brand is shutting down operations at airports and will concentrate on cars located at dealerships instead. (Auto Rental News)
  • CEO Diess said VW was working on a different legal structure for Ducati and Lamborghini  and would unfortunately slightly miss its 2020 European CO2 target, implying large fines. (Reuters)
  • Porsche SE is calling for improved financial performance from start-ups it has invested in. (Handelsblatt)
  • Porsche invested in Drivably, a developer of data analysis tools for car dealers. (Drivably)

Other

  • Morgan confirmed that it will wave goodbye to the 3 Wheeler in 2021. (Morgan)
  • Lordstown expressed confidence in its ability to put the Endurance pickup truck into production in 2021, saying it has 50,000 orders. (Lordstown)
  • Nio reported financial results for Q3 2020. Revenue of 4.3 billion RMB (about $630 million) jumped 146% versus prior year, whilst a loss from operations of (946) million RMB (about -$140 million) improved versus prior year’s loss of more than double that amount. (Nio)
  • Electric commercial vehicle company Arrival will list via a merger with a special purpose vehicle in a deal valued at $5.4 billion that will see the company receive $660 million in cash. Arrival hopes to be profitable by 2023. (Arrival)
  • Aston Martin is rumoured to be supplying safety cars for Formula 1 races next year. (Autocar)
  • Rivian’s CEO says the company is planning a series of smaller vehicles. (Reuters)
  • Ineos might make a version of its Grenadier SUV with Hyundai’s hydrogen fuel cell technology. (Autocar)
  • Alpha Motor Corporation plans to start production of a new range of electric vehicles in 2023. (Alpha)
  • BYD unveiled an electric car designed for ride hailing operations. The innovations seem to consist of a sliding door and screens for the passengers. (The Verge)

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • The UK government announced an already rumoured plan to ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars by 2030. The scheme leaves open the door for hybrid electric vehicles to stay on sale. (SMMT)
  • Passenger car sales in Europe during October of 1.02 million units fell (6.4)% versus prior year. (ACEA)

Suppliers

  • Schaeffler held a capital markets day. (Schaeffler)

Dealers

  • Nigerian online service booking company Autochek raised $3.4 million. (TechCrunch)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • Ride Vision, a developer of driver assistance systems for motorbikes, raised $7 million. (TechCrunch)
  • Senmiao Technology launched a ride service in China called Xixingtianxia. (Senmiao)
  • Recent withdrawals from short term car rental haven’t put off Hyundai, which is launching a new scheme for all-electric cars in Spain called VIVe. (Hyundai)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Local Motors selected Velodyne to supply lidar unit for its self-driving vehicles. (Velodyne)
  • Mobility company Via will use autonomous vehicles from May Mobility. (Via)
  • Mobileye will use Luminar lidar to augment its camera sensors for machine vision. (TechCrunch)
  • Uber’s CEO said the company may partner with others on autonomous vehicle technology. (Reuters)
  • Panasonic is collaborating with Phiar Technologies to develop better vehicle location technology. (Phiar)
  • Autonomous simulation company Morai raised $1.8 million. (Morai)
  • South Korean autonomous testing company Autonomous a2z raised $1.9 million. (Autonomous a2z)

Electrification (history)

  • GM now plans to have 30 all-electric models by 2025 with annual sales above the 1 million units level it previously set for 2026. By mid-decade, GM expects battery costs to have reduced by 60% from today’s levels and energy density to have doubled, so batteries from the next generation of technology will be smaller and cheaper. (GM)

Connectivity

  • GM unveiled a minor refresh for the Buick GL6, which now will be equipped for V2X (vehicle to everything) communication so that the car can talk to traffic lights. (GM)

Other

  • Electric scooter rental company Lime says it could make a profit in 2021. (TechCrunch)

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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 15th November 2020

Electric cars with odd names; further thinning of the self-driving herd; and auto executives need better data. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 9th November to 15th November 2020. A PDF version can be found here.

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

  • Strangers BMW’s new electric SUV is called the iX, not the iNext as we were led to believe and VW promises an electric saloon called the Aero, dispensing with the “ID” label. What is going on with electric car badging? In a world where BMW has various SUVs named X1 – X7, and an iX3 electric version of the X3, what does iX mean? i10? i-forget about our other cars, they are a footnote in history now? And why are VW dropping ID, and why choose Aero, which is seems unrelated to batteries? How do they expect customers to keep track?
  • I’m Outta LoveUber is rumoured to be looking to sell its self-driving division to Aurora. It’s another nail in the coffin of the once glorious self-driving start-up scene. Let’s face it; companies have realised that this technology is fantastically expensive to develop, difficult to get right and, most importantly, that anyone who develops it will be so desperate to get their money back that they will sell to all and sundry. Without a strategic imperative to own self-driving technology, you simply don’t need as many around. Who will be next to disappear?
  • The Scientist VW executives worry that Germany isn’t building charging infrastructure fast enough to keep pace with the growth in electric vehicles. The company sees the magical ratio of one charger per ten cars being breached without a recovery plan. But isn’t it time to become a bit smarter in this debate? Raw numbers of chargers matter less than charging speeds and reliability and, given massive fleets of connected cars, surely we can be a little more accurate now than tired rules of thumb. When will OEMs be more scientific in showing where infrastructure is most valuable to customers?

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 all-electric iX SUV, previously badged as the iNext. Since the car is similar in size to the X5 but is simply called iX, whilst the X3-sized model is the iX3, it isn’t clear what this means for BMW’s electric SUV naming convention. (BMW)
  • CEO Zipse hopes that BMW’s collaboration will continue past 2025. (Reuters)

FCA (history)

  • Unveiled the logo for Stellantis. It is the word Stellantis with a corona behind the “a”, presumably so we never forget that is was designed in 2020. (Stellantis)

Ferrari

  • Unveiled a convertible version of the SF90. (Ferrari)
  • Ferrari’s CTO sees a future for V6, V8 and V12 engines and says that developing the Purosangue SUV is “another dimension” of complication because it means adopting to non-traditional customers and test procedures. (Top Gear)

Ford (history)

  • Revealed the all-electric version of the Transit van. (Ford)
  • Will double capacity for the all-electric F-150 and plans to build a second product alongside the Mustang Mach E in Mexico, although Ford won’t say exactly what it will be or when it will come out. (Ford)
  • CEO Farley said Ford could start making battery cells. (Reuters)

Geely (includes Volvo) (history)

  • Lotus is rumoured to be working on a high-power, all-electric, SUV. (Autocar)

General Motors (history)

  • Recalling 69,000 Bolt electric vehicles because their batteries are overheating, with some catching fire. (Reuters)
  • Planning to hire 3,000 engineers and IT specialists between now and the early part of 2021. (GM)
  • Corvette production has been hit by coronavirus-related problems with suppliers in Mexico. (Detroit News)
  • Recalling 217,000 cars and SUVS because of leaking transmissions that might catch fire. (Detroit News)

Honda (history)

  • Cleared the major regulatory hurdle to be allowed to sell SAE level 3 capable vehicles in Japan. (Honda)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • Rumoured to be interested in buying the Boston Dynamics robot company. (Deal Street Asia)

Mazda

  • Reported Q3 2020 financial results (Mazda’s fiscal Q2). Sales of 739 billion JPY (about $7 billion), down (16)% on a year-over-year basis. An operating loss of (7.6) billion JPY (about -$73 million) fell from a profit in the prior year. Mazda said a (12)% drop in volume was to blame. (Mazda)

Nissan and Mitsubishi (history)

  • Reported financial results for Q3 2020 (Nissan’s fiscal Q2). Revenue of 1.9 trillion JPY (about $18.3 billion) fell (27)% on a year-over-year basis. An operating loss of (5) billion JPY (about -$50 million) was only a little bit worse than a modest profit in the prior year. Nissan said that massive volume drops had been almost offset by improvements in manufacturing costs and selling expense. (Nissan)
  • Gave the Micra a facelift. (Nissan)

PSA (history)

  • Although PSA is reducing production at the Zaragoza, Spain, plant, the problem apparently isn’t the recently launched Opel / Vauxhall Corsa which sources say is doing very well. (Europa Press)

Renault (history)

  • Unveiled a facelift for the Kangoo small van. (Auto Express)

Tata (includes JLR) (history)

  • Unveiled a facelift for the Discovery. (Land Rover)

VW Group (history)

  • Porsche revealed a series of previously secret prototypes — seemingly to flog a book. The presence of full-size models for people-moving shuttles (building a 1:1 model is a fairly significant task) suggests the company is contemplating a future beyond sportscars. There are also several concepts aimed at creating a high performance one make racing series. (Porsche)
  • Škodas will be produced outside the Czech Republic as the brand acquiesced to VW’s long-held plans to fill under-utilised factories with its products. (Škoda)
  • VW Group announced its latest spending round, with a plan target of €150 billion over the next five years. VW said that half the money will be spent on electric vehicles (including hybrids) and digitalisation. Within the announcement, the company said that there will be a four door VW brand saloon called the Aero, an inexplicable departure from the ID naming convention. (VW)
  • VW executives fretted that Germany’s rapidly-growing electric car fleet will soon overwhelm the available charging network. The company believes a ratio of one charger for each electric car is necessary to provide sufficient availability for customers. (Handelsblatt)

Other

  • Workhorse reported Q3 2020 financial results. Sales of $564,707 led to a loss of $(10) million and a net loss of $(84) million, thanks to a whopping $(74) million interest bill. (Workhorse)
  • Nikola reported Q3 2020 financial results – a $(117) million operating loss. (Nikola)
  • Li Auto announced Q3 2020 sales of $363 million and an operating loss of $(27) million. (Li Auto)
  • Rivian announced pricing for its all-electric truck. The near-$70,000 staring price may have many wondering how the company will be able to cheaply build electric vans for Amazon. (Rivian)
  • Gordon Murray is opening a new £50 million headquarters. (Gordon Murray) The firm has apparently sold most of the 100 road-going T.50 hypercars, and about half of the track-only versions. (Autocar)

News about other companies and trends

Suppliers

  • Bridgestone is selling off its US building products division. (Nikkei)
  • Continental reported financial results for Q3 2020 (already pre-reported) and is now confident enough of economic recovery to issue a financial forecast. (Continental) The firm celebrated by appointing a new CEO. (Continental)
  • Schaeffler reported financial results for Q3 2020. (Schaeffler)
  • Meritor reported Q3 2020 (fiscal Q4) sales of $758 million and adjusted income of $11 million. (Meritor)
  • Motherson reported Q3 2020 revenue of 15,012 Cr INR (about $2.0 billion) and income of 481 Cr INR (about $65 million). (Motherson)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • Lyft reported Q3 2020 revenue of $500 million and an operating loss of $(453) million. The company has around $2.5 billion in cash and short term liquidity. (Lyft)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Uber is rumoured to be exploring a deal to sell its self-driving vehicle unit to Aurora. (TechCrunch)
  • Velodyne is aiming for a sub-$500 per unit price point for the forthcoming Velarray H800 – unit suitable for monitoring the corners of self-driving vehicles. (Velodyne)
  • Autonomous delivery firm Nuro raised $500 million. (TechCrunch)
  • Chinese self-driving truck company Inceptio raised $120 million. (Deal Street Asia)

Other

  • Cummins and Navistar will collaborate to build hydrogen powered trucks. (Cummins)

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