Automotive trends, Auto industry trends, Automotive market research, Automotive market analysis, auto industry news
The demise of cheap motoring, a Brexit that pleases the automotive industry and parking spaces for autonomous vehicles. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 9th July to 15th July. A PDF version can be found here. Favourite stories of the past week…?
  • Mixed Emotions — The Tata Nano is no more. What did we all learn from the experience? Was the instinct that people wanted cheap cars wrong? Initial reservations suggested Tata was onto something but the problem was with the execution. That isn’t a criticism of Tata, who took on a challenge so hard no one else has tried anything similar. Perhaps the way forward is cheaply refurbishing existing vehicles? If the industry can’t work out the answer, it runs the risk that the middle class in emerging markets may never opt for car ownership, preferring per mile payments instead (take an Ola cab in India if you aren’t sure of why that might make economic sense from their point of view).
  • You Can’t Always Get What You Want The UK Government unveiled its white paper for detailed post-Brexit negotiations. If you are an automotive OEM or Tier 1 it pretty much ticks all the boxes: zero tariffs; no border checks; a mysterious “common rulebook”; trusted trader status; a sort of free movement for key talent and even diagonal cumulation of local content. So far so good, but will the EU agree? The Achilles heel of the UK’s plan could be the EU not wanting to give concessions it knows could cause a whole load of other agreements (e.g. EFTA, EEA, Turkey) to be revisited.
  • Fortune Teller Although we’ve yet to see autonomous cars on the roads, companies are offering parking spaces tailored to their requirements. Although some of this is headline grabbing, it shows that infrastructure providers are starting to think about the opportunities for them. That can only help…
  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 1,242,507 vehicles in the first six months, up 1.8% on the same period in 2017. (BMW)
  • Working towards majority ownership of its Chinese joint venture with Brilliance. (Der Spiegel)
  • Re-affirmed plans to increase production in South Carolina, USA, despite capacity increases in China. (KVEO)
  • Joined Baidu’s Project Apollo, securing a board seat. The two companies had dissolved an earlier partnership. (BMW)
Daimler (history)
  • Daimler’s autonomous vehicle program will be underpinned by Nvidia electronics. (Daimler)
  • The IG Metall union announced an agreement to improve the terms for temporary Daimler employees sourced from the Dekra agency at the Rastatt plant that creates a path to guaranteed employment. (IG Metall)
  • Will run a pilot autonomous ride hailing service in San Francisco, starting in 2019, in partnership with Bosch. The scheme will also integrate car sharing and multi-modal services. (Daimler)
FCA (history)
  • A much-hyped strike by Fiat workers in Turin protesting the extravagant signing of Cristiano Ronaldo by Agnelli family-owned Juventus football club turned out to be a non-event. (Bloomberg)
Ford (history)
  • Reportedly using the Fusion nameplate for a new high roofed hatchback to replace the current model. (Detroit News)
Geely (includes Volvo) (history)
  • Announced a new modular platform for smaller Geely branded vehicles (sitting beneath the CMA platform led by Volvo) called BMA. Powertrain offerings include ICE, 48V and PHEV. (Geely)
Honda (history)
  • Stopped production of the Fit and HR-V in Celaya, Mexico until the end of July, due to flooding. (Honda)
Hyundai / Kia (history)
  • Hyundai’s CRADLE fund announced an investment in solid state battery developer Ionic Materials. The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance is already an investor. (Hyundai)
  • Hyundai and Baidu signed a far-reaching agreement on connectivity and voice recognition, like the one Baidu agreed with Ford. (Hyundai)
Nissan (includes Mitsubishi) (history)
  • If demand is sufficient, Nissan will build 50 GT-R50 supercars, with a likely price tag of €900,000 each. (Top Gear)
PSA (includes Opel/Vauxhall) (history)
  • Sold 2,181,800 vehicles in the first half of 2018, an increase in 1.9% on a like-for-like basis (PSA’s headline figure YoY of 38.1% includes inorganic growth from the purchase of Opel / Vauxhall. (PSA)
  • Opel vehicles are reportedly the subject of investigation by the German regulator, the KBA, with up to 60,000 vehicles under suspicion of failing to meet emissions standards. (Bild)
Renault (history)
  • Renault sold 2,067,695 vehicles in the first six months of 2018, an increase of 9.8% on a year-over-year basis. Although the news was mostly good, sales declined markedly at Renault Samsung. (Renault)
  • Increasing production of Zoe to 440 units per day. (Automotive News)
  • Will increase production of Alpine models from 15 per day to 20 per day. (Auto Evolution)
Tata (includes JLR) (history)
  • Stopped production of the Nano after a dramatic fall in sales. (Autocar)
  • An Indian court rejected the case brought by the ex-Chairman against his dismissal after it concluded he tried to concentrate too much power. (Economic Times of India)
  • Tata Motors took a 26% stake in freight aggregator TruckEasy. (Tata Motors)
  • Moody’s downgraded Tata Motors to Ba2. (News 18)
Tesla (history)
  • Agreed the terms for a new factory in Shanghai, China, with annual capacity of 500,000 units. (BBC)
  • Reached a milestone of 200,000 sales in the US, meaning that buyers no longer receive a federal subsidy. (Reuters)
  • Saw an employee branded a “saboteur” by CEO Musk report the company to the SEC, alleging misstatements on production figures for Model 3. (Bloomberg)
  • Raised prices in China by around 20%. (Reuters)
  • CEO Musk gave an in-depth interview where he acknowledged the company didn’t listen to doubters about the Model 3 production process because he had been told Tesla was doing it wrong for the last 15 years. He appeared to set a target for the Model Y unveil to be in March 2019. (Bloomberg)
Toyota (history)
  • Announced a new car sharing program called Hui, operating in Hawaii. (Toyota)
VW Group (history)
  • Appointed the head of strategy to lead the VW commercial vehicle brand. (VW)
Other
  • McLaren announced an updated business plan that takes the company to 2025. The company is aiming for 6,000 units per year in sales and all mainstream models will feature 100% hybrid electric powertrains. Through their localisation program McLaren are aiming for 57% UK content by value. McLaren confirmed a successor to the P1, with powertrain options reportedly under review. (McLaren)
  • Vazirani Automotive unveiled the Shul, a supercar powered by turbines feeding electric motors in the wheels. (Autocar)
  • Noble Automotive will sell a fibreglass-bodied entry-level model called the M500. (Autocar)
  • Electra Meccanica announced the start of production of the Solo electric vehicle. (Electra)
  • Dendrobium will manufacture the D-1 electric supercar in the UK. (Dendrobium)
  • Xiaopeng Motors denied that the employee at the centre of a case over stolen Apple autonomous vehicle secrets had passed anything on to them. (Reuters)
 

News about other companies and trends

  Economic / Political News
  • The UK Government set out more detail on its “Road to Zero” strategy (not yet law). The government wants 50% of cars and 40% of vans sold in 2030 to have significant zero emissions capability; to end sales of vehicles without any zero emissions capability by 2040 and for “almost every car and van” on sale to be zero emissions by 2050. By 2030 the target is for all government vehicles to be zero emission capable, in a bid top spur supply. (UK Govt)
  • The UK Government set out its detailed aims for post-Brexit trade with the EU. True to its word, the government has steered clear of any existing mechanism, instead proposing an EFTA-like relationship with a series of new buzzwords to explain slight differences to existing mechanisms: for instance, there is no customs union, there is a “facilitated customs arrangement”. There is no participation in the single market, but there is “free trade area for goods” where a sufficiently detailed “common rulebook” ensures frictionless trade are maintained. (UK Govt)
    • Implication: Within days of publishing the white paper, the government was already conceding amendments from its own side, so the final aims of the negotiation with the EU is unclear. Automotive businesses will have been pleased by the inclusion of the following: (1) zero tariffs, (2) regulatory alignment (3) zero border controls (4) trusted trader status for tariff declarations (5) something approximating free movement of key staff (6) an effort to gain diagonal cumulation of local content through the EU’s existing free trade agreements with 3rd parties (this won’t be easy) (7) Although passporting for financial services is explicitly excluded, and would have been welcome, this only affected some OEMs, who in any case have made alternative arrangements whilst the government decided how to approach the matter. The white paper also implied the UK would uphold, or be more stringent than, EU rules on CO2 from vehicles.
  • Two European Parliament committees voted in favour of a 30% reduction in CO2 from cars between 2021 and 2030, a key step in putting the new rules before the full parliament. (Autovista)
Suppliers
  • Michelin will acquire off road tyre maker Camso for $1.45 billion. (Michelin)
  • German employees of casting supplier Neue Halberg Guss continued to try to apply pressure on new owners Prevent Group for job security. (IG Metall)
  • Aptiv is acquiring connected equipment specialist Winchester Interconnect for $650 million. (Aptiv)
  • Faurecia is opening a new factory in Michigan, USA. The $11 million plant will employ 100 people. (Faurecia)
  • Continental is acquiring tool supplier VÚK spol. (Continental)
Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)
  • Chinese carmakers FAW Group, Dongfeng and Changan have set up their ride hailing concern, the catchily named T3 Mobile Travel Services. (Deal Street Asia)
  • Toyota announced a new car sharing program called Hui, operating in Hawaii. (Toyota)
  • Coach trip charter and sharing service Skedaddle is reportedly a target for both Lyft and Uber. (TechCrunch)
  • Gett is reportedly considering exiting the US market and selling Juno. (Bloomberg)
  • Uber invested in electric scooter rental firm Lime. (Lime)
  • Malaysia’s competition regulator said it was taking a closer look at the Uber / Grab (Reuters).
  • Didi signed Continental as a partner for its program to make a purpose-built ride hailing vehicle, ready for launch by 2020. (Brinkwire)
Driverless / Autonomy (history)
  • Parking aggregator SpotHero says it has 500 AV-ready parking spots in Chicago. (Venture Beat)
  • Autonomous vehicle developer ai raised $102 million. (Deal Street Asia)
  • High resolution radar developer Arbe Robotics announced $10 million in fund raising. (Arbe)
  • Baraja is ready to start shipping units of its new Spectrum-Scan modular lidar system, the specification of the units in terms of range, resolution and wavelength is unclear. (Baraja)
  • The Vietnamese government granted a licence for autonomous vehicle trials to local firm FPT Software. (Xinhua)
  • Daimler’s autonomous vehicle program will be underpinned by Nvidia electronics. (Daimler)
  • Daimler will run a pilot autonomous ride hailing service in San Francisco, starting in 2019, in partnership with Bosch. The scheme will also integrate car sharing and multi-modal services. (Daimler)
  • BMW joined Baidu’s Project Apollo, securing a board seat. (BMW)
Electrification (history)
  • Panasonic executives said the company has prototype batteries with 50% the cobalt content of current units and will have them on sale in two to three years. (Reuters)
  • Electric commercial vehicle maker Workhorse raised $6.1 million in debt. (Workhorse)
  • Hyundai’s CRADLE fund announced an investment in solid state battery developer Ionic Materials. The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance is already an investor. (Hyundai)
Connectivity
  • Several carmakers signed a letter to the EU arguing for the C-V2X connectivity standard to be adopted in preference to C-ITS. (Reuters)
  • Voxx Automotive and UniKey formed a strategic partnership to develop secure smartphone-based keys. (VOXX)
Other
  • Electric scooter rental firm Lime is raising $335 million. (Lime)
  • Indian bicycle rental firm Mobycy is reportedly close to $3 million in funding. (Economic Times of India)
  • Google says its drone delivery service, Wing, is mature enough to become an independent business unit. (Google)
  • Rolls-Royce (the engine maker, not the BMW brand) said it was working on a flying taxi. (Reuters)
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