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

Vauxhall expects a post-Brexit windfall; how to keep an electric car youthful; and preserving the staircase of talent. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 9th September to 15th September 2019. A PDF version can be found here.

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

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

Find our archive here.


News about the major automakers

BMW (history)

  • BMW’s Japanese offices were raided by officials looking for evidence of unfair sales practices, namely forcing dealers to buy cars to make their quota (ie pre-registration). (Japan News)
  • Mini’s head designer talked about how electrification and autonomy will change the way cars look. He thinks electrification will bring new proportions and generous surfaces while for autonomous vehicles, it could be possible to do away with conventional headlights altogether. (BMW)
  • Unveiled a hydrogen fuel cell prototype called the iHydrogen NEXT. BMW says that in 2022 there will be a limited series run of a vehicle based on the X5 — the level of differentiation is unclear. BMW thinks 2025 is the earliest that fuel cells will be commercially viable for volume production. (BMW)
  • Showed the Concept 4, a preview of the forthcoming 4-Series (and, by extension, i4). (BMW)
  • Three quarters of BMW’s registrations in Norway are PHEV or BEV. (BMW)
  • The head of BMW’s M tuning division said there were “concrete plans” for a standalone model. (Top Gear)
  • Following recent comments that there might not be a direct replacement for the i3, BMW’s sales head confirmed that there was “no specific plan” for a new car, but it would continue for a several years. (FT)
    • Significance: Although many hoped for a direct successor, BMW has showed a willingness to continually upgrade the i3, particularly in terms of battery capacity and is learning valuable lessons about integration of new battery technology into an existing architecture.

Daimler (history)

  • CEO Källenius said that meeting 2020 / 2021 CO2 targets would be a significant challenge, but admitted that the brand has “all the right vehicles” to meet targets, indicating that the company will incentivise customers to buy more economical models if they are proving reluctant, rather than paying fines. (Reuters)
  • Showed the EQS concept, previewing the next-generation S-Class and a likely all-electric derivative. (Daimler)
  • Around one in seven S-Class models sold are the highest Maybach trim level. (Daimler)
  • Daimler’s AMG tuning division has started work on the first purpose-built all electric models. (Autocar)
  • Will buy batteries from Farasis Energy’s new German factory. (Reuters)
  • Daimler’s CEO thinks flying taxis will help with traffic congestion in cities. (Handelsblatt)
    • Significance: For air taxis to make any significant dent in traffic, hundreds of thousands of units will be required on a regional basis, suggested the comments were either offhand or Daimler genuinely sees this level of demand (but at what price point)?

FCA (history)

  • Renault CEO Bollore said the merger talks with FCA were over and Renault’s priority was helping Nissan. (Reuters)
  • Recalling around 3,400 Jeep Gladiators to make sure their driveshafts don’t fail. (
  • Agreed a temporary contract extension with unionised US workers, but will be nervously watching the outcome of talks and strikes at GM. (Reuters)
    • Significance: The strikes at GM make it more likely that (a) if the UAW were to make another automaker the primary negotiating partner then there would be a very short lead time before strikes there too; and (b) any company that tries to pushback on the template terms, once one company has agreed, could expect swift retaliation.


  • In an interview, Ferrari’s technical head suggested that the company’s first SUV, dubbed Purosangue, will only have four seats and discussed the challenges with applying Ferrari’s DNA to a new segment. (Autocar)

Ford (history)

  • Launch problems with the new Explorer and Aviator SUVs has resulted in finished vehicles being shipped from the Chicago plant (where they are built) to the Flat Rock, Michigan, factory for en masse repairs. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Sold the Canvas short term leading business to Fair. (Fair)
  • Ford’s boss in Europe said the recent ratings downgrade from Moody’s would not result in any new cost cutting actions and the fragile economic outlook was not his biggest concern. (Bloomberg)
  • Believes that by the end of 2022, more than 50% of its European passenger car sales will have electrification (if you include 48V). (Ford)
  • Recalling about 340,000 Explorers to fix sharp metal edges on the seat by covering them up. (Ford)
  • The much rumoured Focus-based pick-up truck has reportedly been testing in Australia. (Which Car)
  • Agreed a temporary contract extension with unionised US workers, but will be nervously watching the outcome of talks and strikes at GM. (Reuters)

General Motors (history)

  • GM’s US hourly workforce went on strike after contract negotiations were not concluded by the union’s deadline. GM said it had made a good offer including: higher pay, a ratification bonus, new products, saving some of the plants slated for closure and extra jobs (GM). The union said GM’s offer was insufficient on almost all fronts. (ABC News)
  • Recalling 3.8 million trucks and SUVs to fix problems with the brakes. (Reuters)

Honda (history)

  • Said that the Honda e all-electric city car will cost more than €30,000 in Germany. This is about in line with peers (e.g. VW e-Up!) but suggests either a limited demand or an untapped market for high priced city cars (something Aston Martin’s Cygnet failed to uncover). (Honda)
  • Confirmed that the next generation Jazz will only be available with a hybrid powertrain (a battery electric version is rumoured too). (Honda)

Hyundai / Kia (history)

  • Hyundai showed off the 45 concept car, with an interior and exterior seemingly inspired by Byton, it isn’t clear which design elements will make it into production soon. (Hyundai)

PSA (includes Opel/Vauxhall) (history)

  • The head of (UK-only) Vauxhall thinks that the brand’s “Britishness” could add 0.5 points of market share in a post hard Brexit world. (Autocar)
  • CEO Tavares said it was still a challenge to forecast consumer demand for electric cars and repeatedly stressed that electric cars would be expensive for consumers to buy (until and unless OEMs become desperate). He says that PSA has been planning for impending CO2 target increases for several years and thinks his company is well positioned to benefit from a “Darwinian” thinning of the herd. (Bloomberg)

Renault (history)

  • Unveiled the next generation Captur B-sized crossover, saying that a plug-in hybrid version was on the way. (Renault)
  • Although many manufacturers are fleeing the Sub-B (city car) segment due to rising technology costs, Renault says a fully electric version of the product is a must “to address customer needs”. (Autocar)
  • CEO Bollore said the merger talks with FCA were over and Renault’s priority was helping Nissan. (Reuters)

Tata (includes JLR) (history)

  • JLR’s CEO says the firm has a 40-strong team working on nothing but logistics for post-Brexit UK factories however his comments suggested that JLR has taken no actions to deal with Brexit permanently increasing raw material inventories (because of customs delays). (Autocar)
  • JLR participated in self-driving vehicle service Voyage’s $31 million fund raising. (JLR)
  • Unveiled the new Defender. With the re-imagining of the vehicle, JLR have taken the opportunity to hike the technology level of the car — and the price. (JLR)

Tesla (history)

  • After talking for many years about maximum plaid as the speed beyond ludicrous mode, CEO Musk confirmed a new higher powertrain called plaid was under development for Model S, Model X and Roadster. (Electrek)
  • Applications for building permits at Tesla’s Fremont factory suggested that preparations for Model Y were moving ahead in earnest. (Bloomberg)
  • CEO Musk reportedly told employees that Tesla’s current practice had been to hold completed build to order vehicles at the Fremont factory until customers were ready for delivery but the company would now become more proactive. (Electrek)

VW Group (history)

  • CEO Diess complained to journalists that the auto industry was treated unfairly when it came to CO2 emissions reduction. His analysis says that it costs €1,000 to eliminate one ton of CO2 from a car but it would only be €14 to get the same reduction in emissions from a power plant. (Handelsblatt)
  • VW Financial’s boss says that market share growth is near impossible once the 50% – 60% level is reached (as VW has in the large European markets). The company wants to be the largest pan-brand leasing fleet leasing company by 2025. (Handelsblatt)
  • Unveiled a new, yet familiar looking, VW logo. The change is a case study in bureaucracy: 19 internal teams and 17 external agencies were involved in finalising the new design in the “record time” of nine months and it will take until mid-2020 for everyone to have started using it. VW put this down to a “cost-optimized, resource-conserving” approach. (VW)
  • Unveiled the production version of the ID3. Prices start at €30,000 for the base 45 kWh version. (VW)
  • VW’s marketing materials indicate an intention to position the all-electric ID3 above the electric Golf in the range and use the more capable purpose built ID3 to justify continuing with a smaller (cheaper) battery in the Golf in a bid to attract price-conscious buyers. (VW)
  • Audi says that by using robots to apply body sealer (a paste-like substance that seals gaps in the body work before paint and is normally applied with a brush or stick on pads) saves several kilograms of material. (Audi)
  • The Moia ride hailing service in Hamburg aims to serve 10,000 customers per day by the end of 2019. (VW)
  • Said that with “just a few exceptions”, VW’s vehicles had been certified to the latest level of WLTP regulations that kicked in on September 1st. (VW)
  • Running a pilot program that will give customer the option to fit 3D printed customised parts. (VW)


  • Byton showed the production version of the M-Byte SUV saying the car would start at €45,000 with a 72 kWh battery. The firm also announced it was about to close $500 million in new investment. (Byton)
  • Great Wall’s boss says the brand would need to sell more than 50,000 units per year in Europe to consider setting up its own factory on the continent. (Reuters)
  • Rivian received $350 million from Cox Automotive. (Rivian)
  • Start-up electric carmaker e.Go is suffering problems with the waterproofing of the battery enclosure and full year volumes will be around 600 cars, rather than the 1,000 the brand hoped for. (Golem)

News about other companies and trends

Economic / Political News

  • The European trade body ACEA released a report saying that European infrastructure for electric cars wasn’t good enough and politicians needed to do more about it. (ACEA)


  • Plastic Omnium invested $30 million into hydrogen-focused VC funs AP Ventures. (Autocar)
  • ZF wants to sell its stake in Haldex. Haldex said its customers were over the moon. (Haldex)
  • Allison Transmission acquired two of its suppliers, a tool shop and die casting business for $103 million. (Allison)
  • Continental’s boss says the firm can achieve CO2 neutral production by 2040 and thinks that the entire automotive industry could get there by 2050. (Reuters)
  • Michelin and Continental created a joint venture, although initial media reports said it was to make tyres, the truth is more mundane: it is for supply chain transparency. (Michelin)
  • Bosch invested in hydrogen fuel cell truck maker Nikola. (Inside EVs)
  • Calsonic Kansei is set to close four Japanese factories. (Nikkei)


  • Mahindra & Mahindra started offering all-inclusive monthly leasing deals to Indian customers with prices starting at around 19,720 INR (about $275) per month. The offering is managed by Revv. (Mahindra)
  • Chinese firm Bitauto received a takeover offer from Tencent. (Bitauto)
  • Ford sold the Canvas short term leading business to Fair. (Fair)

Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)

  • Uber sacked about 8% of the product and engineering team (435 people) saying that a ground-up review of how the organisations should look had revealed staffing levels were too high. (TechCrunch) At the same time, the company intends to hire 2,000 people in its freight arm. (The Verge)
  • Despite recently saying that bicycles were a brilliant idea and had proved popular at attracting new customers to Uber’s platform, the company has been withdrawing from several territories. (TechCrunch)
  • Uber is raising $1.2 billion in debt (earlier in the day the figure had been $750 million but the proposal was over subscribed so Uber decided to give the people what they wanted). (Uber)

Driverless / Autonomy (history)

  • Simulation firm Applied Intuition raised $40 million. (Venture Beat)
  • Open-source driver assistance developer says its customers have collected 13 million miles of driving data. (
  • JLR participated in self-driving vehicle service Voyage’s $31 million fund raising. (Robot Report)

Electrification (history)

  • Symbio, the Faurecia / Michelin joint venture that produces fuel cells says it will make 20,000 vehicle sets in 2025 and 200,000 in 2030. (Symbio)
  • Pininfarina, Benteler and Bosch announced a jointly-developed electric vehicle platform that they hope other OEMs will licence. (Pininfarina)
  • Volta, operators of ad-supported car charging, raised $35 million. (TechCrunch)
  • BASF, Suez and Eramet are conducting a two-year research project, with €5 million of public funding, to develop new methods for recycling lithium ion batteries. (Suez)
  • BMW thinks 2025 is the earliest that fuel cells will be commercially viable for volume production. (BMW)


  • Denso and Blackberry have developed a digital cockpit based on Blackberry’s QNX. (Blackberry)
  • ZF and Maxion Wheels say that anybody whose anybody will have a car with connected wheels. (ZF)


Find our archive here.