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

Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 11th November 2018

GM planning in a vacuum; lidar companies opening up; and when is it a good idea not to give the customer what they want? Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 5th November to 11th November. A PDF version can be found here. 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)
  • Released financial results for Q3 2018. BMW delivered 592,303 vehicles, up 0.3% on a year-over-year basis. Revenue increased 3.3% YoY to €21.1 billion but group profit before tax fell (26)% to €1.8 billion. (BMW)
  • Started selling battery packs and electric motors to Turkish bus maker Karsan, who will use them to make a small bus for urban use. BMW also supply Deutsche Post’s StreetScooter with batteries. (BMW)
  • When asked about the possibility of more cooperation with other industry players, BMW executives stressed the difficulty in coordinating timing of new products so that all participating companies benefitted from them at similar times. They were happier to share mobility services. (Seeking Alpha)
  • Already planning the localisation of a further product in China after X2, but didn’t say which. (Seeking Alpha)
  • The EU approved the merger of BMW and Daimler’s car sharing assets, subject to measures to protect competition in six cities. (Reuters)
Daimler (history)
  • Daimler will launch a driverless ride hailing pilot in San José, California in partnership with Bosch. The service will use modified S-Class limousines and be offered to “a selected user community”. (Daimler)
  • The EU approved the merger of BMW and Daimler’s car sharing assets, subject to measures to protect competition in six cities. (Reuters)
  • Said that new facilities at the Kamenz, Germany battery plant were ready to produce parts for EQC. (Daimler)
FCA (history)
  • An investor called for FCA to sell its European operations, spin off Alfa Romeo and Maserati and then merge its US operations with Ford or GM. (Detroit Free Press)
Ferrari
  • Reported financial results for Q3 2018. Revenue of €838 million was almost unchanged from a year earlier although shipments of 2,262 units were 11% higher. Adjusted EBIT of €203 million was 0.4% higher. (Ferrari)
Ford (history)
  • Acquired bicycle and scooter rental firm Spin. (Ford)
  • Will present updates to its “fitness” initiatives at a conference on 13th November, focusing on complexity management; capital equipment reuse and; yield management. (Ford)
  • Closing the Warley, UK site by the end of 2019 and consolidating administrative functions at the Dunton location. Ford hopes that 350 new homes will be built on the location. (BBC)
  • Redesigned the entire “soundscape” of the new Lincoln Aviator to create 125 sounds recorded by concert musicians to replace the “dings and beeps” regular Ford customers must contend with. These were then whittled down to 25 through focus group testing. (Detroit Free Press)
Geely (includes Volvo) (history)
  • Geely Holding is working on a joint research project that aims to create supersonic trains. (Geely)
  • Volvo’s subscription service is proving so popular that the brand has starting rationing vehicles and there is now a waiting list into 2019. Although Volvo hasn’t disclosed figures, it says the scheme beat its first year target within four months and has been capped at 10% of vehicle sales (against around 15% demand). (Automotive News)
General Motors (history)
  • GM believes air transport will become integrated with autonomous vehicles and leverage similar electric power technology but that in the near future (and the next “couple of decades”) gasoline will dominate North America sales. The firm is not intending for there to be “any AV/EV pickups”. (Detroit Free Press)
    • Significance: GM might find that if Tesla successfully execute the pick-up truck Elon Musk has promised for the early 2020s, it has no choice but to revisit these statements.
  • Moving three quarters of the employees at the Pontiac propulsion development centre to the main technical campus in Warren, Michigan, raising speculation over the future of the site. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Transferring 200 workers from the Lansing plant (cars) to Flint (pick up trucks). (ABC12)
Hyundai / Kia (history)
  • Invested a further $250 million in Grab and agreed a series of joint projects to better use electric vehicles in providing ride hailing services. (Hyundai)
  • Invested in machine vision company allegro.ai. (ai)
  • Senior Kia executives called on employees to “overcome the crisis of today” through “self-help”. (Yonhap)
  • Hyundai’s forthcoming large SUV will be called Palisade and is set to feature eight seats. (Hyundai)
Mazda
  • Intends for future powertrain developments to improve driving performance as well as fuel economy. (Reuters)
  • Recalling 640,000 vehicles because of problems with the valve springs in the engine. (Reuters)
Nissan (includes Mitsubishi) (history)
  • Nissan reported financial results for the second quarter of the financial year (Q3 2018). Revenue of 2.8 trillion yen (about $24.7 billion) fell (2.7)% on a year-over-year basis. Operating income of 101 billion yen (about $890 million) fell (21)% YoY. (Nissan)
  • Nissan will make a new small van, called the NV250, based on Renault’s Kangoo and produced in Maubeuge, France. Mitsubishi will launch a 1 ton van based on the Renault Trafic to be manufactured in Sandouville. (Renault)
  • The Alliance Ventures VC unit invested in Canadian multi-modal app Transit. (Renault)
  • Mitsubishi reported financial results for the second quarter of the financial year (Q3 2018). Revenue of 1.2 trillion yen (about $10.2 billion) was up 23.4% on a year-over-year basis whilst operating income of 56.9 billion yen (about $500 million) was up 28.6% YoY. (Mitsubishi)
  • Mitsubishi believe that plug-in hybrids will not be cost effective for a few years and that 60 miles EV-only range will be the standard in the next generation. (Autocar)
  • Magazine tests suggested that Infiniti’s new variable compression engine wasn’t having quite the fuel economy benefit that was hoped for. (Green Car Reports)
  • Opened a new technical centre in St Petersburg, Russia, that houses 120 staff. (Nissan)
PSA (includes Opel/Vauxhall)
  • Declared that Opel was “back on course” following its restructuring plan. Opel has reduced senior management ranks by one quarter, cut fixed costs by 28% and says that sharing platforms with PSA has reduced the cost of new models by up to 50%. (Opel)
  • Peugeot’s scooter plant will shut down until the end of the year. (Usine Nouvelle)
Renault (history)
  • Will make two new products for Nissan and Mitsubishi, improving plant utilisation and return on IP and manufacturing facilities. Nissan will get a Kangoo-based small van called NV250 from Maubeuge and Mitsubishi will have a Trafic-based one ton van from Sandouville. (Renault)
  • The Alliance Ventures VC unit invested in Canadian multi-modal app Transit. (Renault)
Tata (includes JLR) (history)
  • CEO Speth called for better cooperation between governments and industry to create standards for self-driving cars, especially in the domain of keeping information private whilst enabling connected services. (Reuters)
  • InMotion Ventures invested in Transit, the multi-modal app also backed by Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi. (JLR) It also backed Arc, an early stage start-up hoping to bring an all-electric motorbike to production. (JLR)
Tesla (history)
  • Announced that existing director Robyn Denholm has been appointed as Tesla’s new board chair. Once she has served the six month notice period with her current employer, she will take on the role full time. (Tesla)
  • A survey of electric car owners suggested that Tesla has a customer loyalty rate (i.e. a Tesla owner who intends to buy a Tesla as their next car) of over 80% in North America and Europe. (Clean Technica)
Toyota (history)
  • Reported financial results for the 2nd quarter of the financial year (Q3 2018). Sales of 2.18 million units were up marginally on a year-over-year basis. Revenue of 7.3 trillion yen (about $64.3 billion) was up 2% and operating income of 579 billion yen (about $5.1 billion) rose 11%. Toyota increased the full year outlook to an operating income of 2.4 trillion yen (about $21 billion). (Toyota)
VW Group (history)
  • Unveiled the Tarok, a near-production car based pick-up destined for South American markets. (VW)
  • Having previously referred numerous times to a price target for its ID car that was comparable to an “equivalent” diesel, the company is reportedly planning an entry level BEV that will retail at under €20,000. (CNBC)
  • Reportedly planning to cease production of Passat in Germany by 2022 and manufacture electric cars at the Emden plant instead (having only recently moved Passat there). (Bloomberg)
  • Porsche Consulting published a “success formula” for cultural transformation. Since two of the steps are “decision making” and “risk taking”, could this be a bid for VW group’s much heralded transformation? (Porsche Consulting)
  • SEAT is going to start selling an electric scooter (a rebadged Segway model) that will retail at €599. (SEAT)
Other
  • Aston Martin’s CEO thinks “the internal combustion engine and, in particular, the gasoline engine still has a lot of life left in it”. (CNBC)
  • Danish firm Biomega unveiled the SIN electric car. The targeted release date is in the 2021 – 2023 timeframe and will include 20 kWh of battery power (of which 6 kWh is removable) for €20,000. (Biomega)
  • Subaru reported financial results for the first half of the financial year (Q2 & Q3 2018). Sales volumes, revenue and profits were all down versus a year earlier and the company reduced its full year guidance. (Subaru) The carmaker also expanded an existing recall to cover 530,000 vehicles. (Subaru)
  • Workhorse reported Q3 2018 financial results. Revenue was $11,000. (Workhorse)
  • VinFast announced a pricing policy that includes zero depreciation, zero financing costs and zero interest rates on all electric motorbikes and cars, in effect discounting come products by 40%. (Vietnam News)
  • The Nedcar plant suspended several employees after random drink and drugs tests showed they were in no state to work. (Dutch News)
 

News about other companies and trends

  Economic / Political News
  • Brazil re-established incentives for ethanol powered vehicles and local production that had expired in 2017. (Reuters)
  • BMW, VW and Daimler each agreed to offer €3,000 for hardware that will improve emissions of existing diesel vehicles, although BMW positioned it as compensation rather than a contribution to the cost of the updates. None of the companies intends to develop the solutions themselves. (Bloomberg)
  • UK passenger car registrations in October of 153,599 units fell (2.9)% on a year earlier. (SMMT)
Suppliers
  • Faurecia invested in wireless charging supplier PowerSphyr. (PowerSphyr)
  • Delphi reported financial results for Q3 2018, including revenue of $1.2 billion. (Delphi)
  • Schaeffler announced the closure of two UK plants. The company said that although Brexit wasn’t the only deciding factor, it hadn’t helped. (BBC)
  • Magna reported Q3 2018 revenue of $9.6 billion and operating profit of $674 million. (Magna)
  • Continental released financial results for Q3 2018 and said that it would be sticking with the recently downgraded forecast for the rest of the year. (Continental) The firm is investing in new equipment at the Winchester, Virginia, fabrics factory. (Continental)
Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)
  • Taxify’s CEO hopes to grow by ten times in the next two years, with much of the growth coming from operations in Africa and believes it can become the European market leader. (Reuters) He also said that he believes the company can become 100 times larger than it is today. (CNBC)
  • Lyft removed an option that lets users split a far between them, saying an improved version would be coming along in a while (but for some reason stopping the current system now). (Business Insider)
  • Hyundai and Kia invested a further $250 million in Grab and agreed a series of joint projects to better use electric vehicles in providing ride hailing services. (Hyundai)
  • Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi and JLR invested in Canadian multi-modal app Transit. (Renault)
  • The EU approved the merger of BMW and Daimler’s car sharing assets, subject to measures to protect competition in six cities. (Reuters)
Driverless / Autonomy (history)
  • Ouster published a blog post arguing the merits of the 850 nm wavelength and saying that its lidar had been designed to scale with improvements in chip technology, meaning a 640 line system is “extremely likely” in future. (Ouster)
  • One of Waymo’s cars crashed into a motorcyclist. The company blamed the human driver and that the automated system would have avoided the incident, even though the safety driver had only recently taken over because they were concerned that the actions of a car in front were too difficult for the automated system to deal with. (Waymo)
  • Optimus Ride said it would use Nvidia’s hardware for self-driving vehicles, starting immediately. (Optimus Ride)
  • ComfortDelGro will start trials of driverless vehicles using equipment supplied by EasyMile. (Channel News Asia)
  • The inaugural season of Roborace seems set to use human drivers for half of each race. (Engadget)
  • Luminar says it now has contracts with 16 OEMs and is in detailed discussions with 16 more. (TechCrunch)
  • Velodyne published a blog post highlighting what they see as a number of drawbacks with the 1550 nm wavelength for lidar units, much-vaunted by some companies because it allows higher powered lasers to be used whilst remaining eye-safe. Velodyne argue 1550 nm can have worse impacts on eyes in some circumstances; are worse in rain, fog and snow than 905 nm lidars (Velodyne’s chosen wavelength) — a weakness that is offset by increasing power. Finally, Velodyne argues that 1550 nm units are inherently more costly due to the componentry required, something not all lidar developers accept as fact. (Velodyne)
    • Significance: Whilst the main audience of the article appears to be investors who are being wowed by the claims of Velodyne competitors operating at 1550 nm, there seems to be something of a change of heart going on in the lidar community at present with companies (e.g Ouster, Velodyne and Quanergy) becoming more and more willing to discuss their technical solutions. Next stop, performance benchmarks?
  • Daimler will launch a driverless ride hailing pilot in San José, California in partnership with Bosch. The service will use modified S-Class limousines and be offered to “a selected user community”. (Daimler)
Electrification (history)
  • Mitsubishi believe that plug-in hybrids will not be cost effective for a few years and that 60 miles EV-only range will be the standard in the next generation. (Autocar)
  • Nikola showed off a European version of its fuel cell truck saying that it was planning to have 700 North American hydrogen (production and) filling stations by 2028 and was sitting on an order bank worth $11 billion. (Nikola)
  • Further to previous announcements that it would use existing telecoms infrastructure to create electric charging stations, Deutsche Telekom said that its stations could support 11kW charging and would also build fast charging stations that provided 150 kW charging. (Economic Times of India)
  • Battery developer TIAX says its technology can reduce the amount of cobalt needed for batteries by four-fifths and a major automaker has already committed to use it. (Bloomberg)
  • GM believes gasoline will dominate North America sales for the “next couple of decades”. The firm is not intending for there to be “any AV/EV pickups”. (Detroit Free Press)
Other
  • Panasonic announced a collaboration with Kent to adapt its Japanese e-bikes to the US market. (Panasonic) The firm is also looking into making IoT connected bikes with Mobike. (Panasonic)
  • SoftBank is reportedly considering an investment in HelloChuxing. (Deal Street Asia)
  • Lime is retiring scooters made by Chinese supplier Okai because they are susceptible to stress fractures. (The Verge)
  • Harley-Davidson showed off the production version of the LiveWire electric motorbike. (TechCrunch)
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Automotive trends, Auto industry trends, Automotive market research, Automotive market analysis, auto industry news

Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 4th November 2018

Cars powered by the sun; subscription services shutting down; and OEMs spend too much money on the wrong things. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 29th October to 4th November. A PDF version can be found here. Favourite stories of the past week…?
  • Good Day Sunshine Hyundai and Kia are going to put solar panels on mass-production cars. Depending on how you read it, the news either fuels solar sceptics (Hyundai’s forecast electricity generation is too meagre to power a car on the move); or gives hope to solar supporters (Hyundai will harvest a fair amount of energy without either optimising the body to carry the cells, or covering all available areas of the vehicle). Who will be right?
  • Own It Cadillac are shutting down their subscription scheme in the US and Hyundai are ending their all-inclusive electric vehicle offering. The search for a sustainable way of giving customers flexibility without sending them off to the major rental fleets continues. Carmakers are learning that people don’t want to pay nearly $2,000 a month just to have a sort of flexible lease on an 18-month-old car, but wasn’t that a bit obvious? Why not approach trials differently and find the compelling price point, then get fresh impetus to work out the supply side kinks that are building in too much cost (ahem: it’s depreciation & maintenance)?
  • You Keep It All In FCA’s new CEO says in an economic downturn he will cut spending on all sorts of new product programs, except powertrain. But don’t customers normally care more about the look and feel of the car than the powertrain? The reason that engine development is such a burden has less to do with regulatory change; it’s really a reflection of carmakers’ inability to share engines and transmissions on a multilateral basis, causing continuous development of bespoke powertrain solutions that somehow don’t feel very different when you drive them. How long can this go on?
  News is arranged by company and topic. Stories that apply to more than one company or topic are duplicated. Find our archive here. SIGN UP TO GET THE WEEKLY BRIEFING EMAILED TO YOU  

News about the major automakers

  BMW (history)
  • Will produce battery packs for the electric Mini at the Dingolfing, Germany plant. (BMW)
FCA (history)
  • Reported financial results for Q3 2018. Revenues of €28.7 billion were up 9% on a year-over-year basis. Adjusted EBIT of €1.995 billion was up 13% Despite the good news, FCA took down the full year guidance for net cash by €1 billion – €1.5 billion because it intends to reduce European dealer stocks. FCA has set aside $811 million to settle US claims relating to diesel emissions. (FCA)
  • When asked about potential actions in the face of an economic downturn, new CEO Manley said FCA would cut back on program spending, particularly refresh actions for models that seemed to be holding their own in the market but would preserve powertrain and technology investments already in the plan. (Seeking Alpha)
  • FCA’s “aim” is now to complete its five-year plan as an independent, rather than seeking a merger. (Seeking Alpha)
  • New CEO Manley wants FCA’s Ram pick-up to have the second largest US market share and might change the previously announced plan to stop making the vehicle in Mexico. (Reuters)
  • Recalling 86,000 SUVs in the USA to correct a potential engine stall. (FCA)
Ford (history)
  • Reportedly in talks with Ineos to repurpose part or all of the Bridgend Engine plant to manufacture the Projekt Grenadier vehicle starting in 2019. (Financial Times)
  • Improved parental leave for US salaried employees so that mothers can have 16 weeks fully paid time off and fathers can have eight weeks, up from two weeks paid leave previously. (Fortune)
  • Discovered using big data that loyal customers are better than disloyal ones. Cynics had a field day. (AutoExtremist)
  • VW’s CFO said the firm is open to sharing its MEB electric vehicle platform with companies such as Ford but remains focused on internal applications. (Reuters)
  • Started jointly testing autonomous vehicles in China with Baidu. (Ford)
Geely (includes Volvo) (history)
  • Volvo is partnering with Baidu to create customised, fully electric autonomous cars that will be sold by both companies in China. (Volvo)
  • Volvo’s deal to supply XC90 cars that will be used in autonomous ride-hailing by Uber is “back on track” according to the firm’s CEO. (FT)
  • Geely purchased a US racetrack (it had already been managing the site on a short term basis). (Road and Track)
General Motors (history)
  • Reported financial results for Q3 2018. Revenue of $35.8 billion rose 6.4% from a year earlier. Adjusted EBIT of $3.2 billion was 28% better than prior year. GM said Cruise recent run rate of cash spending was between $100 million – $200 million per quarter. (GM)
  • Believes that the methods of measuring the safety of autonomous vehicles are a “competitive advantage” and so it won’t disclose details of its approach. (Seeking Alpha)
    • Implication: Given the need to satisfy a publicly-funded regulator in an environment of intense scrutiny, it will be interesting to see how sustainable GM’s approach of giving little away will be.
  • Said that Cruise will still spend around $1 billion in the full year, implying cash outlay of about $500 million in Q4 (a significant increase in trend rate) but that it wasn’t based on increases in the fleet size or a new testing location that explained the difference, leaving analysts scratching their heads. (Seeking Alpha)
  • Stopping two substantial renovation projects in Michigan and offering voluntary redundancy packages to around 18,000 salaried staff in the US in a bid to weather “an eventual downturn in the economy”. GM will consider involuntary redundancies if not enough staff sign up. (Reuters)
  • Launching two e-bikes and running a competition to decide the brand name. (GM)
  • Suspending Cadillac’s subscription pilot. Off-the-record sources blamed the high costs of delivering different vehicles all the time, Cadillac said it wanted to study the “insights” from the program. (The Verge)
  • Said that it was not economically feasible for US fleet fuel economy to reach 50 mpg by 2025 but that it would support improvements based on historic trend rates of progress. (Reuters)
Honda (history)
  • Reported financial results for Q3 2018 (Honda’s fiscal Q2). Revenue of 3.84 trillion yen (about $34 billion) was up 1.7% on a year earlier and operating profit of 214 billion yen (about $1.9 billion) was up 40.2%. (Honda)
  • Building a plant in China for new energy vehicles with GAC. (Reuters)
Hyundai / Kia (history)
  • Hyundai launched a $100 million VC fund focused on hydrogen technology in partnership with BTIRDI. (Hyundai)
  • Hyundai is discontinuing its all-inclusive “Unlimited+” electric car leasing program because of a “whole range of factors” (presumably because it wasn’t making any money). (Green Car Reports)
  • Will offer solar roofs on vehicles from 2019, intending to progress from a first-generation model that is integrated into the roof structure; and a second generation that will be semi-transparent and can therefore be used in panoramic roofs. A version for battery electric vehicles is still under development and Hyundai hope it will ultimately be used on bonnets and roofs. Hyundai claim the roof mounted system can harvest enough electricity to charge a hybrid battery (presumably low teens of kWh) to between 30% and 60% over a day. (Hyundai)
  • Recalling around 10,600 Ioniq hybrids and plug-ins to replace componentry that could cause fires. (Bakersfield Now)
  • Kia says it will break even on European sales of battery electric vehicles within two to three years. (Autocar)
Mazda
  • Reported financial results for first half of the 2018/19 financial year. Sales of 796,000 units were up 2% on a year-over-year basis. Revenue of 1.7 trillion yen (about $15 billion) rose 4% YoY but profit before tax of 50 billion yen (about $440 million) was down (43)% YoY. Mazda cut its full year outlook. (Mazda)
Nissan (includes Mitsubishi) (history)
  • The Alliance Ventures VC unit invested in Chinese self-driving technology start-up WeRide.ai. (Nissan)
Renault (history)
  • The Alliance Ventures VC unit invested in Chinese self-driving technology start-up WeRide.ai. (Nissan)
Subaru
  • Recalling over 400,000 cars to fix valve springs that could cause engine stalls. (Newsweek)
Suzuki
  • Reported financial results for Q3 2018 (Suzuki’s fiscal Q2). Year to date revenue of 1.9 trillion yen (~$17 billion) was up 5.4% and operating income of 198 billion yen (~$1.7 billion) was up 14.8%, both versus the prior year. The firm raised its full year guidance. (Suzuki)
Tata (includes JLR) (history)
  • Tata Motors reported financial results for Q3 2018 (the second quarter of its financial year). Sales volumes of 322,914 units were up 4.4% on a year earlier and revenue of 72,112 Cr INR (about $9.9 billion) rose 3.3%, nevertheless, EBIT of 1,257 Cr INR (about $160 million) fell (62.6)% YoY, more than explained by JLR’s performance. The brand lost £(90) million in the three month period, saying sales had fallen and citing particular weakness in China. JLR said it would launch a turnaround plan. (Tata)
  • JLR thinks the growth of electric vehicles will lead to buildings being covered in greenery. (Autocar)
  • Opening a 100-person engineering centre in Hungary in early 2019. (JLR)
  • Researching ways to reduce motion sickness through adjusting vehicle settings once the car is on the move. (JLR)
    • Implication: Travel sickness is a little-considered problem in most vehicle purchases since they are often driver-centric decisions and the impact on the passengers is normally left to chance. In a world of autonomous driving however, ride comfort will take precedence and JLR is right to be working seriously on this area now, although its initial recommendation to avoid reading and doing emails is something of a no-brainer.
Tesla (history)
  • Will soon release an update to enable limited low speed autonomy, primarily for parking but also, per CEO Musk, updated cars will “follow you like a pet” if you walk around whilst holding down a button in your app (the car tracks your phone location). Expect a rash of videos by YouTube influencers leading their pet Teslas on hysterical adventures in the coming weeks. (Twitter)
  • GM’s CEO thinks it is “highly possible” that Tesla will be around in 10 years. (Reuters) Tesla’s CEO says Ford has a “good chance” of failing in the next recession. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Booked $190 million in regulatory credits in Q3 2018. (Reuters)
  • CEO Musk said the design of Tesla’s forthcoming pick-up truck will be “futuristic-like cyberpunk”. Producers of online renderings if Model X’s with pick-up beds wondered if they had wasted their time. (Inverse)
  • Plans a partial presence in India, Africa and South America by the end of 2019 and believes that region sourcing (i.e. from the same continent) is “critical” to affordable pricing. (Economic Times of India)
  • CEO Musk is anti-electric scooter but open to electric bicycle production. (TechCrunch)
Toyota (history)
  • Launching a new car subscription service in Japan called Kinto, although details were scarce, Toyota envisages an all-inclusive monthly payment and some ability for users to switch cars. (Toyota)
  • Announced the plan for the staged replacement of its four different Japanese dealer brands with a single network by 2025. (Toyota)
  • Toyota cars are included in Subaru’s recall of over 400,000 cars to fix an engine stall issue. (Newsweek)
VW Group (history)
  • Released financial results for Q3 2018. Although vehicle sales fell (3.6)% versus a year earlier to 2,548,000 units, revenues improved 0.9% to €55.2 billion. Operating profit before special items of €3.5 billion was down (18.6)%, although profits were up once special items were included. VW said it was almost on track to meet full-year group projections, if you ignored special items. (VW)
  • Reportedly working on a long-term plan that will transfer much of Audi’s research budget to collaborations and reduce the brand’s role in leading the development of new technologies such as autonomy. (Reuters)
  • Will operate a self-driving ride hailing service in Israel in partnership with Intel and Champion Motors. The project will start pilot operations in 2019 and aims to run a commercial service by 2022. (Intel)
  • VW’s CFO said the firm is open to sharing its MEB electric vehicle platform but remains focused on internal applications. He also said the firm wants access to a self-driving system and is “speaking with relevant players”, despite its tie-up with Aurora. (Reuters)
  • Being sued by chipmaker Broadcom for $1 billion over alleged patent infringement in VW’s navigation and entertainment systems. The suit asks a judge to suspend production of VW group vehicles. (Handelsblatt)
  • Bentley’s CEO said the brand has already made changes to its logistics operations ahead of Brexit and was considering longer than usual shutdowns at Christmas and Easter. He has recently changed the long-term plan to increase the amount of electrification under development. (Reuters)
Other
  • Ineos is reportedly in talks with Ford to repurpose part or all of the Bridgend Engine plant to manufacture the Projekt Grenadier vehicle starting in 2019. (Financial Times)
  • Morgan are planning a new flagship model, to be priced against the Aston Martin Vantage, that will enter production in the mid-2020s and have 30 people working on the project. (Autocar)
  • Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus announced a new factory in Connecticut, USA. (Motor1)
  • Hispano Suiza is planning a relaunch at the 2019 Geneva show with an all-electric supercar. (Hispano Suiza)
  • Faraday Future said that in addition to previously announced redundancies it has asked some staff to take unpaid leave until the end of the year; the company’s co-founder has left. (Reuters)
  • VinFast launched electric scooter production, saying there are four more models on the way. (SGGP)
 

News about other companies and trends

  Economic / Political News
  • US light vehicle SAAR in October was 17.46 million units, down (3)% on a year earlier. (Wards)
  • German passenger car registrations in October reached 252,682 units, down (7.4)% on prior year. (KBA)
  • October passenger car registrations in Italy of 146,655 units were down (7.4)% versus a year earlier. (UNRAE)
  • Spanish passenger car registrations in October totalled 88,410 units, down (6.6)% on a year earlier. (ANFAC)
  • There were 173,799 French passenger car registrations in October, down (1.5)% on a year earlier. (CCFA)
  • China is considering reductions on new car sales tax to increase demand. (Bloomberg)
Suppliers
  • Denso announced financial results for calendar Q3 2018. On a YTD basis. revenue is up 11.1%. (Denso)
  • Denso acquired EASE, a simulation and diagnostics provider. (Denso)
  • Johnson Controls will reportedly sell its power solutions business, which includes car batteries to Brookfield for between $13 billion – $14 billion. (Reuters)
  • Liberty House will buy three European steel plants from ArcelorMittal. (Deal Street Asia)
  • Abris Capital took a majority stake in Polish engineering services provider CADM. (Abris)
  • Schaeffler said volatile market conditions had harmed Q3 2018 financial results and consequentially the full year outlook had deteriorated. (Schaeffler)
  • Continental acquired antenna-maker Kathrein Automotive for an undisclosed sum. (Continental) It also purchased the anti-vibration technology business of Cooper Standard. (Continental)
  • Mahle opened a new plant for electric air conditioning compressors in Hungary. (Mahle)
Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)
  • Uber announced a trial of a new subscription plan that let’s users avoid surge pricing. (Vox)
  • Grab raised $200 million fromcom’s parent. (Deal Street Asia)
  • Lime said it will start a car sharing scheme with Renault Twizy-style electric cars. (TechCrunch)
  • MyTaxi is planning to launch an electric scooter rental scheme. (TechCrunch)
  • Lyft announced a tie-up with carpooling app Scoop that lets Scoop users request a Lyft car if their carpooling arrangements fall over. (TechCrunch)
    • Implication: Lyft continues to find niche adjacencies for its services and partner with companies that can benefit from on-demand ride hailing in cases where their mainstream processes don’t work.
Driverless / Autonomy (history)
  • FAW’s Hongqi (Red Flag) brand will launch a L4 car at the end of 2019 in partnership with Baidu. (Reuters)
  • Waymo is the first company to be granted a Californian permit for driverless car testing without a safety driver inside the vehicle. It already operates cars without safety drivers in Arizona. (Reuters)
  • Uber requested permission to resume self-driving vehicle testing with safety drivers. (Business Insider) and released a safety report containing information about its self-driving program. Despite Uber’s efforts to provide greater detail than some of its peers have in their own safety reports, there are still gaps between the published document and best practice, for instance, Uber’s section on quality processes does not mention anything around sub-supplier selection to remove sources of underlying common hardware / software failures (by using completely different componentry) in different parts of the system (to improve redundancy). (Uber)
  • Sensible 4 showed off an autonomous bus designed by Muji that it says will be in operation by 2020. (Sensible 4)
  • Quanergy completed a Series C round that valued the business at over $2 billion. (Quanergy)
  • Baidu believes that you will soon be able to sing karaoke and eat hot pot in autonomous cars. (Bloomberg)
    • Implication: Since chauffeur-driven vehicles today don’t offer in-car cooking we can only assume that this is either hyperbole or Baidu has some fancy new food preparation technology it is yet to show off.
  • Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi’s VC unit invested in Chinese self-driving technology start-up WeRide.ai. (Nissan)
  • Volvo’s deal to supply XC90 cars that will be used in autonomous ride-hailing by Uber is “back on track” according to the firm’s CEO. (FT)
  • VW will operate a self-driving ride hailing service in Israel in partnership with Intel and Champion Motors. The project will start pilot operations in 2019 and aims to run a commercial service by 2022. (Intel)
  • Volvo is partnering with Baidu to create customised, fully electric autonomous cars that will be sold by both companies in China. (Volvo)
  • Ford started jointly testing autonomous vehicles in China with Baidu. (Ford)
Electrification (history)
  • EDF Energy and Nuvve are launching a scheme in the UK that aims to recruit enough businesses to buy 1,500 chargers and create a virtual 15MW power station using vehicle to grid technology. (Inside EVs)
  • Austria will let electric vehicle owners drive faster than the traditional speed limit. (Green Car Reports)
  • Great Wall will invest in hydrogen filling station operator H2 Mobility. (Automotive News)
  • All non-electric vehicles will be banned from one street in the centre of London, starting in 2019. (FT)
  • Hyundai and Kia will offer solar roofs on vehicles from 2019, intending to progress from a first-generation model that is integrated into the roof structure; and a second generation that will be semi-transparent and can therefore be used in panoramic roofs. A version for battery electric vehicles is still under development and Hyundai hope it will ultimately be used on bonnets and roofs. Hyundai claim the roof mounted system can harvest enough electricity to charge a hybrid battery (presumably low teens of kWh) to between 30% and 60% over a day. (Hyundai)
Connectivity
  • Garmin will supply Geely with cameras and data recorders for 2020 model year onwards. (Garmin)
  • HD map maker DeepMap said it was valued at $450 million in its latest round. (TechCrunch)
  • Avis will use Amazon’s cloud services to run its connected vehicle fleet. (Auto Rental News)
Other
  • Lime said it was working to combat problems with some of its scooter fleet that could lead to fires. (Lime)
  • Delivery firm Deliv raised $40 million from a group of investors including a mysterious “world leading automotive manufacturer”. (Deliv)
  • Chinese bicycle manufacturer and rental firm Youon has partnered with land to expand the latter’s offering in the UK. (TechCrunch)
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Automotive trends, Auto industry trends, Automotive market research, Automotive market analysis, auto industry news

Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 28th October 2018

BMW’s relentless self-driving collective; cars as power stations; and stop over-thinking robot decision making. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 22nd October to 28th October. A PDF version can be found here. 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)
  • Increased the size of a recall linked to diesel cars with EGR problems to cover 1.6 million vehicles. (BMW)
  • Announced that software firms KPIT and TTTech would join its self-driving platform with the specific aim of developing tailored solutions for third parties. (BMW)
  • BMW might bid for its own 5G spectrum in Germany, rather than relying on the mobile phone companies to provide the infrastructure the company believes it needs. (Handelsblatt)
Daimler (history)
  • Announced Q3 2018 financial results. Revenue of €40.2 billion was down (1)% on a year-over-year basis, EBIT of €2.5 billion was down (27)% (previously declared). Daimler called the business environment “volatile”. (Daimler)
  • As rumoured, Daimler and Geely formed a “premium ride-hailing” joint venture that will use Mercedes-Benz cars, and in time possibly some of Geely’s offerings, for on-demand travel in Chinese cities. It isn’t yet clear how the service will integrate with Geely’s existing CaoCao ride hailing venture. (Daimler)
  • CEO Zetsche said he wouldn’t rule out a future collaboration with Tesla, despite having sold all Daimler’s shareholding. Daimler’s PR said he was talking in hypothetical terms. (Reuters)
  • Launched a new range of prams featuring AMG-inspired wheels. Although Daimler declined to comment on specific volume and profit expectations, it appears the benefit of the new product was already taken into account in the company’s recent profit warning. (Daimler)
  • Opened a new technology centre for the Truck and Bus group in Lisbon, Portugal. (Daimler)
  • Said that it might make some money on electric cars. (Seeking Alpha)
  • Looking at alternative production locations that would reduce the effect of tariffs on vehicles shipped from the USA to China but believes it is too early to say anything about what it might do. (Reuters)
  • Under investigation from US regulators for the way in which it handles recalls (they think: too slowly). (Bloomberg)
FCA (history)
  • Idling minivan production in Windsor, Canada for one week. (Blackburn News)
Ford (history)
  • Reported Q3 2018 financial results. Revenue of $37.6 billion was slightly improved versus the prior year but adjusted profit of $1.7 billion was $(0.6) billion worse than Q3 2018. Only North America and Middle East and Africa were profitable. (Ford)
  • Said that market conditions had been tougher than expected and the business was no longer on track to meet the 2020 financial objectives it recently set itself, but that the executive team still intends to achieve them at an as-yet undetermined future date. (Ford)
  • Said that the European business has two key problems: cost control and too few SUV products. (Ford)
  • Shutting down vehicle production in Valencia, Spain for nine days and engine production for 13 days, citing lower demand. (Reuters)
  • Will start testing self-driving cars in Washington DC. (Ford)
  • Stopped production of JLR engines in Bridgend for a week, mirroring the customer shutdown. (Wales Online)
  • Launched production of the Ranger pick-up at the Michigan Assembly plant. (Ford)
  • Hired a new CEO in China and reorganised its operations so that China will now report directly to the head of global markets rather than through the Asia Pacific region. Ford’s press release also said the leader of the rump Asia business would head up a new International Markets unit, implying a wider reorganisation including some of the markets in Europe, Middle East and South America. (Ford)
  • VW and Ford are reportedly exploring in-depth sharing of autonomous driving technology. Ford already has a majority share in partner Argo AI whilst VW has partnered with Aurora but was apparently rebuffed in an informal takeover approach. Ford executives stressed that nothing was off the table. (Bloomberg)
  • Recalling 1.46 million Focus vehicles in North America to fix a problem that might lead to cars stalling. Ford has advised customers to keep tanks at least half full until they’ve been serviced. (USA Today)
  • Skipping the 2019 Geneva show, after missing Paris in 2018. Sources said it still considers the event an ongoing priority but just doesn’t think it will have enough interesting things to talk about. (Autocar)
Geely (includes Volvo) (history)
  • Volvo reported Q3 2018 revenue of 56.8 billion SEK (~$6 billion), up 18% on a year earlier and operating profit of 1.8 billion SEK (~$200 million), down (50)% on the prior year — blamed by Volvo on launch costs, higher tariffs and royalties. Volvo preferred to focus on the full year, where it expects to beat 2017. (Volvo)
  • As rumoured, Daimler and Geely formed a “premium ride-hailing” joint venture that will use Mercedes-Benz cars, and in time possibly some of Geely’s offerings, for on-demand travel in Chinese cities. It isn’t yet clear how the service will integrate with Geely’s existing CaoCao ride hailing venture. (Daimler)
  • Volvo invested in charging firm FreeWire. (Volvo)
  • Lynk&Co might enter the US market by selling merchandise first and only putting cars on sale once the brand has become established. (Automotive News)
General Motors (history)
  • GM’s Cruise self-driving unit is having problems meeting pre-launch targets, according to off-the-record sources, but the unit’s CEO expressed confidence in the previously announced 2019 launch date. (Reuters)
    • Implication: The concerns focus on the vehicle AI’s ability to identifying other road users and in correctly assessing whether they are moving or stationary. These are common problems to self-driving researchers, with many systems struggling with the particular problem (called out in the article) of working out whether an object is a locked up bicycle, a person on a bicycle or someone walking with a bicycle.
  • Said that a nationwide US zero emissions vehicle incentive program could boost demand such that in 2030 there would be 7 million such vehicles on the road. (GM)
    • Implication: Since 7 million vehicles isn’t a very large number in terms of the overall fleet, GM’s statement implies the company only believes market shares in excess of 15% are possible with sales incentives.
  • Korea’s state development bank said that although it was not “unconditionally” opposed to a separation of GM’s production and research units in the country, but wanted to see more information on how it would be run as a going concern. (Yonhap)
Honda (history)
  • Reportedly considering producing the Fit small car in Japan for sale into the US market. It is currently shipped from Mexico. Honda denied any firm plan was already in place. (Reuters)
  • Will use technology from SoundHound to create an AI personal assistant. (SoundHound)
Hyundai / Kia (history)
  • Hyundai reported Q3 2018 Financial results. Sales of 1.121 million units were down (0.5)% versus the same period in 2017. Revenue of 24.4 trillion KRW (~$21.4 billion) was up 1%, driven by increased financing. Operating income of 289 billion KRW (~$250 million) was down (76)% with the automotive division recording a loss — blamed on one-time recall costs. (Hyundai)
  • KIA reported Q3 2018 revenue of 14 trillion KRW (~$12 billion), down (0.2)% on a year-over-year basis. Operating profit of 117 billion KRW (~$100 million) was a turnaround of almost 550 billion KRW (~$480 million) from the prior year loss. (KIA)
Mazda
  • Revised full year profit expectations downwards, citing the impact of floods earlier in the year and adverse exchange rates. (Nikkei)
Nissan (includes Mitsubishi) (history)
  • Said it had enough Nissan Leaf vehicles enrolled in its vehicle-to-grid scheme to qualify as a power station under German regulations. (Nissan)
PSA (includes Opel/Vauxhall) (history)
  • Announced Q3 2018 revenues (PSA only reports profits at half-year and full-year) of €15.4 billion, up from €14.3 billion in Q3 2017 (but missing one month of Opel / Vauxhall sales). (PSA)
  • Faurecia will buy navigation systems supplier Clarion after agreeing terms with majority shareholder Hitachi. It will headquarter its connectivity-related businesses in Japan. (Faurecia)
  • Chose Washington DC as the first location for Free2Move carsharing services. Users will also be able to access a variety of bicycle and scooter rental options. It looks like Chevrolet is providing the vehicles. (PSA)
Renault (history)
  • Reported Q3 2018 revenue of €11.48 billion (Renault only reports profits at half-year and full-year), down (6)% on a year-over-year basis. Renault said the decrease was down to exchange rate volatility and weakness in markets outside Europe. Renault expects market growth in the full year to be worse than previously hoped for. (Renault)
  • Will reportedly increase annual production in Casablanca, Morocco to 160,000 units by 2022. Combined with another plant in Tangier Renault will have capacity for 500,000 units in the country. (Xinhua)
  • Transferred production of the Renault Twizy to a Renault-Samsung factory in Busan, South Korea. The 33 workers who had previously manned the line will now make PHEV battery packs instead. (Wards)
Tata (includes JLR) (history)
  • Launched operations at JLR’s new plant in Nitra, Slovakia. JLR has already launched a second stage of recruitment to take employment from 1,500 to around 2,350. (JLR)
Tesla (history)
  • Reported financial results for Q3 2018. Revenue of $6.8 billion was up 129% on a year-over-year basis, explained by higher shipments. Net income of $312 million was almost $1 billion better than Q3 2017. Tesla also had positive cash flow. (Tesla)
  • During the earnings call, Tesla confirmed that it intends to launch an autonomous ride hailing network that will run both customer-owned and Tesla-owner cars. Elon Musk speculated at a 30% cut for Tesla on the billings of customer-owned vehicles. (Seeking Alpha)
    • Implication: We could well be proven wrong but we believe the number of private customers opting in will be low. The premium they will expect — several hundred dollars in revenue per month based on our straw polls — plus Tesla’s mark-up is likely to make the cost per mile similar to taxis today. The high level of Musk’s figure (versus about 10% commission that is common on platforms like eBay and Amazon) suggests Tesla has not thoroughly researched the topic yet.
  • Intends to reduce delivery times from factory gate release to customer handover to under 10 days for North American vehicles. (Seeking Alpha)
  • Believes latent demand for Model 3 is between 500,000 and 1 million vehicles per year, seeing BMW 3 Series as a competitor it should outsell. (Seeking Alpha)
    • Implication: As our 2017 analysis showed, we strongly disagree with Tesla’s analysis, seeing 3 Series as having a distinct advantage in terms of: product portfolio; dealership network and strength of finance offering.
  • CEO Musk said “many” interior options for Model S and Model X will be dropped from the start of November. He said this was to simplify production. (Business Insider)
  • Tesla’s new factory in China will produce two models, according to environmental assessments. (Reuters)
  • The US state of Oregon clawed back tax credits awarded to Tesla solar power projects saying costs had been inflated. Tesla denied any wrongdoing, but also pointed out this had happened prior to the SolarCity takeover. (CNBC)
  • Under investigation by the FBI for the statements it made around Model 3 production. (Economic Times of India)
Toyota (history)
  • Considering an all-electric MR2. (Autocar)
VW Group (history)
  • CEO Diess said there was too much emotion in the debate about retrofitting German diesel-powered vehicles with additional hardware to improve emissions. (Handelsblatt)
  • VW’s Heycar used car sales platform is apparently growing faster than the targets it was set and has sold over 320,000 vehicles. (Handelsblatt)
  • VW is reportedly planning to produce batteries with SK Innovation and might collaborate with Waymo on ride hailing. The firm is said to be contemplating purchasing a 10% stake in Waymo for €12 billion. (Reuters)
  • VW is reducing its sales forecast for China according to the head of its local business unit. (Nikkei)
  • Unveiled the T-Cross, saying SUVs will make up 50% of VW brand sales by 2025. (VW)
  • Undertook a restructuring of the truck division so that the energy and powertrain portfolio stays with Volkswagen group and the truck and bus unit (Traton) can approach an IPO as a “pure” business unit. (VW)
  • Audi said that more than 95% of electric vehicle batteries could be recycled, in a laboratory. It will now develop a higher volume process and a way to re-use the recovered raw materials. (VW)
  • Agreed with its Algerian JV partner to produce Amarok pick-up trucks in the country. (VW)
  • VW and Ford are reportedly exploring in-depth sharing of autonomous driving technology. Ford already has a majority share in partner Argo AI whilst VW has partnered with Aurora but was apparently rebuffed in an informal takeover approach. Ford executives stressed that nothing was off the table. (Bloomberg)
  • Porsche suggested that it could charge US dealers between $300,000 to $400,000 each to partially offset some of the cost of superchargers the company proposes to install on their premises. (Automotive News)
  • Lamborghini’s boss said the firm is contemplating building a limited series super car following the example of the McLaren Senna and Aston Martin Valkyrie. (Autocar)
  • Unveiled an “extensive update” for the Audi R8. (Audi)
Other
  • Dyson’s electric car will be built in Singapore. Production is due to start in 2021. (Auto Express)
  • McLaren unveiled the £1.75 million Speedtail hypercar. The vehicle has several design features to emphasise aerodynamic performance including front wheel fairings and retractable rear view cameras. (McLaren)
  • Chinese firm Aiways plans to build several hundred RG Nathalie fuel cell sportscars and says it has a factory in China capable of building 150,000 mass-market cars per year. (Autocar)
  • WM Motor is reportedly raising over $400 million in a round that will value it at around $3 billion. (Reuters)
  • Fisker has received strategic investment from Caterpillar’s VC arm. (Caterpillar)
  • Aston Martin opened a new (and slightly cramped) design studio in China, saying it would work on interiors for forthcoming vehicles. (Aston Martin)
  • Chinese automaker FAW secured a 1 trillion yuan ($144 billion) credit line, but didn’t explain what it needed that much money for. (Reuters)
  • Uniti is creating a pilot production plant in the UK at Silverstone. (Uniti)
  • Faraday Future reportedly announced layoffs and a 20% salary cut to staff in an effort to save money after a dispute with its newest investor, who said that nearly $800 million has been spent in only a few months. Faraday Future now says it welcomes “all investors who share our vision”. (Faraday Future)
  • Lucid Motors has reportedly gone on a massive hiring spree. (Thinknum)
 

News about other companies and trends

  Suppliers
  • Gestamp reported financial results for Q3 2018. Year to date revenue is €6 billion. (Gestamp)
  • Faurecia will buy navigation systems supplier Clarion after agreeing terms with majority shareholder Hitachi. It will headquarter its connectivity-related businesses in Japan. (Faurecia)
  • Lear reported financial results for Q3 2018. Revenue was $4.9 billion and net income was $253 million. (Lear)
  • Faurecia launched a joint venture with Liuzhou Wuling for emissions components. The two companies already have a partnership for automotive interiors. (Faurecia)
  • Veoneer said it would achieve long-term profit targets later than expected because lucrative contracts were being delayed by problems in customer vehicle programs. (Reuters)
  • Autoliv reported $2 billion of revenue and $193 million of operating income in Q3 2018. (Autoliv)
  • Goodyear reported Q3 2018 financial results. Revenue was down but profits were up. (Goodyear)
  • Magna is acquiring mechatronics control company Haptronik. (Magna)
  • Gestamp opened a new stampings plant in Matsuska, Japan. (Gestamp)
Dealers
  • Due to high demand for used cars in the UK, some dealers are finding there is a shortage of cars in good condition and so are purchasing lower quality vehicles and spending money reconditioning them. (Motor Trader) There is also a strong demand for used diesel vehicles, despite the drops in new car sales. (Motor Trader)
Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)
  • Uber will support drivers in London, UK to buy electric cars with higher incentives for those who drive more and have shown loyalty to the firm. The money is coming from a levy on all trips in London. (Autocar)
  • Waze will start offering its carpooling service throughout the USA. (Detroit News)
  • As rumoured, Daimler and Geely formed a “premium ride-hailing” joint venture that will use Mercedes-Benz cars, and in time possibly some of Geely’s offerings, for on-demand travel in Chinese cities. It isn’t yet clear how the service will integrate with Geely’s existing CaoCao ride hailing venture. (Daimler)
Driverless / Autonomy (history)
  • Waymo has started charging customers to ride in self-driving vehicles. (Financial Times)
  • Lyft acquired augmented reality develop Blue Vision labs in a deal said to be worth up to $100 million. (BlueVision)
  • Lidar developer Innovusion raised $30 million from a group of investors including NIO Capital and said it would begin sales of Cheetah lidar units. (Innovusion)
  • Researchers published a paper that collated data collected from an online survey of 40 million responses to the best way to act in trolley problem scenarios (i.e. where one of two people / groups must die to spare the other). The results showed that opinion varied considerably by country. (Technology Review)
    • Implication: Although trolley problems are frequently among the earliest arguments against self-driving cars raised by sceptics (as if most humans are even aware enough to decide such things for themselves in the heat of the moment), the paper shows the limitation of such thinking. Namely, there is no “right” answer, that is, a common rule set that is universal across cultures. In addition, since this is a decision humans are normally incapable of making even when placed in the same situation, it holds the machines to an artificial standard few can claim to properly understand.
  • ai has launch a free ride hailing scheme in Texas to test its autonomous vehicles. (Auto Rental News)
  • A senior official at the US department of transportation criticised the quality of safety metrics being used by self-driving vehicle developers and said they were insufficient to prove that vehicles are road-worthy. (Bloomberg)
  • US authorities halted the testing of an autonomous school bus saying that the terms of the permit didn’t cover transportation of school children, despite the presence of a full time conductor, the trips being on a closed course and the maximum speed of the vehicle being set at 8mph. (BBC)
    • Implication: Although US rules appear to encourage a laissez-faire approach to self-driving vehicle development, this is a reminder that regulators will have few qualms about shutting down tests they dislike, even if the risks appear very low.
  • Indian ride sharing start-up Zoomcar will install Netradyne driver monitoring hardware in customer vehicles to provide “feedback” on the quality of their driving. (Autocar)
  • BMW announced that software firms KPIT and TTTech would join its self-driving platform with the specific aim of developing tailored solutions for third parties. (BMW)
  • VW and Ford are reportedly exploring in-depth sharing of autonomous driving technology. Ford already has a majority share in partner Argo AI whilst VW has partnered with Aurora but was apparently rebuffed in an informal takeover approach. Ford executives stressed that nothing was off the table. (Bloomberg)
  • Or, VW might collaborate with Waymo on ride hailing. The firm is said to be contemplating purchasing a 10% stake in Waymo for €12 billion. (Reuters)
Electrification (history)
  • BASF agreed a cobalt and nickel supply deal with Norilsk Nickel. (Reuters)
  • Sun Mobility has opened several battery swapping stations in India and intends to gradually move from two wheelers and buses to vehicles, once it can convince OEMs to install its batteries. (Autocar)
  • VinFast aims to open charging locations at 20,000 petrol stations run by PetroVietnam by 2020. (Reuters)
  • Battery developer Enevate received funding from LG Chem. The firm believes it can create batteries that achieve 75% charge in five minutes. (Enevate)
  • Volvo invested in charging firm FreeWire. (Volvo)
  • Battery maker Kokam was acquired by SolarEdge. (Inside EVs)
  • Nissan said it had enough Leaf vehicles enrolled in its vehicle-to-grid scheme to qualify as a power station under German regulations. (Nissan)
  • Audi said that more than 95% of electric vehicle batteries could be recycled, in a laboratory. It will now develop a higher volume process and a way to re-use the recovered raw materials. (VW)
  • Porsche suggested that it could charge US dealers between $300,000 to $400,000 each to partially offset some of the cost of superchargers the company proposes to install on their premises. (Automotive News)
Connectivity
  • Comroads launched a peer-to-peer service for sharing dashcam footage. The idea behind the service is that users might get better crash footage than if they only have their own camera’s video. (ZDNet)
  • Infineon launched a new “trusted platform” chip that the company says ensures secure remote access to vehicle control functions, and can be continuously updated to deal with emerging cyber security threats. (Autocar)
  • BMW might bid for its own 5G spectrum in Germany, rather than relying on the mobile phone companies to provide the infrastructure the company believes it needs. VW and Daimler also see promise in dedicated networks but hope that the spectrum will be provided free of charge. (Handelsblatt)
Other
  • Electric scooter rental firms Grin and Ride have merged. (TechCrunch)
  • Electric motorbike manufacturer Alta Motors is reportedly winding down operations. (Asphalt & Rubber)
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Automotive trends, Auto industry trends, Automotive market research, Automotive market analysis, auto industry news

Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 21st October 2018

Tesla shrinks into the crowd; weak carmakers lose influence with politicians; and making public transport free for all. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 15th October to 21st October. A PDF version can be found here. 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)
  • Created a joint venture with Northvolt and Umicore to improve recycling of used electric car batteries. (BMW)
  • Unveiled the production version of the X7. (BMW)
  • Recalling charging cords for electric vehicles in the US. (Green Car Reports)
Daimler (history)
  • Released preliminary financial results for Q3 2018 because profits were lower than expected (about €1 billion lower than the prior year). The blame was placed on lower than expected sales of vans, potential recall costs over air conditioning refrigerants and “governmental proceedings and measures” related to diesel vehicles. (Daimler)
  • Investing in Soul Machines, a developer of digital avatars. (Reseller)
FCA (history)
  • Agreed a deal to sell Magneti Marelli to KKR-backed Calsonic Kansei for €6.2 billion and expects the transaction to close in the first half of 2019. (FCA)
  • Maserati will reportedly use an 800 volt electric drive developed by Ferrari. (Autocar)
Ferrari
  • Maserati will reportedly use an 800 volt electric drive developed by Ferrari. (Autocar)
    • Implication: Since Maserati’s first electric cars will be launched in the early 2020s and Ferrari have yet to confirm any product plans (silent development mules notwithstanding), either we can expect a similar launch window for the Ferrari hybrids or there has been an unusual decision to let Maserati launch first.
Ford (history)
  • Ford promised US dealers that it will cut delivery times for new orders from 82 to 38 days. (Reuters)
  • Signed collaboration agreement with Mahindra and Mahindra that will see the Indian firm build a small engine for Ford’s Indian vehicles and a jointly shared telematics platform. (Mahindra)
  • Dealers complained that Ford was not giving them enough information about future plans and the amount of exposure to senior leaders had fallen. (Automotive News)
  • Increasing lifetime production of the GT to 1,350 units. (Ford)
  • Incensed French politicians and unions by refusing a takeover offer from Belgian company Punch Powerglide for the Bordeaux transmissions plant, saying that it would instead proceed with a closure. Although politicians said Ford’s position was incomprehensible, it turns out that the new supplier’s plan had demanded Ford guarantee orders until 2021 (when it wants to stop taking products from 2019) and would only save half the jobs. (Sud Ouest)
  • The US safety regulator opened an investigation into F-Series power tailgates that open unexpectedly when the vehicle is in motion. (Detroit News)
  • Released a new series of adverts in the USA featuring the “built Ford proud” strapline. In one expensively produced slot Brian Cranston talks down the hot air from the competition (presumably with Tesla in their sights). (Ford)
    • Implication: If only the people involved had looked at the script with a slightly more critical eye they might have thought better of including shots of Ford’s bulldozed Dagenham foundry whilst talking about how well Ford prepares for the future (they perhaps mistook it for the Rouge) and been slightly less conceited given that Elon Musk is still on his first car company when it took Henry Ford three tries to get the formula right.
Geely (includes Volvo) (history)
  • Hoping to raise €950 million to refinance debt resulting from the its Volvo AB stake. (Reuters)
  • Says that 50% of the Care by Volvo subscription users bought the service using their mobile phones. (Engadget)
Hyundai / Kia (history)
  • Will work with Engie and Air Liquide to boost hydrogen infrastructure for fuel cells. (Yonhap)
Nissan (includes Mitsubishi) (history)
  • Mitsubishi commenced production at its new engine plant in China, a joint venture with GAC. (Mitsubishi)
  • Nissan created a new business unit to cover Latin American markets. (Nissan)
  • Nissan now offers a range of aftermarket option packs aimed at fleet. Nissan says the products can increase residual values and fleets will benefit from discounts and the availability of dealers to fit the accessories. (Nissan)
PSA (includes Opel/Vauxhall) (history)
  • German investigators raided Opel’s office and said the firm would need to recall around 100,000 Cascada, Insignia and Zafira cars. Opel said it would challenge any recall order. (Reuters)
  • Opel / Vauxhall will continue to use GEFCO for its logistics. (Autocar)
  • Withdrawing from rally competitions because it thinks that without electrified vehicles the sport will lose relevance, or it wants to save on marketing spending; whichever version you want to believe. (PSA)
  • Opel will offer German customers up to €8,000 to trade in older diesel vehicles for a new car. (Opel)
Renault (history)
  • Renault’s JV with Brilliance will create a new factory in Liaoning, China to make electric light commercial vehicles. There will be three new, as yet unspecified, models. (Renault)
Tesla (history)
  • CEO Musk said the company will begin installing a new driver assistance chip in about six months. Buyers who have already pre-paid for “self-driving” will receive the chip free of charge. For anyone else, it will cost $5,000 to have the upgrade (presumably including software updates). (Reuters)
  • Launched a derivative of the Model 3 with a smaller battery and a $45,000 starting price. (Wired)
  • Purchased the land for its new factory in Shanghai, China. (CNBC)
  • CEO Musk said he had just realised there were major gaps in the servicing coverage for customers in North America, promising to sort the problem out within 3 to 6 months. (Clean Technica)
  • Removed the ability to pre-order “full self-driving” on cars, despite having announced an improved driver assistance chip. Elon Musk said the option was causing too much confusion. (The Verge)
    • Implication: Apart from the obvious questions about Tesla’s ability to deliver on its promises, the move also tarnishes Tesla’s technology leadership crown and leaves a space for other companies to claim.
Toyota (history)
  • The head of Toyota’s self-driving program in the US said the safety argument for robotaxis was flawed because the gains were insufficiently large over human drivers. (IEEE Spectrum)
  • Ran an advertising pilot that claimed a 21% improvement in performance from using blockchain to verify that real users had been shown advertisements. The press release was heavy on mentions of blockchain but light on explanation. (Lucidity)
VW Group (history)
  • Porsche’s CFO said that if VW were to spin off its luxury brands, they could reach a collective valuation of between €60 billion and €70 billion but the company quickly rowed back on the comments. (CNBC)
  • CEO Diess told suppliers there would be a €50 billion to €60 billion market for battery cells in Europe soon, and the opportunity could even rise to €100 billion. He also believes that German carmakers have a 50:50 chance of retaining their competitive advance in 10 years. Diess once again took the opportunity to complain about CO2 regulations in Europe and said that with the current mix of electricity generation in Germany (lots of coal), electric vehicles were not that clean. (VW)
  • Announced a new factory in Anting, China in partnership with SAIC that will be purpose built to produce electric cars on the MEB platform. The plant will produce up to 300,000 units annually. (VW)
  • Audi will pay a €800 million fine to German prosecutors for its part in the diesel scandal. (Audi)
  • Launched a big marketing program for diesel owners in Germany, with discounts of between €4,000 to €8,000 depending on the combination of new and traded in vehicle. VW is also offering incremental discounts to buyers in 14 areas with the worst emissions. (VW)
  • The Audi etron battery electric SUV is suffering launch delays of several weeks caused by software issues. (Reuters)
  • Porsche wants to price the Taycan (Mission E as was) between the Cayenne and Panamera, indicating a starting price around €80,000. There could be performance versions priced as high as €200,000, with a Taycan Turbo S nameplate mooted — confusing since there wouldn’t be a turbo in sight. (Automotive News)
  • To nobody’s surprise, Porsche confirmed the Mission E Cross Turismo had been approved for series production. The 300 jobs the firm says will be created indicate and expected annual volume of around 5,000 units. (Porsche)
  • Executives said Porsche would have an all-electric “big SUV” by 2022, thought to be a new vehicle in the line-up beyond the Taycan Cross Turismo since “the Taycan derivatives have already been showcased”. (Autocar)
  • Sharing the development costs for the forthcoming PPE platform between Porsche and Audi will reportedly save both brands 30% versus going it alone. (Porsche)
  • Started production of the SEAT Tarraco at the Wolfsburg plant. (VW)
  • Audi says it will implement a new type of panel quality checking system in its press shops. It will replace a camera system that uses image recognition specific to the type of panel being made with one that can recognise defects in all kinds of parts. Although Audi had to spend lots of time teaching the new system, the company says it will be worth it when it can introduce new parts with less effort. (Audi)
  • Škoda’s next c-car will be called the Scala, with the Rapid nameplate being retired. (Autocar)
    • Implication: Rapid, Rapide are on the way out. Vitesse seems permanently confined to the dustbin. Veloster soldiers on. Superfast and Speedster are brand new. What does this mean for velocity-related nameplates?
Other
  • Aston Martin trademarked the “Valhalla” name and seems set to use it in either its forthcoming hypercar or mid-engined sportscar. The former is more likely. (Motor 1)
  • ATS will make 12 McLaren-based GTs with an advertised price of €740,000. (EVO)
  • NIO had delivered 3,368 cars by the end of September. It is aiming for 10,000 by the end of the year. (NIO)
  • Foton said it wanted to sell up to 67% of Borgward to help the brand grow. (China Daily)
 

News about other companies and trends

  Economic / Political News
  • European passenger car registrations in September of 1.12 million were down (23.4)% on the same period a year earlier. On a year to date basis, sales are up 2.3%. (ACEA)
  • A cross-party group of UK politicians called for a ban on gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2032. (The Guardian)
  • EU politicians want a 35% decrease in CO2 from commercial vehicles from 2021 levels, mirroring the improvements earlier proposed for passenger cars. (Auto Blog)
Suppliers
  • Michelin announced Q3 financial results. Revenue was down year-on-year, and full year profit outlook was “refined” (Michelin-speak for downgraded). (Michelin)
  • ZF is working on augmented safety systems using interior cameras to detect interior cabin arrangements, such as whether the seats are reclined, to tailor crash setting and improve survivability. (ZF)
  • Adient reported preliminary Q3 20018 and full year financial results. (Adient)
  • Denso released its annual report and announced the firm’s “second founding” as a mobility company. (Denso)
  • Sundaram-Clayton opened a new foundry in Chennai, India. (Autocar)
  • ZF purchased a 35% stake in engineering services provider ASAP for an undisclosed sum. (ZF)
  • FCA agreed a deal to sell Magneti Marelli to KKR-backed Calsonic Kansei for €6.2 billion and expects the transaction to close in the first half of 2019. (FCA)
Dealers
  • Chinese used car online sales platform Chehaoduo raised $162 million. (Shine)
  • Start-up LotBlok will launch a blockchain-based car sales platform. (LotBlok)
Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)
  • Uber is reportedly seeking a $120 billion valuation for its IPO (The Guardian) and recently raised $2 billion in debt to tide it over until that mega payday. (CNBC)
  • Electric car sharing firm Scoot launched services in Chile. (Scoot)
  • The French town of Dunkirk made all its bus services free for residents, saying that fares only covered 10% of the operating costs anyway. One month after the scheme was implemented, usage had risen by 50%. (The Guardian)
  • Uber is creating a business leasing trailers for heavy goods vehicles. (Uber)
  • Careem announced $200 million of a hoped-for $500 million fund raising round. (Careem)
  • Ride hailing start-up Alto raised $13 million and will soon start operations in Texas. (Dallas Innovates)
  • Ford’s Chariot service will start offering private bookings. It isn’t clear how the utilisation will be sufficiently high to make the service cheaper than existing options. (Ford)
  • Uber studied 1.5 million rides to determine the best way of apologising to customers (and found out it is by giving them a $5 discount). (Business Insider) the firm is also studying a short term staffing business. (TechCrunch)
Driverless / Autonomy (history)
  • Lidar firm SOS Lab raised $6 million. (Optics)
  • Autonomous driving developer Momenta raised $46 million in a round valuing it at over $1 billion. (Momenta)
  • Self-driving simulation company Cognata raised $18.5 million. (Reuters)
  • Lidar developer Leddartech recently opened new development sites, in Austria and Canada. (Leddartech)
  • UK Taxi firm Addison Lee and autonomous vehicle developer Oxbotica announced a plan to commence services with self-driving taxis in London by 2021. (The Guardian)
  • Uber has reportedly been receiving unsolicited bids for its self-driving arm. (Financial Times)
  • An article suggested that Google’s initial self-driving cars had a worse safety record than official documents show, because of the cavalier attitude of some of the developers. (New Yorker)
  • Rinspeed unveiled a new, smaller, version of its skateboard concept called the MicroSNAP. (Car Scoops)
  • Sensor fusion company Vayavision raised $8 million. They claim that through processing, their technology can dramatically upscale lidar and radar inputs. (PE Hub)
  • The head of Toyota’s self-driving program in the US said the safety argument for robotaxis was flawed because the gains were insufficiently large over human drivers. (IEEE Spectrum)
Electrification (history)
  • US lawmakers proposed to remove the cap on federal rebates for zero emission vehicles. Under current rules, once a carmaker sells 200,000 units the $7,500 tax credit starts to drop. Tesla and GM would be the primary beneficiaries since they are already near or over the limit. (Yahoo)
  • Researchers think they have cracked the problem of high-power wireless charging. In a laboratory they demonstrated a 120 kW system (only slightly lower power than Tesla superchargers) working at 97% efficiency. (Inside EVs)
  • Workhorse launched the NGEN-1000 light commercial vehicle saying it had opted for a 100-mile range with a smaller battery to better compere on cost with diesel vehicles. (Workhorse)
    • Implication: Since the received wisdom is that greater range is better and commercial operators feel constrained by shorter range (although plenty of use cases are satisfied by the specifications). It will be interesting to see whether Workhorse’s logic works.
  • BMW, Northvolt and Umicore created a joint venture to improve recycling of used electric car batteries. (BMW)
Connectivity
  • Intel and Simacan are creating the infrastructure for trucks to platoon on high traffic routes in Germany. (Intel)
  • Ford will use technology from Wind River to manage over the air updates. (Telematics News)
  • TomTom lost its contract to supply Volvo with in-built mapping. (Reuters)
Other
  • Geely-owned flying car firm Terrafugia started taking orders but hasn’t yet announced pricing. (Automotive News)
  • The Bloodhound supersonic car program went into administration, needing £25 million to complete the program objectives. Executives appeared bullish on the prospects for a recovery. (Autocar)
  • Volvo Trucks said it would have to recall some trucks because degradation of components could cause vehicles to exceed emissions regulations as they aged. (Reuters)
  • Bicycle sharing start-up Zoov uses electrically-assisted bikes with a non-traditional rack for charging. Although the bicycles have to be docked, they do not use locks. (Engadget)
  • Electric scooter rental firm Grin raised $45 million to expand in South and Central America. (TechCrunch)
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Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 14th October 2018

Verifying the safety of driverless vehicles; Executives and politicians play pass the parcel; and move over Marty McFly. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 8th October to 14th October. A PDF version can be found here. Favourite stories of the past week…?
  • Paperback Writer Uber commissioned a report about measuring autonomous safety from RAND. It makes for interesting reading although it raises more questions than it answers. RAND say they weren’t seeking to determine a way forward, just point out considerations, but their inability to identify a clear path forward suggests governments need to get their thinking caps on and talk to each other.
  • Angry Again VW’s CEO went on a bit of a rampage criticising EU politicians for setting emissions targets that will cause “a painful revolution instead of a transition”. VW believes that to meet new emissions targets (likely to be 35% lower by 2030 than 2021) would mean nearly half of vehicles would have to be fully electric (our maths is VERY different). But can the industry really complain that 12 years isn’t enough time to plan? Are automotive executives worried about unforeseen shocks, or just angry at having to confront entrenched interests they were hoping would fade away?
  • Message In A Bottle PSA’s CEO received a letter from himself in 2038. He described a world where autonomous cars speed around and ride hailing services send us on journeys with like-minded individuals who might want to discuss what we’ve seen on tv (and in-car olives? They weren’t mentioned). Private car ownership persists apparently, but why (btw, he says here @ 17:00 that PSA “isn’t afraid” of that happening)?
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News about the major automakers

  BMW (history)
  • Confirmed plans to take a majority share of its Chinese joint venture with Brilliance. Under a new agreement that extends to 2040, BMW will see its stake rise to 75%, local production capacity will rise to 650,000 units annually and the two partners will invest €3 billion “in the coming years”. (BMW)
  • Sold 1,834,810 units globally in Q3 2018, a 1.3% increase on a year earlier. (BMW)
  • BMW’s greater joint venture share will cost the company €3.6 billion and the deal will close in 2022. (Reuters)
  • Concluded the formation of its 51% software joint venture with Critical Software based in Portugal. (BMW)
Daimler (history)
  • Sold 1,715,087 units in Q3 2018, down (0.1)% on Q3 2017. (Daimler)
  • Reportedly in talks with Geely to create a Chinese joint venture offering car sharing and ride hailing. (Just Auto)
FCA (history)
  • Italian unions are becoming increasingly alarmed about repeated down days at plants in Turin. (Torino Oggi)
  • Ended production of diesel powered Pandas. (Fleet Europe)
Ford (history)
  • Reportedly part of a yet-to-be-announced German battery consortium that will be supported by €1 billion of government cash and is set to be officially launched on 13th (Reuters)
  • Said that the previously reported assembly of pure electric Transit vans in Germany employed 180 employees working in two shifts, for a capacity of 3,500 vehicles per year. (Ford)
  • Recalling around 200 GTs to correct problems that can cause fires. (Ford)
  • Kanye West stopped by the White House to tell Donald Trump that Ford needed to have “the highest design” and the “flyest, freshest, most amazing car” but declined to elaborate on how to do so. Ford’s spokesman replied “like we always say, you can’t spell fresh, fly and dope without Ford”. (Detroit Free Press)
  • CEO Hackett said no one was ahead of Ford in developing autonomous vehicles. (Axios)
Geely (includes Volvo) (history)
  • Launched production of Geely vehicles at its factory in Tunisia. (Xinhua)
  • Reportedly in talks with Daimler to create a Chinese joint venture offering car sharing and ride hailing. (Just Auto)
  • Looking at an expansion of the Care by Volvo subscription service to include used vehicles. (CNET)
General Motors (history)
  • Workers in South Korea may go on strike over the company’s moves to separate its R&D operations there from the plants. Unions said the restructuring “appears to be a move to sell its car plants”. (Yonhap)
  • GM executives think some people turn down ride hailing if the driver has an Infiniti QX60 rather than a Chevrolet Suburban. (Digital Trends)
Hyundai / Kia (history)
  • Hyundai’s Cradle VC unit invested in Perceptive Automata, a firm developing software to predict intent of pedestrians near to self-driving cars. (Hyundai)
Nissan (includes Mitsubishi) (history)
  • The Alliance Ventures VC unit invested in mobility data company Coord. (RNA Alliance)
  • Delayed pay talks with UK unions until 2019, awaiting the outcome of Brexit negotiations. (Sky News)
PSA (includes Opel/Vauxhall) (history)
  • Confirmed already rumoured changes to the Opel /Vauxhall line-up, saying that Adam, Karl/Viva and Cascada will be dropped by the end of 2019, mainly because of poor CO2 In 2020, Opel / Vauxhall vehicles will cover 80% of “mainstream market volume”. (PSA)
  • CEO Tavares sent a letter from the year 2038 where he lives in a world of 230 kmh autonomous sports cars, where L5 capability counts for 25% of sales and ride hailing services that match him with other motorsport nuts. He declined to say who was Formula 1 world champion the prior year, presumably having watched Back To The Future II before writing. His main message was that stakeholders needed to come together to accept revolutionary change should not stand in the way of progress, even though automotive employment accounts for around 6% of the European total. (Les Echos)
  • Will finalise the strategy to enter the US market by spring 2019. (Automotive News)
  • Started offering Opel vehicles under Free2Move branded lease deals. (Opel)
Renault (history)
  • The Alliance Ventures VC unit invested in mobility data company Coord. (RNA Alliance)
  • Signed cooperation agreements with three major European energy companies — EDF, Enel and Total — to establish electrical charging infrastructure. (Renault)
Suzuki
  • Proceeding with land acquisition for production of a second plant in Gujarat, India, 35km from an existing factory. Construction will begin once capacity increases at other plants are in place. (Economic Times of India)
Tata (includes JLR) (history)
  • Reportedly considering ending all conventionally powered Jaguar vehicles within the next five to seven years (e.g. at the end of the current model cycle, including the yet-to-be launched but heavily rumoured J-Pace). Internal forecasts are that a four to five car line-up could sell 300,000 units annually. (Autocar)
  • Planning a major revamp of Indian dealers from 2019 onwards. (Live Mint)
  • A letter to agency staff said the Solihull shutdown was due to a backlog of 25,000 unsold units. (Birmingham Mail)
  • Rumoured to be considering buying V8 engines from BMW to replace high power units currently sourced from Ford for the next generation F-Type. (CAR)
Tesla (history)
  • Customers in the US wishing to qualify for a full fat federal tax credit had to order cars by the 15th (Reuters)
  • Reportedly struggling to maintain production of Model 5,000 units per week. (CNBC)
  • CEO Musk denied that James Murdoch was in the running to replace him as Chairman. (Bloomberg)
  • Registered trademarks for a Tesla-branded Tequila. (Business Insider)
    • Implication: Tesla once again upends industry convention that drinking and driving should never be associated by laying plans to put it’s brand on a bottle. In a world where beer companies pay Formula 1 drivers to appear in adverts turning down their product at parties, it’s a bold move.
Toyota (history)
  • Toyota AI Ventures invested in Perceptive Automata, a firm developing software to predict intent of pedestrians near to self-driving cars. (Toyota)
VW Group (history)
  • CEO Diess said a 40% reduction in CO2 levels by 2030 would mean losing “around a quarter of the jobs in our factories” — 100,000 by his estimate. He wants a slower transition to full electric vehicles to avoid a “painful revolution”. (VW)
    • Implication: Despite having a more bullish EV forecast than most OEMs, VW is concerned about a pace of change that is probably beyond its control. OEMs need to do more to prepare themselves for the uncertainty of a transition to electrification. Finding ways to stop developing unique models for pure electric vehicles would be a good start.
  • VW Group sales in Q3 were 2,611,300 units, a drop of (1.5)% on the prior year. (VW)
  • Having a 20-day shutdown at its Taubaté, Brazil plant because of weak Argentinian sales. (Reuters)
  • Audi’s interim CEO is lobbying to have the job on a permanent basis. (Handelsblatt)
  • Launched production of the Audi A1 at SEAT’s Martorell plant. (VW)
Other
  • Bollinger announced an all-electric pick-up truck version of the SUV it has been developing. (Bollinger)
  • VinFast agreed a $950 million credit line to by manufacturing equipment from German companies (Vietnam News). Unfortunately, VinFast’s parent had its credit rating outlook downgraded because of its carmaking plans. (VnExpress)
  • Electric car start-up e.Go says that changes in supplier controls have delayed the start of production but it now has a roadmap to make vehicles from April 2019 onwards. (Golem)
  • RBW is offering all-electric MGBs with powertrain from Zytek. (Green Car Reports)
  • Lamborghini might be calling their lawyers in Tehran about a Hyundai-powered Murcielago-clone. (Russia Today)
 

News about other companies and trends

  Economic / Political News
  • The UK is reducing the generosity of its EV incentives and “focusing its attention” on BEVs. (Reuters) The industry body said it was putting the transition to electrification “at risk”. (SMMT)
  • EU governments backed a proposal for passenger car CO2 emissions to be reduced by 35% from 2021 levels. That is lower than the European Parliament’s 40% threshold but higher than the original suggestion of 30%. (Reuters)
  • Israel intends to stop sale of new gasoline or diesel-powered cars by 2030, insisting that by then vehicles must either be electric or powered by natural gas. (Reuters)
  • Germany’s diesel fund which OEMs and the government funded in a bid to see off actions to ban diesels from cities hasn’t dispersed all the money, so VW, Daimler and BMW will get millions back. (Manager Magazin)
Suppliers
  • Continental was forced by its unions to say there would be no plant closures in Germany and executive calls for improved efficiency were aimed at global operations. (Handelsblatt)
  • Borg Warner opened a new plant for electric vehicle motors and drive system components in Wuhan, China on the site of a former Remy factory (acquired by Borg Warner last year). (Borg Warner)
  • Denso took a small stake in software developer eSol. (Autocar)
  • Bosch says diesel is still a “pillar” of its business and that it will continue to invest in the technology. The company also believes that although some OEMs are announcing in-house production of electric motors, they are doing it “for reasons of jobs” and that ultimately it will become a supplier business. (Les Echos)
  • Magna opened a seating plant in the Czech Republic to serve BMW. (Magna)
  • Volvo will use NVIDIA chips in its future cars. (Volvo)
Dealers
  • The head of the Indian dealer association expects consolidation, saying dealerships are under stress. (Autocar)
  • Mobile car repair service YourMechanic raised $10.1 million. (FINSMES)
  • Consumers say UK dealers need to provide more parking spaces and coffee machines, indicating that there are many who aren’t yet convinced by an online purchasing experience. (Motor Trader)
Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)
  • Microsoft made a strategic investment in Grab. (Microsoft)
  • Ola is reportedly courting a $100 million investment from a private investor. (Economic Times of India)
  • UK Uber drivers staged a strike to protest for higher fares. (TechCrunch)
  • Careem says employees can have as much holiday as they want. (Careem)
  • Bosch is starting a battery electric van rental business in Germany. (Reuters)
  • Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi’s Alliance Ventures VC unit invested in mobility data company Coord. (RNA Alliance)
  • Daimler and Geely are reportedly in talks to create a Chinese joint venture offering car sharing and ride hailing. (Just Auto)
Driverless / Autonomy (history)
  • Lidar developer RoboSense announced $45 million in funding. (RoboSense)
  • Uber sponsored a study by RAND into safe testing of autonomous vehicles. (RAND)
  • Waymo’s fleet passed 10 million miles of testing on public roads and said it was racking up 10 million virtual miles each day. (Waymo)
  • Hyundai’s Cradle VC unit and Toyota AI Ventures invested in Perceptive Automata, a firm developing software to predict intent of pedestrians near to self-driving cars. (Hyundai) (Toyota)
Electrification (history)
  • Bollinger announced an all-electric pick-up truck version of the SUV it has been developing. (Bollinger)
  • Ford and Varta are reportedly part of a yet-to-be-announced German battery consortium that will be supported by €1 billion of government cash and is set to be officially launched on 13th (Reuters)
Other
  • Lime lost its case to enact a restraining order on San Francisco’s scheme to limit the number of scooter companies allowed to operate in the city. (Engadget)
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Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 7th October 2018

How driverless vehicles can thrive today; GM and Honda’s recipe for self-driving success; and is Ford really getting fitter? Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 1st October to 7th October. A PDF version can be found here. 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)
  • Confirmed that the i4 will launch in 2021. (BMW)
  • Falling orders from BMW have led Nedcar to cut 1,000 of the 7,000 staff at the plant. (Dutch News)
  • Dropping the i3 range extender from the line-up, citing the improved range of the upgraded battery version and lower sales. (Autocar)
  • Said “there may be some news” in 2019 about extra partners for its autonomy collaborative. (Reuters)
  • Would allocate more Mini production to the Netherlands in the event of Brexit. (Reuters)
Daimler (history)
  • Daimler’s CFO will leave by the end of 2019, having chosen not to renew his contract. (Daimler)
  • Started construction of its previously announced battery plant in Alabama, USA. (Daimler)
FCA (history)
  • Reportedly intends to recall Jeep Wranglers to fix faulty welds. (LiveMint)
Ford (history)
  • Told salaried employees it is in “the early stages of an organizational redesign of the global salaried workforce” and that some redundancies should be expected but there was no firm target. (Bloomberg)
  • Ford’s North American management team have adopted a new process where they (20 executives) spend one entire day per week reviewing a series of 13 war rooms containing information on different models. Despite the management time, the only example of progress they were prepared to offer was a decision to increase production of cars with large infotainment screens and drop a less capable system. (Automotive News)
    • Implication: By the way, this is the sort of thing that building to order, rather than scheduling vehicles months in advance, would overcome without the need for expensive executive analysis.
  • PSA said it will not “develop more evolutions of diesel technology” unless it can see a clear future market demand. The company has apparently decided that a mix of 5% or lower by 2023 would see diesel discontinued. It is unclear whether Ford shares the same view. If not, it will impact their diesel collaboration. (Autocar)
  • Idling Transit production in Kansas City for two weeks, citing the variability of fleet orders. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Using quantum computing to create efficient route planning for diesel vehicles. Ford says that doing such work on traditional computers does not scale properly. (Ford)
  • Invested in weather forecasting start-up ClimaCcell as part of a $45 million round. (ClimaCell)
Geely (includes Volvo) (history)
  • Buying two Geely-affiliated engine plants in China from local holding companies. (Reuters)
General Motors (history)
  • Honda will invest $750 million in a 5.7% share in GM’s Cruise self-driving unit and has agreed to a further $2 billion of spending over the next 10 years. (GM)
    • Implication: GM accomplished two things with this deal: 1) it sent a signal to other carmakers that Cruise is truly open for business, although it probably prefers to share with those that are regionally disparate from GM’s core operations (any European-centric OEMs interested in partnering? Looking at you, JLR and PSA); 2) GM is using Cruise as a case in point on capital allocation by inviting others to jointly fund research and trumpeting the increase in value since taking over the start-up.
  • Honda and GM are developing a purpose-built shared autonomous vehicle built on Cruise’s technology. The teaser image in a blog post by Cruise’s CEO suggests it looks something like VW’s Sedric concept. (GM)
  • CEO Barra said US regulators needed to set rules for self-driving vehicles, calling new legislation “essential”. (Axios)
Honda (history)
  • Honda will invest $750 million in a 5.7% share in GM’s Cruise self-driving unit and has agreed to a further $2 billion of spending over the next 10 years. (GM)
  • Honda and GM are developing a purpose-built shared autonomous vehicle built on Cruise’s technology. The teaser image in a blog post by Cruise’s CEO suggests it looks something like VW’s Sedric concept. (GM)
  • Honda’s long-running talks on a cooperation with Waymo reportedly feel flat because Waymo would not share technical details of its self-driving technology and wanted Honda to focus solely on delivering a donor vehicle. By contrast, GM apparently invited Honda engineers for in-depth technical reviews before the Cruise investment, including multiple tests and code analysis. (Bloomberg)
  • Launched a pilot in Ohio, USA to test V2X communications and gantry-mounted object recognition. (Honda)
  • US magazine Consumer Reports said there were problem with 1.5 litre engines in the CR-V that could cause stalls. Honda argued that the issue was small in nature and not safety critical. (CNN)
Mazda
  • Will deploy “some form” of electrification in all vehicles by 2030, forecasting 95% of sales will be hybrid and 5% BEV by that time. Mazda includes range-extender vehicles, for which it is developing a new rotary engine, in its BEV mix forecast. (Mazda)
Nissan (includes Mitsubishi) (history)
  • Increasing production capacity of the Xpander from 160,000 to 200,000 units annually. (Mitsubishi)
  • Carlos Ghosn said Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi may extend its cooperation with Daimler to include battery technology, autonomy and mobility services. (Reuters)
PSA (includes Opel/Vauxhall) (history)
  • Will not “develop more evolutions of diesel technology” unless it can see a clear future market demand. The company has apparently decided that a mix of 5% or lower by 2023 would see diesel discontinued. (Autocar)
    • Implication: It isn’t totally clear what PSA’s view of what constitutes an “evolution”. Are they saying the investment would fall to zero or simply commenting that they have ruled out new ground-up engines? The statement leaves questions around PSA’s commercial vehicle business since this is almost 100% diesel and primarily uses engines developed for cars.
  • Unveiled more details of its already-announced CMP platform for smaller vehicles. PSA said that Chinese partner (and minority shareholder) Dongfeng paid 50% of the development cost. The platform can accommodate ICE, PHEV and BEV powertrains. (PSA)
  • CEO Tavares said Opel was only around one third of the way through its efficiency plan, saying that laws forcing the involvement of unions had made progress “very difficult”. (FAZ)
  • CEO Tavares cautioned that “what everyone needs to realise is that clean mobility is like organic food — it is more expensive”. He may find his comments less profound after reading the various EU technical documents on electric vehicles and lower CO2 which state very clearly that this is absolutely the EU’s expectation. (Reuters)
Renault (history)
  • Unveiled the K-ZE small electric crossover. Renault said the vehicle will be “affordable” and launch in China in 2019, with other global markets following. The company also confirmed plans for hybrid and plug-in versions of the Captur, Clio and Megane in Europe. (Renault)
  • Executives said Renault wanted to add a C-sized electric car to its line-up, potentially with SUV-styling and a real world range of 310 miles by 2022. (Autocar)
  • Invested in directional sound specialist Akoustic Arts. (Renault)
  • CEO Ghosn said Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi may extend its cooperation with Daimler to include battery technology, autonomy and mobility services. (Reuters)
  • CEO Ghosn said diesel is “condemned” because of policymakers. (Financial Times)
  • Executives said Renault was unsure whether to continue with the Scenic at the end of the current cycle. (Autocar)
Tata (includes JLR) (history)
  • JLR said it had spent in the low double digit millions of pounds on Brexit preparation. (Bloomberg)
  • Planning a two week shutdown in Solihull during October, blaming falling demand in China. (BBC)
  • Defender prototypes have been spotted around JLR’s engineering facilities, their camouflage and decoy bodywork seemingly undermined by uncharacteristic hashtag branding across several surfaces. (Sunday Times)
Tesla (history)
  • Reported Q3 deliveries of 83,500 vehicles. Model 3 shipped 55,840 units and 53,239 vehicles were made during the quarter. There were 14,470 Model S and 13,190 Model X vehicles delivered, indicating that demand for both has plateaued. The firm complained about its cost disadvantage in China. (Tesla)
  • CEO Musk ranted about shortsellers and the investors who lend them shares to short, saying there was “no rational basis for a long holder to lend their stock”. (CNBC)
    • Implication: Ad Punctum has heard a different point of view from long only investors, being told something along the lines of “short selling goes on, my investment hypothesis takes account of short selling, so why not profit even more by letting them use my stock to do the shorting I’ve already taken into account?”. Although Musk took aim at index tracking funds, the same argument still applies in the context of the overall index.
  • Published its safety report for Q3 2018. The data was very vague, specifying only per mile occurrence rather than gross figures for fleet mileage or accidents. Tesla say their driver assistance systems reduced the likelihood of accidents by almost half but comparison to average statistics was made more difficult by Tesla recording, but not separately reporting “crash-like” events (i.e. where there wasn’t actually a crash). (Tesla)
  • An article highlighted stocks of Teslas at various distribution points across the USA, suggesting the numbers pointed to unacknowledged problems. More likely, they are simply appropriate for the volume of Model 3 being produced and Tesla’s lack of third-party inventory. (New York Times)
  • Model 3 received standout crash test results from US agency NHTSA. For some reason, Tesla chose comparison videos for older competitor cars to highlight the relative performance gap (for instance a 2016MY Lexus ES when there is a new car for the 2019MY). (Tesla)
Toyota (history)
  • Created a joint venture with Softbank called Monet, in which Toyota will have 49.75%, aiming to jointly develop on-demand mobility services and uses for Toyota’s e-Palette autonomous vehicle platform. (Toyota)
  • Recalling 2.4 million cars built between 2008 and 2014 to because of a condition where the vehicle can stall at high speed. The same cars have already been recalled once but it seems not all problems were fixed. (Times of India)
VW Group (history)
  • Škoda’s CEO said the brand needs a further 400,000 units of annual capacity. (Times of India)
  • Bugatti CEO said the brand “is ready for more” and might launch a crossover or SUV. (Bloomberg)
  • Porsche will produce 1,948 examples of the 911 Speedster shown in Paris, with sales starting in 2019. (Autocar)
  • It wasn’t an April fools’ joke. VW T-Roc cabriolets have been spotted out and about. (Autocar)
Other
  • Aston Martin’s IPO didn’t go well with the stock immediately dropping. (The Guardian)
  • VinFast executives said the group was prepared to spend $3.5 billion on launching the company. (Reuters)
  • Faraday Future’s founder is in dispute with the company he apparently agreed to sell a 45% stake in the electric vehicle start-up to. (Reuters)
  • The Aspark Owl order book opened with a non-refundable deposit of $1.15 million being requested to secure one of the 50 $3.6 million electric supercars. Tesla Roadster launch editions look cheap by comparison. (Jalopnik)
 

News about other companies and trends

  Economic / Political News
  • The EU Parliament voted for harsher CO2 reduction targets than previously recommended — a 20% reduction from 2021 levels by 2025 and a 40% reduction against the same reference by 2030. In addition, quotas for sales of low and zero emission vehicles (in effect PHEVs and BEVs) would be set at 20% by 2025 and 35% by 2030. (EU Europa) The European trade body pleaded for national governments to “bring some realism to the table” before the targets are fixed. (ACEA)
  • German politicians tabled a plan to retrofit older diesels but it met with mixed reaction from carmakers. VW said it would pay some of the costs whilst BMW and PSA said the solution made little sense and baulked at the idea of paying to change a vehicle that was legal at the point of sale. (DW)
  • US SAAR of 17.4 million units in September was down (5.8)% versus a year earlier. (Wards)
  • UK passenger car registrations of 338,834 units dropped (20.5)% on the September 2017. (SMMT)
  • Passenger car registrations in Spain of 69,129 unit in September were down (17)% versus prior year. (ANFAC)
  • Italian passenger car registrations of 125,963 units in September dropped (25.5)% on prior year. (UNRAE)
  • September passenger car registrations in France of 148,752 units were down (12.8)% on a year earlier. (CCFA)
Suppliers
  • Delphi issued a 2018 profit warning and that CEO Butterworth would be stepping down, appointing Hari Nair as CEO on an interim basis. (Delphi)
  • ThyssenKrupp will split into two separate entities. The automotive division will be part of a business called ThyssenKrupp Industrials, along with elevators and plant machinery. (ThyssenKrupp)
  • Magna and Altran will establish a 50/50 joint venture engineering centre in Casablanca, Morocco. (Autocar)
Dealers Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)
  • Moovel will launch on-demand services in North America through a pilot in Los Angeles. (Moovel)
  • Daimler will launch car sharing in Paris with 400 Smart EVs, and Toyota might join in. (Bloomberg)
  • Toyota created a joint venture with Softbank called Monet, in which Toyota will have 49.75%, aiming to jointly develop on-demand mobility services and uses for Toyota’s e-Palette autonomous vehicle platform. (Toyota)
Driverless / Autonomy (history)
  • US transport regulator NHTSA published draft guidelines for autonomous vehicles. It promised to be proactive and to reinterpret rules written for human drivers to include self-driving vehicles, but also stressed that it would prioritise safety. This is something of a mixed bag for self-driving proponents since although reliable autonomous cars are expected to have less accidents that human-driven ones, there is nothing even approaching a consensus on how to do this without driving billions of miles. (NHTSA)
  • US magazine Consumer Reports said that GM’s Supercruise driver assistance system was the best on the market, with Tesla’s Autopilot also being commended. Tesla critics portrayed it as a loss for the brand. (USA Today)
  • Self-driving truck start-up Ike emerged from stealth mode saying it planned to run trucks that would never have to leave the US highway system, instead transferring loads at hubs. The company has licenced Nuro’s autonomous driving technology. (Wired)
  • Sensor developer Aeva announced $45 million in new funding. (Venture Beat)
  • Navya announced a cooperation with Charlatte Manutention to develop autonomous vehicles for use in closed-course settings, such as airport baggage delivery. (Navya)
    • Implication: We think this is a smart move as airport vehicles have several characteristics making them suitable for early application of autonomy: 1) they operate continuously in the same environment, so building local knowledge is easy; 2) other traffic can be controlled (and is relatively sparse anyway); 3) there are lots of humans around to help out if the vehicles get stuck for some reason.
  • Ford called on self-driving vehicle developers to adopt a common standard for communicating intent to other road users, e.g. whether a vehicle has decided to slow down and give another road user right of way. (Ford)
  • Waymo had a significant portion of its lidar patents struck off following a challenge. (Ars Technica)
  • Honda will invest $750 million in a 5.7% share in GM’s Cruise self-driving unit and has agreed to a further $2 billion of spending over the next 10 years. (GM)
  • Honda and GM are developing a purpose-built shared autonomous vehicle built on Cruise’s technology. The teaser image in a blog post by Cruise’s CEO suggests it looks something like VW’s Sedric concept. (GM)
Electrification (history)
  • Xing Mobility is developing a modular kit that it believes will be useful for retrofitting existing combustion-powered products. (Clean Technica)
Connectivity
  • Vayyar Imaging will supply Valeo with in-car sensors to monitor human occupants. (Autocar)
  • TomTom will supply maps to PSA “beyond 2020” (TomTom) and also to BMW. (TomTom)
  • Honda launched a pilot in Ohio, USA to test V2X communications and gantry-mounted object recognition. (Honda)
  • Molex Electronics Technologies acquired Laird’s connected vehicles business. (Autocar)
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Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 30th September 2018

Executives without insurance; the impact of infrastructure; and the difficulty of predicting consumer demand. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 24th September to 30th September. A PDF version can be found here. 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)
  • Announced a profit warning, primarily blaming, extra incentives in Europe from competitors who were pushing cars into the marketplace ahead of the WLTP cut-off; volatile international trade tariffs; and adjustments to goodwill and warranty reserves. (BMW)
  • BMW’s German dealers threatened to not sign revised five-year contracts with the brand, jeopardising sales in October as the situation could theoretically result in a sales stoppage. They relented at the last minute. (Reuters)
  • Upgraded the i3’s battery, it now has 42.2 kWh capacity. (Autocar)
Daimler (history)
  • Announced that Ola Källenius will become CEO and head of Mercedes-Benz cars in 2019 with Dieter Zetsche taking a two year “cooling off” period and then returning as chairman in 2021. (Daimler)
  • Daimler’s new CEO elect is not in the habit of hugging people. (Handelsblatt)
FCA (history)
  • Made a series of executive changes, including new leaders for Europe and Maserati. (FCA)
  • Executives said the impact of model mix shifting from cars to SUVs in the US was a “wake-up call” for officials setting fuel economy targets. (Reuters)
  • FCA’s Michigan plants are suffering a worrying spate of vehicle thefts. (Detroit Free Press)
Ford (history)
  • Admitted low customer interest (apart from users who would otherwise have opted for rental vehicles) in its Canvas subscription program meant a rethink was needed. (CNET)
  • Chairman Bill Ford likes salsa dancing (probably) but detests gyrations in trade negotiations. Although he called for certainty, he declined to say what Ford wants. (Reuters)
  • Argo AI’s CEO said Ford’s driverless car program will involve up to 100,000 vehicles. (Bloomberg)
  • Ford sources suggested the scope of collaboration with VW had been expanded to explore whether Ford vehicles should be manufactured at VW plants in South America and Europe, allowing Ford to trim capacity. (Reuters)
  • Agreed to pay more compensation to UK Ford owners who have experienced engine failures. (BBC)
  • Will stop making the Focus in Argentina from 2019 at the end of the current model cycle. (Reuters)
Geely (includes Volvo) (history)
  • Lotus is overhauling its headquarters. (Autocar)
  • Unveiled the cross country version of the V60 estate car. (Volvo)
General Motors (history)
  • Moving the Cadillac brand headquarters back to Michigan from New York. (WJLA)
  • Recalling over 3.3 million vehicles in China to correct suspension problems. (Reuters)
  • Reportedly in talks to sell its Pune, India plant to JSW Energy. (Mint)
Honda (history)
  • Recalling about 255,000 vehicles globally because of problems rear camera’s software. (Times of India)
Nissan (includes Mitsubishi) (history)
  • Launched production of the all-new Altima at the Canton, USA plant. (Nissan)
  • Infiniti has now dropped all hybrid models from its US line-up. (Green Car Reports)
PSA (includes Opel/Vauxhall) (history)
  • Will create a joint venture with Punch to manufacture electrified dual clutch gearboxes at PSA’s plant in Metz. The 600,000 capacity line will use designs developed by Punch. Combined with a 48V system, PSA expect a 15% fuel economy saving in urban conditions. (PSA)
  • CEO Tavares said PSA was an “ardent supporter” of creating a European battery champion. (France3)
Renault (history)
  • Carlos Ghosn said the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance partners will clarify everything about the future state of the relationship within the first half of his term as Renault CEO (i.e. by 2020). (Bloomberg)
  • Building 60MWh of stationary storage in Europe by 2020. Located across three sites (two Renault factories and a former German coal mine), the project will require 2,000 vehicle batteries, a mix of used batteries and those ready for aftermarket sales will be employed. (Renault)
  • Launched the Moov’in Paris car share scheme with no subscription and rental charges of ~€23 per hour. (Renault)
Tesla (history)
  • Elon Musk agreed to step down as Tesla’s chairman for three years and pay a $20 million fine, Tesla will pay a matching sum after the SEC claimed his statements about secured funding had been “false and misleading”. The regulator had initially threatened to make Musk step down from all board roles at publicly traded companies. (BBC)
  • Reportedly has requested 100 company employees as volunteers for full self driving versions of the Autopilot software. The program will run until the end of 2019, suggesting no retail launch before then. (The Verge)
  • According to internal emails, profitability in Q3 is within reach, but it all depended on a really great performance on Sunday 30th (Business Insider)
  • CEO Musk said Tesla is building its own car carrying trailers because of an extreme shortage. (Business Insider)
    • Implication: After an earlier scheme to build its own servicing vehicles, Tesla strays ever deeper into non-core activities whilst struggling with problems executing its programs.
Toyota (history)
  • Said it would be impossible to hold more than one day’s supply of inventory at its Burnaston plant. (BBC)
  • Reportedly preparing a shake-up of Japanese dealer operations that will replace the current four mass market channels with a single network by the mid-2020s. (Japan Times)
VW Group (history)
  • Announced a productivity improvement plan, seeking 30% better utilisation by 2025. The firm says there is €2.6 billion in “efficiency potential”. Explaining the targets to senior production managers, VW said €1.5 billion could be cut through systemic standardisation. (VW)
  • VW will base its connected car data platform on Microsoft’s Azure. The two companies will partner to build apps that VW’s cars can use and VW will build a development centre near Microsoft in the USA. (VW)
  • The CEO of Traton, VW’s truck division, said an IPO would not take place “at any cost”, citing international trade conditions as an issue that could scupper the plan. He also said that shared powertrain was the focus of sharing efforts since it is 60% of the vehicle’s value (including ancillaries such as exhaust, axles and electronics). He also discussed the balance between sharing the dealerships used for VW vans (more like the truck division customers) and developing the vehicles (more like the car division activities). (Handelsblatt)
  • Off the record sources said VW would support retrofitting of older diesel vehicles in Germany. (Reuters)
  • Audi confirmed the E-tron GT will have 350kW charging capability. (Inside EVs)
  • Contracted Unipart to run the logistics for its UK parts operations. About 450 employees will transfer to Unipart as a result of the agreement. (Motor Trader)
  • Claimed to have developed a new prototype fuel cell that uses far less precious metals. (VW)
  • Lamborghini said India will be one of the top ten markets for luxury sportscars within five years. (Times of India)
  • Ending the Audi on demand service in San Francisco directing customers to Silvercar instead. (Auto Rental News)
  • Reportedly planning a Maybach fighting super Audi A8 under the Hoch sub-brand. (Autocar)
  • Audi will work with Valtech to create a design team that will develop products and services for autonomous vehicles. The team will contain over 200 people. (Challenges)
Other
  • McLaren’s CEO summed up the mood amongst automotive executives who are doing the minimum possible to plan for a no deal Brexit saying “what you don’t want to do is go spend a fortune and then find it’s actually a complete waste of time”. Unfortunately, that’s what insurance often is…. (Reuters)
  • Chery launched a design and development centre in Frankfurt, Germany, aiming to hire around 50 staff. (Autocar)
  • Ineos is still undecided about a production location but has ruled out Scotland, following clashes with the national government over other business projects. (The Times)
  • Elio Motors signed a powertrain supply deal with an unnamed large OEM. The appointment of Roush to do the powertrain integration provides a possible clue. The firm says it saved a $120 million R&D bill by not developing its own engines. (Elio Motors)
  • Pininfarina will base its car program in Munich, Germany and will use Rimac’s (Pininfarina)
  • Strom Motors said it has secured funding to start production of its electric mini car. (Times of India)
 

News about other companies and trends

  Economic / Political News
  • Germany’s government is confident it will soon have a way to improve emissions of older diesel vehicles and prevent city bans. (Reuters)
  • The US and Canadian governments reached an agreement over a revised trade pact. NAFTA will be reframed as USMC and sees content requirements for locally made vehicles increase. (BBC)
Suppliers
  • Continental awarded their CEO a new five year contract. (Handelsblatt)
  • Castings supplier Busche Performance Group raised $150 million in debt. (BPG)
  • Plastics supplier Lanxess is building a new plant in Germany. (Autocar)
  • Denso and NRI created a joint venture called NDIAS to offer cyber security products for cars. (Denso)
  • Neue Halburg Guss said already anticipated job losses will be brought forward. (Manager Magazin)
  • Federal Mogul and Yura Tech established a 51/49 joint venture for spark plugs aimed at supplying South Korean OEMs. (Federal Mogul)
Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)
  • Careem announced the acquisition of on-demand bus operator Commut and promptly offloaded the operations part of the business to Shuttl. (Careem)
  • Didi said it could no singlehandedly service the needs of the Chinese ride hailing market and that whilst it was dominant, it did not want to become a monopoly. (Technode)
  • Uber will pay $148 million to US drivers who had their information stolen by hackers. (Business Insider)
  • Uber is going to spend $10 million on lobbying for ideas that are in the “long-term public interest”. This includes congestion pricing. (Uber)
  • Bangladeshi ride hailing firm Shohoz raised $15 million. (TechCrunch)
  • Grab may sell a stake in its Thai business. (Reuters)
  • Renault launched a Paris car share scheme with no subscription and rental charges of ~€23 per hour. (Renault)
Driverless / Autonomy (history)
  • Robosense will offer its new low-cost 64 line lidar unit with an algorithm called “gaze” that focuses on objects detected after broad sweeps have taken place, in order to get a more detailed perception. (Robosense)
  • A US survey found owners overestimated the abilities of their driver assistance systems; 29% were confident enough with their adaptive cruise control to be distracted at the wheel. (CNBC)
  • Argo AI’s CEO said Ford’s driverless car program will involve up to 100,000 vehicles. (Bloomberg)
Electrification (history)
  • Volvo Trucks said it will start selling electric trucks in California from 2020 onwards. (Volvo Trucks)
  • Lucid will use (VW-owned) Electrify America’s charging infrastructure. (Lucid)
  • Lucid believes that its competitive advantage lies in the ability to shrink the size of the powertrain and offer greater interior package than rivals. (CNN)
  • eMotorWerks is using 6,000 chargers installed in homes across California to provide a 30 MW virtual battery on the state’s energy markets. Charging station owners receive up to $80 per year to participate. (eMotorWerks)
  • Battery developer Lionano raised $22 million. (Lionano)
  • ABB doesn’t think battery swapping will work in India because the charging of the battery adds an extra layer of complexity. (Economic Times of India)
  • VW claimed to have developed a new prototype fuel cell that uses far less precious metals. (VW)
  • Caetanobus will use Toyota’s fuel cells for demonstrator vehicles it is making. (Toyota)
Connectivity
  • Denso and NRI created a joint venture called NDIAS to offer cyber security products for cars. (Denso)
  • Harman launched an OBD II plug in dongle called Spark for US customers. (Autocar)
  • TomTom said that it might sell its telematics operations to concentrate on the core business of mapping as competition with Google (Reuters)
  • Ford, Lyft and Uber announced a scheme to share road traffic data with local governments. (Auto Rental News)
Other
  • Rotary engine developer Freedom Motors started a crowdfunding campaign. (Freedom Motors)
  • In-car retailing platform Cargo raised $22 million. (FINSMES)
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Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 23rd September 2018

Sensible planning for a hard Brexit; difficult to understand cryptocurrencies; and the promise of  decent in-car infotainment. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 17th September to 23rd September. A PDF version can be found here. 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)
  • Announced the UK Mini plant’s annual shutdown will take place on 1st April (just after Brexit is supposed to take force) rather than during summer so that the plant will be closed in the event of any implementation chaos. (Reuters)
  • The EU launched a formal investigation into whether BMW, Daimler and VW colluded to restrict competition in emissions technology. (Economic Times of India)
  • BMW’s development chief said the brand’s cars will always have steering wheels and the change to autonomy will take three decades, starting from 2005, meaning a 20 year wait “until this applies to all parts of the world”. (Autocar)
  • Radar developer Lunewave raised $5 million from investors including BMW iVentures. (Lunewave)
  • Published the technical specifications for the new Z4, having earlier unveiled the new car’s design. (BMW)
Daimler (history)
  • Co-led a $155 million funding round in electric bus maker Proterra. BMW and GM are existing investors. (ProTerra)
  • The EU launched a formal investigation into whether BMW, Daimler and VW colluded to restrict competition in emissions technology. (Economic Times of India)
  • Daimler will retain its Aston Martin stake after the brand’s IPO for at least 12 months. (Aston Martin)
FCA (history)
  • Calsonic (owned by KKR) has reportedly made a €5.8 billion bid for Magneti Marelli and has already lined up financing. Previous reports said FCA wanted €6 billion for the unit and KKR had only offered €5 billion. (Reuters)
  • Rumoured to be developing a new inline 6 cylinder gasoline engine based on the existing 4 cylinder GME engine. The new product is said to be earmarked for US plants. (Allpar)
  • The Jeep Wrangler is such a runaway sales success that FCA might add a third shift to the Toledo plant. (The Blade)
Ferrari
  • Held a capital markets day. Ferrari expects hybrids to account for 60% of its sales by 2022 and plans to create a new line of style-led limited edition models under the Icona banner. (Ferrari)
  • The first two Icona models will be 1 and 2 seat versions of a roadster named Monza. Final build numbers and pricing are yet to be announced, but are expected to be “less than 500” and more than “£1 million” respectively. (Car)
Ford (history)
  • A French government minister expressed confidence that Punch Powerglide would be announced as the buyer of Ford’s Bordeaux transmissions plant by the end of October. (Reuters)
    • Implication: Last time Ford sold the same plant in a government-brokered deal, it ended up taking it back a short time later, having forfeited a substantive dowry. Will it have secured the right to walk away this time?
  • Ordered by a court in Thailand to pay compensation to owners of vehicles with dud transmissions. (Detroit News)
  • Paid $90 million for the train station building in Detroit. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Building all-electric versions of the Transit van (in collaboration with StreetScooter) at its Cologne, Germany site rather than in the Turkish factory that builds ICE powered units. A partially assembled vehicle is shipped from Turkey and then the electric powertrain, cab and cargo structure are added in Germany. (FAZ)
    • Implication: Whilst rumours surround the company’s footprint reduction plans in Europe, this decision appears to be based more on its ability to utilise German labour than profit-making potential.
Geely (includes Volvo) (history)
  • Polestar is hoping to have 75 dealers globally soon after launch, with 10 in the USA. (Fortune)
General Motors (history)
  • Simplified its electric vehicles organisation and created a new head of innovation role. (Detroit News)
Honda (history)
  • Continued to lobby against a no deal Brexit saying it would mean tens of millions in tariffs, loads more paperwork and that border controls could play havoc with the 350 daily truck deliveries that keep its Swindon plant stocked with components. The company even made a short day in the life of a trucker video to show it was serious. (BBC)
Hyundai / Kia (history)
  • Hyundai invested in holographic display maker WayRay as part of an $80 million funding round. (WayRay)
  • Hyundai Mobis executives said the company’s L2 ADAS solutions are four years behind those used by German OEMs and that it will take until 2025 to develop full autonomous driving. (Autocar)
Mazda
  • Lost 44,000 vehicles and 23,000 CKD units in the plant shutdowns caused by flooding earlier in the year. (Mazda)
  • Continuing to invest in diesel engine technology, saying it is often the “most sustainable” option. (Autocar)
Nissan (includes Mitsubishi) (history)
  • The R-N-M alliance announced a collaboration with Google to use the latter’s Android system for in-car infotainment, with Google Maps providing directions from 2020. (Renault)
  • Nissan will recall about 240,000 vehicles to fix problems with the brakes that could cause fires. (Detroit News)
  • Undertaking a minor restructuring in Europe, eliminating around 200 posts. (Chronicle Live)
PSA (includes Opel/Vauxhall) (history)
  • Called for the French government to resurrect a scheme that gave grants to buyers of plug-in vehicles, and also make it more generous (paying out €2,000 per vehicle instead of the €1,000 payout before the scheme ended). PSA said Renault wanted the same thing but Renault spokespeople declined to comment. (Economic Times of India)
  • German politicians called on PSA to provide a right of return for Opel employees involved in the proposed Russelsheim technical centre sale to Segula. (FAZ)
  • In addition to the previously-reported line rate drops at Opel plants, PSA is planning extensive down days with the Eisenach plant reportedly only working eight days during September. (FAZ)
  • Considering whether to install new manufacturing equipment in Ellesmere Port that could make either CMP or EMP2 based vehicles. (The Times)
  • The Opel / Vauxhall Grandland X has already reached 100,000 sales and the Eisenach plant will produce it from 2019 onwards. (Opel)
Renault (history)
  • The R-N-M alliance announced a collaboration with Google to use the latter’s Android system for in-car infotainment, with Google Maps providing directions from 2020. (Renault)
  • Showed EZ-PRO, a concept autonomous vehicle system with “highly modular robo pods” that allow the vehicle to be configured between various jobs such as passenger and goods delivery. Renault is the third major OEM this year to put forward such a solution for high utilisation of urban fleet vehicles. (Renault)
  • Launched a new round of discounts in the UK, offering £5,000 off some models. (co.uk)
Tesla (history) Toyota (history)
  • Will invest in a 30 billion yen fund run by Sparx group that will concentrate on sources of renewable energy. (Toyota)
VW Group (history)
  • Said it is on track to achieve “capital market readiness” at its truck division (recently named TRATON) by the end of 2018 and investment banking experts will soon be retained for a “potential” IPO. (VW)
  • Unveiled the production version of the e-tron SUV. Some commentators were disappointed by the car’s performance figures compared to Tesla’s Model X, given the starting price of €80,000. (Audi)
  • Pulling out of Iran, according to a US government official. (Bloomberg)
  • Audi launched a pilot subscription service priced at $1,395 per month. Subscribers can change vehicle up to twice per month and choose from a range of A4, A5 cabriolet, Q5 and Q7. In addition, they receive 48 hours of discounted rental (Audi say it is free but taxes and fees are excluded) through Audi’s Silvercar each month. (Audi)
  • Appears to have slightly altered its outlook on ID pricing to be equal to a “comparable” diesel, implying the vehicle could be more costly than initial expectations if the firm argues the comparator should be high performance. The downside is that a sales target of over 100,000 units is high in the context of high performance diesels. (VW)
  • Audi’s imprisoned CEO will reportedly be removed from his post at a meeting on September 28th. (Handelsblatt)
  • Porsche invested in holographic display maker WayRay as part of an $80 million funding round. (WayRay)
  • The EU launched a formal investigation into whether BMW, Daimler and VW colluded to restrict competition in emissions technology. (Economic Times of India)
  • Porsche released details of the modular units that make up its fast charging solution, and will presumably be used by the Ionity charging network. (Porsche)
  • Seat executives said the brand would have two electric only models by 2021 and two PHEVs by 2020. (Autocar)
  • Created a training program to develop software competences in-house and will run its first class in 2019. (VW)
  • SEAT launched the Tarraco large SUV, with sales set for early 2019. (VW)
  • Showed the ID Buzz van. Although billed as a concept, sources say it could be in production by 2021. (VW)
  • TRATON signed a cooperation agreement with Hino that will create a shared procurement arm and see the two partners jointly develop electrified powertrain. (VW)
  • Porsche said it had given up on diesel engines for good. Although there are no cars currently on sale with diesel engines, Porsche had implied it would offer some in future. Now it won’t. (Porsche)
Other
  • Aston Martin set the price range for its IPO, valuing the firm at between £4.02 billion – £5.07 billion. (Aston Martin)
  • Aston Martin will sell a limited edition of 19 pairs of cars in collaboration with Zagato. There will be a DB4 Zagato continuation model that will be track-only and a DBS Zagato that they can actually drive on the road. The price for the pair is a cool £6 million (excluding taxes). (Aston Martin)
  • Aston Martin released a teaser image of a hypercar dubbed “Project 003” that will be released in late 2021 and limited to 500 examples. The company confirmed that there will be space for luggage. (Aston Martin)
  • Lucid Motors announced it had received over $1 billion in investment from PIF, the same Saudi fund that invested in Tesla (and was the supposed underwriter of the infamous “funding secured” tweet). (Lucid)
  • Rivian Automotive will unveil its pick-up truck and large SUV in November, saying prices will start at $90,000 but lower specification vehicles with prices of around $50,000 will be available after launch. (Fox News)
  • Revolution Racecars says it will build a £100,000, 300hp, 675kg track-only two seat sportscar with 300hp. (Autocar)
  • Elio Motors announced the pre-sale (a pre-ICO?) of the ElioCoin “security token”, hoping to raise $25 million in the scheme. So far it appears to have a single taker. (Elio)
  • VinFast told local media that its products should be compared with Mercedes and its cars would be priced around 1 billion VND (approximately $43,000). (Vietnam Net)
 

News about other companies and trends

  Economic / Political News
  • European passenger car registrations in August were 1,171,760 units, up 29.8% on a year earlier. (ACEA)
  • The German government was rumoured to be leaning towards ordering hardware retrofits for Euro 5 capable diesel vehicles to reduce pollution. (Reuters)
  • The US announced a new round of tariffs on Chinese products, increasing the likelihood of retaliation. (Reuters)
  • A German think tank said sales of vehicles with internal combustion engines needed to end before 2030 if the automotive industry was going to contribute enough to reductions in CO2 This is a different standard to the EU’s proposals for 2030 fleet average CO2 which would still enable conventionally powered vehicles to be on sale. (The Guardian)
  • The German government are prepared to offer subsidies of one million euros to get two battery factories built in the country. (Manager Magazin)
Suppliers
  • BorgWarner held an investor day. (BorgWarner)
  • ZF will invest €12 billion in electrification and mobility projects over the next five years. (ZF)
  • Magna is selling its fluid pressure and controls business to Hanon Systems for $1.2 billion. (Hanon Systems)
  • Holographic display maker WayRay raised $80 million from investors including Porsche and Hyundai. (WayRay)
  • Wabco will form a joint venture with FAW in China to market brake systems for commercial vehicles. (Autocar)
  • Varroc and Elba agreed on a lighting components joint venture to be based in Romania. (Autocar)
  • Valeo and Wabco are partnering to sell their safety technologies for commercial vehicles. (Valeo)
Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)
  • Uber is reportedly in detailed discussion to acquire Careem. (Reuters) It is also said to be in early talks about buying food delivery service Deliveroo. (The Guardian)
  • Lyft said it had reached the 1 billion trips milestone. (Lyft)
  • Lyft has partnered with Trafi to add a multi-modal dimension to its app (in some cities). (Trafi)
  • Didi Chuxing has started to record in-car audio during trips. Passengers must agree as a condition of being allowed to book journeys on the network. (Business Insider)
  • Ola raised a further $50 million in a deal valuing the company at over $4 billion. (TechCrunch)
Driverless / Autonomy (history)
  • Knorr-Bremse and Continental intend to jointly develop a turnkey solution for heavy trucks that will allow them to operate in autonomous platoons. (Knorr-Bremse)
  • BMW’s development chief said the brand’s cars will always have steering wheels and the change to autonomy will take three decades, starting from 2005, meaning a 20 year wait “until this applies to all parts of the world”. (Autocar)
  • Radar developer Lunewave raised $5 million from investors including BMW iVentures. (Lunewave)
  • Leddartech released a white paper discussing the application of lidar for vehicle identification. It contains more data on resolution than is normally disclosed. Even with lidar mounted only a few metres from the vehicle, Leddartech report a resolution of 14cm – 24cm on a target moving at 100 km/h for a 16 line unit, underlining why in practice self-driving vehicle developers are rarely using the units for object identification. (Leddartech)
  • Bosch invested in lidar developer ABAX Sensing. (Bosch)
  • The Knight Foundation is spending $5.25 million on a series of experiments in American cities aimed at better understanding the interaction between autonomous vehicles and communities. (Venturebeat)
  • Self-driving software developer Oxbotica raised £14 million. (FINSMES)
  • Robosense said its 64 line lidar system will cost under $200 per unit once in mass production. (Robosense)
Electrification (history)
  • LG Chem signed a supply agreement with lithium miner Ganfeng Lithium running from 2019-2025. (Economic Times of India)
  • Start-up CyClean aims to combines zero emissions and cryptocurrency by making electric products, such as electric scooters and solar panels that reward users with the company’s proprietary cryptocurrency for using its products (seemingly paid for in old-fashioned hard currency). (CyClean)
  • Amazon is going to start offering third party chargers with full installation. (Electrek)
  • Truckmaker Kamaz and Cummins will develop electric powertrains for heavy vehicles. (Autocar)
  • VW’s TRATON truckmaking unit signed a cooperation agreement with Hino that will create a shared procurement arm and see the two partners jointly develop electrified powertrain. (VW)
  • Total acquired French electric vehicle charging provider G2mobility. (Total)
Connectivity
  • VW’s Traton truck division and Solera announced a strategic partnership to sell fleet management tools. (VW)
  • The RenaultNissanMitsubishi alliance announced a collaboration with Google to use the latter’s Android system for in-car infotainment, with Google Maps providing directions from 2020. (Renault)
  • TomTom said it was under pressure as deals like the Google and R-N-M one eat into its mapping revenue. (Reuters)
Other
  • Electric scooter rental firm Lime has suffered two fatalities in the last few weeks. (TechCrunch)
  • Amazon reportedly plans to open 3,000 cashless stores by 2021. (Bloomberg)
  • Trucking firm Convoy raised a further $185 million. (TechCrunch)
  • Lime said it had reached 11.5 bike and scooter rentals. (TechCrunch) Bird just reached 10 million. (TechCrunch)
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Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 16th September 2018

Identikit German electric SUVs; electric vehicle development costing more than expected; and difficult market conditions. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 10th September to 16th September. A PDF version can be found here. 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)
  • Unveiled the iNext, which has morphed from a coupe-like saloon to an SUV. BMW appears to be still undecided on how the car interior should change when the vehicle is in autonomous mode with the steering wheel of the concept retracting “slightly” (in the original demonstrator, the wheel folded away entirely). (BMW)
    • Implication: After receiving, and appeared to accept, criticism that the styling of the i3 was too strange and held back sales, BMW seems to have forgotten the lesson entirely with the iNext. It remains to be seen whether the world is ready now in a way it wasn’t a few years ago.
  • Withdrew all diesel variants from sale in the US, although some cars remain in dealer stock. (Yahoo)
  • Demonstrated an autonomous motorbike, but unlike competitor projects, BMW does not seem to have tackled the problem of stabilisation, so the vehicle is just as likely to tip over as any other. In BMW’s own words, “at first sight, the autonomous motorbike seems to no real sense”. They say the technology could in future become an active safety system. (BMW)
  • Working with insurer Swiss Re to use vehicle data to derive a tailored insurance policy for individual owners. (BMW)
  • Said there were “headwinds” and that several major markets were “highly competitive”, calling out the USA and European markets. (BMW)
  • BMW’s development chief said OEMs without a cost advantage in electric vehicles will not survive. (Reuters)
Daimler (history)
  • Unveiled a new configurable van concept (Vision Urbanetic). It features a running platform with different modules that can be quickly swapped on and off to change roles, for instance between cargo and people movement. (Daimler)
    • Implication: Ad Punctum sees reconfigurable platforms as a key enabler to increased vehicle utilisation that can help reduce travel costs per mile. Daimler’s demonstration of such as concept, following from recent efforts by GM, Rinspeed and others, shows the promise of this type of execution.
  • Concluded the purchase of a 20% stake in VW’s used car sales platform HeyCar. (VW)
  • Suspended production in South Carolina, USA, because of Hurricane Florence. (Bloomberg)
FCA (history)
  • Hedge fund Tiger Global now owns almost 4% of the company. (Reuters)
  • KKR offered €5 billion for Magneti Marelli, below the €6 billion FCA wanted, so the search for a buyer continues. The investment bankers who leaked the story implied KKR are welcome to up their offer. (Bloomberg)
Ford (history)
  • Suffered a power failure at the Rouge factory. Ford said the lost F-150s would be caught up. (Detroit News)
  • Argo AI has licensed its lidar technology to Ball Corporation for use in aerospace and defence projects. (Zacks)
  • Announced a recall for a small number of vehicles in North America to repair door structures. (Ford)
  • Ford’s VP in charge of its internet of things platform, spoke at a conference about how rich he was, Ford’s approach to software platform leadership and how it integrates traditional bureaucracy with agile start-up thinking. (Ford)
Geely (includes Volvo) (history)
  • Geely’s London Electric Vehicle Co subsidiary will put its new taxi-derived van into testing with fleets next year and expects to build 10,000 units at its new factory in 2020, rising to 22,000 per year by 2022. (Autocar)
  • Finalised its majority stake in Saxo Bank, appointing a new chairman and several board members. (Geely)
  • Issued a statement saying it had no intention of increasing the 9.69% Daimler stake. (Geely)
  • Volvo suspended production at its US car factory due to Hurricane Florence. (Bloomberg)
  • Asked for an exemption for the China-built Volvo XC60 from new US tariffs, dangling the possibility of future US production if sales could continue unabated whilst it ramps up the new South Caroline plant. (Reuters)
  • Appointed a new CEO for Lotus. (Lotus)
General Motors (history)
  • Recalling over 240,000 vehicles to fix brake problems (Detroit Free Press) and 1 million more to sort out steering malfunctions. (USA Today)
  • CEO Barra said “there’s going to be a point where we’re going to be upgrading and improving cars instead of fixing them”. She also confirmed that GM believes it is on track to launch geofenced operation of driverless vehicles next year but demurred on specifying a timeframe for autonomous features to be available for retail customers to purchase. (Fast Company)
Hyundai / Kia (history)
  • Appointed the son of group chairman Chung Mong-Koo as chief vice chairman of Hyundai Motors. (Reuters)
  • Invested in solid state battery developer (and BMW partner) Solid Power. (Solid Power)
  • Announced an estate version of the ProCeed. (KIA)
  • Considering whether to invest in a new generation of diesel engines to meet Euro 7 regulations. (Autocar)
Nissan (includes Mitsubishi) (history)
  • Took a stake in the e.DAMS racing team that will run Nissan’s Formula E entry. (Nissan)
  • Unions are unhappy with a voluntary redundancy scheme the alliance has offered at its Tamil Nadu, India, plant saying the company should have consulted with them first. (Business Standard)
  • Believes that car sales in the US may make a partial recovery as interest rate increases and higher gasoline prices may SUVs less affordable. (Bloomberg)
PSA (includes Opel/Vauxhall) (history)
  • The union leader handling PSA’s proposed sale of Rüsselsheim development activities to Segula said he is cautiously considering the transaction but was not vehemently opposed providing jobs are preserved. (FAZ)
  • At the unveiling of the new DS3 Crossback executives reiterated the brand’s plans to stop offering diesel and gasoline vehicles by 2025, with only plug in hybrids or full BEVs on sale. (DS)
  • Gave an update on its aftermarket strategy, including the absorption of Opel and Vauxhall activities. (PSA)
Renault (history)
  • Revealed the facelift for the Kadjar crossover. (Renault)
  • Unions are unhappy with a voluntary redundancy scheme the alliance has offered at its Tamil Nadu, India, plant saying the company should have consulted with them first. (Business Standard)
Suzuki
  • Has increased Baleno production in India by 34% over the last eight months, and as a result of lower waiting times sales have risen to 18,000 units each month. (Times of India)
  • Toyota may add production of Suzuki cars at its plant in Bengaluru, India to utilise surplus capacity. (LiveMint)
Tata (includes JLR) (history)
  • JLR’s CEO used a speech at a conference on zero emission vehicles attended by the British prime minister to berate the UK government for its approach to Brexit planning and wondering out loud whether factories would continue to function in the event of a hard Brexit. (Reuters)
  • Moved to a three-day week at the Castle Bromwich, UK Jaguar plant, due to unspecified headwinds. Sales of models built at the factory have fallen to about 52,500 in the first eight months of 2018 from about 69,000 in the same period last year. (Bloomberg)
  • Launched a network of charging stations in South Africa to encourage I-Pace buyers. (IOL)
Tesla (history)
  • Culling two colours to make manufacturing simpler, but since the colours involved were (highly popular) black and silver and the ability to order “but at a higher price” remains, the move looks more like a way to raise revenue than streamline operations. (Economic Times of India)
  • Has gone from “production hell to delivery logistics hell” per CEO Musk. Since worldwide distribution of half a million or so vehicles from a single plant is not unknown in the automotive industry, it is not clear whether Tesla faces truly unique problems or has simply failed to plan and execute properly. (Reuters)
  • Tesla said it was selling the final vehicles that would benefit from lifetime supercharger access. (Electrek)
  • A small fire stopped work at Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory for a few hours. (Reuters)
  • Elon Musk said Tesla was aiming to bring repairs in-house with a target repair time of less than a day. (Reuters)
    • Implication: Whilst this appears to fit in with Tesla’s normal mode of vertical integration, this move raises the question of how exactly Tesla decides what is core and non-core? At a time when the firm is still struggling with many operational issues related to designing and building cars, it may be that time spent on body shops could be better used elsewhere.
Toyota (history)
  • Working to add production of Suzuki cars at its plant in Bengaluru, India to utilise surplus capacity. (LiveMint)
VW Group (history)
  • CEO Diess and the head of the works council gave a joint interview to the in-house magazine. They agreed that complexity must be reduced by having fewer buildable combinations and that more needs to be done to improve VW Groups’s competence in software development, which they attributed to excessive outsourcing (up to 80% of the workload) previously. Diess said a margin of 7% – 8% was required to make the business “crisis proof” and that the cost of introducing electric vehicles will be higher than expected. (VW)
    • Implication: Diess becomes the second CEO in a week to admit their company is struggling to contain development costs for electric vehicles (after Daimler CEO Zetsche)
  • Hopes to sell 10 million units over the lifetime of the MEB platform. (VW)
  • Rumoured to be exploring alliances with other companies, including fellow OEMs, with the aim of creating a consistent set of technical standards for self-driving vehicles. A VW Group management board review could take place in the coming weeks. (Automotive News)
  • Added down days in the Wolfsburg factory’s Golf production schedule, apparently because of falling sales rather than WLTP problems. Tiguan production may be replaced as a partial offset. (Handelsblatt)
  • Sold a 20% stake in VW’s used car sales platform HeyCar to Daimler. (VW)
  • VW’s trucking division believes autonomous vehicles will catch on more quickly in the US and China because they think the regulators are more open to change. (Handelsblatt)
  • Porsche launched two short term rental programs on a pilot basis in the US. Porsche Drive is a daily rental offering that competes with similar services from existing major daily rental firms. At a cost of $2,909 for a week’s 911 rental, the pro-rata cost is significantly higher than the monthly “Passport” offering. Porsche Host is a peer-to-peer offering that appears to be a sub-branding of vehicles already available via the Turo app. (Porsche)
  • Ceasing production of the Beetle in 2019. (Reuters)
  • Audi owners in Europe will be able to use a single payment service, dubbed e-tron charging service, to access charging points from 220 providers across Europe. (Audi)
  • Škoda’s unions issued a statement saying it had rejected moves to produce the Superb in Germany. (Times of India)
  • VW Group has signed new terms with dealers and importers in almost all European markets. (VW)
Other
  • NIO’s stock market listing had a shaky start with prices falling from the IPO level then recovering. At one point the company was worth around $12 billion. (Reuters)
  • Aston Martin revealed more technical details about the limited edition Rapide E. Whilst Aston Martin said the performance could be sustained in a way similar to an internal combustion engine car (Aston Martin), the development engineers said that meant it can sustain its top speed of 155 mph for ten minutes. (Autocar)
  • Gordon Murray Design announced a new version of its iStream flexible platform technology with claimed weight savings of 50% over other types of car body (note: not versus the entire vehicle weight). The company will offer a conventionally powered rolling chassis named T.43 that can be turned into a sports car under licence. (GMD)

News about other companies and trends

  Economic / Political News
  • To the dismay of OEMs, a European Parliament drafting committee backed even harsher proposals for fleet average CO2 emissions in 2025 and 2030 than had been recommended to them. Against the proposed drop of 15% between 2021 and 2025 and 30% between 2021 and 2030, they called for a 20% reduction by 2025 and a 45% reduction by 2030. National governments still get to weigh in before the rules are finalised. (Reuters)
    • Implication: The OEMs may come to regret their energetic yet unconvincing pushback against the original 15% and 30% targets if the draft proposals pass. For some time, lawmakers and manufacturers have been at odds about whether the proposals should increase vehicle costs (lawmakers = yes, OEMs = no). The draft targets look unreachable without application of 48V technology on all internal combustion engines and a heavy mix of PHEVs and BEVs. Currently, the number of fully electric models OEMs plan to have on the market by 2030 could be insufficient to reach that share.
  • The Chinese government is reportedly taking a dim view of companies that have applied for new energy vehicle permits but then failed to build vehicles and will make it more difficult for them to extend the licence that had previously been the case. (China Daily)
Suppliers
  • Adient named a new CEO and the interim CEO was made non-executive chairman. (Adient)
  • Renesas announced the acquisition of chipmaker IDT. (ZDNet)
  • Gestamp opened a new stampings plant near Wolverhampton, UK at a cost of £50 million. (Gestamp)
Dealers
  • Online sales start-up Shift announced $140 million in new funding in a round led by Lithia, a large US auto retailer. BMW iVentures (an existing investor) also participated in the round. (Shift)
Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)
  • Go-Jek is looking to raise a further $2 billion to fund expansion and competition with Grab. (Deal Street Asia)
  • Uber will invest $150 million over five years in Toronto, Canada, increasing the headcount from 200 to 500 and opening a new office. (TechCrunch)
  • A memo from Didi’s CEO said the company lost 4 billion RMB ($582 million) in the first six months. (Reuters)
Driverless / Autonomy (history)
  • Autonomous vehicle developer PerceptIn began sales of its DragonFly autonomous pod, with a $40,000 asking price. The pod is speed limited to 20 mph. (PerceptIn)
  • Aptiv sees autonomous vehicle fleet sizes of 1,000 cars or more becoming common in the early 2020s and that costs for retail customers will remain too high until at least 2023. The company says Europe is “a bit behind” in the development of autonomous vehicles. (Handelsblatt)
  • Blackmore released a demonstration video showing how its doppler lidar product can categorise products by relative velocity without post-processing. (Extreme Tech)
  • Argo AI has licensed its lidar technology to Ball Corporation for use in aerospace and defence projects. (Zacks)
  • NRG Systems acquired the low cost lidar technology of Israeli firm Pentalum. (Engineer Live)
  • VW’s trucking division believes autonomous vehicles will catch on more quickly in the US and China because they think the regulators are more open to change. (Handelsblatt)
  • A UK government-funded research project into autonomous vehicles published its final findings, including data on willingness to pay based on a survey of several hundred people. (Venturer)
  • ai announced a new CEO, saying founder George Hotz was now head of research. (Comma.ai)
  • Hyundai Mobis signed a contract with Tata Elxsi to develop a simulation program for autonomous driving by 2019. The partners may find the project harder than they anticipate, especially since photo realistic graphics may be completely unrepresentative of the way AI camera imagery. (Yonhap)
  • Volvo Trucks presented a concept for an electric and autonomous truck. (Volvo)
    • Implication: Judging by the concept’s design, Volvo are in the early stages of autonomous testing since the vehicle features no equivalent structure to the cab — striking in terms of making a design point about new possibilities, but it seems wasteful to not even retain an aerodynamic fairing containing sensors and benefiting from the relatively high vantage point compared to other traffic, especially as a heavier truck would require longer stopping distances and therefore earlier warning is a key advantage.
  • GM ‘s CEO confirmed the firm is on track to launch geofenced operation of driverless vehicles next year but demurred on giving a timeframe for autonomous features to be available for retail customers. (Fast Company)
Electrification (history)
  • Unipart and Williams formed a joint venture called Hyperbat to produce batteries on a vacant Unipart site. The launch customer for the facility will be the Aston Martin Rapide E. The 90 jobs announced in the press release suggest the factory will not have a significant capacity. (Unipart)
  • ChargePoint intends to have 2.5 million chargers in operation by 2025, up from 45,000 today. (Green Car Reports)
  • Yamaha is trialling an electric battery swap scheme for scooters in Taiwan, in a pilot that looks very similar to the recently announced partnership between Panasonic and Honda. (Autocar)
  • Battery developer (and BMW partner) Solid Power raised $20 million, Hyundai was an investor. (Solid Power)
  • Chinese battery developer Farasis has raised over $1 billion and will build a European factory. (Inside EVs)
Other
  • HP launched a new metal additive printer called Metal Jet and said VW are a customer for parts made using the machines by suppliers such as GKN. (HP)
  • Mobike is reportedly undergoing a scrappage program to replace 40,000 bikes in Shenzhen. (Technode)
  • Brazilian bike sharing start-up Yellow raised $63 million. (TechCrunch)
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Automotive trends, Auto industry trends, Automotive market research, Automotive market analysis, auto industry news

Auto Industry Briefing — week ending 9th September 2018

Worrying launch sales for Jaguar I-Pace; a different approach to checking autonomous cars are safe; and great electric cars. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 3rd September to 9th September. A PDF version can be found here. Favourite stories of the past week…?
  • Don’t Give Up Is everything going okay with the Jaguar I-Pace launch? Five months in and only 140 were sold in August. Just for comparison, F-Pace and E-Pace sold over 5,000 units at the same point in their ramp-up, so it doesn’t seem like JLR have a problem getting the word out about new products. What is going on?
  • My Favourite MistakeThe self-driving gurus at Aurora have a new perspective on gaining regulatory approval. Rather than driving hundreds of millions of miles, they want to focus on the accuracy of object identification. They believe that once the AI is good enough, the only reason it would make a bad decision is because it didn’t properly identify the pedestrian, or the no left turn signal. They hope to persuade regulators that a mainly safe driving style multiplied by recognition confidence equals probability of an accident. It’s worth a go, but don’t be surprised if it comes back as too theoretical for the liking of most rulemakers.
  • Off To The RacesThe Mercedes EQC was unveiled in production form. Assuming things don’t go awry on pricing, the EQC, Jaguar I-Pace and Audi e-tron are serious entrants into the EV market, alongside Tesla’s efforts. Will the old guard eat Tesla’s dinner, or will they collectively chow down on internal combustion engine sales?
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News about the major automakers

  BMW (history)
  • Investing €100 million to build a driving simulation centre that will commence operations in 2020. BMW touts the planned 14 simulators and labs as a significant benefit in developing autonomous vehicles. (BMW)
  • Will launch a proprietary voice controlled digital assistant in vehicles, starting next year. BMW says the system will be able to interact with third party services such as Alexa (BMW has already created an Alexa skill) and Siri. The BMW system will let users choose their own name — BMW suggests Charlie or Joy as options to be considered. All cars with BMW OS 7.0 and greater will be capable of using the system. (BMW)
    • Implication: BMW’s overview of functionality appears to mirror the Mercedes system currently on the market.
Daimler (history)
  • Launched production of the Sprinter in a new facility that will employ 1,300 workers once capacity has fully ramped up by 2020. The new facility is said to have cost $500 million. Amazon was announced as a customer for 20,000 vans for use by its delivery agents. For context, annual volume of the van in the US has been about 26,000 units. (Daimler)
  • Unveiled the production version of the EQC all-electric SUV ahead of sales starting in 2019. (Daimler)
  • CEO Zetsche said battery electric vehicle sales in 2025 were now considered more likely to be at the lower end of the company’s 15% to 25% of total expectation, based on new bottom-up analysis. (Automotive News)
  • CEO Zetsche said the company was spending more than the intended €10 billion on electric vehicles but declined to quantify the overrun. (Bloomberg)
  • Said it has received 2,000 pre-orders for the EQC in Norway. (Reuters)
FCA (history)
  • Investing $30 million in autonomous testing facilities at its Michigan proving grounds. (FCA)
  • New CEO Manley will announce a reorganization of the executive team by the end of the month. (Reuters)
  • Workers at FCA’s Serbian plant, which builds the 500L, are concerned about overcapacity. The reported line rate is 410 vehicles per day and unions expect the factory to only work around 150 days this year (the normal level is around 230). The plant has a capacity for around 300,000 cars but will produce only 60,000 in 2018. (B92)
Ford (history)
  • Yet another Jim Hackett profile said the company cancelled its planned electric vehicle just weeks before the 2018 Detroit show and the Mach 1 (the product replacing it in the cycle plan) preview was light on detail because the company had only just begun working on it. CEO Hackett said the company was “four or five months” behind on the rate of progress he expected to make when taking the job. On the possibility of closing down operations in various countries he says “Hackett’s bias is that the Ford brand is iconic” and that “one of my last options is to shut down the Blue Oval in a market. I’d rather never do that”. (Forbes)
  • Off the record sources have said that Ford is focused on reducing staff in South America and Europe, with the North America region expected to be shielded from any significant restructuring. The plans may reportedly be announced by the end of the year as work with external consulting groups is said to have been under way for several weeks. The concept of selling the operations in any region are reportedly off the table as the company does not want to hand control of the blue oval to anyone else. (Detroit News)
  • Working on a next generation infotainment system that will feature a larger screen and appear in the new Mach 1 electric vehicle. Ford claims the system was developed in 90 days. (Forbes)
    • Implication: Whilst Ford’s recognition of the shortcomings of its existing system are welcome, waiting to introduce it for several years until a new vehicle turns up shows the development process is still far from agile.
  • Donald Trump tweeted that his new tariffs on Chinese imports meant Ford could make the Focus Active in the USA after all, but Ford said that wasn’t going to happen. (Economic Times of India)
  • Issued a recall of 2 million F-Series pick-ups to correct problems with seat belt mechanisms that could create sparks inside the body, ultimately leading to fires. (Ford)
  • Released an image of the Mach 1 electric car, showing a Mustang influenced rear. (Ford)
  • Stopped all US national advertising campaigns for Fusion, Focus and Taurus, redirecting the money towards SUVs instead. Ford said it preferred discounting the cars to advertising them. (Automotive News)
    • Implication: Ford is reversing a recent formula that said well-positioned marketing was preferable to discounting.
Geely (includes Volvo) (history)
  • Volvo’s CEO said the company was delaying its IPO because market conditions are too volatile. (Reuters)
  • In cooperation talks with Geely about sharing hybrid electric technology. (Euro News)
  • Volvo’s CEO had his contract extended to 2022. (Volvo)
  • Volvo unveiled the 360c autonomous concept car. Volvo says the 360c, with its lounge-like cabin, could become a viable alternative to short haul air travel. Onlookers who remember the Mercedes-Benz F015 might have a sense of déjà vu. (Volvo)
  • Proton announced that its new SUV will be called the X70. (Proton)
General Motors (history)
  • Investing $28 million in its Michigan battery development lab. (Detroit News)
  • Issued $2.1 billion in unsecured debt, partly to fund pension obligations in the UK and Canada. (GM)
  • Trademarked “Drivescription” in the US, potentially for use in a future subscription service. (GM Authority)
Hyundai / Kia (history)
  • Activist investor Elliott Management wrote an open letter to the company saying it was unhappy with the pace of progress and that Hyundai had fallen silent on the restructuring it previously asked for. (Reuters)
  • Invested in multi-modal app Migo. (Hyundai)
  • Local managers said Hyundai will soon build two new models in Turkey, both based on the i20, with a saloon and SUV set to be released. (Daily Sabah)
Nissan (includes Mitsubishi) (history)
  • Looking to expand in the Indian market with twice as many sales and service points (270 today) by 2021. The product strategy will be reshaped with Nissan concentrating on the higher end of the market and more vehicles from the Datsun brand to cater to budget conscious customers. The company will also hire 1,500 people at Indian technical centres. (Nissan)
  • Increased the range of remanufactured parts available in a bid to retain customers once the warranty period expires by offering lower prices; Nissan says about by 30%. In addition, it is expanding the offering of lower cost consumables. Less clear is how Nissan plans to market the parts to retail consumers and incentivise dealers to offer them. (Nissan)
  • Nissan’s design chief seemingly confirmed the company is working on a new Z (sports) car. (Which Car)
PSA (includes Opel/Vauxhall) (history)
  • Developing a voice-based digital assistant in collaboration with SoundHound for launch in 2020. (PSA)
  • Following earlier rumours that it was looking to spin-off part of Opel’s Rüsselsheim development centre, PSA confirmed it is in talks with French engineering services provider Segula to take over testing facilities for vehicles and powertrain and 2,000 engineers based at the site. Part of the pitch to employees is that Segula aims to deliver non-automotive projects that will make up for the drop in work from GM. (Opel)
Renault (history)
  • Will stop selling rebadged Dacia models as Renaults in emerging markets, preferring to concentrate on the more recent strategy of building Western European looking vehicles on its value (i.e. Dacia) platform. (Automotive News)
  • Said about 55% of Dacia buyers remain loyal to the brand on renewal and about 10% of sales came from Renault customers. (Automotive News)
Suzuki
  • Planning four battery electric vehicles for launch in India by 2021 (some of which may run 72V rather than a higher voltage system) and a range of 12V to 72V hybrids in partnership with Suzuki. (Economic Times of India)
  • Confirmed the transfer of all equity in its Chinese JV to the local partner (Changan) and that Suzuki badged vehicles will continue to be made under licence. (Suzuki)
Tata (includes JLR) (history)
  • JLR released a retro-look stereo with smartphone integration and a small touch screen that can fit a single DIN slot of the type used by older vehicles. The unit costs £1,200, plus fitting. (JLR)
  • Recalled Tata Tigors to rectify emission issues. (Tata)
Tesla (history)
  • Tesla’s chief accounting officer resigned after only a month on the job. A bland statement released by Tesla said he still believed in the company and there were no problems with the accounts. Reporters said he felt disrespected by Musk and that people weren’t properly listening to his advice. (CNBC)
  • Created a new position of automotive president, appointing a current executive. In the announcement, which also covered several other executive moves, CEO Musk said Tesla was expecting to build and deliver more than twice as many cars as in Q2 2018. (Tesla)
  • Elon Musk gave an extended interview in a 2 hour 40 minute podcast where he talked about his various business ventures and outlook on life. Commentators were more interested in a 20 second segment (from 2:10:25) where he took a drag on a marijuana joint. (YouTube)
    • Implication: Many conservative commentators were quick to condemn the move with a debate ensuing about whether: Musk’s actions were legal or not (legal under California state law, illegal under US federal law); violated Tesla’s employee conduct policy (Musk says trace amounts of THX are permissible); if Space X will now lose government contracts because Musk smoked drugs (it won’t).
Toyota (history)
  • In cooperation talks with Geely about sharing hybrid electric technology. (Euro News)
  • Stopped production at four vehicle plants and several supplier factories after an earthquake in Hokkaido. Toyota hopes to restart operations by 13th (Toyota)
  • Planning four battery electric vehicles for launch in India by 2021 (some of which may run 72V rather than a higher voltage system) and a range of 12V to 72V hybrids in partnership with Toyota. (Economic Times of India)
  • Recalling one million cars globally to correct wiring harness problems that could lead to thermal events. (Reuters)
VW Group (history)
  • VW’s CFO didn’t rule out an IPO for the group’s luxury car brands, calling it a “legitimate question” but one that was not currently a priority. (Bloomberg)
  • The investor lawsuit seeking €9 billion in damages for diesel scandal-related losses goes to trial next week. (Reuters)
  • Self-registered a huge number of vehicles in Germany ahead of WLTP rules coming into force. (Reuters)
  • Porsche and Schuler created a joint venture for a smart press shop specialising in aluminium. (Porsche)
  • Škoda concluded a new contract with German dealers. (Autohaus)
  • Launched the Atlas SUV in Middle Eastern markets, badged at the Teramont. (VW)
Other
  • Chinese carmaker FAW announced the appointment of Rolls-Royce’s former chief designer and the foundation of a new design centre in Germany that he will head. (FAW)
  • Aston Martin has recruited a non-executive chair, Penny Hughes, as a precursor to its IPO. (Sky)
  • Aston Martin opened a showroom dedicated to heritage vehicles. (Aston Martin)
  • VinFast unveiled the production versions of its forthcoming SUV and saloon. (VinFast)
  • McLaren’s group CFO said the primary reason for taking on a new shareholder earlier in the year was to fund the cash shortfall resulting from the F1 team’s decision to switch from Honda to Renault engines. (Racefans)

News about other companies and trends

  Economic / Political News
  • US light vehicle SAAR for August was 16.6 million, slightly up on the prior year but down month-on-month. (Wards)
  • UK registrations of new cars in August were 94,094 units, an increase of 23.1% versus August 2017. (SMMT)
  • German new car registrations reached 316,405 units in August, up 24.7% on a year over year basis. (KBA)
  • An Indian government minister said the country had a plan to increase electric vehicle sales to 15% of the total industry within five years and that subsidies were not required. (Business Standard)
  • Two reports considered by the German government in deciding whether to order a retrofit of SCR exhaust systems onto diesel vehicles put the average cost at between €3,000 – €5,000 per vehicle, with estimates for specific models reaching €9,000. (FAZ)
  • China’s government is proposing new rules for approving capacity requests that would force companies to show they were properly utilizing existing plants and were intending to export vehicles. (Reuters)
Suppliers
  • Honeywell’s Garrett division, set for a spin-off, held an investor day. (Honeywell)
  • Continental’s executive board sent a scathing memo to the company’s senior management saying that many business units were missing internal targets and that personnel changes are being considered. (Handelsblatt)
  • Denso bought a stake in automated production equipment maker Tohoku Pioneer. (Denso)
  • Mahle completed its takeover of former JV BTTI. (Mahle)
  • Despite many saying OEMs are turning away from internal combustion engine development, Mahle announced a new type of piston coating to improve heat distribution inside the combustion chamber. (Mahle) Borg Warner also showcased a new type of turbo aimed at gasoline engines. (Borg Warner)
    • Implication: New piston rings and turbos probably need a revised combustion set-up to realise their potential, implying that either Tier 1s are developing solutions and trying to find customers or (more likely) they are aware of several major engine redesigns in the works for the early 2020s.
Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental (history)
  • Grab is looking to raise an additional $1 billion to fund further expansion. (Yahoo)
  • Lyft started a dockless electric scooter pilot scheme in Denver, USA. (Lyft)
  • Uber’s CEO said the company was on course for its IPO and was not planning to sell its self-driving arm. (Reuters)
  • Ride hailing firm Taxify launched dockless electric scooters in Paris, saying the firm was ready to ramp up supply to tens of thousands if the demand was there. (Quartz)
  • Careem said it had one million drivers on the platform, reaching the milestone slightly ahead of schedule. The company adds between 60,000 – 70,000 drivers per month (Careem)
Driverless / Autonomy (history)
  • Mando announced that it had an autonomous vehicle testing permit for California. (Mando)
  • Denso led a funding round in deep learning specialist ThinCI saying the company provided “5 to 10 times” more computing power and performance than competitors. (Denso)
  • Waymo’s CTO said the firm was at the point of industrialising the three main pillars of its self-driving solution: sensors; high resolution maps and; the software stack. (Forbes)
  • Metawave are now claiming 500 metre range for their high resolution radar, having previously said it was over 150 metres and that it believes units will sell for $500 once high volume production begins. In discussing specific examples however the company clarified that the radar might identify a truck with 90% confidence at 300 metres, but a motorcycle with only 50% confidence at the same distance. (All About Circuits)
  • Aurora’s approach to convincing regulators that self-driving cars are ready is to show that the vehicle is capable of navigating and then present the AI’s history of correct object identification and semantic understanding. The company believes that through this data, it will be possible to agree a likely failure rate. (Wired)
Electrification (history)
  • BYD announced a carbon tracking and banking scheme in partnership with VeChain. The initiative will collect trip data and parts usage information. (BYD)
  • VinFast will use LG Chem batteries and they will produce battery packs together in Vietnam. (VinFast)
  • JLR reportedly have chosen Samsung SDI to provide the batteries for next-generation battery electric vehicles. LG Chem supply the batteries for I-Pace. (Korea Times)
  • Suzuki and Toyota are reportedly planning battery electric vehicles running on 72V, rather than a higher voltage, for the Indian market. The partners had previously said the system was low cost. (Economic Times of India)
  • An Indian government minister said the country had a plan to increase electric vehicle sales to 15% of the total industry within five years and that subsidies were not required. (Business Standard)
  • A group of large UK commercial vehicle fleets have agreed to replace a combined 18,000 diesel vans with electric ones instead. (UN Climate Action Program)
  • Lion Smart demonstrated the potential energy density benefits of next generation batteries by fitting a 100 kWh battery into a BMW i3 (normal capacity = 33 kWh). (Green Car Reports)
Other
  • ParkWhiz raised $20 million in new funding. The service it reaches 40 million customers and has been used by seven million of them. (ParkWhiz)#
  • Vertical Aerospace’s founder said his company will have flying taxis in service within the next four years. (Reuters)
  • Fleet management platform Avrios raised $14 million. (TechCrunch)
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