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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

Nissan completes 34% stake in Mitsubishi Motors; Mitsubishi joins Renault-Nissan Alliance

October 20, 2016

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. has completed an acquisition of a 34% equity stake in Mitsubishi Motors (MMC) (earlier post) and has become its largest shareholder. As indicated in May, when Nissan outlined the deal, MMC is also becoming part of the global Alliance with Nissan and Renault. With the addition of MMC, the Alliance will be in the world’s top three automotive groups by global volumes, with sales of 10 million units in fiscal year 2016.

The investment and alliance comes in the aftermath of revelations of MMC cheating on fuel consumption testing in Japan with mini-cars and other models. Nissan was the one which first brought the discrepancies in minicar testing to light; MMC produces minicar models for Nissan in Japan.

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Suzuki and Toyota to explore business partnership; environment, safety, and information technology

October 12, 2016

Suzuki Motor Corporation (Suzuki) and Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) have agreed to start exploring ideas that are directed towards a business partnership.

In a joint statement, the two companies said that, given the rapid change in the auto industry, the industry is required to work not only on conventional automobile R&D, but also on R&D for advanced and future technologies in the fields including environment, safety, and IT. In addition to the R&D that is conducted by individual companies, it is increasingly important to work together with other companies on areas such as infrastructure development, as well as the establishment of new industrial standards.

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GM makes strategic investment in car-sharing technology company Yi Wei Xing in China

October 11, 2016

GM has made a strategic investment in Yi Wei Xing (Beijing) Technology Co., Ltd. (Yi Wei Xing), a leading car-sharing technology solution provider in China, as another move in exploring personal mobility in China.

Yi Wei Xing’s product, Feezu, is based on mobile technology. It merges hardware and software to provide a convenient car-rental and car-sharing experience. It also offers car-rental companies a customized cloud-based car-sharing platform.

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Volkswagen Group opts for LNG-fueled car carriers

October 06, 2016

From 2019, Volkswagen Group Logistics will use two LNG-powered charter vessels from Siem Car Carriers AS, making it one of the first automakers to opt for low-emission LNG-powered vessels for the marine transport of vehicles. The two ships, with a length of 200 m and a capacity of about 4,500 vehicles, are to be used for vehicle shipment between Europe and North America. The use of LNG-powered roll on/roll off (RORO) car carriers on other routes is currently being considered.

Alternative LNG drive systems for ships reduce air pollutant emissions significantly—CO2 by up to 25% and NOx by up to 30%, particulate matter by up to 60% and SOx by as much as 100%. Emissions will be further reduced by the use of an advanced dual-fuel marine engine with direct injection and exhaust gas treatment.

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Volkswagen’s MEB for EVs: long electric range, open-platform, open-space, pricing for the volume market; “tablet on wheels”

October 05, 2016

Brands within the Volkswagen Group have been rolling out modular component matrices, or assembly toolkits, for their light-duty vehicles over the past few years. Until recently, the four main modular toolkits (modularen Baukästen) of the Group were: the MQB (transverse, driven by the Volkswagen brand); the MLB (longitudinal, driven by the Audi brand); the MSB (standard drive, driven by Porsche); and the NSF (New Small Family).

Development work on these continues; Audi, for example, is refining MLB evo—the second-generation of MLB and the foundation for the battery-electric e-tron quattro SUV due out in 2018. (Earlier post.) These four main kits are now joined by the all-new Modularer Elektrifizierungsbaukasten (“Modular Electric Drive kit”, or MEB), being developed by the Volkswagen brand. The MEB will be the foundation for an entirely new generation of battery-electric vehicles designed not only to be electric and feature extended range, but to be connected, autonomous, open and priced for the volume market as required by Volkswagen’s positioning.

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Cooperation between Daimler and Renault-Nissan Alliance deepening in 2016

October 03, 2016

At the Paris Motor Show, Carlos Ghosn and Dieter Zetsche said that the strategic partnership between the Renault-Nissan Alliance and Daimler AG is maturing as it enters its seventh year in 2016.

One major milestone of the past year includes the EV versions of the new smart fortwo, smart cabrio and smart forfour (Electric energy consumption: 13.1 – 12.9 kWh/100 km; CO2 emissions, combined: 0 g/km). (Earlier post.) These all-new smart and the Renault Twingo were the first vehicles built on a common platform by Daimler and the Alliance.

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Audi opens €1B San José Chiapa plant in Mexico; 1st on N.A. continent; Smart Factory

October 02, 2016

Audi is further expanding its worldwide production network with the opening of the company’s first automobile plant on the North American continent. This will be the first time the company has produced a model for the global market at a location outside of the European continent.

Audi will produce the new generation of the Audi Q5 for the world market in San José Chiapa in Mexico’s federal state of Puebla. The €1-billion plant has an annual production capacity of approximately 150,000 premium SUVs. By the end of the year, a total of 4,200 jobs will be created locally at Audi México.

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Renault-Nissan and Microsoft enter multi-year agreement on next-gen connected driving

September 27, 2016

The Renault-Nissan Alliance and Microsoft Corp. have signed a global, multi-year agreement to partner on next-generation technologies to advance connected driving experiences worldwide.

The companies will work together to develop next-generation connected services for cars powered by Microsoft Azure, one of the company’s intelligent cloud offerings. These new services are intended to improve customer experience via advanced navigation; predictive maintenance and vehicle centric services; remote monitoring of car features; external mobile experiences; and over-the-air updates. The partnership will accelerate development of best-in-class infotainment and location-based services that will:

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Toyota develops new DNA analysis technology to accelerate plant improvement; boosting biofuel crop yield

September 23, 2016

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) has developed a DNA analysis technology it calls Genotyping by Random Amplicon Sequencing (GRAS). This technology is capable of significantly improving the efficiency of identifying and selecting useful genetic information for agricultural plant improvement.

This newly developed technology could thus lead to substantial time and cost savings in the agricultural plant improvement process. Toyota says that the promising technology has the potential to boost sugar-cane production, and to increase biofuel crop yields per unit area of land. The company worked with analytical materials provided by the Kyushu Okinawa Agricultural Research Center (KARC) of the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO)

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New Audi paintshop at Ingolstadt; heating energy & water per car down by 20%, CO2 by 30%, VOCs by 90%; bell-bell

September 22, 2016

Audi has put a new topcoat paint shop into operation at its plant in Ingolstadt. The new paint shop incorporates technologies such as air recirculation, dry separation and exhaust air cleaning that enable a significant reduction in the use of resources. Heating energy and water consumption per car are reduced by 20%. Air recirculation also helps to reduce CO₂‑emissions per painted car by 30%, while the cleaning of exhaust air reduces emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by 90%.

The new topcoat point line‑in the north of the plant site also introduces state‑of‑the‑art painting technology at Audi: paint‑application equipment with robot technology and electrostatic high‑speed rotation spray guns carry out the “bell‑bell” painting process fully automatically.

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Mercedes-Benz Vans launches “Startup adVANce” competition for partners for future transport solutions

September 18, 2016

With “Startup adVANce”, a large-scale startup partnership challenge, Mercedes-Benz Vans is starting its search for intelligent solutions relating to the transport of goods and passengers. As part of its recently introduced strategic initiative adVANce (earlier post), the company is to invest a total of €1 million (US$1.12 million). The goal is to find new, innovative partners with whom Mercedes-Benz Vans can establish long-term partnerships without constricting the startups.

Digitalization, urbanization and the Internet of Things are just a few of the megatrends that are placing new demands on virtually every industry. General changes in consumer behavior and mobility patterns are directly affecting logistics providers and vehicle manufacturers. Online buyers, for example, expect new services such as same-day or time-definite delivery and want to know where their orders are at all times. Further, the number of deliveries is growing rapidly.

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Ford embeds researchers in new U-M robotics lab to accelerate autonomous vehicle research

September 16, 2016

Ford and the University of Michigan are teaming up to accelerate autonomous vehicle research and development with a first-time arrangement that embeds Ford researchers and engineers into a new state-of-the-art robotics laboratory on U-M’s Ann Arbor campus.

While the new robotics laboratory opens in 2020, by the end of this year Ford will move a dozen researchers into the North Campus Research Complex (NCRC), kicking off the first phase of expanded presence.

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CALSTART survey of major auto suppliers finds 70% don’t want US to change CAFE targets; split on amount of electrification needed

September 15, 2016

Major automotive suppliers see national fuel economy standards as important for long-term planning and investment and don’t want to see them altered by US policymakers, according to a first-of-its-kind industry survey commissioned by CALSTART and conducted by Ricardo Energy & Environment.

The firm polled and interviewed 23 suppliers, almost all of them global Tier 1 suppliers that sell parts directly to automakers. According to the survey:

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GM commits to 100% renewable energy by 2050

General Motors plans to generate or source all electrical power for its 350 operations in 59 countries with 100% renewable energy—such as wind, sun and landfill gas—by 2050.

This new renewable energy goal, along with the pursuit of electrified vehicles and efficient manufacturing, is part of the company’s overall approach to strengthening its business, improving communities and addressing climate change. GM is also joining RE100, a global collaborative initiative of businesses committed to 100 percent renewable electricity, working to increase demand for clean power.

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Audi deepening partnerships with Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent on connected cars in China

September 11, 2016

In China, Audi has signed tripartite memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent respectively. The partners will deepen their cooperation in the areas of data analysis, internet-vehicle platform building and urban intelligent transport.

The partnerships will be supported through the brand’s strong development capabilities in China. In Beijing, Audi operates its largest research and development facility outside of Germany. The R&D center is part of Audi China, a 100% Audi AG daughter-company, and puts a strong focus on key future technologies such as connected car, piloted driving, new energy vehicles and digital services.

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DENSO looks to increase holding in FUJITSU TEN, making it a group company

September 10, 2016

Auto parts supplier DENSO Corporation, Fujitsu Limited, and Toyota Motor Corporation have reached a basic agreement to start consideration of changing the capital structure of automotive electronics manufacturer FUJITSU TEN, in which the three companies have stakes. DENSO is part of the Toyota Group.

In the automotive field, the interface between the driver and vehicle is becoming increasingly important due to remarkable technological innovations. Against this backdrop, DENSO has agreed with Fujitsu and Toyota to review specific changes to make FUJITSU TEN a group company of DENSO and to enhance cooperation between the two companies in developing in-vehicle ECUs, millimeter-wave radar (earlier post), advanced driver assistance / automated driving technologies, and basic electronic technologies, among others.

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Ford acquiring SF-based crowd-sourced shuttle service, launching Ford GoBike

September 09, 2016

Ford is acquiring Chariot, a San Francisco-based crowd-sourced shuttle service, and is collaborating with bike-sharing provider Motivate to launch Ford GoBike, expanding its transportation solutions in city centers. Ford also is establishing a new City Solutions team to work with cities around the world on their transportation needs.

Ford’s acquisition of Chariot, subject to normal customary closing conditions, will serve as the cornerstone for its new global shuttle services business. The shuttle service is expected to be expanded beyond San Francisco to at least five additional markets in the next 18 months.

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Volvo Cars and Autoliv to create joint venture for next-gen autonomous driving software

September 06, 2016

Volvo Cars and Autoliv have signed a letter of intent to set up a new jointly-owned company to develop next-generation autonomous driving software. The planned new company will have its headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden, and an initial workforce taken from both companies of around 200, increasing to over 600 in the medium term. The company is expected to start operations in the beginning of 2017.

The new company, which has yet to be named, will develop advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous drive (AD) systems for use in Volvo cars and for sale exclusively by Autoliv to all car makers globally, with revenues shared by both companies.

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Volkswagen Truck & Bus enters into strategic alliance with Navistar, takes 16.6% stake; entry into N. America

Volkswagen Truck & Bus has formed a wide-ranging strategic alliance with Navistar International Corporation, which includes an equity investment in Navistar by Volkswagen Truck & Bus and framework agreements for strategic technology and supply collaboration and a procurement joint venture.

Volkswagen Truck & Bus will purchase from Navistar newly issued common shares representing, pro forma for such issuance, a 16.6% stake (19.9% of pre-transaction outstanding common stock) in Navistar for a price per share of $15.76 and an aggregate purchase price of approximately $256 million (or approximately €229 million at current exchange rates). To underscore the long-term nature of the alliance, Volkswagen Truck & Bus has agreed to hold these shares for a minimum of three years.

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Volkswagen and Hamburg enter 3-year strategic mobility partnership; e-bus development with MAN

August 30, 2016

The Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and the Volkswagen Group will collaborate over the next three years to jointly develop innovative solutions for making urban mobility more environmentally-friendly, safer, more reliable and more efficient. The cooperation aims to develop Hamburg as a model city for forward-looking, sustainable and integrated urban mobility.

Urban mobility concepts and intermodality, traffic control and management, autonomous driving and parking, innovative vehicle concepts and alternative technologies as well as air pollution control are the cornerstones of the partnership.

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Ford targeting highly autonomous vehicle for ride-sharing in 2021; new tech company investments, staffing up in Silicon Valley

August 17, 2016

Ford intends to have a high-volume, highly autonomous SAE level 4-capable vehicle in commercial operation in 2021 in a ride-hailing or ride-sharing service. To achieve this, the company is investing in or collaborating with four startups to enhance its autonomous vehicle development, doubling its Silicon Valley team and more than doubling its Palo Alto campus.

Autonomous vehicles in 2021 are part of Ford Smart Mobility, the company’s plan to be a leader in autonomous vehicles, as well as in connectivity, mobility, the customer experience, and data and analytics.

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BMW says electrified models exceeding sales expectations, especially in Europe

August 11, 2016

BMW said that its electrified models continue to exceed expectations, especially in Europe. While 4% of all BMW sales in Western Europe in July were electrified vehicles, that percentage increases significantly in markets where innovative electric mobility is supported through financial and infrastructure measures.

In the Netherlands, 43% of BMW 3 Series registrations are for the plug-in hybrid BMW 330e model and 26% of 2 Series Active Tourer registrations are for the BMW 225xe. In Scandinavia, those figures are even higher, with the plug-in hybrid versions accounting for 45% of all BMW 3 Series sales and 55% of all BMW 2 Series Active Tourer sales.

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2017 Range Rover picks up suite of ADAS and semi-autonomous driving technologies

August 10, 2016

For 2017, Range Rover receives a suite of advanced ADAS and semi-autonomous driving technologies. Additionally, Land Rover will introduce the new Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic model for the 2017 lineup.

Standard Range Rover driver assistance technologies include Rear Park Distance Control; Cruise Control and Speed Limiter; Lane Departure Warning; and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB). This intelligent technology uses a forward facing camera to detect a risk of collision and warn the driver initiating full emergency braking if the driver fails to respond.

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Tesla posts $293M Q2 loss, up 59% from Q2 2015

August 04, 2016

Tesla reported a $293-million GAAP net loss for Q2, a 59% increase from the $184-million net loss for Q2 2015. This marks Tesla’s 13th consecutive quarterly loss. However, Tesla also completed a $1.7-billion equity raise to end the quarter with $3.25 billion in cash.

In Q2, Tesla delivered 14,402 new vehicles consisting of 9,764 Model S and 4,638 Model X. Tesla said that production and demand are on track to support deliveries of approximately 50,000 new Model S and Model X vehicles during the second half of 2016.

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Tesla acquiring SolarCity in $2.6B all-stock deal; expected close of transaction in Q4

August 01, 2016

Tesla and SolarCity reached agreement for the automaker’s purchase of the solar company in an all-stock deal valued at $2.6 billion—slightly less than the original $2.8-billion proposal made by Tesla just over a month ago. (Earlier post.) SolarCity will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tesla.

The all-stock transaction is valued based on the 5-day volume-weighted average price of Tesla shares as of 29 July 2016. Under the agreement, SolarCity stockholders will receive 0.110 Tesla common shares per SolarCity share, valuing SolarCity common stock at $25.37 per share based on the 5-day volume weighted average price of Tesla shares as of 29 July2016. The original proposal was an exchange ratio of 0.122x to 0.131x shares of Tesla common stock for each share of SolarCity common stock.

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Daimler ups its stake in the professional driver service Blacklane

Daimler AG is continuing to increase its stake in the professional driver service portal Blacklane. During the recently completed financing round, Blacklane received an eight-digit amount that it will use to further expand its global business. The parties agreed to keep the details of the transaction confidential.

Blacklane has approximately 200 employees and is represented in more than 200 cities and 400 airports in more than 50 countries worldwide. Daimler has invested in Blacklane since 2013. The global market for professional ride services is currently estimated to have a volume of about $30 billion per year and is rapidly growing and evolving.

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BMW provides some insight into Dingolfing eDrive competence center; motors, battery packs and more

July 29, 2016

During its Innovation Days 2016 event in Munich, the BMW Group provided some insight into its Dingolfing competence center for the manufacture of electric drive systems (eDrive). Dingolfing supplies the high-voltage batteries and other chassis and powertrain components for BMW i models and the BMW Group’s plug-in hybrid models—current (earlier post) and future.

Beginning with the launch of the first BMW i production models, the Dingolfing plant has produced high-voltage batteries and other powertrain and chassis components for these vehicles. Prior to that, the plant had supplied high-voltage batteries for the BMW Active E; BMW 3 Series ActiveHybrid; BMW 5 Series ActiveHybrid; and BMW 7 Series ActiveHybrid. Now, with the market launch of the first plug-in hybrid versions of the BMW core-brand models—for which the plant supplies the rear-mounted electric motors and all high-voltage battery packs—production of BMW eDrive components in Dingolfing is scaling up once again.

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BMW introducing fully-automated, optical measuring cell in pilot plant; digitalization for production

July 28, 2016

The BMW Group has introduced a fully-automated, optical measuring cell in its pilot plant in Munich. Freely moving robot arms use sensors to create a three-dimensional image of an entire vehicle and generate a 3D data model from the data captured, with an accuracy of less than 100 µm. This allows barely visible deviations to be identified at an early stage.

The optical measuring cell is deployed at the interface between development and series production. It forms part of the BMW Group’s digitalization strategy for production and supports the high quality standards for production of premium vehicles. The next generation of the BMW 5 Series Sedan will be the first to benefit from this new technology.

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Ford, MIT project uses LiDAR, cameras to measure pedestrian traffic & predict demand for new, on-demand electric shuttles

July 27, 2016

Ford Motor Company and MIT are collaborating on a new research project that measures how pedestrians move in urban areas to improve certain public transportation services, such as ride-hailing and point-to-point shuttles services.

The project will introduce a fleet of on-demand electric vehicle shuttles that operate on both city roads and campus walkways on the university’s Cambridge, Massachusetts, campus. The vehicles use LiDAR sensors and cameras to measure pedestrian flow, which ultimately helps predict demand for the shuttles. This, in turn, helps researchers and drivers route shuttles toward areas with the highest demand to better accommodate riders.

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Daimler chief Zetsche: Daimler working toward swarm organization; mobility services, digitalization and e-mobility

July 25, 2016

In an interview with Germany’s Wirtschaftswoche, Daimler CEO Dr. Dieter Zetsche said that the company is implementing swarm organization management techniques to enable more rapid development in emerging critical areas such as digitalization, mobility services and e-mobility.

The swarm organization method, explained Zetsche, supplements the hierarchical-management pyramid with cross-functional and interdisciplinary groups and eventually replaces them.

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Musk’s “Master Plan, Part Deux”; expands Tesla to heavy-duty electric trucks and urban transport; integrated energy generation and storage

July 21, 2016

Elon Musk has, as promised, published his second “master plan,” composed with the help of all-nighters and the Gatsby soundtrack.

Master Plan Part 1—public now for ten years—outlined (1) the creation of an expensive low-volume electric car (Roadster) to fund (2) a medium-volume electric car (Model S, X) at a lower price to create (3) an affordable high volume car (Model 3) and (4) provide solar power. Master Plan v2.0 takes Tesla into integrated energy generation and storage (i.e., Tesla’s acquisition of Solar City, earlier post) as well as into heavy-duty electric vehicles and urban transport.

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ECS and Toyota North America announce 2016-2017 Fellowship winners for projects in green energy technology

July 16, 2016

The ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship Selection Committee has selected three recipients who will receive a minimum of $50,000 each for fellowships for projects in green energy technology. The winners are Professor Elizabeth Biddinger, City College of New York; Professor Joaquin Rodriguez Lopez, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Professor Joshua Snyder, Drexel University.

The ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship, a partnership between The Electrochemical Society (ECS) and Toyota Research Institute of North America (TRINA), an advanced research arm of Toyota Motor North America, Inc. (TMNA), is in its second year. (Earlier post.)

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Mazda introduces SKYACTIV-VEHICLE DYNAMICS control technologies; G-Vectoring Control uses engine to enhance chassis performance

July 14, 2016

Mazda Motor Corporation is introducing SKYACTIV-VEHICLE DYNAMICS, a series of new-generation vehicle motion control technologies. The first in the series, G-Vectoring Control, will be introduced to all new-generation models starting with the updated Mazda Axela (known as Mazda3 outside Japan), which has just gone on sale in Japan. By adopting GVC, Mazda vehicles will exhibit even smoother transitions between G-forces in all driving scenarios.

Until now, lateral and longitudinal acceleration (G) forces have been controlled separately. GVC is the first technology to adjust engine torque in response to steering inputs in order to control these forces in a unified way and optimize the vertical loading of each tire to realize smooth and efficient vehicle behavior.

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California Air Resources Board rejects Volkswagen Group recall plan for 3.0-liter diesel passenger cars

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) on Wednesday rejected proposed plans submitted by Volkswagen/Audi and Porsche for repair of undisclosed Auxiliary Emission Control Devices (AECDs) and defeat devices in 3.0 liter, diesel passenger cars manufactured for model years 2009-2016. This decision affects about 16,000 3.0-liter diesel Volkswagens, Audis and Porsches sold in California.

CARB staff determined that the proposed recall plans submitted by the companies are incomplete and deficient in a number of areas. CARB said it, in conjunction with EPA, will continue the on-going technical discussions with the companies through the enforcement process to ensure a legally and technically acceptable resolution is reached which fully mitigates the excess emissions.

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BMW Group expands use of additive manufacturing processes in series production; planar technologies

July 13, 2016

The BMW Group has been using components from 3D printers in series production since 2012; more than 10,000 additively-manufactured parts are built into the Rolls-Royce Phantom. The Additive Manufacturing Center at the company’s Research and Innovation Centre (FIZ) has also been using these forming processes to produce parts for the new Rolls-Royce Dawn since the beginning of the year.

The BMW Group is steadily pursuing the evolution and use of advanced additive-manufacturing methods, and says it will continue to expand the application of 3D printing in the future. Planar 3D printing technologies will enable much faster production times and more economical production.

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Volkswagen brand says it has met 2018 Think Blue. Factory. environmental targets; environmental compatibility of car production improved by 25%

July 09, 2016

The Volkswagen brand announced that it has reached the self-defined sustainability target for production set out in Think Blue. Factory. for 2018. (Earlier post.) At the brand’s production facilities throughout the world, vehicles and components are now manufactured in a way which is 25% more environmentally compatible than five years ago.

Taking the average of the five agreed environmental indicators for the Volkswagen brand, environmental impact has been reduced by 25.3%, with energy consumption down by 24.7%; CO2 emissions by 29.1%, waste production by as much as 46.5%; water consumption by 18.2%; and solvent emissions by 8.2% between 2010 and the end of 2015. These figures are determined per vehicle or component produced.

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VW to pay California additional $86M in civil penalties over defeat device

July 08, 2016

California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced that, in addition to the historic $14.7-billion settlement with Volkswagen announced last week (earlier post), the company will also pay California $86 million in civil penalties as part of a second partial settlement over the company’s use of “defeat devices” to evade emissions testing in its diesel vehicles. California will secure $1.18 billion from the initial $14.7-billion settlement.

Volkswagen will also agree to significant injunctive terms to deter future misconduct, including a new requirement that Volkswagen contractors and employees report to the California Attorney General’s office any request for or use of “defeat devices.” The agreement, which is subject to court approval, represents the largest amount of money recovered by the state of California from an automaker and resolves certain aspects of the California Attorney General’s claims against Volkswagen under California’s Unfair Competition Law as well as the Dodd-Frank Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010.

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Volkswagen and LG agree on joint development of next-gen connected car platform

July 06, 2016

The Volkswagen Group and LG Electronics have signed a memorandum of understanding on joint research and development of a next-generation connected car service platform.

Going forward, the two companies will work together on Volkswagen’s Cross Over Platform, which is aimed at enhanced vehicle connectivity and convenience. Using cloud technology, it will offer drivers seamless digital access to extensive features such as smart home and location-based services. Over the coming years, the two companies will be concentrating on:

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Renault-Nissan Alliance delivers €4.3B synergy target early; autonomous drive and connectivity expected to deliver major savings

Renault-Nissan Alliance generated €4.3 billion (US$4.8 billion) in synergies in 2015, one year ahead of schedule and an increase of 13% from 2014. Purchasing, engineering and manufacturing were the main contributors.

The Common Module Family and cross-production continue to reduce costs, while the development of technologies including autonomous drive and vehicle connectivity is expected to generate major savings moving forward. With the convergence, the Alliance expects to generate at least €5.5 billion (US$6.1 billion) in synergies in 2018

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Volkswagen & Audi to pay >$14.7B in US to settle 2.0L diesel emissions case; $2B of that to promote ZEVs

June 28, 2016

Under a class action settlement agreement filed today (earlier post), Volkswagen and Audi in the US will pay more than $14.7 billion to settle complaints arising from its cheating on emissions from its 2.0-liter diesel engines. The class settlement creates a funding pool of up to $10.033 billion for affected consumers; companion settlements with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (ARB) call for an additional $4.7 billion for environmental impact. (California’’s share represents one-quarter of the total national mitigation funding of $4.7 billion dollars.)

The class-wide settlement in the Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation will provide owners and lessees of Volkswagen and Audi 2.0-liter diesel vehicles substantial compensation through buybacks and lease terminations, government-approved emissions modifications, and cash payments, while fixing or removing these polluting vehicles from the road.

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Report finds US automakers remain profitable under future CAFE standards even with fuel price fluctuation

Even with wide-ranging unpredictable gas prices, US automakers will remain profitable and suppliers will benefit under existing national fuel economy standards slated to be in place until 2025, according to a new economic analysis brief prepared by independent automotive industry analysts, commissioned by the nonprofit group Ceres. The brief is a summary for investors and policy analysts of a larger study that will be available from Ceres in August 2016.

The study, Economic Implications of the Current National Program vs. a Weakened National Program in 2022-2025 for Detroit Three Automakers and Tier One Suppliers, was released shortly before federal agencies are expected to release a new technical assessment report regarding a midterm review of light-duty fuel-efficiency and carbon emissions standards.

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Tesla makes ~$2.8B all-stock offer to acquire SolarCity

June 21, 2016

Tesla Motora has made an all-stock offer worth approximately $2.8B to acquire all of the outstanding shares of solar energy provider SolarCity. Subject to completing due diligence, Tesla is proposing an exchange ratio of 0.122x to 0.131x shares of Tesla common stock for each share of SolarCity common stock. This proposal represents a value of $26.50 to $28.50 per share, or a premium of approximately 21% to 30% over the recent closing price of SolarCity’s shares.

Tesla Chairman and CEO Elon Musk is also Chairman of SolarCity; Antonio Gracias, CEO of investor Valor Management Corp., is on both Tesla and SolarCity boards. Musk and Gracias recused themselves from voting on the proposed acquisition at the Tesla Board meeting, and will recuse themselves from the SolarCity Board meeting which will consider the offer.

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BMW Group introduces MINI and Rolls Royce centenary concepts; individual mobility based on megatrends and projections

June 16, 2016

To mark its centenary year in 2016, the BMW Group is looking further ahead than usual with a series of Vision Vehicles designed to anticipate and respond to future mobility needs. At its Munich Centenary Event on 7 March, the automaker introduced the BMW VISION NEXT 100. (Earlier post.)

BMW now has introduced two more Vision concepts: the MINI VISION NEXT 100 and the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100. A fourth Vision Vehicle, by BMW Motorrad, will make its premiere on 16 October in Los Angeles, completing the BMW Group’s brand quartet of far-forward looking concepts.

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Ford Sustainability Report details pilot program in South Africa to deliver health care, education

June 15, 2016

A new Ford Motor Company pilot program aims to enhance mobility health services in rural areas of South Africa and Nigeria.

Ford Project Better World brings together multiple organizations such as World Vision South Africa, and social entrepreneurs to deliver health education, medication, nutrition and basic services to thousands of underserved people in remote areas. The services will be accessed using enhanced mobility and connectivity technologies from Ford vehicles. Ford Project Better World is detailed in the automaker’s 17th annual Sustainability Report, released today.

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Daimler Trucks pushing forward with platform strategy for chassis and electrics/electronics

June 08, 2016

Daimler Trucks is systematically expanding its strategic pillars of intelligent platforms and modules beyond the existing modular drivetrain components. The platforms for drivetrain components for medium- and heavy-duty engines and for automated transmissions are already successful in the market, and account for about 50% of a truck’s value added.

Daimler Trucks is now introducing multi-brand platforms for other truck module groups, including uniform electrics/electronics architecture (E/E), chassis and cab. Joint development and purchasing will be carried out wherever there is no impact on customer perception and brand differentiation.

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Daimler establishes Mercedes-Benz Energy GmbH for stationary energy storage

June 02, 2016

Daimler AG has established Mercedes-Benz Energy GmbH to take over the development and global sale of Mercedes-Benz brand stationary energy storage (earlier post) with immediate effect. The production of the systems remains the core expertise of Daimler’s other wholly owned subsidiary, Deutsche ACCUMOTIVE GmbH & Co. KG.

Daimler AG, with ACCUMOTIVE, began delivery of domestic storage solutions for the German market in April. Work also started on setting up the first large-scale industrial projects in the field of primary regulation energy. With the establishment of Mercedes-Benz Energy GmbH based in Kamenz/Saxony, the company is now taking another step toward expanding its stationary storage business. International expansion and collaboration with further partners are particularly high on the agenda, Daimler said.

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Toyota and KDDI jointly to establish global communications platform to support car connectivity

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) and KDDI Corporation (KDDI) are partnering to establish a global communications platform to enable the operation of communications networks throughout the world to support car connectivity.

Toyota aims to bring greater connectivity to its vehicles throughout the world. To do so, a broad-reaching, robust communications platform and the use of a uniform data communications module (DCM) will be needed. Toyota will develop such globally uniform DCMs by 2019. DCMs will be the standard equipment in nearly all new Toyota and Lexus vehicles sold in Japan and the US by 2020, and will gradually be installed in a range of new vehicles in other major markets over time.

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Volkswagen Group and ride-hailing provider Gett to expand on-demand mobility solutions & activities in Europe

One week after the Volkswagen Group announced a US$300-million strategic investment in global ride hailing provider Gett (earlier post), the two companies laid the cornerstone for their strategic partnership at a kick-off event at the DRIVE Volkswagen Group Forum in Berlin. For the Volkswagen Group, this marked its first substantial step in the transition from car making to structuring and providing integrated, sustainable mobility.

Chairman of the Board of Management Matthias Müller stressed the importance of the new strategic partnership, stating that ride hailing will be at the center of the Group’s new mobility on-demand business, which the company is building up as the second pillar alongside the classic automobile business. “Our investment in Gett gives us instant access to a service from which people all over the world can benefit.”

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BMW i Ventures makes strategic investment in Scoop; carpooling mobile application

May 25, 2016

BMW i Ventures announced a strategic investment in Scoop Technologies, Inc., creators of the carpooling mobile application “Scoop”. Since launching in August 2015, Scoop commuters have taken more than 40,000 trips, offsetting nearly 500,000 in commute mileage for riders. Originally launched in Pleasanton, CA, Scoop now also operates commute trips into San Francisco, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and North San Jose.

The Scoop app automatically connects co-workers and neighbors who live in the same neighborhood and travel to the same work area. Commuters select each trip one way at a time and choose whether to ride or drive. Scoop’s algorithm matches them to a carpool with neighbors and co-workers for the most efficient commute.

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Volkswagen Group makes $300M strategic investment in on-demand mobility provider Gett

Volkswagen has made a US$300-million strategic investment in Gett (formerly GetTaxi), a global provider of ride-hailing services. Present in more than 60 cities worldwide, Gett is one of the faster-growing ride-hailing providers sprouting up in the mobility-on-demand area. The partnership between Volkswagen Group and Gett is based on a joint growth strategy to expand on-demand mobility services in Europe.

Innovative, digitally integrated services covering all aspects of mobility promise very strong growth momentum and earnings opportunities in the coming years. Other OEMs, such as GM with its $500M investment in Lyft, Ford with its $182-million stake in Pivotal, or Toyota with its new investment in Uber (earlier post), have begun expanding their presence in the mobility services sector sector. The Volkswagen Group says that the ride-hailing market represents the greatest market potential in on-demand mobility, while creating the technological platform for developing tomorrow‘s mobility business models.

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GM’s Maven car-sharing reaches 1M miles driven in <4 months; Boston, Chicago, and DC joining lineup

May 19, 2016

In less than four months, Maven, General Motors’ personal mobility brand (earlier post), has grown to five markets: New York City, Ann Arbor, Mich., and is adding Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Maven members have driven more than one million miles.

In Chicago, the Maven City car sharing program is now in operation, with pricing starting at $8 an hour including insurance and fuel. Registered customers use the Maven app to reserve one of 30 vehicles at more than 15 sites throughout the city.

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Volkswagen takes stake in German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI); autonomous driving and the digital factory

May 14, 2016

Volkswagen is taking a stake in the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), the world’s largest non-profit scientific institution specializing in artificial intelligence (AI). By acquiring participating in DFKI, the Volkswagen Group is reinforcing its research activities in the field of future-oriented digital technologies.

In addition to research in artificial intelligence, DFKI specializes in the fields of robotics, Industry 4.0 and driver assistance systems. In a joint project, Volkswagen and DFKI have started further to develop the software framework ROCK (Robotics Construction Kit) to allow direct, close cooperation between human beings and robots. The system was presented in a near-production scenario at the Volkswagen AG IT Symposium 2016.

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Nissan taking 34% stake in Mitsubishi Motors for $2.17 billion; expanding the Alliance model at a good discount

May 12, 2016

Following an MMC share issue, Nissan Motor will take a 34% equity stake in Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) for ¥237 billion (US$2.17 billion). The two companies have signed a Basic Agreement to form a strategic alliance, extending an existing partnership under which the two companies have jointly collaborated for the past five years.

The investment and alliance comes as MMC struggles to deal with the aftermath of its recently revealed fuel consumption testing cheating in Japan with mini-cars and other models. Nissan was the one which first brought the discrepancies in minicar testing to light; MMC produces minicar models for Nissan in Japan. (Earlier post.)

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Tesla affirming 80-90K deliveries this year; advancing 500K unit build plan by 2 years to 2018; capex to be up 50% this year

May 05, 2016

In its Q1 2016 letter to shareholders, Tesla affirmed its plan to deliver 80,000 to 90,000 vehicles in 2016. Given the tsunami of reservations for the Model 3 (more than 325,000 according to the letter), Tesla also said it is advancing its 500,000 total unit build plan (combined for Model S, Model X, and Model 3) to 2018—two years earlier than previously planned.

The company noted that increasing production 5x over the next two years would be “challenging and will likely require some additional capital.” Given the plans to advance the total unit build plan, Tesla said it expects capital expenditures will be about 50% higher than the previous guidance of $1.5 billion for 2016. “Naturally, this will impact our ability to be net cash flow positive for the year.

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Volkswagen again reaffirms 20 new PEV models coming across the Group; MEB development

April 29, 2016

In his remarks at the Annual Media Conference, where the Group presented 2015 results, Matthias Müller, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, said that 2016 will be a year of transition for Volkswagen, and will also see the accelerated transformation of the company.

The Group is currently working on the further development of its strategy, to be presented mid-year. This will focus on the major fields of future importance in the industry—such as digitalization, networking, e-mobility and new mobility services. Although Volkswagen is already addressing all of these fields, it will in the future do so “in a much more systematic and focused manner. Our Strategy 2025 will provide the framework for this," Müller said.

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Volkswagen AG decides not to release interim report on diesel emissions investigation; cites current negotiations with US authorities

April 23, 2016

On Friday, Volkswagen AG announced that the Supervisory Board and the Management Board of Volkswagen have decided not to release the interim results of the investigation into the diesel emission cheating as originally planned. Disclosure of interim results at this point in time would “present unacceptable risks for Volkswagen” they company said and, therefore, cannot take place now.

The decision was based on the assessment of the US law firms retained by Volkswagen (Sullivan & Cromwell and Jones Day), which have both strongly advised against such a disclosure independently of each other.

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Volvo Cars sets target of 1M electrified cars sold by 2025

April 21, 2016

Volvo Cars aims to sell a total of up to one million electrified cars by 2025. The Swedish company plans to achieve this aim by offering at least two hybrid versions of every model in its range and releasing the first all-electric car in 2019.

Volvo Cars has been readying itself for the emergence of electrified vehicles for the last five years. It has developed two all new vehicle architectures for larger and smaller cars—Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) (earlier post) and Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) (earlier post)—that can incorporate either hybrid or fully electric car technology.

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Honda introduces new automotive assembly line system: Assembly Revolution Cell Line; first implementation in Thailand

Honda Motor Co. has deployed the first mass-production automobile assembly line with a main line that incorporates a flowing cell production system. Honda has named this the Assembly Revolution Cell (ARC) Line and introduced it in Honda’s new Prachinburi Plant in Thailand that became operational in March 2016.

The newly-developed ARC Line differs significantly from a conventional line production system and was developed by incorporating flowing cell production-style production units in the main line. In production on a conventional line—the foundation of automobile production to date—each line worker (production associate) takes charge of a single process and installs parts to vehicle bodies flowing on a conveyor. In cell production, by contrast, one production associate takes charge of a broader range of production processes and installs multiple parts.

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Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg opens competence center for manufacturing technology and innovation for new production technologies

Volkswagen has opened a competence center for technology and innovation and its Wolfsburg plant. Volkswagen employees will develop and test new production technologies on-site in the center’s near-production environment.

The innovation center has six sections: digital way; human-machine interaction (HMI); material flow and material handling; body construction; assembly; and ergonomics. Going forward, experts will be able to test their developments in continuous operation for a three- to six-month period and at the same time train employees on site in how to use the new technologies.

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Mitsubishi Motors manipulated fuel economy testing on 625K mini-cars sold in Japan; other models affected

April 20, 2016

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) has admitted to manipulating fuel consumption testing data for some 625,000 mini-cars it manufactured for sale in Japan by itself and partner Nissan. Nissan was the one who identified the discrepancies.

In a statement, MMC said that with respect to the fuel consumption testing data submitted to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), MMC conducted testing improperly to present better fuel consumption rates than the actual rates; and that the testing method was also different from the one required by Japanese law.

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Ford launches 10-year project to transform Dearborn campus; sustainability in the built environment; Living Building Challenge

April 12, 2016

Ford Motor Company unveiled its plans to transform its Dearborn facilities into a modern, green and high-tech campus to foster innovation and help drive the company’s transition to an auto and a mobility company. The 10-year transformation of the company’s more than 60-year-old Dearborn facilities will colocate 30,000 employees from 70 buildings today into primarily two locations—a product campus and a world headquarters campus. More than 7.5 million square feet of work space will be rebuilt and upgraded into even more technology-enabled and connected facilities.

The transformation will integrate sustainability and innovation throughout the built environment, including a new Sustainability Showcase building on the product campus, which will aim to meet Living Building Challenge standards, the highest level of sustainability certification today. To be certified under the Challenge, projects must meet a series of ambitious performance requirements over a minimum of 12 months of continuous occupancy. Among the key criteria is that 100% of the building’s energy needs on a net annual basis must be supplied by on-site renewable energy. No combustion is allowed.

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BMW Group Launches car sharing service “ReachNow” in Seattle

April 08, 2016

Following a successful pilot program, BMW Group has launched ReachNow, a free-floating premium car sharing service, in Seattle. In addition to debuting the ReachNow car sharing service in Seattle, BMW Group Member of the Board Peter Schwarzenbauer also announced the establishment of ReachNow’s North American headquarters in the city and its plans to expand the service to three additional cities in 2016—with the intention of servicing 10 North American cities.

ReachNow is designed to provide drivers with an experience that is as convenient as owning a car. The user experience is premium, with fast registration and an almost instant approval process—in two minutes or less. The initial fleet of 370 vehicles, including the BMW i3, the BMW 3 Series and the MINI Cooper, will be located on the streets of Seattle for immediate use. The service will expand to include Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in the next quarter.

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Toyota Research Institute establishes 3rd US facility; AI, materials science and robotics research at U-M

Toyota will establish its third Toyota Research Institute (TRI) facility in the US. The new facility will be located in Ann Arbor, near the University of Michigan (U-M) campus where it will fund research in artificial intelligence, robotics and materials science. Joining the TRI facility established last January in Palo Alto working with Stanford (TRI-PAL), and in Cambridge working with MIT (TRI-CAM), TRI-ANN is scheduled to open in June.

Although the focus of each of the three strategically located facilities will be broad, each will feature a different core discipline. TRI-ANN will focus primarily on fully autonomous (chauffeured) driving. TRI-PAL will work on what may be termed “guardian angel” driving, where the driver is always engaged but the vehicle assists as needed. TRI-CAM will dedicate a large portion of its work to simulation and deep learning.

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Tesla Model 3 reservations top 325,000; Tesla projects average price ~$43,000

April 07, 2016

Tesla Motors reported that Model 3 reservations have topped 325,000, corresponding to about $14 billion in implied future sales (average unit price ~$43,000). Base price is $35,000.

Model 3 reservations secure the approximate priority within the buyer’s region for taking delivery of the desired Model 3. The reservation ($1,000) is effective when it is placed, and when Tesla receives payment. (Now representing more than $325 million of no-interest cash that can be applied to whatever Tesla needs.)

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Hyundai Motor Group outlines roadmap for connected car development

April 05, 2016

Hyundai Motor Group has outlined its roadmap for connected car development. The Group will collaborate with leading global IT and networking companies to develop its “Hyper-connected and Intelligent Car” concept.

The roadmap outlines four main service fields that will help develop smarter, more intelligent cars that can receive and utilize data faster than before. The mid- to long- term development focus includes a range of key features, including: smart remote maintenance services; autonomous driving; Smart Traffic; and a connected Mobility Hub that provides security and data management for all elements of the connected car.

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Toyota launches new company to focus on software- and data-driven mobility

April 04, 2016

Toyota is launching a new company—Toyota Connected, Inc.—to significantly expand the company’s capabilities in the fields of data management and data services development. The new company will serve as a data science hub for Toyota’s global operations and will support a broad range of consumer-, business- and government- facing initiatives.

The company intends to leverage the power of data science through Microsoft’s Azure cloud technology to develop predictive, contextual, and intuitive services that help to humanize the driving experience while pushing the technology into the background.

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Borgward picks SAP, LG and Bosch as strategic partners in electric mobility; PHEVs and EVs

April 01, 2016

Borgward Group AG, the reincarnation of the German automaker that ceased operations in 1961, has formed a long-term strategic partnership with the SAP, LG Electronics and Robert Bosch GmbH to support its plan to launch sales in Europe with plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles. The agreements govern the development and delivery of various parts and components, particularly those related to electric mobility.

The strategic partnership with LG Electronics encompasses the joint development and delivery of high-performance batteries for plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles. Moreover, Borgward and LG will jointly develop electric vehicle components such as electric air-conditioning compressors.

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Tesla unveils Model 3; delivery by end of 2017; already 115,000 reservations placed

March 31, 2016

Tesla Chairman and CEO Elon Musk unveiled the long-anticipated Model 3 as the culminating step—a mass-market, affordable electric vehicle—in Tesla’s “Master Plan” to accelerate the transition to sustainable transport.

Musk said that the Model 3 will start at $35,000; achieve 5-Star ratings in every safety category; accelerate from 0-60 mph in less than six seconds; and have at least a 215-mile (346 km) EPA range rating. Musk said that those were minimum numbers, and that Tesla hoped to exceed them. Deliveries will begin by the end of next year. Musk also noted that more than 115,000 reservations (with a refundable $1,000) have already been placed worldwide for the Model 3.

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Opel outlines steps in engineering initiative for WLTP-based fuel consumption numbers and improved NOx reduction

March 29, 2016

Opel has outlined the details of its engineering initiative with respect to fuel consumption numbers and improved NOx reductions as announced last December. (Earlier post.)

Starting with the new Opel Astra from June 2016 onwards, and in addition to the official fuel consumption and CO2 information, Opel will publish fuel consumption numbers reflecting different driving behavior recorded under the WLTP test cycle. In addition, Opel will implement an initiative to improve NOx emissions on SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) diesel applications in new vehicles from August onwards.

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GM 5-year growth strategy for China; 10 New Energy Vehicles in the coming mix

March 21, 2016

Between now and 2020, GM and its joint ventures plan to roll out more than 60 new and refreshed models in China, including 13 this year, with a strong focus on SUVs, MPVs and luxury vehicles.

During the period, GM and its joint ventures will roll out more than 10 new energy vehicles under the Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac and Baojun brands. They will include the Shanghai-built Cadillac CT6 Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (earlier post), which will go on sale later this year.

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BMW rolls out new strategy, focusing on further advances in e-mobility and automated driving; Project i 2.0

March 16, 2016

BMW has revealed initial details of its new strategy, “Strategy NUMBER ONE > NEXT”. The BMW Group sees digitalization as an opportunity to make mobile life simpler, safer and more convenient, thereby capturing new customer groups. In the coming years, the Group will focus on broadening its technological expertise, expanding the scope of digital connectivity between people, vehicles and services and actively strengthening sustainable mobility.

BMW’s technology focus will therefore be on consistently achieving further advances in the fields of electric mobility and automated driving. Under the banner of BMW iNEXT, the BMW Group will bring new forms of automated driving and digital connectivity together with a new generation of electric mobility, lightweight construction and interior design. BMW said that it would usher in the next decade with a new BMW i model.

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Audi develops new generation of tools; bionic shapes and composite construction for material, weight and energy savings

March 11, 2016

Audi Toolmaking has developed a new, highly efficient generation of tools that is up to 20% lighter and 10% more stable than the previous generation. This makes the processing of sheet metal in the presses faster and more precise.The new tools are already being used in the press shop in Ingolstadt.

The new tools are up to eight tons lighter than conventional tools, which are made completely of cast iron and weigh up to 45 tons. The lower weight is primarily due to an ideal mix and distribution of the materials cast iron, aluminum and plastics. The composite construction concept is a feature of Audi’s lightweight construction in automobile engineering and is now used also in toolmaking.

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Ford forms new Smart Mobility subsidiary to develop and to invest in mobility services

Ford Motor Company has created a new subsidiary—Ford Smart Mobility LLC—to design, build, grow and invest in emerging mobility services. The new subsidiary will have operations in Palo Alto, California, and Dearborn, Michigan. Jim Hackett, former Steelcase vice chairman and CEO, is leaving his position on the Ford Board of Directors to serve as chairman of the new subsidiary.

Ford Smart Mobility LLC is part of Ford’s expanded business model to be both an auto and a mobility company. (Earlier post.) The company is continuing to focus on and investing in its core business—designing, manufacturing, marketing, financing and servicing cars, SUVs, trucks and electrified vehicles. At the same time, Ford aggressively is pursuing emerging opportunities through Ford Smart Mobility, the company’s plan to be a leader in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and data and analytics. (Earlier post.)

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Juniper forecasts HEV & EV sales to total 17M by 2020; Tesla ranked leading EV manufacturer

March 08, 2016

A new study from Juniper Research forecasts that nearly 17 million hybrid and electric vehicles will be on the road by 2020, up from an estimated 12 million last year.

Juniper believes that stakeholders primarily need to establish the viability and desirability of electric vehicles with consumers, and adopt an aggressive market strategy including the rolling out of a wide-scale public charging infrastructure that is seen as both ongoing and committed; improving vehicle battery life and range per charge; and conducting effective consumer education campaigns, with attractive incentives to change.

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BMW looks ahead to its next century with VISION NEXT 100; Alive Geometry; 4D Printing; Companion

March 07, 2016

To mark its centenary year in 2016, the BMW Group is looking further ahead than usual with a series of Vision Vehicles designed to anticipate and respond to future mobility needs. In developing the BMW VISION NEXT 100, the company said that its main objective was to create not an anonymous vehicle but one that is highly personalized and fully geared to meet the driver’s every need in an effort to retain the emotional connection between a BMW and its driver.

For the BMW VISION NEXT 100, the design team specifically took into account many of the trends and technological developments that will be most relevant to BMW in differentiating its products over the coming decades, including autonomous driving. (Absent from the presentation was a discussion of powertrain technology.)

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Ford only automaker on Ethisphere Institute’s list of 2016 World’s Most Ethical Companies

Ford Motor Company is the only automaker named a 2016 World’s Most Ethical Company by Ethisphere Institute today; this marks the seventh consecutive year Ethisphere Institute has named Ford a World’s Most Ethical Company. Engine manufacturer Cummins, Inc. and Tier 1 supplier Delphi Automotive also made the 2016 list.

The framework of Ethisphere’s proprietary rating system, the corporate Ethics Quotient (EQTM), consists of a series of multiple-choice questions that capture a company’s performance. Ethisphere says that the information collected is not intended to cover all aspects of corporate governance, risk, sustainability, social responsibility, compliance or ethics, but rather is a comprehensive sampling of definitive criteria of core competencies.

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Fuji Heavy outlines next-gen “Subaru Global Platform”; improved performance, adaptable to electrification

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI), the manufacturer of Subaru automobiles, outlined the Subaru Global Platform which is currently under development as the architecture to be used for all the company’s next-generation vehicles.

The next-generation platform looks ahead to 2025. The main features include Subaru’s biggest-ever enhancement in overall vehicle performance, with an emotionally engaging “dynamic feel” that goes beyond high performance; the highest levels of safety; and a single design concept for development of all models, adaptable to electrification in the future.

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Toyota restructures; product-based instead of function-based

March 02, 2016

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) is restructuring to streamline work processes on a company-wide basis. The changes will take effect starting this April.

The fundamental goal is to create a company built around product-based organizations, rather than function-based organizations. Doing so will enable the dissolution of barriers within the company and eliminate unnecessary coordination work, thus helping to ensure that all team members’ efforts will be leveraged toward the purpose of making ever-better cars and developing a talented workforce.

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Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility vision builds on electrification, autonomous drive and vehicle intelligence

March 01, 2016

Nissan outlined its Intelligent Mobility vision at the Geneva International Motor Show. Created to guide the Nissan product evolution, Intelligent Mobility will anchor company decisions around how cars are powered, how cars are driven, and how cars integrate into society, all while staying focused on creating more enjoyable driving experiences.

At the core of Nissan Intelligent Mobility are three areas of innovation: Nissan Intelligent Driving, spearheaded by Nissan’s autonomous drive technology, Piloted Drive; Nissan Intelligent Power, spearheaded by electric vehicles (EV); and Nissan Intelligent Integration—new links between vehicles and society.

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TriboForm Engineering launches tribology simulation software for metal-forming processes; Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Škoda launch customers

February 28, 2016

TriboForm Engineering, a spin-out from the University of Twente in The Netherlands, introduced its TriboForm software at Triboforum 2016, a triennial industry conference. Tribology is a branch of mechanical engineering that describes the contact between materials under different conditions. In metal-forming processes, tribology plays a key role through the relative motion and interaction between the applied sheet material, the lubrication and the tooling.

TriboForm is a software solution for the simulation of friction and lubrication in metal-forming processes. With unique physically-based simulation technology, TriboForm enables its users accurately to simulate friction and lubrication conditions quickly and then directly integrate the results in metal-forming simulations.

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Honda targeting 2/3 of unit sales from PHEVs, HEVs and ZEVs by ~2030; PHEVs the core of electrification

February 24, 2016

At a press event in Tokyo to lay out his future vision and direction for the company, Honda Motor President & CEO Takahiro Hachigo said that the company will strive to make two-thirds of its overall unit sales from plug-in hybrid/hybrid vehicles and zero-emissions vehicles such as fuel cell vehicles and battery EVs by around 2030.

Hachigo said that Honda will will position plug-in hybrids at the core of electrification in the future and will introduce an all-new plug-in hybrid model in North America by 2018. After that, Honda will make a plug-in hybrid type available for the major models and increase the number of models sequentially.

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HRL laboratories team achieves breakthrough in dynamically variable negative stiffness structures

February 22, 2016

Researchers in the HRL Laboratories Sensors and Materials Laboratory have developed an active variable stiffness vibration isolator capable of 100x stiffness changes and millisecond actuation times, independent of the static load. According to Principal Investigator Christopher Churchill, “This performance surpasses existing mechanisms by at least 20 times in either speed or useful stiffness change.”

This isolator has broad applications for makers of automobiles, aircraft, watercraft, rotorcraft, and robotics. An open-access paper on their work is published in the journal Science Advances.

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Ford and Pivotal collaborate on software platform for FordPass

February 08, 2016

Ford is working with platform-as-a-service (PaaS) provider Pivotal to build a software platform supporting FordPass, announced at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) (earlier post), that will enable the company to innovate rapidly and to iterate on new applications and mobility solutions for consumers.

FordPass, described as a free digital, physical and personal platform, is an ambitious new customer service product that incorporates software services and apps, human agents and storefronts and is intended to support the company’s strategic transformation into an auto and a mobility company. FordPass features four benefits for members: Marketplace includes mobility services such as parking and sharing; FordGuides help consumers move more efficiently; Appreciation, where members are recognized for their loyalty; and FordHubs, where consumers can experience Ford’s latest innovations.

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GM creates dedicated team to drive autonomous and advanced technology vehicle development

January 29, 2016

Effective 1 February, GM is creating a combined, dedicated Autonomous and Technology Vehicle Development Team. This team is tasked with accelerating the company’s technical capabilities and create the future direction of GM vehicle programs in the autonomous and “technologically advanced” vehicle space.

Doug Parks, currently vice president, Global Product Programs, is now Vice President, Autonomous Technology and Vehicle Execution. He will lead the team responsible for creating and executing autonomously driven vehicles in addition to advanced technology vehicle programs.

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Daihatsu to become wholly-owned subsidiary of Toyota Motor; strengthening small car operations

Toyota Motor Corporation and its subsidiary Daihatsu Motor Co., Ltd. (Daihatsu) have reached an agreement whereby Daihatsu will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Toyota by way of a share exchange (expected to be completed in August 2016). Under the agreement, 0.26 shares of common stock of Toyota will be allotted and delivered for each share of common stock of Daihatsu. Toyota currently owns 51.2% of the small-car specialist.

Under a new joint strategy, Toyota and Daihatsu intend to combine their bases of operations in addition to sharing their respective areas of proficiency and technical expertise. This, the two companies said, will leverage the advantages of both brands, allowing the development of attractive products that are competitive on a global basis. The Daihatsu brand, said Toyota President Akio Toyoda, will have a position equal to that of Toyota and Lexus.

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Volkswagen Group confirms 20 more EV or PHEV models by 2020; Müller says Europe needs to lead with electric mobility

January 26, 2016

At the Volkswagen Group’s New Year reception in Brussels, Group CEO Matthias Müller said that the Group would concentrate on sustainability more than ever before—encompassing products, strategy and management. Müller will present the new Strategy 2025 for the Group this summer.

Among other things, the company’s brands will introduce about 20 additional models with electrical or plug-in hybrid drive trains by 2020, the CEO confirmed. (That number had been put forth by former CEO Martin Winterkorn at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2015. Earlier post.) The Volkswagen Group comprises twelve brands from seven European countries.

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GM launches Maven car sharing brand

January 21, 2016

General Motors announced a new car-sharing service it calls Maven, which combines and expands the company’s multiple programs under a single brand.

Maven’s mission is to give customers access to highly personalized, on-demand mobility services. The global Maven team includes more than 40 dedicated employees from the connected car technology industry as well as ride- and car-sharing professionals from Google, Zipcar and Sidecar. Earlier this month, GM announced a $500-million investment in Lyft to help the company continue the rapid growth of its successful ridesharing service. (Earlier post.)

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Volkswagen brand restructures development organization; distinct BEV group

January 20, 2016

The Volkswagen brand has restructured its vehicle development organization. The new organization bundles competencies into four series groups containing several model series: small; compact; mid- and full-size; and BEV.

The brand’s management intends for cross-functional collaboration to be strengthened as a result—from the concept to the end of the life-cycle for any given model, the responsibility for technology, quality, cost and deadline compliance, and the responsibility for cost-effectiveness, now clearly lie in one hand for the first time. Until now, these responsibilities were distributed across different divisions and differentiated into individual models groups as well.

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Ford launches ambitious FordPass product as element in its strategic transformation to mobility company

January 11, 2016

At the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), Ford announced FordPass—an ambitious new customer service product that incorporates software services and apps, human agents and storefronts—intended to support the company’s strategic transformation into an auto and a mobility company. With FordPass, Ford says it aims to do for car owners what iTunes did for music fans, especially in terms of reimaging the relationship between automaker and consumer.

FordPass, which officially launches in April, offers free membership, regardless of whether or not the user is a current Ford customer. (Ford is hoping that by extending its services to non-customers, it can enlarge its pool of potential buyers.) Benefits include a Marketplace offering mobility services, some of which Ford has been helping to develop through its Smart Mobility initiatives over the past few years; FordGuides, who will provide over-the-phone or face-to-face assistance on mobility issues or questions; Appreciation, for membership loyalty; and FordHubs, where members can go to experience the company’s latest innovations.

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Audi introducing Q2, new Q5 in 2016, confirms electric SUV for 2018; investing more than €3B in 2016

December 28, 2015

Audi management said that the company will continue with its high levels of investment in 2016, with planned capital expenditure to amount to more than €3 billion (US$3.3 billion). Half of the planned investment will take place at the Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm sites in Germany.

Audi plans to enter a new market segment with the Audi Q2 model next year, and will also present the the successor of the Audi Q5. In 2018, Audi will launch its first large‑series battery‑electric vehicle, based on the Audi e-tron Quattro concept. (Earlier post.) By 2020, Audi will expand its model range to include 60 different automobiles. “A significant proportion of our investment is naturally in the field of alternative drive systems,” said Audi CEO Rupert Stadler.

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Volkswagen AG provides details on investigations into NOx cheating; origin and fixes; new strategic direction

December 10, 2015

At a press conference in Germany today, Volkswagen Group executives provided details on the status of its investigation—which is being coordinated by a special committee of the Supervisory Board—into the diesel emissions debacle. (Earlier post.)

Approximately 450 internal and external experts are involved in the investigations, which are being conducted in two phases. An internal review, being conducted by a task force of experts from various Group companies with a clearly defined mandate and a deadline, is focused on the mandate to Group Audit by the Supervisory Board and the Management Board to investigate relevant processes, reporting and monitoring systems, and the associated infrastructure.

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Volkswagen Group to cut overall spending by ~€1B next year, but to boost investments in electric drive tech by €100M

November 20, 2015

The Volkswagen Group is cutting its planned investments in its Automotive Division for next year as it girds itself for the financial impacts of responding to the diesel emission issue. The Group will cap planned investments in property, plant and equipment, investment property and intangible assets, excluding capitalized development costs (capex) at approximately €12 billion next year—a cut of about €1 billion from earlier plans.

At the same time, however, the Group intends to increase spending on alternative drive technologies by approximately €100 million next year, with the core focus to be on rapidly developing electric drive systems for the for the Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Audi and Porsche brands, according to Matthias Müller, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG.

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VW: 430,046 MY 2016 vehicles in Europe affected by “CO2 issue”

November 14, 2015

On 3 November, Volkswagen AG announced that during the course of its internal investigation into the diesel emission cheating issue, it had uncovered “irregularities” when determining type-approval CO2 levels, affecting around 800,000 vehicles from the Group. (Earlier post.)

Volkswagen AG has now announced that of those affected vehicles, 430,046 units are MY 2016 vehicles from the Volkswagen (281,617 units, 65.5%); Škoda (83,262 units, 19.4%); SEAT (32,161 units, 7.5%); VW Commercial (17,253 units, 4%); and Audi (15,733 units, 3.7%) brands.

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Daimler and partners deploying world’s largest 2nd-life EV battery storage unit for grid support

November 04, 2015

The world’s largest 2nd-life battery storage unit will soon go into operation in the Westphalian town of Lünen. A joint venture between Daimler AG, The Mobility House AG and GETEC, it will be operated from the beginning of next year at the site of REMONDIS SE and marketed in the German electricity balancing sector. The stationary storage unit, with a total capacity of 13 MWh, uses second-life battery systems from the second generation of smart electric drive vehicles.

Under the banner of “E-Mobility thought to the end,” Daimler, The Mobility House, GETEC and REMONDIS are mapping out the entire battery value creation and recycling chain with their project in Lünen. The process demonstrably improves the overall environmental performance of electric vehicles, thereby helping to make e-mobility more economically efficient.

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Tesla Q3 revenue up 10% year-on-year, losses widen; robust production outlook

Tesla Motors reported total GAAP revenue of $937 million in Q3 2015, up 10% from the prior year. Total Q3 non-GAAP revenue was $1.24 billion for the quarter, up nearly 33% from a year ago. Losses for the quarter widened to $230 million, an increase over the $75-million loss in Q3 2014.

Tesla delivered 11,603 vehicles in Q3, slightly above its earlier guidance. GAAP automotive revenue in Q3 was $853 million, up 6.7%. For its non-GAAP accounting, Tesla recorded a net increase of $307 million in deferred revenue as a result of lease accounting, bringing the figure the company calculates as its non-GAAP automotive revenue to $1.16 billion.

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