[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.]
Tesla Motors posts first quarterly profit
May 09, 2013
Tesla reached profitability in the first quarter of 2013 for the first time in its ten year history. According to the shareholder letter, the company exceeded its targets for deliveries; significantly expanded gross margin; and improved execution throughout the company.
Excluding non-cash warrant and stock option items, the company generated a profit of $15 million. Including those factors, its GAAP profit was $11 million. The company said it achieved profitability despite the benefit of a one-time accounting gain related to the US Department of Energy (DOE) warrant.
EV maker CODA files for Chap. 11 bankruptcy; restructuring business around energy storage
May 01, 2013
Struggling electric vehicle manufacturer CODA Holdings, Inc. has filed a voluntary petition under Chapter 11 in the US Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Petition Nº 13-11153) to enable the reorganization of its business solely around energy storage based on its Li-ion battery systems. This process is intended to enable CODA to complete a sale, to confirm a plan and to emerge from bankruptcy. CODA expects the sale process to take 45 days to complete.
FCO MA CODA Holdings LLC, an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group, is leading a consortium of lenders intending to provide debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing to enable CODA’s extant energy storage business (CODA Energy) to remain fully operational during the restructuring process.
Winterkorn says Volkswagen developing 10-speed DCT and high-performance diesel; plug-in hybrids offer great potential
April 26, 2013
|Volkswagen’s view of powertrain technologies to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. Source: Prof. Dr. Jürgen Leohold, Executive Director Volkswagen Group Research. Click to enlarge.|
At the International Vienna Motor Symposium Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, gave a forecast of future drive system technologies. Areas of work being focused on by Volkswagen include the development of a high-performance diesel engine delivering 100 kW (134 hp) per liter of displacement and a new 10-speed dual clutch gearbox that reduces fuel consumption.
The high performance diesel engine features a variable valve-train assembly, a high-pressure injection system at up to 3,000 bar and combined charging with an innovative e-booster. Among alternative drive systems, plug-in hybrids in particular offer great potential, Winterkorn said. (The Volkswagen Group intends to launch at least 6 new plug-in hybrid models starting in 2014 and beyond. Earlier post.)
GM outlines plans for China with 17 launches this year; developing advanced propulsion and electrification tech in China
April 21, 2013
General Motors discussed its future plans in China during a press conference in conjunction with the start of Auto Shanghai 2013. GM and its joint ventures are launching 17 new and upgraded models in China this year, including the Chevrolet Cruze hatchback; the new Wuling Sunshine; two new Jiefang light-duty trucks, the S230 and F330; and the Insignia Sports Tourer, Zafira Tourer and Astra GTC from Opel.
GM is also in the process of bringing Cadillac’s entire global portfolio to China, adding one locally produced model per year through 2016. Earlier this year, it introduced the locally produced XTS luxury sedan as well as the refreshed SRX luxury SUV, which is Cadillac’s best-selling model in China.
Cummins/Peterbilt SuperTruck shows 54% improvement in fuel economy, 61% improvement in freight efficiency
March 14, 2013
|The new SuperTruck achieved a 54% increase in fuel economy. Click to enlarge.|
Cummins Inc. and Peterbilt Motors Company, a division of PACCAR, released test results showing their demonstration SuperTruck tractor-trailer achieved a 54% increase in fuel economy, averaging nearly 10 mpg US (23.5 l/100 km) under real world driving conditions. In addition, the truck also demonstrated a 61% improvement in freight efficiency during testing compared to a baseline truck driving the same route. Freight efficiency is based on payload weight and fuel efficiency expressed in ton-miles per gallon.
Cummins is a prime contractor leading one of four vertical teams under the Department of Energy’s SuperTruck project, one of several initiatives under the 21st Century Truck Partnership. (Earlier post.) Objectives for the program, which runs from April 2010 through April 2014, include:
GM CEO outlines highlights of fuel economy plan through MY2016: lightweighting; more efficient gasoline and clean diesel engines, electrification
March 07, 2013
Within his talk about the need for a US energy policy at the IHS CERAWeek 2013 energy conference in Houston, GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson outlined some highlights of the company’s fuel economy plan through the 2016 model year.
The auto industry should play a central role in the energy discussion, Akerson noted, because light-duty vehicles account for about 60% of total transportation energy usage in the United States. Automakers are currently deploying and developing technologies that will satisfy customers and make an enormous contribution to energy security at the same time, he added. The near-term elements of GM’s fuel economy efforts he adduced are:
Ford launches FORD2GO car sharing program with its German dealer network; Ford poll shows 56% of Europeans would consider car sharing
March 04, 2013
Ford of Germany has signed a cooperation agreement with the German Ford dealers association FHD GmbH and DB Rent GmbH—the company behind Flinkster car sharing—for a new car sharing platform. FORD2GO will be the first automotive manufacturer-backed, nationwide car sharing program incorporating dealerships.
The program calls for participating Ford dealers across Germany to offer cars and sharing services to customers in their town, allowing easy access to shared cars and offering the chance for potential customers to experience Ford vehicles. Daimler, with its car2go effort, was an early OEM entrant into car-sharing. (Earlier post.) BMW is also exploring car-sharing services (earlier post), as is GM (earlier post) and Toyota (earlier post), but none have directly involved their dealer network at this point as Ford is.
Daimler to take 12% stake in BAIC Motor
February 01, 2013
According to a new binding agreement, Daimler AG will invest in BAIC Motor, the passenger car unit of BAIC Group. Daimler’s investment will take place through the issuance of new shares corresponding to a 12% stake in BAIC Motor. This move comes ahead of an intention by BAIC Motor to launch an initial public offering (IPO) in the future.
Daimler’s shareholding in BAIC Motor is subject to the approval by the relevant authorities. A closing of the transaction is expected by the end of this year or early next year. The move, making Daimler the first non-Chinese automotive company to take a stake in a Chinese OEM, deepens an existing strategic partnership.
Daimler, Renault-Nissan Alliance Ford to develop common fuel cell system; targeting vehicles in 2017
January 28, 2013
Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., have signed a three-way agreement for the joint development of a common fuel cell system to speed up availability of zero-emission technology and significantly reduce investment costs.
The goal of the collaboration is to develop jointly a common fuel cell electric vehicle system while reducing investment costs associated with the engineering of the technology. Each company will invest equally towards the project. The strategy to maximize design commonality, leverage volume and derive efficiencies through economies of scale will help to launch the world’s first affordable, mass-market FCEVs as early as 2017. (Daimler had earlier been targeting 2015 for launch.)
Volvo Group to acquires 45% of Dongfeng Commercial Vehicles for $900M; Volvo to become world’s largest manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks
January 26, 2013
|China is the world’s largest truck market. Click to enlarge.|
AB Volvo has signed an agreement with the Chinese vehicle manufacturer Dongfeng Motor Group Company Limited (DFG) to acquire 45% of a new subsidiary of DFG, Dongfeng Commercial Vehicles (DFCV), which will include the major part of DFG’s medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles business.
Completion of the transaction will make the Volvo Group the world’s largest manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks with a combined annual volume (2011) of 326,000 HD trucks and 98,000 MD trucks.
Honda Transmission contracts with Juhl Wind for two utility-scale wind turbines at Ohio plant; up to 10% of electricity for operations
January 25, 2013
Honda Transmission Mfg. of America, Inc. announced an agreement with Juhl Wind, Inc. to develop, install, and operate two utility-scale wind turbines (each rated at about 2MW) to generate electricity for the plant’s operations.
The plant manufactures automatic transmissions, gears and four-wheel-drive systems, including the next-generation Earth Dreams transmission technology. The two wind turbines will supply up to approximately 10% of the plant’s electricity. Based on their location and actual wind speeds, combined output from the two wind turbines is estimated at 10,000-megawatt hours (MWh) per year.
Volkswagen inaugurates 9.5 MW solar park at Chattanooga plant in US; key element of VW Group’s strategic sustainability targets
January 24, 2013
|The 9.5 MW solar park at Chattanooga is owned and operated by Silicon Ranch; VW has signed a 20-year power purchase agreement. Click to enlarge.|
Volkswagen inaugurated its largest solar facility in the world—also the largest solar facility operated by an automaker in the US—at its plant in Chattanooga, TN, which produces the Passat model for North America. The Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park has a peak output of 9.5 MW. The power will be used directly in production; solar power will provide up to 12.5% of the electric power required in full-capacity operation and 100% of demand when the plant is not in production.
The new solar park is an integral part of Volkswagen’s worldwide sustainability strategy, which includes generating more power within the Group from renewable energy sources, said Volkswagen Group Officer for the Environment, Energy and New Business Areas, Wolfram Thomas.
BMW and Toyota expand collaboration with work on fuel cell system, sports vehicle, light-weight technology and Li-air battery
BMW Group and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) signed binding agreements aimed at long-term collaboration between the two companies for the joint development of a hydrogen fuel cell system; joint development of architecture and components for a sports vehicle; and joint research and development of lightweight technologies. These agreements follow a memorandum of understanding signed in June 2012. (Earlier post.)
The companies also today signed a binding agreement to commence collaborative research on lithium-air batteries. This agreement marks the second phase of collaborative research into next-generation lithium-ion battery cells that commenced in March 2012. (Earlier post.) The main points of the new agreements are:
Volkswagen Group talks EV charging standards, electrification strategy
January 21, 2013
|One of approximately twenty VW Golf blue e-motion prototypes under test in the United States, with Eaton’s 50kW DC Quick Charger, at Volkswagen’s Electronics Research Laboratory, near San Francisco. Click to enlarge.|
Earlier this month, Volkswagen and Eaton executives met with a small group of journalists at the VW Electronics Research Laboratory in Belmont, California, to discuss VW’s partnership with Eaton on AC and DC charging, followed by a broader conversation about VW’s plans for vehicle electrification over the next several years. Topics included the upcoming introduction of the blue e-motion Golf electric vehicle, sometimes called the e-Golf, near the end of 2013 (early 2014 for the US market), as well as Volkswagen’s goal of achieving 3% of its global sales through plug-in vehicles by 2018.
That goal is part of VW’s overarching Strategie 18, in which the Wolfsburg-based manufacturer hopes to trump Toyota in global sales by the same year. Volkswagen sold 9.07 million vehicles in 2012 to Toyota’s 9.7 million; assuming 10 million vehicles sold per year in 2018, VW would need to move 300,000 plug-in vehicles per year to meet their mark.
Ford, GM rolling out third-party developer programs for in-vehicle apps
January 08, 2013
Reflecting the rapid evolution of the automobile as an application development platform, both Ford and GM announced programs to support third-party development of in-vehicle applications at CES in Las Vegas. The Ford Developer Program for open mobile apps provides a software development kit (SDK), technical support from Ford engineers and a developer community to enable utilizing the SYNC connectivity system and AppLink application programming interface (API).
General Motors announced its flexible application framework that will allow drivers to add apps and features to their vehicles after the initial purchase. The framework enables new set of vehicle APIs for developers, allowing them to interact with and build upon the infotainment systems in GM vehicles.
ACEA says that without improved conditions, unlikely full potential of e-mobility will be met; need for standards, coordinated approach to incentives, R&D support; 2–8% market penetration for next decade
January 07, 2013
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) is warning that under current conditions, it is unlikely that the full potential of e-mobility will be met.
This is partly due to the current economic situation, with declining sales of vehicles. However, the trade association says, it is to a large extent also due to slow progress in charging standards; the fragmentation of internal market as a result of uncoordinated approach to market incentives; a lack of dedicated support for R&D; and no clear and unified vision on infrastructure.
Toyota agrees to fund a settlement valued up to $1.4 billion for unintended acceleration cases
December 27, 2012
Toyota has agreed to a settlement valued between $1.2 and $1.4 billion in a class action suit by Toyota vehicle owners who claim that their vehicles are prone to sudden, unexplained acceleration. The estimated settlement is the largest of this type in US history in terms of dollars paid out and number of vehicles involved. The settlement includes direct payments to consumers as well as the installation of a brake-override system in an estimated 3.25 million vehicles.
The case was filed in 2010 after drivers across the country began reporting that Toyota vehicles suddenly and unintentionally accelerated. Toyota has long maintained that the vehicles were free from electronic flaws causing the acceleration.
PSA Peugeot Citroën and General Motors to co-develop three common vehicle platform projects; launch of vehicles expected in 2016
December 20, 2012
PSA Peugeot Citroën (PSA) and General Motors have signed definitive agreements related to three of initial vehicle projects as well as to the purchasing joint venture as part of the execution of their Global Strategic Alliance. (Earlier post.)
The first common vehicle projects selected encompass platform and architecture developments in (1) a joint program for a multi-purpose vehicle for the C segment (C-MPV) for Opel/Vauxhall and a crossover utility vehicle for the C segment (C-CUV) for the Peugeot brand; (2) a joint multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) program for the B-segment for both groups; and (3) the co-development of an upgraded low CO2 B-segment platform to feed Opel/Vauxhall and PSA’s next generation of cars in Europe and other regions.
Topping-out ceremony for the Audi e-gas plant; synthetic methane production to begin in early 2013
December 13, 2012
|Components of the e-gas plant. Click to enlarge.|
Audi is celebrating progress on its e-gas plant under construction in Werlte, Germany with a topping-out ceremony. End products from the plant will be hydrogen and synthetic methane (Audi e-gas), to be used as fuel for vehicles such as the new Audi A3 Sportback TCNG. (Earlier post.)
The Audi e-gas plant, which can convert six megawatts of input power, will utilize renewable electricity for electrolysis, producing oxygen and hydrogen, the latter which could one day power fuel-cell vehicles. Because there is not yet a widespread hydrogen infrastructure, however, the hydrogen is reacted with CO2 in a methanation unit to generate renewable synthetic methane, or Audi e-gas. Chemically speaking, this e-gas is nearly identical to fossil-based natural gas. As such, it can be distributed to CNG stations via the natural gas network and will power vehicles starting in 2013.
Volvo Car Group making multi-billion dollar investment in Scalable Product Architecture and Volvo Engine Architecture
December 03, 2012
Volvo Car Group, owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., Ltd. in China, is making a multi-billion dollar investment in its SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) and VEA (Volvo Engine Architecture, earlier called Volvo Environmental Architecture). (Earlier post.) The main part of the two projects will be carried out in Sweden, constituting one of Sweden’s largest ever industrial investments.
SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) is a flexible, scalable product architecture that covers most of Volvo’s future car models. It is a product range consisting of shared modules and scalable systems and components, all manufactured in a flexible production system. The first car model based on the new architecture is the next-generation Volvo XC90, which will be launched at the end of 2014.
Toyota introduces 4th gen RAV4; discontinues V6 option as segment moves towards more fuel efficiency
November 29, 2012
|2013 RAV4 Click to enlarge.|
The all-new fourth-generation 2013 RAV4 crossover SUV made its world debut at the 2012 Los Angeles International Auto Show. In redoing the RAV4, Toyota discontinued the optional V6 engine of the previous-generation; the new RAV4 only features Toyota’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, which will produce 176 hp (131 kW) at 6,000 rpm and 172 lb-ft (23 N·m ) of torque at 4,100 rpm.
Replacing the previous four-speed automatic will be a six-speed transmission with Sequential Shift. First and second gear ratios will be optimized for around-town performance. To keep engine revs lower at highway speeds and enhance fuel mileage, fifth and sixth gears will be overdrives.
Nissan and Tsinghua University’s Suzhou Automotive Research Institute sign MOU on cooperative research
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. and Suzhou Automobile Research Institute at Tsinghua University have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, in which the two parties have agreed to promote a cooperative effort regarding the research of future automotive technology. Aiming to solidify the strategic joint research efforts between Nissan and Tsinghua University, the agreement includes a mutual personnel exchange program designed to take advantage of both parties’ strengths.
While China has grown to become the largest automobile market in the world, Nissan aspires to create and contribute new ideas to the future of its mobility society. In order for Nissan to accomplish this goal, the company believes it needs a strong local partner to aid in the understanding and research of the unique challenges China poses, especially for advanced technologies.
GM looking to combination of internal R&D and external investments for new technology; focus on five key areas; the importance of generational change
November 20, 2012
General Motors is leveraging two separate organizations—its internal R&D group and the recently formed GM Ventures—to accelerate innovation and to introduce new technology to keep the company on the forefront of the technology revolution now taking place in the automotive industry, according to John Lauckner, GM’s Chief Technology Officer; Vice President, Global Research & Development; and President, GM Ventures.
During a talk at the recent Electrification Experience symposium (earlier post), Lauckner briefly outlined GM’s efforts to leverage three sources of technology: technology developed in house, through R&D or advanced engineering; technology from outside the company from startups; and technology from suppliers and engineering firms. GM is focusing on five key areas, Lauckner said:
GM will focus its electrification strategy on light electrification, extended range, and battery-electric vehicle technologies; major focus on the plug; preview of the Spark EV
November 16, 2012
|GM will focus its vehicle electrification strategy on eAssist-type systems and the plug. Source: Larry Nitz, GM. Click to enlarge.|
GM will focus its vehicle electrification efforts on three main technologies: light electrification, currently manifested in the eAssist systems; extended range electric vehicles (EREVs) such as the Chevrolet Volt; and battery electric vehicles (BEVs), such as the soon-to-be-introduced Spark EV.
In a vehicle electrification symposium for the media, GM Senior Vice President, Global Product Development Mary Barra noted that until recently, GM’s strategy had essentially been to “cover the waterfront” in terms of pursuing as many technologies as possible. “That’s not how GM is doing business today,” she said. “We need to refine our strategy and do focused work. We need to make educated bets on which technologes hold the most potential for creating value for our customers and our company.”
Ford planning to cut 18% of production capacity, 13% of workforce in Europe; anticipating more than $1.5B loss in Europe in 2012
October 25, 2012
|New car registrations in the EU, 1990-2011. Source: ACEA. Click to enlarge.|
Addressing manufacturing overcapacity stemming from the more than 20% drop in total industry vehicle demand across Western Europe since 2007, Ford this week has outlined a series of cost efficiency actions including the planned closure of three European facilities: its Genk Plant (Belgium); a vehicle assembly plant in Southampton (UK), which builds the current Transit; and stamping and tooling operations in Dagenham (UK). The plans would reduce installed vehicle assembly capacity 18% or 355,000 units and would yield gross annual savings of $450 million to $500 million.
The actions—along with a previously announced initiative to reduce approximately 500 salaried and agency positions across Europe, with the Ford salaried reductions achieved voluntarily—affect 6,200 positions or about 13% of Ford’s European workforce.
PSA Peugeot Citroën and GM confirm key steps in global strategic alliance; four vehicle projects, joint purchasing
October 24, 2012
PSA Peugeot Citroën and General Motors confirmed important steps toward the execution of their Global Strategic Alliance. (earlier post) This alliance is structured around two main pillars: the sharing of vehicle platforms, components and modules; and the creation of a global purchasing joint venture for the sourcing of commodities, components and other goods and services from suppliers with combined annual purchasing volumes of approximately $125 billion.
Consistent with terms of the agreement signed 29 February, the partners have selected four vehicle projects and confirmed the next steps in joint purchasing organization. The four common vehicle projects selected to move to the next step encompass the following segment entries for both groups:
Toyota provides update on status of green car technology, future plans; 21 new hybrid models, new gasoline and diesel engines, transmissions, EV and fuel cell stack
September 25, 2012
|The new EQ EV offers power consumption of 104 Wh/km. Li-ion batteries are from Panasonic. Click to enlarge.|
In Japan, Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) outlined the progress of development of its green technologies as well as its vehicle deployment plans through 2015. Overall, the company says, it intends to continue to work to conserve energy by improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions, and by diversifying fuel sources by encouraging the use of electricity, hydrogen and other alternative energies.
TMC plans to launch 21 new hybrid vehicles models—consisting of additional (new) models and fully redesigned existing models—from now until the end of 2015. In the area of energy conservation, TMC has developed a new gasoline engine that achieves a maximum 38.5% thermal efficiency for application in hybrids; a high-performance clean diesel engine and a high efficiency transmission. Toyota’s EQ EV will deliver electric power consumption of 104 Wh/km.
Honda to offer three hybrid systems; new fuel cell vehicles for US, Japan, Europe in 2015
September 21, 2012
Honda Motor Co. CEO, Takanobu Ito, outlined the product, technology and business developments and direction planned to drive Honda’s growth by fiscal year 2017; among these are a plan to introduce three hybrid systems, Ito said. Each system will possess unique characteristics and their deployment will reflect varying customer needs.
First, Honda will further develop its lightweight and compact one-motor hybrid system (IMA) with the aim of achieving leading fuel economy among all hybrid vehicles. Improvements in motor output and battery performance, coupled with a newly developed transmission will help to extend the zero emission electric driving range.
Joule and Audi partner on sustainable liquid transportation fuels
September 17, 2012
Joule and Audi AG have entered a strategic partnership to accelerate the commercialization of Joule’s sustainable transportation fuels, Sunflow-E and Sunflow-D, for the global ethanol and diesel markets respectively.
Audi selected Joule as its exclusive partner in the development of biologically-derived diesel and ethanol—the result of extensive evaluations of Joule’s proprietary technology and commercial plans. The relationship will help spur production of Joule Sunflow-E and Sunflow-D, including fuel testing and validation, lifecycle analysis and support for Joule’s SunSprings demonstration facility located in Hobbs, New Mexico, which began operations this month. (Earlier post.)
Ford launching major new product push in Europe; fuel economy and 1.0L EcoBoost engine; first Ford full hybrid car for Europe
September 06, 2012
|The new Mondeo Hybrid is Ford’s first full hybrid car in Europe. Click to enlarge.|
At a “Go Further with Ford” event in Amsterdam, Ford Motor Company detailed plans for an aggressive product acceleration in Europe, targeting opportunities for growth in the large car, SUV and commercial vehicle segments while emphasizing fuel economy and enabling technologies such as the EcoBoost engines. Ford projects that two-thirds of all the company’s vehicles in Europe will be leaders, or among the very best, in terms of fuel efficiency by 2013.
The plans include launches of a new Fiesta, Europe’s best-selling small car and including the Fiesta ST performance car; the New Mondeo CD-segment car equipped with a segment-first 3-cylinder, 1.0-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine (earlier post) as well as a hybrid version of the vehicle—Ford’s first full hybrid car in Europe; new SUVs including the Kuga, EcoSport small SUV and Edge; a full redesign of the commercial vehicle range including new Transit, Transit Custom, Transit Connect and Transit Courier, plus a family of new Tourneo people carriers; and the entry of the Ford Mustang into Europe.
Honda discloses estimates of annual greenhouse gas emissions related to its operations and customer use of products
August 25, 2012
|Honda GHG emissions by Scope. Click to enlarge.|
Honda Motor Co., Ltd. disclosed estimates of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions related to Honda including emissions from Honda’s global business operations and customer use of Honda motorcycles, automobiles and power products. Honda is the first mobility company to do so, according to its internal research.
The estimates of GHG emissions were calculated in conformity with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol—a guideline determined by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Resources Institute for GHG accounting. The GHG Protocol defines three scopes of emissions by categorizing different business activities. Honda has been disclosing all Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions since 2009 and disclosed a part of Scope 3 emissions (global Category 11 emissions) for the first time on June 20, 2012. With the new disclosure of all Scope 3 emissions—which includes customer use—Honda has disclosed all GHG emissions defined by the GHG Protocol.
Ford deploying single manufacturing operating system that to support global expansion with improved efficiencies, better capacity utilization
August 06, 2012
Ford Motor Company is rolling out a single manufacturing operating system intended to deliver improved efficiencies, increase capacity utilization and make the company an industry leader in lowest total cost production, said John Fleming, Ford executive vice president, Global Manufacturing, at the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars In Traverse City, Michigan, today.
Ford is adding capacity around the world, including a broad expansion in Asia Pacific Africa (APA), where the company is adding nine new plants. The facilities will increase APA’s capacity to produce 2.9 million vehicles a year, part of a global plan to meet Ford’s goal of selling 8 million vehicles per year by mid-decade.
Toyota targeting production of more than 10 million vehicles in CY 2012
Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) has revised its calendar year 2012 sales and production plans, targeting worldwide production of 10,050,000 vehicles and worldwide sales of 9,760,000 vehicles for the year.
The production target reflects a 28% increase in combined Toyota, Daihatsu and Hino from earlier plans and a 23% increase in combined sales. The company is planning a 28% increase in production of Toyota vehicles alone to 8,870,000 units.
JD Power 2012 APEAL highlights ongoing downsizing trend for new car buyers in US; increasing satisfaction with smaller vehicles
July 26, 2012
J.D. Power and Associates’ latest APEAL (Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout) study—an examination of how gratifying a new vehicle is to own and drive, based on owner evaluations of more than 80 vehicle attributes—highlights an ongoing downsizing trend among US auto buyers, and finds that owners of small cars and light trucks are often just as satisfied with their vehicles as owners of larger ones.
The 2012 APEAL Study finds that 27% of new-vehicle buyers who replaced a vehicle downsized—i.e., purchased a new vehicle in a smaller segment than the vehicle they replaced. In contrast, only 13% of buyers upsized, while 60% purchased a new vehicle in the same segment as their previous vehicle.
Daimler invests in ridesharing network carpooling.com
Daimler AG is investing in the ridesharing network carpooling.com GmbH. The main shareholders will continue to be the company’s three founders, as well as venture capital firm Earlybird. The capital investment will serve primarily the development and expansion of carpooling.com’s mobility solutions.
carpooling.com is the leading ridesharing network, with 4 million registered users, transporting 1 million people a month across Europe. The platform is available on the Internet, on smartphone apps and Facebook. The company brings together ride-sharers for both medium- and long-distance trips, as well as for commuting. Profiles and ratings give users some insight into with whom they are traveling. In addition to rides, the company’s platform also offers bus, rail and airline tickets.
Tesla reports Q2 loss of $93M, revenues of $27M; revenue guidance remains $500-$600M for year
In its letter to shareholders, Tesla Motor reported a non-GAAP net loss for the second quarter (Q2) of $93 million, or $(0.89) per share and GAAP net loss of $106 million, or $(1.00) per share, based on 105.2 million weighted common shares outstanding.
The company reported Q2 revenue of $27 million, with automotive sales of $22 million—including powertrain work for Toyota and Daimler. This marked a 15% increase from the prior quarter, which reflects continued sales of the remaining Roadsters internationally, start of Model S deliveries in the United States and ramp up of powertrain component sales to Toyota for the RAV4 EV. Model S reservations at quarter end were over 11,500, and are now at about 12,200.
GM OnStar and RelayRides introduce peer-to-peer car sharing for GM vehicles
July 17, 2012
|RelayRides reservation app. Click to enlarge.|
General Motors’ OnStar subscribers can now rent out their idle vehicles through the RelayRides marketplace, leveraging OnStar connectivity already active in their vehicles (Earlier post), and with no need to hand over their keys.
RelayRides’ renters can unlock reserved OnStar-enabled cars simply by using their smart phones. RelayRides is the first third-party developer to integrate with GM OnStar’s proprietary application program interface (API) that will be available to other developers later this summer. RelayRides is backed by more than $13 million in venture capital funding from investors including Google Ventures and GM Ventures.
Ford developing a strategy to address urban personal mobility globally; a mobility company, not just an auto company
July 15, 2012
|Rough map of Ford’s Blueprint for Mobility. Click to enlarge.|
Ford Motor Company is mapping out a strategy to address the requirements for personal mobility in the context of the megatrend of increasing global urbanization, both in mature economies as well as in emerging markets. If Ford thinks of itself as a mobility company, rather than just an auto company, said Ford Chairman Bill Ford at the recent, second annual “Go Further with Ford” trend conference, “that really opens up possibilities.”
The Ford chairman had already begun talking about the future of urban personal mobility in the context of ever-increasing congestion at the TED2011 conference in Long Beach. During his keynote address at the 2012 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year, he outlined a plan for connected cars to help avoid a potential future of what he called “global gridlock—a never-ending traffic jam that wastes time, energy and resources.” (Earlier post.) At the Go Further with Ford conference, he expanded on a broader vision for personal urban mobility supported by an integrated network of different modes of transportation optimized for cities of the future.
China publishes plan to boost fuel-efficient and new energy vehicles and domestic auto industry; targeting 500K PHEVs and EVs in 2015, rising to 2M by 2020
July 09, 2012
China’s State Council has published a plan to develop the domestic energy-saving and new energy vehicle industry, which includes battery-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles and fuel cell vehicles. The central government’s plan, posted on its website, is targeting the production of 500,000 plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles by 2015, with output to grow to 2 million units of those types by 2020. China is targeting the cumulative production and sales of more than 5 million new energy vehicles, including fuel cell vehicles, by that time as well.
China has made progress with automotive energy-saving technologies over the past 10 years through implementing passenger car fuel consumption limits and the use of fiscal policy to encourage the purchase of small cars, the government statement noted. This progress includes advanced internal combustion engines; efficient transmissions; lightweight materials; and hybrid and other energy-saving technologies. Natural gas and other alternative fuel vehicle technology is basically mature, the government said, and is headed toward initial industrialization. However, generally speaking, the government continued, China has not achieved a breakthrough with new energy automobiles and core components of the key technologies.
German ELAB study finds growth of alternative drivetrains to increase employment opportunities in auto industry
July 02, 2012
The growing share of alternative drive trains in the automotive industry offers opportunities for jobs in the automotive sector, according to the “ELAB” study, the first broad-based, practice-oriented analysis of the effects of technological change on employment in the automotive industry. “ELAB” stands for “Auswirkungen der Elektrifizierung des Antriebsstrangs auf Beschäftigung und Standortumgebung”, German for “effects of the powertrain electrification on employment and the business environment”.
The research project was initiated by the General Works Council of Daimler AG and started in December 2010 together with Daimler, IG Metall Baden-Württemberg (Industrial Union of Metal Workers) and the Hans Böckler Foundation. The Fraunhofer IAO, the IMU Institute and the Institute for Vehicle Concepts of the German Aerospace Center were commissioned with the research.
Frost & Sullivan analysis suggests momentum toward supplementary 48V on-board power-net
Vehicle electrification is not limited to hybrid or electric drive. Conventional automobiles of today are partly electric in their own way, with most systems in the vehicle having electrical and electronic connections for better functionality.
Some high-end vehicles have more than 90 Electronic Control Units (ECUs) to control the various modules within the car, making the car both sophisticated and complicated. However, the trend is not limited to luxury cars. A typical mass-market car such as the Volkswagen Golf has had almost a three-fold increase in the number of ECUs used, from 17 ECUs in generation IV (1998) to 49 ECUs in generation VI (2010), notes Frost & Sullivan analyst Prana Natarajan. For example, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) uses about 20 ECUs, sending signals to various other systems that interact with it.
BMW and Toyota expanding cooperation: fuel cells, sports car, powertrain electrification and lightweight technologies
June 29, 2012
Expanding their existing cooperation agreement signed in December 2011 (earlier post), Toyota Motor Corporation and the BMW Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at long-term strategic collaboration in four fields: joint development of a fuel cell system; joint development of architecture and components for a future sports vehicle; collaboration on powertrain electrification; and joint research and development on lightweight technologies. (Earlier post.)
Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), met with Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, at BMW Group headquarters in Munich for the signing. They also signed a Joint Statement to reconfirm their companies’ shared intention to strengthen the long-term, strategic collaboration between them.
Reports: Toyota and BMW to expand partnership on fuel-efficient vehicles, with Toyota providing hybrid and fuel cell technology to BMW
June 25, 2012
The Nikkei reported that Toyota Motor Corp. and BMW will expand their partnership, one aspect of which will be Toyota providing hybrid systems and fuel cell technology to BMW. Kyodo News also reported the same, attributing it to “Toyota sources”. The Nikkei report followed a story in German newsmagazine Der Spiegel on the likelihood of an expanded partnership between the two companies.
The Nikkei reported that Toyota President Akio Toyoda and BMW Chief Executive Officer Norbert Reithofer will make an announcement this week. In December 2011, the two companies had agreed to a mid-to-long-term collaboration on next-generation environment-friendly technologies including Li-ion batteries. (Earlier post.) In March 2012, the two signed an agreement on collaborative research in the field of next-generation lithium-ion battery cells and begun the work. (Earlier post.)
Honda to begin reuse of rare earth metals extracted from used NiMH batteries before year end; targeting extraction from motors and Li-ion batteries as well
June 20, 2012
|Flow of the reuse of rare earth metals Honda is striving to achieve. Click to enlarge.|
Honda Motor Co., Ltd., which has been extracting rare earth metals from used nickel-metal hydride batteries at the plant of Japan Metals & Chemicals Co., Ltd. from April of this year, plans to begin reusing the extracted metals before the end of 2012.
Honda will pursue the recycling of precious resources by reusing extracted rare earth metals not only for nickel-metal hydride batteries, but also for use in a wide range of parts. Further, in disassembly process of used nickel-metal hydride batteries, Honda is considering efforts to recover any residual voltage from the used nickel-metal hydride batteries and use it as regenerative voltage for the disassembly process.