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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.]

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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Volvo Cars introduces new compact architecture; expects electrified vehicles to be 10% of total sales by 2020

October 15, 2015

Volvo Cars will extend its range of compact cars into new segments based on its new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA)—a smaller version of Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) (earlier post). The company’s first car on CMA is expected to be launched in 2017. CMA’s introduction in 2017 means that all future Volvo cars will be built on just two fully scalable and wholly modular vehicle architectures.

The company also announced its electrification strategy in which plug-in hybrids will be introduced across its entire range. Volvo Cars will also develop an entirely new range of electrified smaller cars and build a fully electric car for sale by 2019.

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Toyota announces aggressive environmental targets through 2050; cutting new vehicle CO2 by 90% compared to 2010

October 14, 2015

Addressing key global environmental issues such as climate change, water shortages, resource depletion, and degradation of biodiversity, the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050 aims to reduce the negative impact of manufacturing and driving vehicles as much as possible. The challenge comprises six individual challenges across three areas: Ever-better cars, quantified as reducing global average new-vehicle CO2 emissions by 90% by 2050 compared to Toyota’s 2010 global average; ever-better manufacturing (zero CO2 emissions at all plants by 2050); and enriching the lives of communities.

As a key step toward achieving these long-term targets, Toyota is announcing its Sixth Toyota Environmental Action Plan, which will be enacted between April 2016 and the end of March 2021.

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Volkswagen: reorienting diesel strategy, new Modular Electric Toolkit, MQB push on PHEVs, electric Phaeton

October 13, 2015

The newly-formed Volkswagen Brand Board of Management has made a number of major strategic product decisions, including a reorientation of the diesel strategy to use the most advanced emission aftertreatment technologies; the development of a standardized electric architecture (Modular Electric Toolkit, MEB) for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles; and an electric next-generation Phaeton.

Further, Volkswagen will accelerate its efficiency program and cut spending by some €1 billion per year.

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New VW Group CEO: “swift and relentless clarification” of emissions scandal; technical solution to be presented to authorities

October 06, 2015

Speaking at a plant meeting in Wolfsburg, Matthias Müller, the new CEO of Volkswagen AG, promised employees “swift and relentless clarification” of the emissions scandal. He said that what had happened went against everything the Group and its people stand for and that there was no excuse.

Müller said that the company will shortly be presenting the technical solutions to the responsible authorities—in particular the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA)—for approval. Müller said that while in many instances a software update will be sufficient, some vehicles will also require hardware modifications. “We will keep our customers constantly informed about the measures and arrange workshop appointments.

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VW says complete investigation of emissions scandal will take several months; suspending General Meeting in November; report on solutions next week

October 02, 2015

In a statement issued following its meeting on 30 September the Executive Committee of Volkswagen AG’s Supervisory Board said that it has concluded that the completion of investigations into the emissions testing scandal will take at least several months.

For this reason, the Executive Committee will propose to the Supervisory Board that the Extraordinary General Meeting scheduled for 9 November should not be held. The Executive Committee Members all agreed that, in view of the time available and the matters to be considered, it would not be realistic to provide well-founded answers which would fulfill the shareholder’s justified expectations.

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Volkswagen of America CEO to testify before House Subcommittee next week on emissions affair; request for all related documents

As part of its ongoing investigation into Volkswagen’s emissions issues, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce has scheduled a hearing for Thursday, 8 October. The hearing is entitled, “Volkswagen’s Emissions Cheating Allegations: Initial Questions.”

Volkswagen Group of America President and CEO Michael Horn and the Environmental Protection Agency are scheduled to testify as the subcommittee investigates Volkswagen’s alleged efforts to circumvent emissions requirements for certain models of diesel engine passenger vehicles. Members are working to understand the facts and circumstances surrounding Volkswagen’s reported Clean Air Act violations and what they mean for consumers and the general public.

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GM planning to “own” the customer relationship beyond the vehicle; autonomous Volts, car sharing and fuel cells

October 01, 2015

General Motors CEO Mary Barra and her leadership team outlined the company’s plans to capitalize on the future of personal mobility by owning the customer relationship beyond the vehicle, building upon nearly two decades of connectivity leadership.

GM also said it plans to strengthen its core business through global growth initiatives and an aggressive product launch cadence, while continuing to focus on driving cost efficiencies. As a result, the company expects to increase its earnings per share and generate significant shareholder value. The company shared its plans with investors during a conference at its Milford Proving Ground.

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Volkswagen Group reorganizes North American operations; Prof. Dr. Winfried Vahland new region CEO

September 29, 2015

As part of its restructuring, Volkswagen Group is combining its activities in the US, Mexico and Canada into the newly formed North American Region (NAR). The Supervisory Board has appointed Prof. Dr. Winfried Vahland, since 2010 the CEO of Group company ŠKODA, to take over all responsibility for the North American Region. In this new role as President and CEO of Volkswagen NAR, Prof. Dr. Vahland will be responsible for all Group activities in the newly formed region from 1 November 2015. Michael Horn remains as President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, and will report to Dr. Vahland.

Volkswagen said that the creation of NAR is a further measure in the process of decentralizing managerial responsibility, and creates another pillar in the global structure of the group, in addition to the European and Chinese regions.

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VW: ~5M VW vehicles affected by emissions scandal; working on technical solution; suspension of some employees starting

September 25, 2015

Volkswagen said that an internal assessment following the revelation of cheating on emissions testing in EA 189 2.0L diesels (earlier post) has concluded that approximately five million Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand vehicles are affected worldwide. In the heat of the initial discovery of the emissions testing cheating, Volkswagen had said that up to 11 million vehicles worldwide could be affected. (Earlier post.)

Certain models and model years of these vehicles (such as the sixth generation Volkswagen Golf, the seventh generation Volkswagen Passat and the first generation Volkswagen Tiguan) are equipped exclusively with type EA 189 diesel engines. Also as previously announced, all new Volkswagen Passenger Car brand vehicles that fulfill the EU6 norm valid throughout Europe are not affected. This therefore also includes the current Golf, Passat and Touran models.

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VW Group restructuring in response to emissions testing scandal; greater focus on the modular toolkits; Klinger out, Horn stays

Following its appointment of Matthias Müller as the new CEO of the Group (earlier post), the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG approved a new management structure for the Group and the brands as well as for the North America region. The changes follow in the wake of the diesel emissions testing scandal that led to the resignation of former CEO Martin Winterkorn.

The interim Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Berthold Huber, said that the new structure strengthens the brands and regions; gives the Group Board of Management the necessary leeway for strategy and steering within the company; and lays a focus on the targeted development of future-oriented fields.

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Porsche boss Müller appointed CEO of the Volkswagen Group; also remains Chairman of Porsche AG until a successor is found

At its meeting in Wolfsburg today, the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG appointed Matthias Müller, currently Chairman of Porsche, the new CEO of Volkswagen AG with immediate effect. (Porsche is a Volkswagen Group company.)

Former CEO Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn resigned on Wednesday in light of the Volkswagen diesel emissions testing scandal. (Earlier post.) Müller will continue as Chairman of Porsche until a successor has been found.

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Honda launches new “Green Path” initiatives for manufacturing and operations; new $210M paint line at Marysville with new 4C2B process

Honda has announced several initiatives under its new “Green Path” approach to reducing the total life-cycle environmental impact of its products and operations in North America. Among these is a $210-million investment in a new, more environmentally responsible auto-body painting facility and innovative paint process at its Marysville, Ohio auto plant (MAP), the largest of Honda’s eight auto plants in North America. MAP produces the Honda Accord Sedan and Coupe along with the Acura TLX and ILX for customers in more than 100 countries.

Honda has established a voluntary goal to reduce its total GHG emissions—including customer use-phase—by 50% by the year 2050, compared to 2000 levels; this works out to a reduction of 90% per unit sales—a difficult task, noted Ryan Harty, a former Honda R&D engineer who now manages Honda’s new Environmental Business Development Office.

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VW CEO Winterkorn resigns over crisis; “further personnel consequences” coming; Exec. Committee filing criminal complaint

September 23, 2015

Volkswagen Group CEO Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn resigned today, taking upon himself responsibility for the emissions cheating scandal that has quickly engulfed the company. In a statement, the Executive Committee of Volkswagen AG’s Supervisory Board noted that Dr. Winterkorn had no knowledge of the manipulation of emissions data, and thanked Dr. Winterkorn “for towering contributions in the past decades and for his willingness to take responsibility in this critical phase for the company. This attitude is illustrious.”

The Executive Committee also said it was adamant on taking the necessary steps to ensure a new beginning for the tarnished company. As part of that, it is expecting “further personnel consequences” in the coming days. The company is also voluntarily submitting a complaint to the State Prosecutors’ office in Brunswick. The Executive Committee believes that criminal proceedings may be relevant due to the irregularities. Volkswagen will support the investigations of the State Prosecutor “in all forms.

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Cooperation of Daimler and Renault-Nissan Alliance accelerates, strengthens in 2015

September 16, 2015

The partnership between the Renault-Nissan Alliance and Daimler AG accelerated and strengthened as it entered its sixth year in 2015, the companies’ leaders said today in a media update given during the Frankfurt International Motor Show.

When the Daimler-Alliance partnership was launched in April 2010, the scope of the original collaboration was limited to three projects, primarily in Europe. Since then, the combined portfolio shared between the partners has more than quadrupled to 13 projects in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO of the Alliance, described the partnership as “one of the most productive in the auto industry.

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RobecoSAM annual review names Volkswagen Group world’s most sustainable automaker

September 13, 2015

Volkswagen Group took the top spot again as the world’s most sustainable automaker in RobecoSAM AG’s 2015 annual review of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI). As in 2013, Volkswagen is thus one of only two automakers to be listed in both DJSI World and DJSI Europe.

Launched in 1999, the DJSI World is the first global index to track the leading sustainability-driven companies worldwide based on RobecoSAM’s analysis of financially material Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors. RobecoSAM invited the world’s largest 3,400 companies from developed and emerging markets to take part in its annual Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA). This year, RobecoSAM assessed 85% of the invited universe’s free float market capitalization, for the DJSI review.

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Jaguar Land Rover showcases MHEV, PHEV and BEV Concept_e demonstrators; electric Drive Module

September 09, 2015

At the CENEX Low Carbon Vehicle event in the UK, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is showcasing three Concept_e research demonstrators—a mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery-electric vehicle—including a new novel high performance, modular electric drive module (eDM) developed in-house by Jaguar Land Rover.

These are capable of producing twice the power and torque of any electric motor-generator currently in production, JLR said, and can be inserted between any engine and transmission to create MHEV or PHEV, or used alone for a BEV.

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Toyota to invest ~$50M to establish joint research centers at MIT and Stanford; intelligent vehicle and mobility technologies

September 04, 2015

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) will be investing approximately $50 million over the next 5 years to establish joint research centers at Stanford and MIT, focused on the research and development of intelligent vehicle and mobility technologies.

Additionally Dr. Gill Pratt, former Program Manager at DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and leader of its recent Robotics Challenge, has joined Toyota to direct and accelerate these research activities and their application to intelligent vehicles and robotics.

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Westport and Fuel Systems Solutions to merge; alternative fuel vehicle and engine company with expanded reach

September 01, 2015

Westport Innovations Inc. and Fuel Systems Solutions, Inc. have entered into a merger agreement to create a premier alternative fuel vehicle and engine company. The transaction will result in a combined equity value of $351 million based on the closing trading prices for the shares of both companies on 31 August 2015 and combined annual revenues ranging from $380 to $405 million projected for 2015.

Traditionally, Westport Innovations has focused the majority of its technological development and commercialization efforts in the heavy-duty and high horsepower natural gas arena, while Fuel Systems has significant experience and focus with gaseous fuel systems and components for light- and medium-duty automotive and industrial applications. The complementary industry expertise provides a rationale for the merger, as the combined company’s product development efforts will span passenger car to heavy-duty trucks to locomotives and marine applications to stationary power.

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National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS) and Dongfeng Motor Corporation enter strategic cooperation, focused on new energy vehicles

August 17, 2015

National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS)—the rebirthed Saab—and Dongfeng Motor Corporation (Dongfeng) have signed a strategic cooperation agreement to achieve global industrial synergies.

According to the agreement, Dongfeng will support NEVS on the construction of new energy vehicles production and R&D in Tianjin and the formation of NEVS’ sales and service with support from Dongfeng’s dealer network. Dongfeng will also support NEVS to achieve the new energy vehicle mass production.

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Additive manufacturing company Carbon3D named Technology Pioneer by World Economic Forum; work with Ford

August 10, 2015

Additive manufacturing (3D printing) company Carbon3D Inc. was named one of the World Economic Forum’s 49 Technology Pioneers for 2015. Carbon3D joins the Technology Pioneers program as the first additive manufacturing company to be selected. Carbon3D recently emerged from stealth mode to introduce an innovative approach to polymer-based 3D printing that it says will advance the industry beyond basic prototyping to 3D manufacturing.

The new Continuous Liquid Interface Production technology (CLIP) uses a tuneable photochemical process instead of the traditional mechanical approach, eliminating the shortcomings of conventional layer-by-layer 3D printing technology, rapidly to transform 3D models into final parts in a range of engineering-grade materials. Ford has been working with Carbon 3D since December 2014, and has produced elastomer grommets for the Ford Focus Electric and damping bumper parts for the Transit Connect.

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Ford working with OSU on sustainable alternative rubber sources for non-tire vehicle applications

August 06, 2015

While there are a number of efforts underway exploring the use of sustainable, natural rubber alternatives for use in tires (earlier post, earlier post, earlier post), cars use a great deal of rubber for non-tire applications as well; the Ford Fiesta, for example, contains about 3 kg of the material, excluding the tires.

Ford Motor Company is thus investigating alternative sustainable sources of rubber for automotive use in these non-tire applications. The company is working closely with The Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center’s (OARDC’s) Program of Excellence in Natural Rubber Alternatives (PENRA) on researching the use of latex from guayule and Russian dandelion root in applications such as the car’s interior (cup holders), floormats, suspension bushings, engine mounts and so on, said Janice Tardiff, Elastomer Technical Expert at Ford.

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Tesla posts record deliveries in Q2; hedges a bit on full year outloook

Tesla Motors delivered 11,532 vehicles in the second quarter of 2015, and produced a record 12,807 vehicles, exceeding plan (12,500 units) while improving efficiency, according to the company’s quarterly letter to shareholders. This represents a 15% sequential increase in production and a 46% increase from a year ago. Total GAAP revenue was $955 million (+24% year-on-year) for the quarter, while non-GAAP revenue was $1.20 billion (+40%). Net GAAP loss was $184 million (almost triple the $62-million loss in Q2 2014); non-GAAP net loss was $60.2 million (an almost 4x increase). Total Q2 gross margin was 22.3% on a GAAP basis and 23.4% on a non-GAAP basis.

Globally, Model S orders increased following the launch of 85D (earlier post) and 70D (earlier post). In the US, Q2 Model S orders grew almost 30% year-over-year. In Europe, Q2 Model S orders grew more than 50% year-over-year, despite two price increases in the past six months. In Asia, Q2 Model S orders nearly doubled from last quarter, helped by the initial success of a revised China strategy. Encouraged by this improvement, Tesla is increasing its investments in China by planning to grow this year from one to five retail stores located in high foot traffic areas.

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Volkswagen Group selects LG as FAST partner for high-voltage batteries

August 01, 2015

The Volkswagen Group nominated the first 44 suppliers who will be collaborating with the Group on a new common strategic level under the joint FAST initiative. Among the 44 is LG Electronics for the supply of high-voltage batteries. (Earlier post.)

Volkswagen Group Procurement is responding to the challenges currently facing the automotive industry by working together with its suppliers under the “Future Automotive Supply Tracks” initiative (or FAST for short) and will implement technical innovations even faster. Volkswagen AG said it chose the first tranche of suppliers for “their outstanding performance in their respective field of competence based on a systematic selection process.

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FCA to pay record $105M over recall failures

July 27, 2015

In a consent order with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has acknowledged violations of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act’s requirements to repair vehicles with safety defects and will submit to federal oversight, buy back some defective vehicles from owners, and pay up to $105 million in penalties and remediation—the largest such settlement yet imposed by the Department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The company must pay a $70-million cash penalty—equal to the record $70 million civil penalty the agency imposed on Honda in January. In addition, Fiat Chrysler must spend at least $20 million on meeting performance requirements included in the Consent Order. Another $15 million could come due if the independent monitor discovers additional violations of the Safety Act or the Consent Order.

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Mitsubishi Motors officially announces end of production in US; seeking buyer for plant

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) officially announced, after several days of press reports, that Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc., (MMNA) a wholly owned subsidiary of MMC in the United States, is preparing to end production of its sole production model—Outlander Sport—at its Bloomington-Normal, Illinois plant at the end of November 2015. Production of the model will be consolidated in Okazaki plant in Japan, pending a final decision by the MMC Board of Directors on 30 July.

MMNA said it will be making efforts to identify a buyer with the help from United Auto Workers (UAW).

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Honda opens new Silicon Valley facility to advance connected mobility; refreshed 2016 Accord; Honda Xcelerator

July 24, 2015

Honda officially opened its new Silicon Valley R&D facility, using the occasion to unveil a refreshed 2016 Accord featuring Honda’s first application of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Honda also announced a new open innovation R&D initiative—Honda Xcelerator—which will provide resources to breakthrough technology innovators to help rapidly develop prototypes with the potential to transform the automotive experience.

Honda’s Silicon Valley operation, which was first established in 2000, is charged with researching and prototyping innovations and harnessing new ideas and technology. Current areas of focus include connected mobility; novel human-machine interfaces; supporting app developers through initiatives such as Honda Developer Studio; and computer science research for vehicle intelligence. Silicon Valley engineers also spearhead the company’s working relationship with Silicon Valley-based technology companies.

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BMW launches operations at Center of Urban Mobility Competence; boosting electromobility through EV sharing

July 17, 2015

BMW Group has officially launched operations at its Center of Urban Mobility Competence, which it established earlier this year. Its experts are working with cities and the relevant stakeholders to develop sustainable concepts for future mobility in urban areas.

BMW established the Competence Center to help bring the goal of creating a sustainable model for urban mobility, reducing traffic volumes and improving the quality of life in cities within reach, through partnerships with cities themselves. At the same time, BMW also announced that 100 all-electric BMW i3 cars are now available for DriveNow car sharing customers in Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. In London the BMW i3 was already added to the DriveNow fleet in May, and other cities in Germany and Europe will soon follow suit.

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Magna to acquire Getrag for approximately €1.75B

July 16, 2015

Magna International Inc. signed an agreement to acquire the Getrag Group of Companies for approximately €1.75 billion (US$1.9 billion). This represents an enterprise value of approximately €2.45 billion (US$2.7 billion) less proportionate net debt and proportionate pension liabilities, which together are estimated to be approximately €700 million (US$762 million) at closing.

Getrag is the world’s largest (by volume) OEM-independent supplier of automotive transmissions, offering a range of transmission systems which include manual, automated-manual, dual-clutch, hybrid and other advanced systems.

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Electrochemical Society and Toyota announce fellowship winners for projects in green energy technology

July 15, 2015

The ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship Selection Committee has selected three recipients who will receive $50,000 each for the inaugural fellowships for projects in green energy technology. The winners are Professor Patrick Cappillino, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth; Professor Yogesh (Yogi) Surendranath, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Professor David Go, University of Notre Dame.

The Electrochemical Society (ECS), in partnership with the Toyota Research Institute of North America (TRINA), a division of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. (TEMA), launched the inaugural ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship about six months ago. More than 100 young professors and scholars pursuing innovative electrochemical research in green energy technology responded to ECS’s request for proposals.

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Audi e-gas plant qualified to participate in balancing market to stabilize grid

The Audi e-gas plant in the city of Werlte in Lower Saxony (earlier post) produces CO2 neutral-fuel (synthetic methane from water, renewable electricity and CO2); it now also contributes toward stabilizing the public power grid. After successfully completing a test sequence, the plant is now qualified for participating in the electricity balancing market.

In the German electrical energy mix, the share of renewable energies is growing rapidly, reaching 33% in the first half of 2015. However, regional expansion of wind and photovoltaic generation plants leads to increasingly larger load fluctuations. It is therefore important to have flexibly available consumers such as the Audi e-gas plant to buffer load peaks and thereby stabilize energy grids.

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Renault-Nissan Alliance posts record €3.8 billion in synergies in 2014, up 32.4% from 2013; role of CMF

July 10, 2015

The Renault-Nissan Alliance posted record synergies of €3.80 billion ($4.25 billion) in 2014, up 32.4% from €2.87 billion the previous year. Purchasing, engineering and manufacturing were the biggest contributors. The launch of the Alliance’s first Common Module Family (CMF) vehicles (earlier post), as well as the recent convergence of four key functions—Engineering; Manufacturing Engineering & Supply Chain Management; Purchasing; and Human Resources—helped drive synergies in all three areas, said Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance.

Synergies are generated from cost reductions, cost avoidance and revenue increases. Only new synergies (not cumulative) are taken into account each year. Accounting for synergies helps Renault and Nissan determine if they are meeting their performance objectives.

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