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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.]

Frost & Sullivan sees 29% growth in dimensional metrology market in automotive by 2018 to more than $1.2B; automation, weight reduction and platforms

August 07, 2014

Rapid automation of automotive manufacturing plants, a focus on weight reduction, and vehicle platform strategies are key factors that will drive the demand for dimensional metrology solutions in the automotive industry, according to new analysis from Frost & Sullivan.

In a new report, Frost & Sullivan finds that the overall dimensional metrology market in the automotive industry earned revenue of $949.2 million in 2013 and forecasts this will grow 29% to approximately $1,225.1 million in 2018 (CAGR of 5.2%). While Frost & Sullivan expects the coordinate measuring machine (CMM) segment to account for 67.8% of the global dimensional metrology market in the automotive industry by 2018, it also expects that inline metrology (automated measurements fully integrated into a production line) will become the most desired solution for automotive applications, with advanced, fully-automated inline metrology systems powering the next-generation dimensional metrology solutions.

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Tesla reports Q2 non-GAAP net of $16M, GAAP net loss of $62M

August 01, 2014

For the second quarter for 2014, Tesla Motors reported non-GAAP net income of $16 million and a GAAP net loss of $62 million. Tesla includes both GAAP and non-GAAP financial information because it plans and manages its business using non-GAAP information. Non-GAAP financials exclude stock-based compensation and non-cash interest expense, while adding back the deferred revenue and related costs for cars sold with a residual value guarantee or similar buy-back terms.

Non-GAAP revenue was $858 million for the quarter, up 55% from a year ago, while GAAP revenue was $769 million. Automotive revenue for Q2 included $23 million of powertrain sales to Daimler and Toyota, reflecting the start of production deliveries to Daimler for the Mercedes-Benz B Class Electric Drive and the wind down of sales to Toyota for the RAV4 EV.

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Nissan CEO outlines launch timetable for autonomous drive technologies

July 17, 2014

In a speech to the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, Carlos Ghosn, president and CEO of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., broadly outlined the Japanese carmaker’s launch timetable for the latest vehicle automation technologies aimed at accelerating consumer adoption of Autonomous Drive systems. (Earlier post.)

The Nissan CEO said new technologies including automated lane controls and highway traffic management systems, to be introduced over the next four years, would demonstrate to consumers the viability and value of Autonomous Drive systems, which Nissan intends to make commercially viable by 2020.

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Volkswagen to produce new CrossBlue-based midsize SUV in Chattanooga; $900M investment

July 14, 2014

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The new mid-size SUV is based on the CrossBlue concept. Click to enlarge.

The Board of Directors of Volkswagen Group of America has decided to award the production of its new midsize SUV to the Chattanooga plant in Tennessee. The Group will be investing a total of approximately US$900 million (€643 million) in the production of the newly developed, seven-passenger SUV, creating 2,000 additional jobs in the US. About US$600 million (€432 million) will be invested in Tennessee.

The midsize SUV, which is based on the MQB-based CrossBlue plug-in hybrid concept vehicle, was developed especially for the North American market. The CrossBlue made its global debut at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. (Earlier post.)

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Renault-Nissan Alliance posts record €2.9B in synergies in 2013 ahead of launch of first common module family vehicles; targeting €4.3B in 2016

July 02, 2014

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The Common Module Family represents a new approach to engineering for the Renault/Nissan Alliance. Click to enlarge.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance posted record synergies of €2.87 billion (US$3.9B) in 2013, up from €2.69 billion (US$3.7 billion) in the previous year. Purchasing, powertrain and vehicle engineering remained the biggest contributors as the Alliance geared up for the launch of its first Common Module Family (CMF) vehicles. (Earlier post.)

Purchasing, which is jointly managed by Renault-Nissan Purchasing Organization (RNPO), generated €1.036 billion (US$1.4 billion) in synergies. Vehicle engineering, which relates to common platforms and components, accounted for €714 million (US$975 million) . The co-development and exchange of powertrains accounted for €525 million (US$717 million.

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Renault-Nissan Alliance and Daimler expand cooperation with new $1.4B plant in Mexico; next-gen compacts for Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti

June 27, 2014

The Renault-Nissan Alliance and Daimler AG are significantly expanding their cooperation with joint development of premium compact vehicles and joint production in Mexico. Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn and Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche announced today that their companies have agreed to establish a 50:50 joint venture, the business entity that will oversee construction and operation of the new plant in Aguascalientes in north-central Mexico.

The new plant will be built in the immediate vicinity of an already existing Nissan plant and will have an annual capacity of 300,000 vehicles when fully ramped up. Start of production is planned for 2017 with Infiniti models. The production of Mercedes-Benz brand vehicles will follow in 2018.

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Ford tops 50 Best Global Green Brands list for 2014; Toyota, Honda and Nissan 2nd, 3rd and 4th

June 25, 2014

Automakers took the top four slots in the 50 Best Global Green Brands list for 2014, published by Fortune magazine in conjunction with the consulting firm Deloitte and Interbrand. Ford bumped last year’s leader, Toyota, to take the top spot. Toyota came in second, followed by Honda and Nissan. Panasonic was in fifth place.

The list was first created in 2011. This year’s nominees were drawn from Interbrand’s annual Best Global Brands report, which ranks the world’s 100 most valuable brands. The 50 companies on Best Global Green Brands list were ranked in two ways: on the strength of their sustainability initiatives and on how the public perceives those efforts.

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GM reduced energy intensity and carbon intensity per vehicle in 2013

May 20, 2014

In 2013, GM reduced the energy-intensity per vehicle manufactured 3.5% from 2012, down to an average 2.22 MW/vehicle from 2.30 MW, according to the company’s just released 2013 sustainability report. GM has set a target of 1.97 MW/vehicle for 2020, a reduction of 20% from the 2010 baseline of 2.47 MW.

The carbon intensity (CI) per vehicle dropped to 0.87 tonnes CO2e/vehicle in 2013, down 1.1% from 0.88 tonnes in 2012. The 2020 target is 0.74 tonnes CO2e, down 20% from the 2010 baseline of 0.93 tonnes. (CI includes all manufacturing and non-manufacturing CO2e emissions reported in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Scope 1 & 2 categories (earlier post), normalized by vehicle production. These data include data from some GM JVs.)

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CAM/PwC name Volkswagen Group most innovative global automotive company, Mercedes-Benz most innovative brand

May 12, 2014

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Top spot went to Volkswagen Group, followed by Daimler, BMW, GM and Toyota. Source: CAM. Click to enlarge.

The Germany-based Center of Automotive Management (CAM), in cooperation with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) AG WPG, named the Volkswagen Group the world’s most innovative automotive company in its 2014 AutomotiveINNOVATIONS Awards; this marks the fourth consecutive time Volkswagen Group has picked up the top award. The Volkswagen Group also received awards in the “Conventional drives”, “Alternative drives” and “Networked vehicle” categories. Daimler followed in second place, then BMW Group, GM and Toyota.

CAM also selected Mercedes-Benz as the most innovative brand; BMW came in second, followed by Volkswagen, Audi and Ford.

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Volkswagen Group 2014 sustainability report shows progress on key environmental performance indicators; Strategy 2018 and leadership in e-mobility

May 08, 2014

The Volkswagen Group continues to make progress on the way to its goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable automaker, according to its 2014 sustainability report. The report provides information on the progress achieved in economic, environmental and social sustainability in 2013, and was drawn up in accordance with the G3 Guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). For the first time this involved the use of an IT system that in future will be expanded for Group-wide data acquisition and control activities, as well as for stakeholder management within the Group.

In the reporting year 2013, average energy consumption per vehicle produced was 2,205 kWh, down 0.4% from 2,213 kWh in 2012 and down 12.5% below the figure for the base year of 2010. Per vehicle CO2 emissions in 2013 were 422 kg, down 6% from 449 kg in 2013 and 19.5% lower than the 588 kg of the base year of 2010. The Group now takes one-third of its electric power from renewable sources.

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Toyota to establish new North American headquarters in Texas; consolidating from California, Kentucky and New York

April 29, 2014

Toyota is establishing a new headquarters in North Dallas (Plano), Texas for its North American operations. Within the next three years, Toyota’s three separate North American headquarters for manufacturing (Erlanger, KY); sales and marketing (Torrance, CA); and corporate operations (New York, NY) will relocate to a single campus in Plano. Toyota’s North American finance arm also plans to move its headquarters to this new shared campus. Altogether, these moves will affect approximately 4,000 employees.

At the same time, Toyota will expand the Toyota Technical Center (TTC) in Michigan to accommodate the relocation of direct procurement from Erlanger, Ky., to its campus in York Township near Ann Arbor. This expansion is part of an increased investment in engineering capabilities and will accommodate future growth in product development.

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GM’s China JVs investing $12B between 2014-2017 to expand; GM outlines China market trends

April 21, 2014

In conjunction with the start of Auto China 2014 in Beijing, GM China President Matt Tsien announced that GM’s China joint ventures will make capital expenditures of about $12 billion between 2014 and 2017. That investment will help GM step up its pace by funding facility and capacity expansion and new product programs. China has been GM’s largest market since 2010, last year accounting for about one-third of its global sales.

Some of the $12 billion investment will fund the launch of more than 60 new and upgraded vehicles coming to market through 2018. GM’s focus will be on answering the growing demand for luxury vehicles, SUVs, multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) and smaller passenger cars.

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Volkswagen Group launching major electro-mobility campaign in China; $25B on new vehicles, technologies and plants up to 2018

April 20, 2014

The Volkswagen Group is launching a major electro-mobility campaign in China—the the biggest initiative for e-mobility in China’s automotive history, said Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen AG, on the eve of the Auto China motor show in Beijing. The initiative gets underway with the launch this year of the Volkswagen brand’s battery-electric e-up! (earlier post) and e-Golf (earlier post) models.

The Porsche Panamera S E-hybrid plug-in hybrid (earlier post) is already in the showrooms in China; the Group will launch two further plug-in hybrid vehicles there next year with the Audi A3 e-tron (earlier post) and the Golf GTE (earlier post). Starting in 2016, this will be followed by two models developed specially for the Chinese market: These are the Audi A6 (earlier post) and a new mid-size limousine from the Volkswagen brand, both plug-in hybrids which are being developed together with the joint venture partners FAW Volkswagen and Shanghai Volkswagen and will be produced locally.

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Volkswagen Group’s new Future Tracks program targeting digitalization era in auto industry; “James 2025”

March 10, 2014

At the Geneva Motor Show and now at the IT trade fair CeBIT in Hanover, Germany, Volkswagen Group executive management has begun to outline its “Future Tracks” program which will address, among other things, what Chairman of the Board of Management Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn calls an approaching new era of digitalization.

In an address at the opening ceremony of CeBIT 2014 in Hanover in the presence of Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel, the British Prime Minister David Cameron, the Minister-President of Lower Saxony Stephan Weil and Prof. Dieter Kempf, President of BITKOM, the IT industry Association, Winterkorn declared that the increasingly intensive networking of cars with their surroundings and automatic driving would be the key topics for the intelligent mobility of the future.

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Volkswagen to introduce Passat Plug-in hybrid “soon”; Group electrifying more than 40 more models over next few years

March 04, 2014

In remarks before the opening of the Geneva Motora Show, Volkswagen Group Chairman of the Board of Management Prof. Dr. Winterkorn said that a plug-in hybrid version of the Volkswagen Passat would join the Group’s range of low-CO2 vehicles “soon.”

In his remarks, Winterkorn noted that Group research and development expenditure rose by 15% last year to the record value of €10.2 billion (US $14 billion), with the “lion’s share going to green technologies.” Winterkorn said that the Group was reinforcing its objective to become the world’s leading automaker, also in ecological terms, by 2018.

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Honda to end production of the Insight hybrid, commits to the expansion of hybrid offerings in the US

March 01, 2014

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Annual sales of the second-generation Honda Insight. Data: Honda. Click to enlarge.

Honda announced that while the US model Insight will be available at dealerships in the US through the end of the year, production of the hybrid will end in summer 2014.

Honda said the move reflects its reinforced commitment to a clear product strategy focused on further advancing fuel-efficient and alternative-fuel vehicle technologies that are better aligned with customer needs and that strengthen the company’s US sales momentum. The Insight, introduced in 2009, had posted steadily decreasing sales, from a high of 20,962 units in 2010 down to 4,802 units in 2013.

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Honda begins 2015 Fit production at new plant in Mexico; plant designed exclusively for subcompacts

February 23, 2014

Honda continued the expansion of its manufacturing operations in North America with the production start of the redesigned 2015 Honda Fit at a new, automobile plant of Honda de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. (HDM). The start-up of the Celaya Plant increases Honda’s annual automobile production capacity in North America to approximately 1.92 million units. In 2013, more than 90% of the Honda and Acura automobiles sold in the US were produced in North America; this is expected to exceed 95% when the Celaya plant reaches full capacity.

Located in Celaya, Guanajuato, the US$800-million plant began production less than two years after construction started in early 2012, and will employ 3,200 associates with an annual capacity of 200,000 vehicles and engines when it reaches full production later this year. In addition to the 2015 Honda Fit, the plant will begin production late this year of an all-new compact SUV.

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Tesla shipped 6,892 Model S units in Q4 2013, 22,477 full year; battery Gigafactory announcement next week

February 20, 2014

Tesla Motors announced record deliveries of 6,892 Model S vehicles worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2013, with 22,477 vehicles in the full year. For the quarter, non-GAAP revenue was $761 million, up 26% from Q3. GAAP revenue for Q4 was $615 million, up 43% from Q3. Q4 non-GAAP net income was $46 million, or $0.33 per share, while Q4 GAAP net loss was $16 million or $(0.13) per share.

The differences between GAAP and non-GAAP are primarily due to lease accounting for resale value guarantee (RVG) and employee stock-based compensation as a result of the increase in stock price last year. The results show Tesla moving closer to break-even or profitability even on a GAAP basis. (GAAP net loss per share for the quarter ending 30 Sep 2013 was $(0.32), and for Q4 of 2012, $(0.79). For the full 2013 calendar year, net loss per share $(0.62), while for all of 2012, it was $(3.69).

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Dongfeng Motor Group deepens partnership with Peugeot with $1.1B stake, new industrial plan

February 19, 2014

China’s Dongfeng Motor Group (DFG) will invest at least €800 (US$1.1 billion) in France-based PSA Peugeot Citroën as part of a €3-billion (US$4.13-billion) capital increase newly approved by PSA’s board. The French government is making an equal investment at the same time.

The investment also marks a strengthening and deepening of the existing industrial and commercial partnership between PSA and DFG, China’s second largest carmaker. Since 2013, China has been PSA Peugeot Citroën’s second largest market, with around 550,000 vehicles sold in 2013 via DPCA, its 50/50 joint-venture with DFG. The capital increase and the closer ties to DFG are aimed at:

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Chevy buying carbon credits from US colleges; new formula helps fund campus energy-efficient projects

February 12, 2014

Chevrolet is investing in clean energy efficiency initiatives of US colleges and universities through its voluntary carbon-reduction initiative. The funding opportunity is open to all US universities and colleges; a campus determines whether its performance in reducing carbon emissions will qualify based on new methodologies that Chevrolet developed through the Verified Carbon Standard.

To develop the new methodologies, Chevrolet worked with an advisory team led by the Climate Neutral Business Network with support from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, the US Green Building Council and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

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CAR report quantifies automotive’s position as a leading high-tech industry

January 08, 2014

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Percentage of Global R&D Spending by Industry, 2013. Source: Booz & Company “Global Innovation”; Battelle R&D Magazine; Center for Automotive Research 2012. Click to enlarge.

A newly-released report by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) concludes that the automotive industry is not only “high-tech,” it is frequently a leader in technological developments and applications. The report, supported by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, measures the technological nature of today’s auto industry and compares it to other sectors of the economy often viewed as technologically advanced.

The report authors acknowledge the difficulty of defining “high-tech” in an ever-changing economic environment. After reviewing of the works of several researchers and government agencies, CAR developed a working definition to differentiate high-tech industries from other sectors. Broadly, high-tech industries generally have the following characteristics:

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Volkswagen Group to invest €84.2B (US$114B) in automotive division over next 5 years; China JVs to invest separate €18.2B (US$24.7B)

November 22, 2013

The Volkswagen Group will invest a total of €84.2 billion (US$114 billion) in its automotive division over the coming five years. Investments in property, plant and equipment in the automotive division will amount to €63.4 billion (US$85.9 billion).

The Group will spend €41.2 billion (US$55.8 billion)—about 65%—of the total amount to be invested in property, plant and equipment on modernizing and extending the product range for all its brands. The main focus will be on new vehicles and successor models in almost all vehicle classes, which will be based on the modular toolkit technology and related components. This will allow the Volkswagen Group systematically to continue its model rollout with a view to tapping new markets and segments.

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Mazda showcases CNG and hybrid Axela models in Tokyo; Mazda’s approach to environmental performance

At the Tokyo Motor Show, Mazda is showcasing the recently-released Mazda Axela (known as Mazda3 overseas) with a variety of engine types at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, including a CNG concept and hybrid variants. (Earlier post.)

The Axela accounts for more than 30% of global sales; the latest Axela is the third generation. The new Axela range also introduces a hybrid vehicle, and marks the first time for a single model launched on the Japanese market to include gasoline, diesel, and hybrid power plants in its powertrain lineup.

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Daimler takes 12% stake in Chinese parter BAIC Motor; first non-Chinese automotive company to acquire an interest in a Chinese OEM

November 19, 2013

Daimler AG is taking a major step forward in its China strategy with the closing of the company’s 12% investment in long-standing partner BAIC Motor, the passenger car unit of Beijing Automotive Group (BAIC Group), one of the top automotive companies in China. This marks the first investment by a non-Chinese automotive company in a Chinese OEM.

The official closing of the transaction followed a short time after the signing of the investment agreement between the two companies in Stuttgart earlier this year and a smooth approval by the relevant Chinese authorities. Daimler’s investment will take place through the issuance of new shares corresponding to a 12% stake in BAIC Motor. With this investment, Daimler is proving its strong support for BAIC Motor’s intention to launch an initial public offering (IPO) in the future.

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Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Mitsubishi to provide financial assistance for EV charging infrastructure in Japan

November 12, 2013

Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Honda Motor Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation have agreed on the details of specific financial assistance they will provide to installers of charging stations for electric vehicles (PHVs, PHEVs, and EVs). This announcement follows an agreement the four companies announced in July jointly to promote the construction of a user-friendly network of charging infrastructures. (Earlier post.)

In order for electric vehicles to become widely adopted, the partners point out, it is imperative that charging infrastructure be made widely available as quickly as possible. By assisting installers with the part of their costs not covered by government subsidies, the four companies intend to promote wider availability of chargers to make electric vehicle use more convenient.

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Renault-Nissan Alliance and Mitsubishi Motors to explore expanded cooperation; new EVs

November 05, 2013

The Renault-Nissan Alliance and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation intend to explore several new projects covering shared products, technologies and manufacturing capacity among the automakers. As a consequence, they agreed that the strategic cooperation between Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors could be expanded across the broader Renault-Nissan Alliance.

Between Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors, it is expected that the existing NMKV joint-venture company (earlier post) will be extended to co-develop a new small car including a specific electric version that can be sold on a global basis. (NMKV was established in June 2011 for the purpose of co-developing a range of Kei cars for both brands; the first of these products—the Nissan Dayz and Mitsubishi eK wagon—went on sale in Japan this year.)

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GM and US Army expanding collaboration on fuel cells; up to 5-year project

September 30, 2013

General Motors and the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development & Engineering Center (TARDEC) are expanding their collaboration in the development of hydrogen fuel cell technology. TARDEC currently is evaluating GM fuel cell vehicles in a comprehensive demonstration in Hawaii. (Earlier post.)

Through a new Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) GM and TARDEC will jointly test new hydrogen fuel cell-related materials and designs to evaluate their performance and durability before assembling them into full scale fuel cell propulsion systems. The partners said that the collaborative effort will enable them jointly to develop technology that meets both of their requirements, accomplishing more tangible results than either could achieve on its own. The project is expected to continue for up to five years.

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EPA recognizes Volkswagen Chattanooga with a Green Power Leadership Award for on-site generation

September 24, 2013

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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 Chattanooga has received a 2013 Green Power Leadership Award from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—the only automaker to be so recognized. The annual awards recognize the country’s leading green power users for their commitment and contribution to helping advance the development of the nation’s voluntary green power market.

Volkswagen Chattanooga was one of only four organizations nationwide to receive a Leadership Award in the category of on-site generation of green power. (The others were Apple; the County of Santa Clara, CA; and Kaiser Permanete.) The award recognizes EPA Green Power Partners who distinguish themselves using on-site renewable energy applications, such as solar photovoltaic (PV) or landfill gas. Volkswagen Chattanooga is currently generating more than 13 million kWh of green power annually from its on-site 9.5 MW solar energy system, which is enough green power to meet 12% of the organization’s electricity use. (Earlier post.)

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Chrysler Group files S-1 for IPO; snapshot of R&D priorities; exploring a light-duty hydraulic hybrid

Chrysler Group LLC has filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) relating to a proposed initial public offering of common shares. Details of the offering—i.e., number of shares and price range—are yet to be determined.

However, the document not only provides a detailed look at the finances of the company, it also provides a quick recap of recent technology developments and some insight into the company’s immediate research priorities. Chrysler writes that its has “made the development of more fuel-efficient vehicles a priority to meet retail consumer preferences, comply with future regulations and as part of our commitment to sustainability.

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Volkswagen Group selected as new Industry Group Leader in Dow Jones Sustainability Index

September 13, 2013

For the first time, the Volkswagen Group has been classed as the most sustainable automaker in the world’s leading sustainability ranking. RobecoSAM AG has listed Volkswagen AG as the Industry Group Leader in the Automobiles and Components sector in this year’s review of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI).

The 2013 review analyzed the corporate economic, environmental, and social sustainability performance of 31 automotive companies, seven of them from Europe, with reference to criteria such as environmental and climate protection strategy, innovation management and corporate social responsibility.

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Daimler/Renault-Nissan collaboration expanding

September 12, 2013

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The smart fourjoy introduced at Frankfurt is being developed on the basis of a Daimler/Renault-Nissan shared architecture. Click to enlarge.

The chief executives of the Renault-Nissan Alliance and Daimler AG said during an annual briefing at the Frankfurt Motor Show that their companies’ partnership (earlier post) is advancing quickly, and the scope of the collaboration is increasingly global.

The French-Japanese-German partnership began in April 2010, with three “pillar projects” primarily focused on Europe. Since then, the portfolio has increased to ten significant projects, including major initiatives from North America to Japan. In addition, relevant business units are working together in best-practice sharing and other forms of cooperation.

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