Automotive News Europe blogs

Recapping Toyota's traumatic loss at Le Mans

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, June 23
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Toyota was about end its 0-for-18 streak at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last weekend, but a technical problem cost it the race in the last lap.
LUCA CIFERRI :  Motorsports can be cruel. Toyota was reminded of this when it lost the 24 Hours of Le Mans to Porsche during the final lap of the world’s most famous endurance race. I was with Toyota’s executive team members when their near elation was transformed into complete deflation last weekend. After 23 hours and 53 minutes of racing, Toyota had built a lead of about 80 seconds on the closest ...
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VW's long day as shareholders quiz management

Posted 6:40 am U.S. ET, June 22
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Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe's Germany correspondent.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  When Volkswagen's 56th annual meeting began today, there were long lines outside the Hanover trade fair grounds as 3,000 shareholders waited patiently to be ushered through the dozen metal detectors dotting the entrance. "They say it will be a long day," one of the numerous security guards said to his colleague as they watched investors stream through the gates on their way to the adjacent Hall 3 ...
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Probe overshadows VW's annual meeting

Posted 7:01 am U.S. ET, June 21
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Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe's Germany correspondent.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  When shareholders gather in Hanover on Wednesday for what is sure to be a turbulent annual meeting, one of the executives they see on the podium is the official target of an investigation into criminal misconduct. The charge levied by Germany's securities regulator is effectively lying to investors by omission about the existence of the U.S. probe into its diesel emissions – or “manip ...
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How Ford's European arm became a money maker again

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, June 10
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Ford of Europe President Jim Farley has overseen a dramatic turnaround.
LUCA CIFERRI :  When Ford of Europe President Jim Farley told Automotive News Europe in January that he wanted the U.S. automaker to achieve an operating margin of 6 percent to 8 percent in the region within the next five years I was skeptical. At best, European volume automakers reach a 4 percent operating margin – globally – and that is only during years when market conditions are favorable. That i ...
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Peugeot offers a two-wheel solution for congested cities

Posted 9:46 am U.S. ET, June 1
blogs Bruce Gain is an Automotive News Europe correspondent in France.
 
Trouble finding a parking spot in a crowded city center? Peugeot will be offering a solution with its new 3008 – an electric bicycle or an electric scooter that can be folded up and stowed in the trunk. The bike or scooter will allow drivers to park outside congested urban centers and scoot or pedal into town. Another interesting novelty is that the two machines can be charged in the trunk ...
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Why Mercedes is overtaking German rivals in China

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, May 27
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The GLA is seeing strong demand hot crossover market. Shown is the 250 AMG version.
:  Mercedes-Benz, which used to be far behind Audi and BMW in China's luxury market, is rapidly closing the gap. Last year, Mercedes sales soared 33 percent, while Audi deliveries dipped 1.4 percent and BMW sales edged up 1.7 percent. This year, Mercedes seems certain to catch BMW, while Audi -- still China's top luxury brand -- nervously eyes its rivals. Mercedes has enjoyed strong demand for the ...
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McLaren goes to new heights with the 570GT

Posted 2:45 am U.S. ET, May 26
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This photo gives a perspective of the challenge McLaren had to overcome to get the 570GT on to the roof of the Ritz-Carlton Abama.
DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC :  McLaren went to new heights for the media launch of its latest model. The 570GT was hoisted 95 meters to the 10th floor patio area of the Ritz-Carlton Abama on the Spanish island of Tenerife. It took five hours to set up a 165-ton crane on the beach area below the hotel and about 5 to 10 minutes to get the 195,350 euro (which will start at $198,950 in the U.S.) supercar to its temporary perch. T ...
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Germany deserves rebuff from Italy and Fiat

Posted 10:20 am U.S. ET, May 25
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CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  European Union governments have stubbornly refused to tighten oversight of the auto industry despite pleas from environmental advocacy groups. Now Germany is paying a humiliating price for this after being snubbed by Fiat, which was backed by the Italian government. No EU government looks good when it comes to how they oversee the industry, which is a key provider of jobs, but Germany appears to ...
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Entrusting my life to Audi's self-driving car

Posted 7:44 am U.S. ET, May 18
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The A7-based prototype showcases how Audi's autonomous driving technology handles a German autobahn.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  At the end of Audi's invitation came the request familiar to journalists attending press driving events. "Due to legal requirements, we ask that you bring your driver's license and present it at the event." For once the request was a formality. The car I was testing was Audi’s A7-based piloted driving concept, which steers itself. The prototype, which the company calls "Jack," is far more ...
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VW pays out high rewards for failure

Posted 6:15 am U.S. ET, May 17
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Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe's Germany correspondent.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  UK hedge fund TCI says Volkswagen Group's top management together will have been paid about 400 million euros ($455 million) in salary and bonuses since 2011, a sum it condemned as "corporate excess on an epic scale." That averages out to about 7.4 million euros per person per year despite what TCI estimates will be stagnant operating profits over the same six-year period. “Management has ...
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Risk rises for in-car buttons as gestures take control

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, May 15
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Continental's solution puts the gesture-detection zone on the steering wheel. This works with the help of a so-called "time-of-flight sensor" that is integrated into the instrument cluster.
DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC :  The future of in-car switches and buttons looks even more uncertain as the move to offer gesture-based controls accelerates. Continental has developed a solution that puts the detection zone for gestures on the steering wheel instead of the center console. That is where it is located on the new-generation BMW 7 series that debuted last year with a solution from Delphi that reads hand movements us ...
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In Paris, a feast of urban mobility options

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, May 13
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Pedicabs on the Ile de St. Louis in Paris. (BRADFORD WERNLE)
BRADFORD WERNLE :  PARIS -- If you want to see how a future city without cars is beginning to take shape, take a quick trip to Paris, a laboratory for 21st century urban mobility. To borrow the title of Ernest Hemingway’s memoir of 1920s bohemian life in Paris, the City of Light is truly “a movable feast.” Oh, there are still plenty of cars here, but increasingly, the automobile is being forced to ...
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VW is wrong to seek to clear its leadership over its diesel scandal

Posted 4:41 am U.S. ET, May 12
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Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe's Germany correspondent.
:  Volkswagen Group continues to amaze me. The outrage over automaker's plan to pay its top management 35 million euros ($40 million) in bonuses for 2015 should give its supervisory board cause to reflect. Not so. VW is asking shareholders at its June 22 annual meeting to ratify the actions of both the management board and supervisory board for last year – effectively giving them all a passin ...
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Radio's surprising role in race to reduce CO2

Posted 7:39 am U.S. ET, May 12
blogs Douglas A. Bolduc is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe.
 
Audi disagrees with radio broadcasters in Europe that FM, digital and internet audio services need to be offered side by side in future cars because the move would hamper automakers' efforts to reduce CO2 emissions. "Let’s focus on two instead of three," said Holger Hees, Audi's head of development for broadcast radio, TV and optical media drivers. The options Hees supports are digital and ...
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Audi could be mulling a Maybach rival

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, May 11
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Audi could use the A8L to create a personal luxury limousine, as shown in this rendering, to challenge Mercedes-Benz in markets where there is demand for such models. (AUTOWEEK)
JAY RAMEY:  Audi may be thinking about taking on Mercedes-Benz at the very top of the luxury market. Auto Express reports the automaker is considering fielding a Maybach rival, extra-long-wheelbase sedan as well as an upmarket new coupe to take on the latest flagship from Mercedes. The current A8L could serve as the basis for an even longer sedan, given the rapid success of the relaunched Mercedes-Maybach S ...
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Why convertible SUVs could have a bright future

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, May 6
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Land Rover worked with Webasto to develop the Evoque convertible's sophisticated, five-layered folding fabric roof, which the automaker says is the longest and widest fitted on any open-top model currently on sale.
DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC :  Convertible roof specialist Webasto says automakers are keeping a very close eye on the new Range Rover Evoque cabriolet. “If it generates strong interest with customers there are a number of automakers that a ready to jump into the market,” said Holger Engelmann, CEO of Webasto, which supplies the Evoque’s folding softtop. “It is possible that we will see a few more model ...
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Why a PSA-FCA merger should happen - but won't

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, May 4
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:  Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been actively seeking a merger partner since September 2014. PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, which last month renamed itself PSA Group, is financially sound again, a pre-condition CEO Carlos Tavares said needed to be met before he would even dream about starting a conversation about a merger, alliance, cross sharing or any other such combination with another automaker. Now the ...
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Lightweighting push puts pressure on leather

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, April 29
blogs Nick Gibbs is UK Correspondent at Automotive News Europe.
 
Automakers’ growing desire to cut weight from cars wherever they can is significantly boosting sales of an upmarket leather alternative, says the boss of the company that makes the substitute. “We have noticed an increased interest in the lightness of the material,” Alcantara CEO Andrea Boragno told me. Demand for Alcantara (which is the name of the product and the company) ros ...
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VW's other headache: workers' demand for a 5% pay hike

Posted 4:06 am U.S. ET, April 20
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CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  Volkswagen Group will be able to come up with enough money to cover the costs of its emissions-rigging scandal, which is estimated to be as high as 40 billion euros by some analysts. That's the good news. The bad news is that VW brand workers in Germany are now asking for a 5 percent pay increase in the middle of the company's biggest ever business crisis. The upcoming start of collective bargai ...
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VW's tone-deaf management

Posted 8:56 am U.S. ET, April 13
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Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe's Germany correspondent.
:  In view of Volkswagen's emissions-rigging scandal, it's amazingly tone-deaf and irresponsible that the automaker's top management had to be prodded by unions into accepting a major cut in their bonuses. People complain that the German unions constantly block company efforts to restructure by protecting uncompetitive jobs and instead forcing management to do splits to find a way to lower costs. Y ...
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Google and Apple can be good for industry, Renault-Nissan connectivity chief says

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, April 13
blogs Bruce Gain is an Automotive News Europe correspondent in France.
 
Are Google and Apple enablers or disruptors? A little of both, says Ogi Redzic, Renault-Nissan’s head of connected vehicles and mobility services. Automakers worry that moves by Google and Apple into self-driving and electric cars may result in car companies becoming low-margin hardware providers to the tech giants who will cash in from developing the "brains" of future cars. But while the ...
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Will the Mercedes pickup truck be called X class?

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, April 8
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The upcoming Mercedes pickup, possibly called the X-Class, will use the Nissan Navara platform, as shown in this rendering. (AUTOWEEK)
JAY RAMEY:  Mercedes-Benz will preview its upcoming pickup truck at the Paris auto show this autumn, Auto Express reports. The pickup, which will likely be badged the X class, is expected to go on sale in the late 2017. Mercedes' first midsize pickup, which will be sold in Europe, South Africa, Latin America and Australia, will share most of its mechanicals with the Nissan Navara, although the powerplants ar ...
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Bo Andersson shares lessons learned at Lada

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, April 7
blogs
Bo Andersson, the first non-Russian to lead the country's largest automaker, AvtoVAZ, faced an almost constant battle while trying to reform the money-losing, partly state-owned company.
NICK GIBBS :  In a farewell email written on his last day, Bo Andersson, the departing CEO of Lada maker AvtoVAZ, said he was “proud” of what he and staff achieved at the troubled Russian company during his short tenure. The Swede was the first non-Russian to lead the country's largest automaker but faced an almost constant battle to reform the partly state-owned company in his two years as head. ...
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Is CNG the future? Yes, but…

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, April 6
blogs
The Audi A3 Sportback g-tron's two CNG tanks provided me with a 300km range during a recent test before the car needed to tap a reserve tank filled with gasoline.
LUCA CIFERRI :  Rinaldo Rinolfi, who is one of the fathers of the common-rail diesel, and a true powertrain guru, is someone I trust wholeheartedly when it comes to providing feedback on the future of vehicle propulsion. I recently asked the former Fiat engineer which powertrain he believes is the greenest, most affordable option available today. His rather surprising response was: compressed natural gas. "CNG s ...
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PSA demonstrates realistic way of measuring fuel economy

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, April 2
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A Peugeot 308 fitted with a portable testing device revealed far higher on-road fuel use than achieved during laboratory tests.
NICK GIBBS :  PSA/Peugeot-Citroen gave journalists a glimpse of how real-world emissions testing works as part of its effort to restore consumer confidence that has been damaged by Volkswagen Group's emissions-cheating scandal. Starting in June, PSA will publish real-world fuel economy/CO2 emissions figures alongside official laboratory test figures for 30 of its models. The automaker says its on-road testing ...
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