Automotive News Europe blogs

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
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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
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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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VW's Seat profit is actually a loss

Posted 5:29 am U.S. ET, March 23
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Seat's first SUV, the Ateca, should move the automaker into the black this year.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  When is making a profit actually a loss? When you're the accountant at Volkswagen Group's chronic underperformer Seat. Earlier this month, VW's Spanish unit reported its first profit since 2008. On closer inspection, the 6 million euros after-tax profit Seat said it made in 2015, compared to a 66 million euro loss in 2014, isn't as impressive as it seems. Firstly, the figure only includes Seat S ...
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Evoque convertible could challenge sporty German coupes

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, March 22
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Jaguar Land Rover has already taken around 1,500 orders for the Evoque convertible ahead of a June launch.
NICK GIBBS :  Jaguar Land Rover finally has a model to compete with convertible versions of German premium coupes. But it doesn't come from the sporty Jaguar brand. Instead it's a Land Rover SUV. The British automaker believes its Range Rover Evoque convertible will attract BMW 4-series and Audi A5 customers. With its high-riding body, the Evoque convertible might not look like an obvious rival to sportier-lo ...
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The time may be just right for PSA's return to the U.S.

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, March 21
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Richard Truett covers technology and engineering for Automotive News
RICHARD TRUETT :  Time, in an automotive sense, tends to stop for most of us when an automaker leaves the market. That final impression usually lingers, even though time and technology roll on. So, if you've heard that PSA/Peugeot-Citroen is considering a return to North America, don't think that this is the same company producing the same quality of vehicles from 1991, the year PSA retreated from America. Indeed, ...
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Why Renault thinks 5 seats are enough for Koleos successor

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, March 9
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The Koleos successor will not have a "flashy" design. The current model is shown.
NICK GIBBS :  Renault says that five seats are enough for the automaker's Koleos successor because the brand has enough seven-seat vehicles in its lineup. Renault already has a seven-seat Espace large minivan while the new Scenic compact minivan will have a seven-seat version and the brand sells seven-seat Kango car-derived van. "I don't think there are enough families with four kids" to justify adding anothe ...
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At AvtoVAZ, Andersson is a tough act to follow

Posted 4:28 am U.S. ET, March 8
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Andersson, left, with Russian President Putin. Andersson said Putin backed his reforms at AvtoVAZ.
NICK GIBBS :  If Bo Andersson can't run problematic AvtoVAZ, Russia's largest automaker, then who can? Andersson, a seasoned and tough former General Motors purchasing chief, looked the ideal candidate to turn around the maker of Lada cars when he became AvtoVAZ's first Western CEO at the end of 2013. But AvtoVAZ's record loss last year and opposition within Russia to Andersson's job cuts and his cull of inef ...
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Mercedes serves up BMW party spoiler

Posted 4:48 am U.S. ET, March 7
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For a limited period, BMW drivers visiting the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, shown, will be allowed to park directly outside the entrance free of charge.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  Just when you think that German premium brands have called a truce to focus on warding off the threat from Silicon Valley, Mercedes-Benz has issued a spoiler for the 100th birthday celebrations of its arch-rival BMW. Between March 8 and March 13 when BMW begins celebrations to mark the centenary of its foundation, Mercedes has cheekily offered all BMW employees free admission to the Mercedes-Benz ...
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Volvo sees XC90's loss as a win

Posted 9:00 am U.S. ET, March 5
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The new Volvo XC90 was beaten for 2016 European Car of the Year by just 15 points.
DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC :  Volvo sees the XC90’s close second-place finish to the Opel/Vauxhall Astra in the 2016 European Car of the Year contest as a victory. “Being 15 points behind with a big SUV in a very high-price segment is quite extraordinary. I think our engineers should rightfully be very proud.” CEO Hakan Samuelsson told me at the Geneva auto show. He knows that the judges deciding on the pre ...
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Does Carlos Ghosn owe Akio Toyoda an award?

Posted 11:00 am U.S. ET, March 4
blogs Luca Ciferri is Editor of Automotive News Europe.
 
Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn may have unknowingly left himself in an awkward position the next time he sees Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda. At the Geneva auto show Ghosn said: “I do not think that there is anyone making money in Russia, and if there is one it is worth an award.” He might have to start polishing that trophy. “We made a profit in Russia in 2015,” Didier Leroy, ...
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Why Aston Martin chose a UK site to build its SUV

Posted 9:38 am U.S. ET, March 3
blogs
Aston Martin will build its new SUV at a former air-force base in the UK.
NICK GIBBS :  The U.S. state of Alabama finally lost out to the UK as the site of Aston Martin's new SUV factory after the automaker decided not to build the new model on a Mercedes SUV platform, Andy Palmer, Aston Martin's CEO, told me at the Geneva auto show. Last year Palmer described the southern U.S. state as the "obvious choice" for its proximity to the factory where Aston collaborator Daimler builds Mer ...
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Pininfarina's zero-emission H2 Speed could be built for the right price

Posted 10:14 am U.S. ET, March 3
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The Pininfarina H2 Speed concept aims to be the highest-performance fuel cell vehicle in the world.
LUCA CIFERRI :  If a one-off, tailor-made supercar created by an Italian coachbuilder isn't enough, Pininfarina is proposing something on a totally different level: the fastest zero-emission sports car available anywhere. The H2 Speed Concept shown at the Geneva auto show previews a track-only supercar car powered by hydrogen that combines a top speed of 290kph (180mph) and acceleration of 0-62mph (0-100kph) in ...
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Citroen's E-Mehari not a big seller, but a clever marketing tool

Posted 8:59 am U.S. ET, March 3
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Citroen says the E-Mehari's body is made from thermoformed plastic that is corrosion-free, with maintenance-free paintwork and the elasticity to withstand minor impacts.
BRUCE GAIN :  Citroen does not expect its modern version of the iconic 1960s Mehari convertible to become a high-volume seller, but the launch instead could serve as clever way to promote Citroen's uniqueness as a brand. Citroen will mainly offer the beach buggy-like E-Mehari EV to hotels who want to rent a fun car to guests making short trips, especially when on vacation. Even if Citroen only sells 20,000 E- ...
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VW's T-Cross Breeze concept could remain a convertible in production

Posted 3:14 am U.S. ET, March 2
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VW brand chief Herbert Diess says the automaker can "well imagine putting such a convertible on the market as a production model."
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  Volkswagen gave a glimpse of what its smallest SUV will look like with the Geneva debut of the T-Cross Breeze concept, which could retain the study's convertible roof when the group moves its limited range of offroaders further downmarket. "Our T-Cross Breeze is the first open-top SUV in its class," said VW brand chief Herbert Diess about the subcompact. “We can well imagine putting such a ...
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VW target of diesel-emissions spoof in Geneva

Posted 2:06 pm U.S. ET, March 1
blogs
Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe's Germany correspondent.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  GENEVA -- Volkswagen hoped to wow visiting journalists at its Geneva auto show stand with a range of concepts and new models supposed to symbolize the “New Volkswagen,” only instead to become the unwilling target of a man reported to be British comedian Simon Brodkin. Just seconds into Tuesday’s press conference, Volkswagen brand sales chief Juergen Stackmann was briefly interru ...
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Porsche faces risks repositioning the Cayman and Boxster

Posted 4:48 am U.S. ET, Feb. 29
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The Boxster will no longer be the cheapest Porsche. The roadster gets a new name, the 718 Boxster, and a new engines with turbocharging.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  Porsche is clearing up one of the last remaining oddities of the era under ex-CEO Wendelin Wiedeking. After unclogging a legacy investment jam built up under its former long-serving former chief, the brand is fundamentally repositioning its mid-engine sports car range with a different pricing strategy and new names. In the future the Cayman coupe will be the most affordable Porsche instead of the ...
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Auto shows need reboot to fight off digital challenge, de Meo says

Posted 7:39 am U.S. ET, Feb. 29
blogs Luca Ciferri is Editor of Automotive News Europe.
 
Increasing numbers of automakers are skipping auto shows because the "wow” factor is no longer there in today's digital age, says Luca de Meo, CEO of Volkswagen Group's Seat brand. In the past people wanted to be present when a new car was unveiled. It was a "seminal" moment show visitors were waiting for and one which they told their friends and relatives about, he said. In today's digita ...
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How Opel caught the eye of Ferrari's former boss

Posted 3:59 pm U.S. ET, Feb. 29
blogs
Montezemolo spent 23 years as chairman of Ferrari before resigning in October 2014. He is now president of Italy's Alitalia airline. (Reuters)
DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC :  Opel has earned high praise from Ferrari’s former chairman. “I am impressed with Opel. They have a clear position and good products. They are German but also European,” Luca Cordero di Montezemolo told Automotive News Europe’s Rising Stars Monday at a small gathering in Geneva on the eve of the auto show here. Coincidentally, the Opel Astra was named 2016 European Car of ...
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Lapo Elkann is ready to create your dream car

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Feb. 26
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Lapo Elkann polishes a Ferrari 458 that his firm, Garage Italia Customs, gave a distinctive camouflage wrapping.
LUCA CIFERRI :  Fiat scion Lapo Elkann recently educated me on the cost of customizing a car. It turns out that changing a vehicle’s look is not nearly as expensive as I though – if you keep things simple. But if you want something exotic you better have a lot of money in the bank. Those were the takeaways from my recent meeting with Elkann, who last year founded Garage Italia Customs, a Milan-based ...
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