Automotive News Europe blogs

Rising Stars finish year with a flourish

Posted 1:36 am U.S. ET, Dec. 15
blogs Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.
 
Three members of Automotive News Europe’s Rising Stars family are finishing the year on high notes. Agustin Martin, currently president of Toyota Spain and a Rising Star from 2015, has been picked to lead Toyota Europe's newly created mobility and connected car unit. He starts on Jan. 1. It seems Martin was destined for this job. When we spoke with him in 2015 he called the digital transfo ...
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How China plans to create a giant state-owned automaker

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Dec. 12
blogs
Yang Jian is managing editor of Automotive News China.
YANG JIAN :  In recent years, Beijing has forced the consolidation of state-owned industries such as steelmaking, railway equipment and coal mining. The idea was to force these inefficient companies to cut costs, develop new products and turn a profit. And now it's the auto industry’s turn. Last week, three state-owned automakers announced plans to share technology, powertrains, platforms and purchasin ...
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BYD bets big on buses in Europe, cars can't be far behind

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Dec. 10
blogs Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.
 
China's BYD has built up an impressive production network in Europe that has largely gone unnoticed in the passenger car world. That's because its new plant in Hungary, its planned plant in France and its joint venture operations in the UK all produce electric buses. Those buses, by the way, are already transporting passengers in cities such as Turin, London and Liverpool. The latest indication ...
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Schmidt's statement showed a broken man with misplaced faith in VW

Posted 3:49 pm U.S. ET, Dec. 7
blogs
Oliver Schmidt: "I accept responsibility for the wrongs I committed."
LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE :  DETROIT -- For a year, Oliver Schmidt's vacant, unsmiling, almost defiant stare has been the face of Volkswagen's $30 billion diesel emissions scandal. But that was not the face the 48-year-old German-born executive wore in a federal courtroom in Detroit on Wednesday. The stare from a Florida booking photo taken shortly after his surprise January arrest outside a restroom at Miami International ...
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Why an electric powertrain is all wrong for off-road vehicles

Posted 12:59 pm U.S. ET, Dec. 5
blogs
The original Land Rover Defender.
RICHARD TRUETT :  Two of the world's toughest, most rugged all-terrain vehicles, the Jeep Wrangler and the next Land Rover Defender, are slated to get electrified powertrains. Big mistake. If there is one type of vehicle that could be excused from the mad rush to install an electric motor and battery pack, it's the real off-road vehicle whose drivers actually use them as intended. At the L.A. auto show last week ...
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VW Beetle could be reborn as electric car

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Dec. 5
blogs
A vintage VW Beetle is displayed at a dealership in Nuremberg, Germany. (Bloomberg)
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  Volkswagen bosses are considering the future of the brand's iconic Beetle. Small, impractical two-doors coupes are losing favor with buyers, so the solution for the next Beetle may be an electric-only model. VW brand chief Herbert Diess has set himself the task of improve the marque's profitability to 6 percent by 2025, and the best way to do that is sell large, expensive, margin-rich models such ...
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Tesla shows why VW, Daimler should keep their heavy trucks businesses

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Nov. 24
blogs
Tesla aims to disrupt the commercial truck market with an all-electric semi.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  Volkswagen Group and Daimler are looking to simplify their businesses amid rapid changes in the industry and the obvious candidates to be auctioned off have always been their commercial vehicles operations. In the past, this would have made perfect sense, since standard components between passenger cars and heavy trucks are not shared. But, if ever there was a time when meaningful synergies coul ...
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BMW's cycle 'hyperloop' is a vision for fast, pollution-free city travel

Posted 5:14 am U.S. ET, Nov. 22
blogs
BMW's covered cycleway could help cut pollution and congestion in crowded cities.
NICK GIBBS :  As China seeks to restrict the use of private cars in its congested and polluted megacities, BMW sees an elevated cycleway as a way to encourage commuters to travel around urban areas on two wheels. BMW has come up with a concept that it compares with the Hyperloop tunnel proposed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Rather than Hyperloop's high-speed trains, BMW's concept would create a network of covered el ...
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Bentley Bentayga's autonomous tech tops Audi's

Posted 9:46 am U.S. ET, Nov. 16
blogs

NICK GIBBS :  Driving the Bentley Bentayga shows just how sophisticated self-driving technology has become. It also reveals how much further autonomous driving features have to go before automakers and lawmakers will confidently allow drivers to remove their hands from the wheel. The Bentayga SUV's self-driving features are not as advanced as the Level 3 Traffic Jam Pilot hands-free system on the new A8 sedan ...
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French tech company NAWA sees ultracapacitor battery breakthrough

Posted 5:53 am U.S. ET, Nov. 14
blogs
Lamborghini's Terzo Millennio (third millennium) concept uses supercapacitors to deliver high peak power and regenerate kinetic energy.
NICK GIBBS :  Those looking for the next big thing in automotive battery technology would do well to follow the career of Ulrik Grape. The Norway-born executive has just been made CEO of French tech company NAWA Technologies, which wants to sell automakers ultracapacitor batteries. Given Grape's CV, the industry should be paying attention. Grape started out in the 1990s promoting lithium ion, first for use in ...
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Why Vauxhall is likely to survive despite a steep sales slump

Posted 4:56 am U.S. ET, Nov. 13
blogs
Vauxhall has started selling the Crossland X, pictured, the first of two new SUVs based on PSA technology.
NICK GIBBS :  PSA Group's strategy to reduce non-profitable new-car sales is having a significant effect on the automaker's Vauxhall brand in the UK. Vauxhall's sales slide was illustrated most starkly in October, when the brand finished sixth after its registrations fell 35 percent in a market down 12 percent. In the first 10 months, Vauxhall sales are down 21 percent. For many years, Vauxhall has been the U ...
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Volvo's subscription plan could be a boon for dealers too

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Nov. 12
blogs
Volvo says that buying an XC40 (shown) with the Care by Volvo subscription service will make having a car as easy and hassle free as having a phone.
LUCA CIFERRI :  Volvo seems to have found a new way to get its vehicles into the hands of customers that is digital, transparent and hassle free. It's also not likely to cause a dealer rebellion. The automaker's new Care by Volvo is described as a subscription service. The offer mirrors what mobile phone companies do to win customers in a highly competitive market. Some of the perks of Care by Volvo are a monthl ...
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Without PSA tech, Opel could have been killed by EU CO2 fines

Posted 6:08 am U.S. ET, Nov. 10
blogs Luca Ciferri is associate publisher and editor of Automotive News Europe.
 
The European Union's target to reduce CO2 emissions from Europe's new-car fleet to a 95 gram per km average by 2020-2021 must be keeping car company executives awake because it will tough to achieve. But Opel CEO Michael Lohscheller probably can sleep a little easier. PSA Group will be providing Opel with enough turn-key electrification technology to enable Opel to reach its emissions reduction g ...
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Europe's automakers score a win with new CO2 targets

Posted 4:36 am U.S. ET, Nov. 9
blogs
Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe's Germany correspondent.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  Outwardly Europe's carmakers are complaining stridently about the EU Commission's proposed fleet emission targets through the next decade. Behind closed doors however it's a good bet that they are breaking out the champagne. They shouldn't, since it would be short sighted mistake to view this as a victory. As the EU Single Markets Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska, the most vociferous practitioner ...
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Car rejection claims 'totally false,' Seat CEO says

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Nov. 9
blogs
"No one rejects the car," Seat CEO Luca de Meo told the Automobilwoche Congress in Berlin.
DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC :  Seat CEO Luca de Meo says claims that a growing number of people are rejecting car ownership are "totally false." Seat's research has found that by 2025 the car will be the primary mode of transportation for 60 percent of people and that just one out of 10 people are contemplating giving up their car in the near future. "No one rejects the car," he told the Automobilwoche Congress in Berlin on W ...
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PSA's Opel purchase leaves Citroen odd man out

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Nov. 1
blogs
Citroen is simplifying its lineup. For example, it is replacing the C4 hatchback with the face-lifted C4 Cactus, shown.
PETER SIGAL:  PSA Group's purchase of Opel means that the French automaker now has three mass-market European brands (four if you count Vauxhall). Could that be one too many? One path of speculation has focused on Citroen being the odd man out. Excluding Opel, Peugeot accounts for 61 percent of PSA's European sales, while Citroen has 36 percent with the shrinking upscale DS brand accounting for the rest. Afte ...
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VW brand's profit margin goal is too easy

Posted 6:28 am U.S. ET, Oct. 30
blogs
Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe's Germany correspondent.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  Volkswagen brand's turnaround plan “Transform 2025+” is not even a year old and yet next month the brand’s CEO, Herbert Diess, will likely find himself forced to revise already his targets – upwards. Diess, a restructuring expert from his time at BMW, has so far over-delivered on his plans to boost profitability at VW Group's chronically low-margin core marque. However, in ...
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Toyota is not seeking No. 1 status; still cautious on EVs

Posted 4:03 am U.S. ET, Oct. 26
blogs
Leroy says Tesla doesn't have a sound business model. He is pictured on stage in Tokyo with CEO Akio Toyoda on the background screen. (REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)
LUCA CIFERRI :  Toyota traditionally has been overly politically correct, never making a bold statement or saying something that could displease a competitor. Executive Vice President Didier Leroy showed the new face of a much more adventurous Toyota at the Tokyo auto show this week. Below are edited remarks the French executive, who is the right arm of Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda, made at a dinner on the sidelines ...
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Land Rover design chief dangles more clues on next Defender

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Oct. 20
blogs
A Defender navigates a test course at Jaguar Land Rover's plant in Solihull, UK. (BLOOMBERG)
RICHARD TRUETT :  PALM SPRINGS, California -- Gerry McGovern, Land Rover's chief design officer, can't go anywhere these days without the subject of the next Defender coming up almost instantly. And so it was moments after sitting down to dinner with journalists last week during a press preview here for the new Range Rover Velar. A reporter asked McGovern if he felt pressure about the Defender as its public debut ...
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Why PSA is axing jobs at Vauxhall's Astra plant

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Oct. 19
blogs
Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port builds the Astra Sports Tourer, the second-best selling compact wagon in Europe.
NICK GIBBS :  Both Vauxhall and PSA cited declining sales in the compact segment as a reason for cutting 400 jobs at the UK factory that builds Astra cars. That would make sense if customers were turning away from the cars built in the plant at Ellesmere Port, northwest England -- but they're not. Seven out of 10 cars built there are Astra Sports Tourer wagons and sales of those grew 17 percent to 66,199 acro ...
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Auto industry cold on UK joining NAFTA post-Brexit

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Oct. 18
blogs
Nick Gibbs is a UK correspondent for Automotive News Europe.
NICK GIBBS :  The UK joining the North American Free Trade Agreement zone is an idea reportedly being floated as an alternative if Britain crashes out of the European Union in 2019 without a trade deal with its European neighbors. Leaving aside the fact that NAFTA itself is under threat, the idea has some merit for the car industry, at least on paper. The U.S. imports more British-built cars than any other cou ...
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Volvo's Polestar could become a credible BMW, Tesla rival

Posted 4:24 am U.S. ET, Oct. 18
blogs
The Polestar 1 has a double electric motor system that powers both rear wheels. (REUTERS)
LUCA CIFERRI :  Volvo Cars' Polestar brand claimed some world firsts while unveiling its debut model, the Polestar 1 high-performance plug-in hybrid coupe, in Shanghai this week. With a combined 600 hp, the Polestar 1 will be the most powerful car ever built in China, the company's CEO, Thomas Ingenlath, said. Production will begin in mid-2019 at a new dedicated plant in Chengdu. With a range of up to 150 km (9 ...
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No steering wheel? Not so fast, ZF CEO says

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Oct. 11
blogs
Sommer: “If you would ask me to drive in Paris traffic, passing the Place de la Concorde in a car without a steering wheel, I would feel rather uncomfortable.”
DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC :  If you’re not ready to trust a computer-driven vehicle that has no steering wheel you’re not alone. Stefan Sommer, CEO of self-driving technology maker ZF Friedrichshafen, is also reluctant -- in certain situations. “If you would ask me to drive in Paris traffic, passing the Place de la Concorde in a car without a steering wheel, I would feel rather uncomfortable,” Sommer ...
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How Mercedes turned a 'crazy' idea into gold

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Oct. 6
blogs
Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe's Germany correspondent.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  A little more than 20 years ago, the Mercedes-Benz W163, dubbed "Job1," rolled off the assembly line at the company's U.S. plant in Vance, Alabama, launching the M class. It was a risky experiment for what was known then as Daimler-Benz: its first manufacturing plant outside Germany, building an entirely new product and its first wholly manufactured SUV. Mercedes production boss Markus Schaefer ...
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Why Renault predicts big profits from EVs

Posted 6:38 am U.S. ET, Oct. 6
blogs Luca Ciferri is associate publisher and editor of Automotive News Europe.
 
Renault’s investment in electric vehicles is already paying dividends and the automaker said today that its profits from EVs will rise significantly in the next five years, which is in big contrast to rivals. Renault EV boss Gilles Normand today showed a slide that detailed the company’s progress toward EV profitability (see below). Since starting its Drive the Change plan in 2011, th ...
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