Mazda prepares for JV production company with Toyota in the US

Mazda prepares for JV production company with Toyota in the US

Mazda Motor Corporation has announced several organisational and personnel changes, effective December 1, 2017.

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As well as preparing to establish a joint venture production company with Toyota Motor Corporation in the US and create a business structure that will ensure a smooth start-up of the new company, Mazda has made some personnel changes to establish the US Production Preparation Office:

  • Masashi Aihara, previously Executive Officer in charge of Corporate Planning and Cost Planning, is now Executive Officer and General Manager, US Production Preparation Office
  • Ikuo Sugiyama, formerly General Manager of the Hiroshima Plant, is now Deputy General Manager of the US Production Preparation Office
  • Atsumi Taomori, previously Deputy General Manager of the Hiroshima Plant is now General Manager of the facility.
Automotive Purchasing and Supply Chain editor is Business Writer of the Year

Automotive Purchasing and Supply Chain editor is Business Writer of the Year

Simon Duval Smith, our Editor-at-large (pictured at left, with Prova PR's Managing Director, Richard Postins), was presented with the Prova PR Business Writer of the Year Award at the Guild of Motoring Writers' Annual Awards on November 30 at the Royal Automobile Club, Pall Mall, London.

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A record-breaking total of 280 submissions (the most ever received in the 73-year history of the Guild) was entered in the categories open to motoring media professionals.

Prova PR Business Writer of the Year

Winner: Simon Duval Smith, Editor-at-large, Automotive Purchasing and Supply Chain magazine, Automotive Purchasing website, Automotive Supply Chain website, and weekly e-newspaper, part of the Three6Zero media group.
Highly Commended: David Leggett/Ray Massey.

The judges said of Duval Smith's entry: "It consisted of well-researched and in-depth articles for the Automotive Purchasing and Supply Chain magazine and included features such as interviews with Carlos Tavares of PSA, and Rupert Stadler of Audi. Another of his features looked at how General Motors is improving its relationships with its suppliers and their supply chains. He also wrote an incisive profile of Magna International, detailing their global activities in a comprehensive and very clear and accessible manner."

Other winners travelled from Europe, Scandinavia, North America and even South America. IAM RoadSmart Safety Award winner Gustavo Ruffo was the most-travelled guest of all: he flew in from Sao Paolo, Brazil, to attend the Awards.

Away from the world of journalism, the Guild's award for a Special Contribution to Motoring, sponsored by Kia, was presented to Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, founder of the Warwick Manufacturing Group, in recognition of the organisation's contribution to developing new technologies and skills in the automotive sector.

The final presentation of the night was the President's Trophy, won by Sir Frank Williams for his lifetime contribution to motor racing. He was unable to attend due to a prior comment so the trophy was handed over by Guild president Nick Mason to Williams F1 technical director Paddy Lowe. Paddy was later interviewed on stage by Guild member and F1 journalist Maurice Hamilton.

There are still major challenges and the diesel crisis is not yet overcome says VW Group CEO Müller at Wolfsburg works meeting

There are still major challenges and the diesel crisis is not yet overcome says VW Group CEO Müller at Wolfsburg works meeting

Speaking before the workforce at the last works meeting in Wolfsburg for 2017, Matthias Müller, Chairman of the Volkswagen Group Board of Management, and Chairman of the Group and General Works Council, Bernd Osterloh, today took stock of a challenging year.

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On behalf of the entire Board of Management, Müller thanked all 630,000 employees worldwide in his speech for their dedication, loyalty and readiness to support the changes initiated. "2017 was a good year for the Volkswagen Group. It is the year Volkswagen shifted back onto the offensive," said CEO Müller. Osterloh made clear that the progress made is owed to employees, something which earned them "the highest respect."

The Volkswagen Group has made positive changes in many areas since TOGETHER – Strategy 2025 was presented. This was underscored by Chairman of the Volkswagen Group Board of Management, Matthias Müller, in his speech in Hall 11 of the Wolfsburg plant: "We have breathed life into our strategy, launching hands-on projects to implement it and breaking new ground in many areas. Above all, we presented Roadmap E, our roadmap for the electric age, and demonstrated how we want to make e-mobility attainable for all." Volkswagen plans to bring out more than 50 electric vehicles by 2025 and launch at least one electrified variant for each and every one of the 300 Group models by 2030.

The end of crisis mode and a partial return to normality is also reflected in the recently adopted Planning Round 66, explained Müller: "For the first time since 2014, we have embraced a five-year plan, laying down the roadmap for products, plants and investment through to 2022." In the years ahead, the Company will invest more than €34 billion ($40.3 billion) in e-mobility, autonomous driving, digitalisation and new mobility services.

"The Supervisory Board has approved billions in investment for the Volkswagen brand in new products and in our plants. This means our future is secure – regardless of whether it is under electric or conventional propulsion. We will hold our own in the vanguard of the automotive industry," said Osterloh, announcing €3 billion in investment at the main plant in Wolfsburg. This includes funding for tooling up for the new Golf 8 and for implementing a new design centre in Technical Development.

Thanking the workforce for their commitment despite the headwind, Osterloh said: "Volkswagen is moving forward again after the diesel crisis thanks to the hard work of its employees. That earns them the highest respect."

Despite excellent unit sales figures, a robust financial situation and an expected record in 2017, Group CEO Müller cautioned against excessive euphoria while making clear that the successes are no cause for self-satisfaction. "There are still major challenges and the diesel crisis is not yet overcome."

Ten leading automotive companies launch an initiative to identify and address sustainability issues in raw materials sourcing

Ten leading automotive companies launch an initiative to identify and address sustainability issues in raw materials sourcing

Drive Sustainability, a partnership between 10 leading automotive companies (BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Scania CV AB, Toyota Motor Europe, Volkswagen Group, Volvo Cars and Volvo Group), has announced it would set up a Raw Materials Observatory to identify and address ethical, environmental, human and labour rights issues in the sourcing of raw materials.

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Drive Sustainability has already been working on improving the sustainability of the automotive supply chain for the past five years, and this new initiative represents the next step in their global commitment to ensure business ethics, respect for the environment and human rights, and decent working conditions within the supply chain. This common approach complements individual activities performed by each company, with a common goal towards worldwide sustainability.

Representatives from around 70 automotive companies, automotive suppliers, NGOs and EU institutions were invited to Brussels today to discuss the approach surrounding the observatory. Drive Sustainability presented the initiative and gathered feedback from stakeholders, to understand their views and expectations on the responsible sourcing of raw materials.

Stefan Crets, Executive Director of CSR Europe, which coordinates this partnership, said "The Raw Material Observatory will assess the risks posed by the top raw materials (such as mica, cobalt, rubber, leather and others) in the automotive sector. This will allow Drive Sustainability to identify the most impactful activities to pursue in order to address the human, ethical and environmental issues within the supply chain." This complements individual approaches to integrating sustainability in raw materials sourcing, undertaken by automotive companies.

The risk assessment of the top raw materials will be conducted by The Dragonfly Initiative – a specialised sustainability advisory firm. Based on its results (ready by January 2018) and on the input received from stakeholders, Drive Sustainability will unveil its action plan to address these risks at the beginning of 2018.

Drive Sustainability was founded as a partnership five years ago. Its member companies have been working together since to drive sustainability throughout the global automotive supply chain. This was initially done through adopting common sustainability principles. To implement these principles, Drive Sustainability has designed a common approach to monitor compliance and promote the principles through the procurement process, to organise capacity building actions such as supplier trainings and local supplier networks.

Drive Sustainability is currently in discussion with the Responsible Mica Initiative to contribute to their ambition of achieving a 100% responsible Indian Mica supply chain over the next five years.

"A potential collaboration with the Responsible Mica Initiative is a learning opportunity for both organisations. For Drive Sustainability this is an occasion to contribute to cross-sector actions to tackle child labour issues and unacceptable working conditions in the raw materials supply chain" said Crets.
"We invite all suppliers and stakeholders along the value chain to collaborate with us in order to obtain sustainable sourcing of raw materials," concluded Crets.

All-new Subaru XV and Impreza win five stars in the Euro NCAP safety test

All-new Subaru XV and Impreza win five stars in the Euro NCAP safety test

Subaru has announce that the all-new Subaru XV and Impreza models (European specs.) have each achieved the maximum five star overall rating in the 2017 European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) 4 safety performance test.

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The new Subaru XV and Impreza models achieved outstanding scores in all four assessment areas (Adult Occupant, Child Occupant, Pedestrian Protection, Safety Assist), well above the minimum threshold required and with noticeable high overall average.

The all-new Subaru XV and Impreza are the first models to feature the new Subaru Global Platform (SGP), designed to deliver higher levels of safety performance, driving enjoyment and ride comfort. The SGP brings significant enhancement to the body and chassis rigidity (front lateral flexural rigidity +90%, torsional rigidity +70%, front suspension rigidity +70%, rear sub frame rigidity +100%) and impact energy absorption is improved by 40% over present models.

Both XV and Impreza models are equipped with seven airbags, including one SRS knee airbag installed for the driver's seat, and a revised seatbelt equipped with a locking tongue reducing injury levels and better protecting all passengers in case of collision.

Subaru' EyeSight Driver Assist technology is fitted as standard on both all-new Subaru XV and Impreza, which achieved very good performance in the Autonomous Emergency Braking at Euro NCAP test with cars and pedestrians. The EyeSight Driver Assist technology is a set of two digital stereo cameras that monitor the traffic movement to warn the driver of a threat ahead and to apply pre-collision braking in emergency situations, in order to avoid or at least to mitigate the collision. The EyeSight system also ensures the lateral support functions, warning the driver of unintentional lane departure and assisting the driver in keeping the travelling lane.

The all-new Subaru XV and Impreza received prestigious recognition on the safety performance at a global level. Both new models (Japanese specs.) won three awards in the Japan New Car Assessment Program (JNCAP) crash safety evaluation tests conducted by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) and the National Agency for Automotive Safety and Victim's Aid (NASVA). Firstly, both new models received an award for reaching 5 star safety ranking. Secondly, they won the 2016-2017 Grand Prix Award for earning the highest safety score ever score of 199.7 of maximum 208 points. Lastly, the two new models received the Special Award for having a pedestrian protection airbag as standard (in Japan).

After their launch in USA, both the Subaru XV and Impreza (American specs.) received the 2017 TOP SAFETY PICK+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), an independent, nonprofit scientific and educational organisation dedicated to reducing the losses–deaths, injuries and property damage–from crashes on the nation's roads.

UK SMMT President calls for faster, concrete progress in agreeing a transition period for Brexit

UK SMMT President calls for faster, concrete progress in agreeing a transition period for Brexit

The President of the UK Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Tony Walker urged government not to undermine the UK automotive industry's hard won competitiveness due to slow progress on Brexit.

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Speaking at the Society's 101st Annual Dinner in London on November 28, he said there is no substitute for free and frictionless trade, and called for quicker progress on agreeing a transition period following Brexit.

Addressing more than 1,100 industry leaders, government representatives and other stakeholders, the President (pictured above at left with former President Gareth Jones) said that while the Prime Minister has embraced the need for a period of transition to avoid a post-Brexit cliff edge, "we need to see concrete progress – and quickly." This transition, he added, "should be on the current terms and, crucially, not time-limited" to give industry time to adjust and secure long-term investment decisions. He continued, "We will never stop striving to be competitive. But we ask government to help provide the conditions in which we can compete. Like every other industry, we need certainty now."

Praising the sector for its transformation over the past 25 years, Tony Walker said, "As an industry we are strong, resilient, and innovative. Not fearful of the future but keen to grasp the opportunities we are creating together. I am very proud that today our UK automotive industry competes globally on quality, productivity, flexibility and cost. We have delivered an export-led renaissance. But we are not complacent. Competitiveness comes hard-won. It can be easily lost. A hard Brexit would undermine all that we have collectively achieved. It is a real threat – a hurdle we cannot ignore."

He stated that the lack of progress over Brexit was already having an impact on the automotive sector: "We have huge challenges. Consumer confidence has fallen leading to a downturn in sales. Uncertainty about Brexit – and market confusion over diesel – are taking their toll."

Walker said, "After all the difficulties we have overcome, all the changes we have made and the innovations we have brought, we do not need trade barriers to be our next challenge. We are an industry with the character to overcome major obstacles. And we are working hard to maintain our competitiveness. But don't test our character unnecessarily." He added, "In the last forty years we have succeeded. We have torn down so many barriers. Please don't allow new ones to be erected."

He spoke as SMMT released new figures illustrating the high stakes of a no deal Brexit for the sector. The risk comes not just from costly WTO tariffs – which would add at least £4.5 billion ($6 billion) to the industry's annual overheads – but also from the imposition of customs checks, red tape and fees on goods that currently move friction free across borders.
Every day, more than 1,100 trucks for UK car plants cross into the UK from the continent – the vast majority without being checked at customs – to deliver some £35 million worth of components to UK vehicle and engine plants. And every day, these components help build 6,600 cars and 9,800 engines – the bulk of which are then shipped back to EU customers and assembly plants.

The President was joined at the event by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark MP. He thanked him for the "strong and ongoing cooperation between our industry and Government" and for developing "a modern and effective industrial strategy" and his "support for the work of the UK Automotive Council." The Council was established to enhance dialogue and strengthen cooperation between the UK government and the automotive sector. Tony Walker also highlighted other significant achievements in government industry collaboration including the "Advanced Propulsion Centre and the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles" and he added we "welcome and endorse such announcements as the Faraday challenge."

The President's speech also addressed the issue of air quality and the automotive sector's ongoing efforts to invest in new technology and improve air quality in our towns and cities. He said, "We have invested billions of pounds in clean, low emission technologies. Leading change by electrifying the market through the introduction of hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell cars. The internal combustion engine is not dead – it is the path to a cleaner and greener future. Banning diesel and petrol cars might be a sound bite that works but it's not a policy that works. If you ban them you disrupt the new car market and you hamper investment in the electric, emission-free vehicles of tomorrow. You set the future back." The automotive sector has been keen to highlight that the latest Euro 6 vehicles bring significant benefits in terms of low emissions and meeting our climate change targets, and these newer, cleaner vehicles should not be unfairly penalised in government plans.

Ford invests $103 million in Nanjing test centre and new MakerSpace creative hub

Ford invests $103 million in Nanjing test centre and new MakerSpace creative hub

Part of the OEM's RMB 1.3 billion ($200 million) investment to further innovation at its 2,000-employee Research and Engineering Centre in Nanjing, the NTC is Ford's first China-based facility capable of fully proving out new vehicles.

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Also, the new MakerSpace will serve as a hands-on learning environment where employees can come together to collaborate, brainstorm and develop prototypes.

The NTC will enable Ford to develop the next generation of vehicles for China and Asia Pacific at a quicker pace than ever before. The centre includes close to 80 different types of real road surface conditions, a three-kilometre test track and a sophisticated emissions testing facility. It will also have a new laboratory for noise, vibration and harshness testing that will allow Ford to deliver vehicles that offer a smooth, quiet and relaxing driving experience.

The NTC will work closely with other Ford laboratories to further enhance powertrain engineering capabilities in China and Asia Pacific in order to meet the increasing needs of consumers for better fuel efficiency.

"Innovation is the cornerstone of Ford's growth strategy in Asia Pacific," said Trevor Worthington, vice president, Product Development, Asia Pacific. "By having our research and testing centres so closely aligned, we can speed up the development of new products, services and technologies for customers in China and across the region."

Testing in China, for China

Covering 660,000 square metres, and built to global design standards to ensure consistency with other Ford vehicle testing centres in the Americas, Europe and Australia, the NTC features close to 80 different road surfaces. From potholes to cobblestone streets, they each recreate the driving conditions that customers around the world experience day to day.

The first programs to be carried out at the new centre include the development of next generation vehicles for China, as well as well the homologation of imported vehicles like Explorer and Mustang.

Other highlights at the NTC include:

  • A vehicle dynamics area that allows engineers to conduct thorough ride and handling tests
  • An emissions lab that ensures all vehicles are compliant with Chinese and European emissions standards
  • A new laboratory for noise, vibration and harshness testing
  • A precision steering track where steering ratios can be tweaked to suit market-specific requirements
  • A squeak and rattle lab with full environmental facility which can test vehicle performance in conditions ranging from minus 30 to 40 degrees Celsius
  • A grade hills facility with various gradients for vehicle incline testing.

From PowerPoint to prototype

With phase one launched in December 2016, the Nanjing MakerSpace was one of the first such creative spaces for Ford globally and serves as a blueprint for others to follow. Ford plans to have four in Asia Pacific by the end of 2018, including one in Chennai, India.

It provides a hands-on creative environment complete with cutting-edge equipment like 3D printers, scanners, laser cutters and VR devices to encourage collaboration and innovation among employees. The facility is staffed by highly-trained experts with a range of specialities who work alongside MakerSpace creators.

Established in 2007, Ford's Nanjing Research and Engineering Centre has grown from a sourcing office into a world-class hub for product development and innovation serving the whole Asia Pacific region. It is now one of nine global product development centres for Ford.

In the past decade, it has expanded to a staff of over 2,000, published more than 200 patents and led the development of the Escort and Taurus, designed especially for the Chinese market. With the opening of the NTC, Ford's Research and Engineering Centre will play an important role in developing and engineering future Ford vehicles for China and the region.

(pictured above: Trevor Worthington, Vice President of Product Development, Ford Asia Pacific shakes hands with Vice Mayor Huang Lan of Nanjing Municipal Government at the opening of the Nanjing Test Centre in China)

Volkswagen and Chinese OEM JAC plan JV for multi-function vehicles

Volkswagen and Chinese OEM JAC plan JV for multi-function vehicles

Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, Volkswagen Group China and Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Co., Ltd. (JAC) plan to undertake research and development on multi functional vehicles together.

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The three parties have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore potential joint venture models. The new cooperation will be another milestone in the companies' relationship, after they agreed to set up a joint venture to manufacture battery electric vehicles for the competitive e-mobility passenger car market in June.

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWCV) brand will take the lead role on behalf of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft to be JAC's partner in the joint venture.

The companies will actively explore a full range of cooperation including advances in MFV design, technology, product quality through R&D as well as sales. It will cover both internal combustion engine and new energy models. JAC will have a 50% stake in the new venture, with Volkswagen Group holding the other 50%. It is planned to set up the venture in Hefei, Anhui province, where JAC is based.

Russian rebound means great news for local suppliers to PSA

Russian rebound means great news for local suppliers to PSA

Groupe PSA will start the production of Peugeot Expert and Citroën Jumpy at the PCMA Rus plant in Kaluga from Q1 2018 and promises local supplier content of 50%.

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This decision, in line with Push to Pass strategic plan, illustrates Groupe PSA objective to offer competitive vehicles to Russian clients, based on high efficiency of local production processes and deep localisation – resorting to strong Russian suppliers. This is part of the Group LCV strategy to triple sales volumes outside Europe and double global profit by 2021.

The level of localisation is expected to be at 50% for Peugeot Expert and Citroën Jumpy. It reaches 35% for Citroën C4 and Peugeot 408. It results from enhanced cooperation with local suppliers.

These two Commercial vans will join the line-up of cars specially produced for Russia in Kaluga by Groupe PSA, along with of the Citroën C4, and the new Peugeot 408, which are among best selling models in Russia – representing about 40% of Groupe PSA sales in Russia.

"Enlargement of the range is now key for Peugeot and Citroën brands rebound on the Russian market. Our commercial offensive also aims at meeting needs of small/intermediate enterprises emerging again in Russia, boosted by the economic recovery, with medium-sized vans and we will also begin production of Citroën SpaceTourer and Peugeot Traveller passenger vehicles in a few months," commented Christophe Bergerand, Executive Vice President of Groupe PSA, Operational Director for Russia and the Eurasia Region, and President of PCMA Rus.

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