PSA's Hordain Sevelnord plant starts fourth shift to meet demand for LCVs

PSA's Hordain Sevelnord plant starts fourth shift to meet demand for LCVs

Groupe PSA has decided to introduce a fourth production team and hire nearly 600 people at the Hordain plant by May 2018.

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The move comes in response to strong demand for the Peugeot Expert and Citroën Jumpy (Named Dispatch in the UK), as well as the Peugeot Traveller and Citroën SpaceTourer, which have been produced at the facility since mid-May 2016.

To form the new team, the Hordain plant will be hiring people from most manufacturing professions – including production workers, forklift operators, maintenance technicians, automation experts and production system supervisors – in primarily temporary positions of up to 18 months. Candidates may apply directly to partner temporary employment agencies (Adecco, Crit, Manpower, Proman and Synergie) or to the Alliance Emploi group of employers.

In addition to the fourth team, the plant has also confirmed its night shift, which was created for a provisional six-month period in late September 2016 to support the market launch of new models produced at the plant. The night shift was first prolonged for a year in March 2017.

Commenting on the announcement, Patrice Le Guyader, Northern France Manufacturing Division Director, said: "The performance achieved by these vehicles in Europe has encouraged us to adjust and support the outstanding sales dynamic by creating a new production team. It's excellent news for everyone and a just reward for the rigorous, seamless and highly customer-oriented teamwork displayed at the plant."

The models' robust sales performance is helping to maintain the strong momentum achieved by the Group's commercial vehicles business, which aims to consolidate its current leadership in Europe and triple sales outside Europe by 2021.

The vehicles form part of the Group's Core Model Strategy, which was launched in 2016 with the Push to Pass plan and has been driven by the launch of global vehicles designed to meet customer expectations. Outside Europe, the Peugeot Expert and Citroën Jumpy have also been manufactured in Latin America since October 2017, and will start rolling off production lines in Russia in the first quarter of 2018.

About the Hordain plant

Inaugurated in 1994, the Hordain plant assembles light commercial vehicles for three brands: Peugeot Expert, Citroën Jumpy and Toyota Proace, for the freight transport versions, and Peugeot Traveller, Citroën SpaceTourer and Toyota Proace Verso, for the passenger car versions. The plant assembles 630 vehicles per day.

Toyota drop diesel engines in Italy in hope of boosting hybrid sales

Toyota drop diesel engines in Italy in hope of boosting hybrid sales

Toyota's new-car lineup in Italy, traditionally a strong diesel market, is now "diesel-free" after the carmaker stopped selling diesel variants of its Yaris, Auris and RAV4 models, Toyota Italy said in a statement.

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The automaker offers incentives of up to €7,000 ($8,400) to Italian customers who trade in their old diesels for a Toyota hybrid. This type of move has been made by Nissan in Europe but this is one of the first instances of diesel passenger cars being completely dropped by a major global OEM, in a previously strong diesel passenger car market.

Only 6% of the company's new-car sales in Italy last year were diesels and for the Yaris and Auris, the figure was less than 6%, while it was 18% for the RAV4.

The company should be able to compensate for lost diesel sales with hybrids, a Toyota Italy spokesman said. The share of RAV4 diesel sales was much lower in the second half of last year than in the first half.

Toyota sees a limited risk of losing business in the lower-priced diesel versions because the company is moving the RAV4 upscale, the spokesman said.

The Auris and RAV4 will be sold in Italy only with hybrid powertrains. The Aygo will be sold only with petrol engines. The C-HR and Yaris are sold in petrol and hybrid versions. Toyota sells hybrid and plug-in hybrids versions of the Prius (pictured).

Toyota will continue to offer diesel versions of its Land Cruiser SUV and Hilux pickup; these are still popular because of their fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions.

Hybrids accounted for nearly 50% of Toyota's sales in western Europe in 2017 and will exceed that this year, the spokesman said.

New record: Mercedes-Benz Vans passes the mark of 400,000 units for the first time in 2017

New record: Mercedes-Benz Vans passes the mark of 400,000 units for the first time in 2017

Mercedes-Benz Vans achieved a new record for unit sales in 2017 and for the first time passed the mark of 400,000 vehicles sold.

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The strongest growth driver – in addition to the very successful fleet business – was once again the strong demand for the Vito van and the V-Class multipurpose vehicle. In 2017, both of those models were for the first time fully available in the world's biggest vehicle market, China. The new Mercedes-Benz X-Class, the first pickup with the three-pointed star, was launched in November 2017. The division's final figures will be announced at the annual press conference of Daimler AG on February 1, 2018.

Sales growth in all regions and many records set

Unit sales by Mercedes-Benz Vans increased in all regions in 2017 and numerous new records were set. In the EU30 region, sales increased by around 9% to around 273,300 vehicles (2016: 249,900), with an increase of around 10% in Germany to around 105,800 units (2016: 96,100) – both of these figures are new records. There was growth also in the NAFTA region to the number of around 44,800 units sold (2016: 43,400, +3%), with the new record of around 34,200 vehicles sold by Mercedes-Benz Vans in the United States (2016: 33,700, +1%). The development of sales was positive also in Latin America, with significant growth of around 31% to around 16,400 units (2016: 12,500). Driven by the launch in China of the Vito and V-Class in 2016, unit sales there increased very significantly by around 75% to around 23,800 vehicles (2016: 13,600).

New record for the Sprinter in its last full year before the model change

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter confirmed its reputation as one of the most successful commercial vehicles of all time and as the bestseller from Mercedes-Benz Vans also in 2017. Mercedes-Benz Vans sold a total of around 200,500 Sprinter vans worldwide – more than ever before in one year (2016: 193,400, +4%) – and that was in the last full year of the model cycle. The Sprinter established the eponymous large-van segment in 1995 and has defined it ever since. It is to be seen on the roads of more than 130 countries and has meanwhile been sold over 3.4 million times. The current generation has been on the market since 2006. The successor generation of the Sprinter will have its official world premiere in February.

Electrification of entire vehicle fleet in the commercial segment

In November 2017, Mercedes-Benz Vans announced that it will offer all van models in the commercial segment also with electric drive. This will start with the eVito, for which orders have been taken since late November 2017, with deliveries to start in the second half of 2018. With an installed battery capacity of 41 kWh, the new eVito will have a range of approximately 150 kilometres. Even in unfavorable conditions such as with low ambient temperatures and a full load, a range of 100 kilometres will be available.

Successful start of sales of Mercedes-Benz X-Class

The new pickup from Mercedes-Benz was successfully launched in the first European markets in November 2017. By the end of the year, approximately 3,300 X-Class vehicles had been delivered – as planned, solely in Europe so far. Mercedes-Benz Vans will enter the markets of South Africa and Australia with the pickup in early 2018, to be followed by Argentina and Brazil in 2019.

The first BMW X7 pre-production models roll off the assembly line in the US

The first BMW X7 pre-production models roll off the assembly line in the US

Production of the first pre-production models of the new BMW X7 Sports Activity Vehicle has commenced at the BMW Group Spartanburg plant, in the US.

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The countdown has started for the final twelve months leading up to the presentation of the production car at the end of 2018. Prior to this, the vehicle will undergo various tests under partially extreme conditions.

Knudt Flor, head of the BMW Group Spartanburg plant: "We are proud to produce the BMW X7 here in Spartanburg, the home of our X models. This is a very special vehicle and our employees are looking forward to yet a further member of the X family. Together with the BMW X7, a total of five BMW X models will be exported from Spartanburg to all four corners of the globe."

See our interview with Knudt Flor and feature on the Spartanburg plant in Automotive Purchasing and Supply Chain magazine at: http://magazine.automotivepurchasingandsupplychain.com/magazine/october-2017/

At the plant, the production of pre-series models serves to secure and optimise future series production. Consequently, BMW X7 pre-production models already use the same assembly line as the BMW X5 and BMW X6 production models. An especially trained team realises the series production process for new vehicle models at the plant and qualifies employees for future series production.

The pre-production models built at the BMW Group Spartanburg plant are handed over to development department specialists, who require them for homologation, registration as well as for diverse testing purposes such as endurance tests and test drives under extreme conditions in the desert regions of Death Valley or on the ice and snow covered slopes of Scandinavia.

The pre-production model is fitted with its camouflage wrap while still at the plant. The conspicuous striped patterns are designed to help conceal the new SAV's final look as far as possible.

Fifth series from the BMW Group Spartanburg plant

In Spartanburg, the BMW Group produces BMW X models for the USA and the global market. With record production figures of more than 411,000 units in 2016, Spartanburg is currently the BMW Group's largest plant worldwide. Around 70% of the vehicles produced in Spartanburg are exported to 140 countries throughout the world. According to the US Ministry of Trade, the BMW Group is therefore the largest vehicle exporter in the US measured in export value. Maximum annual production capacity stands at around 450,000 vehicles.

The BMW Group Spartanburg plant employs more than 9,000 people; a further 1,000 jobs are to be added by the year 2021. Each day, 1,400 BMW X3, X4, X5 and X6 models come off the assembly line at the Spartanburg plant; these will be complemented by a fifth series, the BMW X7, for which the Spartanburg plant is currently preparing.

To date, the BMW Group has invested $8 billion in the production location and has built around 3.9 million vehicles since being taken into operation on September 8, 1994.

FAST – Volkswagen Group Procurement and partners take stock

FAST – Volkswagen Group Procurement and partners take stock

With the introduction of the FAST Initiative in 2015, the Volkswagen Group redefined the way it works with suppliers.

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The aim of the "Future Automotive Supply Tracks" Initiative (FAST) is to work together to implement technical innovations more quickly than before and to realise global vehicle projects even more efficiently and effectively. Two years after the initiative began, the Volkswagen Group and its key partners have made an initial positive assessment.

"After stepping up our working relationships just two years ago, we are now reaping the rewards. This new way of working together already has allowed concrete results which would not have been possible for both sides without FAST," said Dr. Francisco Javier Garcia Sanz, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Group responsible for Procurement.

The first successes are very impressive indeed. Taking into account customers' wishes often means more technology but also more weight and therefore more CO2 emissions. Working together, the companies came up with ideas as to how to compensate for this additional weight in other areas, e.g. with a compact window unit for doors. As a result, additional technology in the vehicle will not have a detrimental effect for customers when it comes to fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. With regard to batteries – the key technology for e-mobility – a joint solution addressing the issues of range and costs was found. The Groups' first electric vehicle based on the modular electrification toolkit (MEB), the Volkswagen I.D., will offer a range of up to 600 kilometres and cost around the same as a diesel Golf.

"An effective network is our key to success. And by that I mean a real network where we work as partners on an equal footing. We take our 'Together 2025′ corporate strategy literally, also as re-gards cooperation with our partners. We focus on continuity in our working relationship and at the same time on our ability to reinvent ourselves. As a result we can not only master change in our industry together, but can also jointly shape it. This is how manufacturers and suppliers work together as partners. This is my vision of FAST," added Garcia Sanz.

At the FAST Summit 2017, the annual partners' meeting, a critical assessment took place in order to identify potential and also to check how the partnership can be further strengthened and im-proved in the future. The partners wish to have an even closer working relationship and to share ideas on an ongoing basis. They would like to see even more strategy dialogs – not only with con-tacts in procurement but also with other specialist departments. As far as speed is concerned, everyone agreed that speed is the key factor for success during a transformation phase.

The partner network remains on course for growth. In 2017, nine further companies qualified for the FAST Initiative. "We are pleased to have gained nine further competent partners in 2017.

All 64 members are outstanding within their relevant sectors."

  • The new FAST partners in 2017:
  • FAST partner Country Area of competence
  • Automotive Lighting GmbH Germany Headlights/SBBR
  • Aunde Achter & Ebels GmbH Germany Centre armrests
  • BOGE Elastmetall GmbH Germany Pedal systems
  • Robert Bosch GmbH Germany Function control device
  • Leopold Kostal GmbH & Co. KG Germany HV charge management
  • NGK Spark Plug Co. Ltd Japan Oxygen sensors/ lambda sensors
  • Quin GmbH Germany Decors
  • Schäffler AG Germany Couplings, dual-mass flywheels
  • Huawei Ltd. China Control devices, connected car.

All suppliers are regularly assessed on the basis of their innovation, strategic focus and performance in the partnership. The best partners qualify for the FAST Initiative. The selected partner companies are involved in the Group innovation cycles at an early stage. A dedicated innovation interface has been put in place for this purpose.

In return, FAST suppliers contribute their own ideas during the pre-production phase for vehicles – much earlier than they did before. At the same time, the globalisation strategies aim to achieve even closer cooperation in the production networks between Volkswagen and its partners in order to create further synergies and exploit these in the best way possible.

Volvo Cars reports record sales in 2017

Volvo Cars reports record sales in 2017

Volvo Cars, the premium car maker, reports record sales in 2017, as global sales rose 7.0% compared to 2016 to 571,577 cars, driven by growth in all regions.

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Sales of the new XC60 and the 90-series cars were the main drivers, highlighting the effect of Volvo Cars' in-house developed Scalable Product Architecture, a modular vehicle architecture, in terms of design, technology and brand.

In the Asia Pacific region, sales grew by a strong 20.9% on the back of a record performance in China, Volvo's largest market, where sales increased 25.8% compared with 2016. Meanwhile sales in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region grew by 3.3% in 2017 compared to 2016, while the Americas region grew by 0.7%.

2017 was an important year for Volvo Cars in many ways. The new XC60, which replaced the company's best-selling model and the best-selling mid-sized SUV in Europe, premiered at the Geneva Auto Show in March.

Volvo Cars also announced that it would place electrification at the core of its future business and stated that every car it launches from 2019 will have an electric motor, marking the end of cars that only have an internal combustion engine.

In a further commitment to electrification, Volvo also launched Polestar, a new stand-alone electrified car brand fully consolidated within the Volvo Car Group.

During the course of the year, Volvo Cars also deepened its partnership with Geely Holding via the creation of a joint venture technology company to provide the economies of scale that will allow them to more rapidly develop next generation electrified vehicle technology. Volvo also and announced it would take a 30% stake in Geely's new LYNK & CO car brand, based on the two entities' joint Compact Modular Architecture.

September saw the introduction of the XC40, Volvo's first offering in the fast growing small SUV segment. Volvo also invented a new model of car access with its 'Care by Volvo' subscription service, making having a car as transparent, easy and hassle free as having a phone. A concept introduced with the new XC40.

Volvo Cars continued construction on a new manufacturing plant in South Carolina, its first in the United States, and it was announced that the plant would, in addition to the upcoming S60 mid-sized sedan, build the next generation XC90 from 2021. This takes Volvo Cars' total investment in its US manufacturing operations to over $1.1 billion and will raise the total of new jobs created at the Charleston site to nearly 4,000.

Late in the year, Volvo Cars opened up an entirely new market as it signed a framework agreement with Uber to sell tens of thousands of autonomous driving compatible base cars to the ride-hailing company between 2019 and 2021.

Nissan brain-to-vehicle connection to redefine the future of driving

Nissan brain-to-vehicle connection to redefine the future of driving

Nissan will unveil research at the CES 2018 show showing how vehicles will interpret signals from the driver's brain, redefining how people interact with their cars.

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The company's Brain-to-Vehicle, or B2V, technology promises to speed up reaction times for drivers and will lead to cars that keep adapting to make driving more enjoyable.

Nissan will demonstrate capabilities of this exclusive technology at the CES 2018 trade show in Las Vegas. B2V is the latest development in Nissan Intelligent Mobility, the company's vision for transforming how cars are driven, powered and integrated into society.

"When most people think about autonomous driving, they have a very impersonal vision of the future, where humans relinquish control to the machines. Yet B2V technology does the opposite, by using signals from their own brain to make the drive even more exciting and enjoyable," said Nissan Executive Vice President Daniele Schillaci. "Through Nissan Intelligent Mobility, we are moving people to a better world by delivering more autonomy, more electrification and more connectivity."

This breakthrough from Nissan is the result of research into using brain decoding technology to predict a driver's actions and detect discomfort:

  • Predict: By catching signs that the driver's brain is about to initiate a movement – such as turning the steering wheel or pushing the accelerator pedal – driver assist technologies can begin the action more quickly. This can improve reaction times and enhance manual driving
  • Detect: By detecting and evaluating driver discomfort, artificial intelligence can change the driving configuration or driving style when in autonomous mode.

Other possible uses include adjusting the vehicle's internal environment, said Dr. Lucian Gheorghe, senior innovation researcher at the Nissan Research Center in Japan, who's leading the B2V research. For example, the technology can use augmented reality to adjust what the driver sees and create a more relaxing environment.

"The potential applications of the technology are incredible," Gheorghe said. "This research will be a catalyst for more Nissan innovation inside our vehicles in the years to come."

Nissan's B2V technology is the world's first system of its kind. The driver wears a device that measures brain wave activity, which is then analysed by autonomous systems. By anticipating intended movement, the systems can take actions – such as turning the steering wheel or slowing the car – 0.2 to 0.5 seconds faster than the driver, while remaining largely imperceptible.

Nissan will use a driving simulator to demonstrate some elements of the technology at CES, and Gheorghe will be on hand to answer questions.

New BMW I3S traction control system for all future BMW and MINI models

New BMW I3S traction control system for all future BMW and MINI models

The BMW i3 has set new standards in electrically-driven vehicles with not only increased motor output in the new BMW i3s, but also the innovative traction control system adapted specifically to the instantaneous power deliver of the BMW eDrive system.

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Presented for the first time in the new BMW i3s (270 Nm at 0 rpm, 135 kW/184 HP, power consumption combined in European NEFZ test-cycle:

14.3 kWh/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 0 g/km), the system improves traction and driving stability in adverse weather and road conditions when pulling away, in active Brake Energy Regeneration phases and when accelerating out of tight corners. At the heart of this innovation is the control system's 50-times- faster routine, made possible because – unlike conventional driving stability systems – the control process is now calculated directly in the powertrain instead of in a remote unit requiring long signal paths.

"With their high levels of torque and instantaneous responses to every movement of the accelerator, electric motors already make significantly higher demands on driving stability systems than conventional power units," explained Peter Langen, Head of Chassis Development at BMW.

BMW have said that its engineers have developed a new type of system geared squarely to the demands of electric mobility.

The positive impact of these shorter control cycles is not reserved for purely electrically driven cars; indeed, this innovative traction control system also optimises traction, driving stability and driving dynamics in vehicles with combustion engines. It will therefore be fitted in BMW and MINI models with front-, rear- and all-wheel drive to deliver noticeably greater assurance and driving pleasure when road conditions make pulling away difficult.

Groupe PSA will enhance purchasing performance by setting up a new joint Purchasing Organisation

Groupe PSA will enhance purchasing performance by setting up a new joint Purchasing Organisation

New joint purchasing unit will be operational by January 2018 with a unique purchasing power that will enable one voice to suppliers to drive scale effects.

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In the long term, purchasing will account for 30% of the expected synergies from the integration of Opel/Vauxhall into Groupe PSA.

The new joint purchasing unit will bring together Peugeot/Citroën/DS (PCD) and Opel/Vauxhall (OV) Purchasing and Supplier Quality Organizations in less than five months after the acquisition of OV.

The aim of the new unit is to increase Groupe PSA's efficiency and purchasing power through economies of scale and value creation, thus boosting competitiveness. In the long term, purchasing will account for 30% of the synergies expected to result from the integration of OV into Groupe PSA.

Supplier relations will be simplified with the introduction of single contact persons for suppliers with a significant amount of business, together representing €38.8 billion annual purchasing volume in Europe.

The new unit will be operational by January 2018. It brings together all the multicultural PCD and OV teams.

Thanks to the experience acquired together with the two existing joint projects carried out since 2013 and one getting ready in the first half of 2018, Groupe PSA can enter this new phase with confidence and determination.

"The joint PCD and OV purchasing teams in Europe are committed to help the Group achieve its ambitious objectives. This integration will enable us to increase efficiency in our procurement processes and therefore contribute to the execution of our plans," said Yannick Bézard, EVP Purchasing of Groupe PSA.

Tata Motors and Westport Fuel Systems announce development and supply agreement

Tata Motors and Westport Fuel Systems announce development and supply agreement

Westport Fuel Systems Inc. has announced that it has entered into a development and supply agreement with Tata Motors Limited for their 4- and 6-cylinder natural gas spark-ignited commercial vehicle engine family to meet the Indian Government's new Bharat Stage VI (BS-VI) emission standards, scheduled to take effect in April of 2020.

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Westport Fuel Systems has been working with Tata Motors since 2012 and has partnered to develop and launch their current BS-IV certified natural gas spark-ignited engines for commercial vehicles. Under this new programme, since spring 2017, Westport Fuel Systems has been developing their next generation of natural gas spark-ignited engines to meet the BS-VI emission standards. Upon completion of the program, Westport Fuel Systems will be supplying the critical natural gas components to Tata Motors, including advanced gas injection systems and controls, featuring the new Westport WP582 Engine Management System, built to optimise the overall engine performance and fuel efficiency.

"Tata Motors is a leader in heavy duty natural gas vehicles in the Indian market and a leading vehicle and engine manufacturer globally," said Maurizio Grando, Executive Vice President of Westport Fuel Systems. "Our longstanding partnership combined with our position as a technology leader and our global footprint allows us to commercialise unique natural gas engine technologies that provide a competitive solution for our OEM partner."

"Tata Motors values the partnership with Westport Fuel Systems on this important engine development programme," said Rajendra Petkar, VP & Head (Power Systems Engineering, ERC) of Tata Motors. "We have worked hard to build a leadership position in the market by providing our customers with economical, best-in-class natural gas engine and vehicle products. Tata Motors remains committed to this goal, especially with the growing significance of natural gas for commercial vehicles. By partnering with Westport Fuel Systems, we are enhancing our portfolio of natural gas engines so we can focus on increasing our market share even further."

BS-VI standards, which are equivalent to Euro-VI standards, are two steps ahead of the BS-IV standards currently in effect due to a heightened concern on India's air quality levels. Recent rules enacted in Delhi and the National Capital Region place limits on diesel and petrol vehicles while mandating natural gas for commercial vehicles such as taxis and city buses. Significant environmental benefits of the BS-VI over BS-IV include about an 87% reduction in tail pipe NOx emissions and 55% reduction in methane emissions beside stringency required by on-board diagnostics standard.

India is one of the world's largest commercial vehicles markets. According to NGV Global statistics, India currently has more than 3 million natural gas powered vehicles, up 69% since last year, with over 1,200 compressed natural gas fuelling stations. In addition, recently the Ministry for Road Transportation and Highways approved plans to develop liquefied natural gas fuelling stations across the country.

Volkswagen sets new record with six million vehicles produced in 2017

Volkswagen sets new record with six million vehicles produced in 2017

The largest model offensive to date in the history of the Volkswagen Group's core brand, combined with growing demand from customers across the globe, have led to the new record.

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The Volkswagen Jetta, Golf, Santana, Passat and Polo led the brand's global production rankings.

Thomas Ulbrich, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen brand responsible for Production and Logistics, said that he sees a clear signal: "More than six million vehicles produced in 12 months – there is one thing that this shows above all: our plants and employees are continually improving their production competence. We have top teams in production which successfully master growing demand from customers."

This development is driven by the long-standing best-sellers Jetta, Golf, Santana, Passat and Polo, growing demand for the Tiguan and recently launched products such as the new Polo, Arteon and T-Roc. Overseas models have also contributed to the production record. The Chinese Santana sedan is an especially popular model.

The Volkswagen brand produces vehicles at more than 50 plants in 14 countries. Since series production started with the original Beetle 72 years ago, more than 150 million Volkswagens have rolled off the production lines. The brand's global product portfolio now includes over 60 models.

Within the framework of the TRANSFORM 2025+ strategy for the future, the Volkswagen Group's core brand is stepping up its model offensive. In 2017 alone, Volkswagen launched more than 10 new models throughout the world. Over the next few years, the entire product range is to be renewed and expanded in core segments such as SUVs and e-mobility. In this first phase, especially the brand's presence in the SUV segment is to be boosted.

By 2020, the brand will offer 19 SUV models throughout the world and will increase the share of SUVs in the overall model range to 40%. In the second phase, from 2020 onwards, the brand is to build up a comprehensive family of full-electric vehicles on the basis of an entirely new electric architecture. The I.D. will be the automobile future of Volkswagen. The family will include the I.D., I.D. Crozz and I.D. Buzz. These three models are part of the initial formation which Volkswagen will be introducing at rapid intervals from 2020 onwards to launch its worldwide electric offensive. In 2025, one million electric Volkswagens are to reach the roads.

China's JAC motors to build factory in Brazil to avoid high import duties

China's JAC motors to build factory in Brazil to avoid high import duties

Chinese automaker JAC Motors has announced that it will invest $500 million to build a factory in Brazil's north-eastern Bahia state, its first outside China.

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The factory, slated to open in 2014, will have the capacity to produce 100,000 units, Jianghuai Automobile Co. (JAC) said in a statement. A total of 3,500 jobs are expected to be created.

The investment will be made by the parent company in China together with the SHC Group, which represents its business interests in Brazil. In August, the company put the preliminary value of its investment at $900 million.

The deal had been called into question when the Brazilian government decided to raise taxes on imported vehicles not built with at least 65% of the parts made in Brazil or coming from Mercosur countries. The decision was aimed at blocking a flood of Chinese automobiles into Brazil, now the world's number four car market. It means JAC Motors will have to pay higher taxes until its Brazilian factory is operational.

Sergio Habib, president of JAC Brazil operations, said he hoped the country's administration would reconsider the higher taxes now that JAC investment plans are confirmed.

Nissan launches online reservation system for new LEAF as pre-orders pass 10,000 across Europe in two months

Nissan launches online reservation system for new LEAF as pre-orders pass 10,000 across Europe in two months

As European orders for the all-new 2018 Nissan LEAF charge past 10,000 in just two months, Nissan GB has launched a new online reservation tool that will make ordering the "Simply Amazing" new LEAF, an amazingly simple process.

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The digital ordering system lets customers place an order for a New LEAF – currently limited to 2.ZERO special versions – in just a few clicks and takes around two minutes to do. A customer's preferred dealer will then contact them to finalise the order.

The all-new Nissan LEAF delivers significant updates over the previous model with dynamic new styling, advanced technologies – including ProPILOT – and a higher capacity 40 kWh battery. On top of these improvements, there's a 50% increase in range to 235miles (NEDC) and a 38% increase in power to 150 PS, compared with the previous 30 kWh version.

Carl Bayliss, EV Category Manager, Nissan Motor (GB) said: "Since 2011, the Nissan LEAF has proved that all-electric driving can be both practical and affordable for thousands of UK motorists. Now the new 2018 Nissan LEAF is the world's most advanced mass-market electric vehicle and icon of Nissan's Intelligent Mobility vision.

Now's the time for those ready to make the switch to enjoy all the benefits that an all-electric, zero emissions vehicle can bring. There's simply no reason to be stuck in a long line of deposits waiting for something to happen when the 'Simply Amazing' new Nissan LEAF begins first deliveries from February next year."

The New LEAF is also the first Nissan model in Europe to be equipped with Nissan's autonomous ProPILOT technology and e-Pedal, which allows drivers to start, accelerate, decelerate and stop – simply by increasing or decreasing the pressure applied to the accelerator.

Nissan will announce full range pricing for the next generation of the world's best-selling electric vehicle in early January 2018 with first customer deliveries beginning in February.

Nissan Canada hit by huge data breach

Nissan Canada hit by huge data breach

This Christmas hasn't been a very merry one for Nissan Canada. The Canadian division of the Japanese carmaker has been hit by a massive data breach.

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On their website, Nissan Canada Finance (NCF) has admitted that earlier this month unauthorised person(s) have gained access to "the personal information of some customers that have financed their vehicles through Nissan Canada Finance and INFINITI Financial Services Canada".

The carmaker explained: "On December 11, 2017, NCF became aware of unauthorised access to personal information. The unauthorised access may have impacted the following types of information for some customers: customer name, address, vehicle make and model, vehicle identification number (VIN), credit score, loan amount and monthly payment. We are still investigating exactly what personal information has been impacted."

While Nissan Canada is still coming to terms with the incident, they're trying to estimate the precise number of customers affected by this data breach. But to ensure that no damage is done, NCF is contacting all of its current and past customers – approximately 1.13 million customers – who have financed their vehicles through Nissan Canada Finance and INFINITI Financial Services Canada. The one area of relief is that no payment card information was affected.

"Customer privacy and data security are most critical to NCF and NCF is taking prompt action to notify potentially affected customers and is offering them 12 months of credit monitoring services through TransUnion at no cost. While the precise number of customers affected by this breach is not yet known, out of abundance of caution, NCF is notifying all of its customers and is offering all customers these credit monitoring services even if their personal information was not actually affected.

Moreover, NCF has also sought help from Canadian privacy regulators, law enforcement and leading data security experts to investigate what happened and bring the perpetrators to justice.

"We sincerely apologise to the customers whose personal information may have been illegally accessed and for any frustration or inconvenience that this may cause," said Alain Ballu, President, Nissan Canada Finance. "We are focused on supporting our customers and ensuring the security of our systems."

Geely's latest Scandinavian venture is none other than AB Volvo

Geely's latest Scandinavian venture is none other than AB Volvo

Twenty years since their split, it is beginning to look like the Volvo Car Group will share something in common with its former truck making counterpart AB Volvo.

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 China's Geely Holding, which currently owns Volvo Car, is all set to buy an 8.2% stake in AB Volvo from activist investor Cevian Capital for about $3.3 billion.

But that doesn't necessarily mean that the two brands will finally reunite. In a statement earlier today, Geely Chairman Li Shufu said: "Given our experience with Volvo Car Group, we recognise and value the proud Scandinavian history and culture, leading market positions, breakthrough technologies and environmental capabilities of AB Volvo."

AB Volvo has a significant presence in China. The company owns 45% of China's largest truck makers, Dongfeng Commercial Vehicles. It also holds a sizeable share of the country's construction equipment market.

A source who has knowledge of the deal disclosed to the Dagens Nyheter that Geely paid a whopping $3.25 billion for their stake, which now makes them the biggest individual shareholder in AB Volvo and second when it comes to voting rights behind Swedish investment firm Industrivarden.

With this deal, Geely will now have 88.5 million A shares and 78.8 million B shares. Industrivarden's portfolio comprises of only A shares that give it 22.8% of the voting rights in Volvo, but Geely isn't far behind with 15.6% voting rights.

Both Geely and Cevian declined to disclose the exact value of the transaction or confirm this information.

The companies have, however, revealed that as of now Nomura International Plc and Barclays Capital Securities have agreed to acquire Cevian's shares, and will sell them to Zhejiang Geely Holding Group once they have the necessary regulatory approvals.

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