SMMT urges the British Government to back new-tech diesel

SMMT urges the British Government to back new-tech diesel

The UK Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has called on the British government to present a strategy that supports industry investment into next-generation technologies and gives drivers the confidence to buy the right car for their needs.

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The UK new car market declined moderately in June, with year-on-year demand falling by 3.5%, according to the latest figures released today by the SMMT. 234,945 new cars joined British roads in the month as the market continues to stabilise following turbulence over the past year or so.

Demand from larger fleets fell 6.4%, but business buyers with fewer than 25 vehicles on their books returned to showrooms, registering an 11.3% uplift in demand after an 11-month long hiatus. Private demand was largely flat, down by 0.6%.

Smaller cars remained most popular, with Supermini and Lower Medium vehicles taking a combined 57.4% market share. However, Dual Purpose was the fastest growing segment, with demand up by some 16.4%, 6,710 more than in the same month last year. Dual Purpose, Executive (+4.3%) and Luxury Saloon (+1.3%) were the only segments to register growth in June.

There was good news for the alternatively-fuelled vehicle sector, with a 45.0% increase in plug-in and hybrid registrations as consumers responded to a growing range of models. Petrol cars also attracted more buyers, with demand up 12.3%. Diesel registrations fell by 28.2% as a result of continuing consumer uncertainty over future policy towards this technology.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, "Despite a rocky first six months for the new car market, it's great to see demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles continue to rise. Given these cars still represent only one in 20 registrations, however, they cannot yet have the impact in driving down overall emissions that conventional vehicles, including diesels, continue to deliver. Recent government statements acknowledging the importance of petrol and diesel are encouraging. However, we now need a strategy that supports industry investment into next generation technologies and puts motorists back in the driving seat, encouraged to buy the car that best suits their needs, whatever its fuel type."

Audi concludes analysis of its V TDI engines

Audi concludes analysis of its V TDI engines

In the course of addressing the diesel crisis, Audi AG has reached an important milepost, as announced in advance, following the conclusion of internal technical analyses of all its V-TDI engines the company passed on its essential findings to the German Federal Motor Vehicle Transport Authority (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt, KBA).

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The focus was on current models with third-generation V-6 TDI engines. There were no findings at all after the latest technical analysis, which included the new full-size category comprising the Audi A8, Audi A7 Sportback, Audi A6 and A6 Avant as well as the new Audi Q8. The Company has examined around 700 variants since 2016.

"For me, our focus is unquestionably on our customers," stressed Abraham Schot, interim CEO and Audi AG Board of Management Member for Sales and Marketing. "We have made substantial progress in the technical investigation. Now that the extensive detailed work has been done, the facts are on the table. That was our ambition, because we have ultimately unsettled and disappointed many of our customers through the diesel crisis."

The extensive investigations looked at all V-6 and V-8 TDI engines, which Audi uses in mid-range and full-size models. This equates to around six million cars to Euro 5 and Euro 6 standard built since 2008 and delivered to customers in Europe and other markets (except the United States and Canada).

The experts have therefore also already examined the status of all those second-generation evo and third-generation power units that have been brought out since mid-2014 or in fact will only be appearing from the introduction of the new WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure) emission standard from September 1, 2018.

"The investigations were more complex than expected," summarised Audi Head of Purchasing Bernd Martens, who is leading the internal task force to address the diesel crisis: "For every single diesel engine, we had to delve deep into the software codes in order to examine even peripheral areas of the driving profile. A genuine feat that our developers accomplished on top of their core task of working on new Audi models. To conduct this exhaustive analysis, our engine development colleagues combed through more than 750,000 pages of documentation."

So far, the KBA has issued the Company with seven notices for mandatory software updates in connection with the diesel crisis. These apply to a total of around 240,000 vehicles worldwide. As agreed at the Diesel Summit in August 2017, Audi is offering a voluntary software update for 370,000 vehicles with V-TDI engines in Germany to improve emissions in real road traffic conditions.

The retrofit program is always free of charge for Audi customers and will have no adverse effect on fuel consumption, CO2 emissions, engine output, peak torque or noise emissions, nor on the durability of the engine and exhaust-gas aftertreatment system.

The United States and Canada are not affected by the findings of the internal Audi investigations presented. The Company is one step further down the line in North America: In four out of five cases, the measures for the engine generations in use have already received clearance from the responsible regulatory authorities. Some two-thirds of those automobiles have already been dealt with.

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance companies jointly open training centre in Philippines

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance companies jointly open training centre in Philippines

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi officially opened a joint staff training centre in the Philippines, as the automotive alliance works together more closely to enhance service to customers.

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The two-story centre in Laguna will instruct up to 200 Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors trainees a day on providing more efficient and value-added service to customers not only in showrooms but also in repair centres.

A dealership and service reception area have been recreated in the centre for the training sessions. The facility will also provide body and paint repair workshops for staff, along with training in assembly, machine maintenance, materials handling and vehicle inspection.

The centre, located at the Mitsubishi Motors plant in Santa Rosa, Laguna, will also have the capacity to support future technical training on electric vehicles, in line with both companies' focus on more electrification.

The joint centre is part of a convergence of functions led by the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi partnership. Mitsubishi Motors and Nissan expect the centre to reduce costs and improve staff skills through synergies such as more efficient access to trainers and courses in one central location.

"This training centre will be the venue for further enhancing the capabilities of our dealer and manufacturing personnel with regards to the newest technologies. It will also improve work efficiency and productivity through various trainings and simulations of daily operations," said Mutsuhiro Oshikiri, president and CEO of Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC).

"We are very excited to partner with Mitsubishi Motors to establish this new training centre," said Ramesh Narasimhan, president and managing director of Nissan Philippines Inc.

JLR CEO calls on the Government for clarity on Brexit

JLR CEO calls on the Government for clarity on Brexit

Prof. Dr. Ralf Speth, Chief Executive Officer of Jaguar Land Rover Automotive plc, Britain’s largest vehicle manufacturer, called on the UK Government to urgently provide certainty for business including guaranteed tariff-free access and frictionless trade with the European Union.

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Ahead of the publication of a White Paper outlining the Government's proposed post-Brexit trading relationship with the EU, Dr. Speth said: "Jaguar Land Rover's heart and soul is in the UK. However we, and our partners in the supply chain, face an unpredictable future if the Brexit negotiations do not maintain free and frictionless trade with the EU and unrestricted access to the single market."

"We urgently need greater certainty to continue to invest heavily in the UK and safeguard our suppliers, customers and 40,000 British-based employees."

"A bad Brexit deal would cost Jaguar Land Rover more than £1.2 billion ($1.9 billion) profit each year. As a result, we would have to drastically adjust our spending profile; we have spent around £50 billion ($66 billion) in the UK in the past five years, with plans for a further £80 billion ($105.6 billion) more in the next five. This would be in jeopardy should we be faced with the wrong outcome."

"For more than 250 years, since the era of Adam Smith, Britain has championed free markets and made the case for free trade. If the UK automotive industry is to remain globally competitive and protect 300,000 jobs in Jaguar Land Rover and our supply chain, we must retain tariff and customs-free access to trade and talent with no change to current EU regulations.

"Electrification and connectivity offer significant economic and productivity opportunities, get Brexit wrong and British people, businesses and broader society lose the chance to lead in smart mobility."

Jaguar Land Rover being Britain's largest car manufacturer, investor, exporter and employer, has more than 40,000 employees that are based in the UK, with a further 260,000 jobs in the UK supply chain.

In 2017 JLR sold 621,000 cars, with 80% of them going to 130 countries; 1 in 3 cars exported from the UK are Jaguars or Land Rovers. Mainland Europe is one of JLR's largest markets, with 20% of cars being sold there.

In the current financial year JLR intends to invest £4.5 billion ($6 billion), with more than half going into development of new vehicle models and technologies. Jaguar Land Rover's UK tax contribution exceeds £2 billion ($2.64 billion) per year.

Jaguar Land Rover in the financial year 2017/2018 spent £5.67 billion ($7.48 billion) with UK suppliers and £5.37 billion ($7.09 billion) with EU suppliers on production parts. More than 40% of parts going into their cars are imported from Europe.

Solihull, the UK's largest car plant, builds 1,500 cars per day, using 15 million components. Any delay to parts delivery would force the suspension of production at a cost of £1.25 million ($1.65 million) per hour.

BMW to produce engines for i8 Roadster near Birmingham

BMW to produce engines for i8 Roadster near Birmingham

Engines from BMW Group’s production plant, near Birmingham, are to power the company’s latest electrified model – the new BMW i8 Roadster.

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The Midlands-based plant has been producing engines for the BMW i8 Coupe since it first hit the roads in 2014. Now the plant will supply engines for the new BMW i8 Roadster, as well as a new version of the i8 Coupe.

Exclusively produced at the Hams Hall plant, the three-cylinder petrol engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology is combined with a hybrid electric motor to form the i8's plug-in hybrid drive system. The drive duo melds sports car performance qualities with the sort of fuel economy and emissions usually associated with compact models.

"It's fantastic that our plant is able to play a part in BMW Group's electrified strategy," said plant director, Bernd Gress. "We are proud to have already contributed to the highly successful BMW i8 Coupe, as well as supplying engines for two other BMW and MINI hybrid models. Now, we look forward to being a part of the BMW i8 Roadster story, too."

The turbocharged three-cylinder unit, featuring direct injection and Valvetronic variable valve timing, extracts a maximum output of 170 kW/231 hp from its displacement of just 1.5 litres, plus peak torque of 320 Nm (236 lb-ft). With the electric motor and engine acting in unison, the system output is 275 kW/374 hp.

The new BMW i8 Coupe accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.4 seconds, while the new BMW i8 Roadster takes a tick longer with a time of 4.6 seconds.

Hand-built by a small team of the plant's top engine technicians, the combustion engines for the i8 are assembled on a dedicated, unique facility, recently expanded and enhanced to increase production capability for further high-spec engines.

Overall, the Hams Hall plant is going from strength-to-strength. Production of engines for a number of BMW and MINI models is expected to peak over 350,000 units, with the machining of key engine components likely to top 1.4 million parts this year.

Volkswagen Group’s Components business to become a separate entity

Volkswagen Group’s Components business to become a separate entity

Volkswagen Group Components is to become an independent corporate entity under the umbrella of Volkswagen AG with effect from January 2019.

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The realignment process which is currently in progress is focusing on aspects such as changes in the structure of the business areas, slimmer management and board systems and a Group-wide added value strategy.

Thomas Schmall, Board Member for Components of the Volkswagen brand and Head of Group Components, says: "The realignment of Group Components will make us even more efficient and competitive. We are preparing ourselves for the approaching new era of mobility. Investments for the new electric components must be borne by our present core business. We are therefore working at full speed on a Group-wide added value strategy based on investment and cost optimisation. This will ensure the future viability of Components and safeguard jobs in the long term."

The strengths of Group Components, with 56 plants and about 80,000 employees throughout the world, have included the development and production of strategic vehicle components, from engines, transmissions and electric motors through to steering systems and lightweight parts.

In order to realign these competences in a future-oriented way, it was decided as part of Group strategy to group global components activities together in an independent corporate entity "Group Components". The main objective of the realignment is to improve efficiency and optimise investments with a view to ensuring a coordinated entry to e-mobility.

Components is laying the foundation for achieving these objectives by consistently orienting its operations towards economic viability and efficiency in production plants and offices. Since 2016, the Components team has improved production and administration processes, developed shop floor management for uniform communications between management, foremen and employees and has already consistently implemented all the objectives of Volkswagen's Pact for the Future.

Maruti Suzuki sells over 300,000 Vitara Brezza in India since launch

Maruti Suzuki sells over 300,000 Vitara Brezza in India since launch

Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) announced that its SUV Vitara Brezza, has crossed 300,000 unit sales since its launch in March 2016.

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A distinctive feat in the Indian automobile industry, Vitara Brezza has achieved the fastest 300,000 sales mark in the SUV segment in just 28 months.

In May 2018, Maruti Suzuki's two-pedal technology, Auto Gear Shift, was offered on Vitara Brezza. Also, the exterior and interior features have been given a makeover, enhancing the bold and sporty character of the popular SUV. With Vitara Brezza, Maruti Suzuki introduced dual-tone colours, a first in its segment.

Thanking customers for their overwhelming support for the Vitara Brezza, Mr. R S Kalsi, Senior Executive Director (Marketing and Sales), Maruti Suzuki said, "Vitara Brezza is a breakthrough product, which created disruption in the SUV market. With its sporty and glamourous traits, Vitara Brezza continues to be the most loved SUV despite several new entrants into the segment."

"The contribution of the top variants in the total sales of Vitara Brezza has zoomed to 56%. This is a testimony to the fact that customers appreciated the refreshed design and innovative features in Vitara Brezza. The Auto Gear Shift has enticed the aspiration of ever evolving customers. We would like to extend our heartiest gratitude to our Vitara Brezza customers and particularly those who have chosen to wait for their loved car."

Vitara Brezza complies with advanced safety regulations, including pedestrian safety, ahead of Indian Government regulation timelines. It comes loaded with new safety features comprising ISOFIX child restraint system, high speed warning alert, dual air bags, ABS with EBD, reverse parking sensors and front seat belt pre-tensioners and force limiters. These features are now standard across all variants of Vitara Brezza.

VW group to invest €1 billion in India

VW group to invest €1 billion in India

Going forward Škoda Auto will be responsible for leading Volkswagen Group’s planned model campaign on the Indian market. Volkswagen Group is investing €1 billion ($1.16 billion) into the implementation of the project, primarily between 2019 and 2021.

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To ensure closest-possible proximity to the market, a project centre is being set up in India where, for example, vehicle development will take place.

Škoda Auto CEO Bernhard Maier said, "Experts predict that in the next few years India is going to become the third-largest automotive market worldwide. With our 'INDIA 2.0' project we are now creating the right conditions for sustainable growth there. Our objective is ambitious, but achievable: together with the Volkswagen brand, we are seeking a market share of up to five per cent in the long term, depending on market and segment development."

Gurpratap Boparai, Managing Director of Škoda Auto India Private Ltd, added, "With the 'INDIA 2.0' project, Škoda Auto and Volkswagen Group are in an excellent position to optimally confront the dynamics of the Indian car market. In India, we will offer top-class products at prices that amount to a paradigm shift in the automotive industry. We will manufacture the new products locally based on the heavily localised MQB A0 platform, which already fulfils the stricter emission and safety standards that are expected to come into force in India in 2020."

Initially, Škoda Auto is developing the sub-compact MQB A0 platform with a focus on India (MQB-A0-IN). In the second phase, ŠKODA will be assessing the possibility of exporting vehicles manufactured in India. ŠKODA and Volkswagen will develop several products based on this platform. The model campaign will begin in 2020 with an SUV.

To ensure that the planned models will fulfil the requirements of Indian customers to the utmost extent, Škoda Auto is looking to be as close to the market as possible from the very start. The technical development of the new products will therefore predominantly take place in India. To this end, the car manufacturer plans to gradually create new jobs in the country.

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