Volvo Cars announces new business ambitions

Volvo Cars announces new business ambitions

Volvo Cars has announced new financial and operational ambitions that the feel will position the company as a leading player in the global automotive business by the middle of the next decade.

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On the operational side, it expects to generate half of all sales annually from fully electric cars, one third of all cars sold to be autonomous driving cars and half of all cars it offers to customers from its subscription service.

Volvo Cars expects these initiatives to transform its connection to its customer base, with the aim to build a total of over 5 million direct consumer relationships by the middle of the next decade, creating new sources of recurring revenue. This will also offer the company far greater potential to develop connected and other services for customers.

"Our customers' expectations are changing rapidly. This means that Volvo Cars is also changing rapidly. These initiatives will help transform Volvo from being purely a car company to being a direct consumer services provider," said Hakan Samuelsson, president and chief executive.

On the financial side, Volvo Cars aims to generate premium level profitability in line with other premium car makers, driven by increased sales and revenues across all three global sales regions, and a broader range of cars including sales to the new segment of autonomous ride-hailing companies.

Volvo Cars expects to benefit from lower procurement costs, shared development costs and economies of scale alongside Polestar, its premium performance electric car brand, and LYNK & CO, the new global car brand in which Volvo Cars owns a 30% stake.

"This paves the way for Volvo Cars to continue growing fast into the middle of the next decade," said Mr Samuelsson. "The company has been transformed since 2010 into a global premium car company. Now it is time for this transformation to be turned into a period of sustained profitability in line with other premium brands."

Volvo Cars achieved record profits and sales in 2017, with a 27.7 percent increase in operating profit and global sales of 571,577 cars. The results marked the company's fourth consecutive year of record growth, underlining the transformation of Volvo's finances and operations since being acquired by Geely Holdings. It has also expanded its global manufacturing footprint and completely renewed its model portfolio in recent years.

GM and Honda collaborate to develop next-gen batteries

GM and Honda collaborate to develop next-gen batteries

General Motors Co. and Honda announced an agreement for new advanced chemistry battery components, including the cell and module, to accelerate both companies’ plans for all-electric vehicles.

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The next-generation battery will deliver higher energy density, smaller packaging and faster charging capabilities for both companies' future products, mainly for the North American market.

Under the agreement, the companies will collaborate based on GM's next generation battery system with the intent for Honda to source the battery modules from GM. The collaboration will support each company's respective and distinct vehicles. The combined scale and global manufacturing efficiencies will ultimately provide greater value to customers.

"This new, multiyear agreement with Honda further demonstrates General Motors' capability to innovate toward a profitable electric portfolio," said Mark Reuss, General Motors Executive Vice President of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain. "GM's decades of electrification experience and strategic EV investments, alongside Honda's commitment to advancing mobility, will result in better solutions for our customers and progress on our zero emissions vision."

GM and Honda already have a proven relationship around electrification, having formed the industry's first manufacturing joint venture to produce an advanced hydrogen fuel cell system in the 2020 timeframe. The integrated development teams are working to deliver a more affordable commercial solution for fuel cell and hydrogen storage systems.

"In addition to our ongoing joint development and production of fuel cells, this battery component collaboration will enable us to take a new step toward the realisation of a sustainable society," said Takashi Sekiguchi, Chief Officer for Automobile Operations and Managing Officer of Honda.

Strikes in Brazil affect VW’s production in Mexico

Strikes in Brazil affect VW’s production in Mexico

Volkswagen has halted the production of it’s popular Jetta in Mexico owing to the strikes of teamsters in Brazil owing to rising prices of petrol and diesel in the country.

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The Puebla plant is Volkswagen's biggest plant outside Germany. It produces some of the company's iconic models such as Beetle, Jetta as well as bestseller models like the Tiguan and Golf. The plant produced approximately 461,248 units in 2017.

The main cause for the suspension of production is attributed to the shortage of engines, which are produced in Brazil. Due to the protests, it has become difficult to transport the engines from Brazil.

Three shifts for production had to be cancelled from Monday to Wednesday. The 1800 workers involved in the production will not receive any pay cuts but the off days will be discounted from their vacation.

The production line is expected to start operating on Saturday but the capacity at which it works will be decided by the company later in the week.

GM to launch up to 20 NEVs in China in 2021-23

GM to launch up to 20 NEVs in China in 2021-23

GM is on track to deliver 10 new energy vehicle models in China between 2016 and 2020. From 2021 through 2023, GM will maintain momentum by doubling the number of new energy vehicles available.

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The Cadillac CT6 Plug-In, Buick Velite 5 extended-range electric vehicle and Baojun E100 electric vehicle are among the models that have already been launched in the domestic market. Buick recently announced plans to introduce the Velite 6 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, followed by the Velite 6 electric vehicle.

"China is playing an essential role in driving toward a future of zero emissions, and General Motors is intent on helping to make it happen," said Matt Tsien, GM executive vice president and president of GM China. "We will continue to grow our electric vehicle portfolio in China with diverse solutions that encompass various electric ranges and body styles."

He added, "We are integrating GM's global expertise in electrification with our local research, development and manufacturing capabilities. Our focus is on delivering safe and reliable products that are tailored for our customers across China."

With the ground-breaking EV1 introduced in 1996, GM gained a first-mover advantage in electric vehicles and electrification technology. It has rolled out other cutting-edge models, such as the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle and the Chevrolet Bolt, the world's first affordable long-range electric vehicle.

GM began developing in-house battery research and development expertise early and it now possesses battery development, validation and testing capabilities in the United States and China.

"Our 20-year journey has led to the successful introduction of new critical components, new propulsion systems and entirely new vehicle systems," said Jennifer Goforth, chief engineer of GM China Electrification. "Every researcher and every engineer is fully engaged in each step of the process to ensure we gain our customers' confidence by continuing to meet their expectations for electric vehicles."

The battery lab at the GM China Advanced Technical Center in Shanghai is an important member of GM's global battery lab network. It develops, validates and tests battery systems to ensure the quality of GM's electrified vehicles in China. It also carries out work on battery fundamentals, such as chemistry and cell design, to advance their performance capabilities.

The Shanghai Battery Assembly Plant operated by GM's SAIC-GM joint venture will support GM's expanding electric vehicle portfolio in China. It utilises the same global assembly processes and follows the same strict technical standards as GM's other facility, the Brownstown Battery Assembly Plant in the United States.

Groupe PSA suspends JV activities in Iran

Groupe PSA suspends JV activities in Iran

After signature of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed in Vienna) on July 14th, 2015 and the lifting of international sanctions against Iran on January 16th, 2016, Groupe PSA signed joint venture agreements with Iran Khodro on June 21th, 2016 and Saipa on October 6th, 2016.

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The purpose of these JVs, which are fully compliant with UN resolutions and current US, European and French regulation, is to offer Iranian customers modern Peugeot and Citroën vehicles, designed to the highest level of safety, comfort and environmental protection.

Following the US withdrawal from the JCPOA announced on May 8th, 2018, the Group has begun to suspend its JVs activities, in order to comply with US law by August 6th, 2018. With the support of the French Government, the Groupe PSA is engaging with the US authorities to consider a waiver.

Groupe PSA is monitoring the regulatory context and is in contact with the authorities of the countries concerned, in order to remain compliant with all regulations.

Groupe PSA's operations in Iran represent less than 1% of its turnover

Volkswagen to train engineers to prepare for the production of the I.D. family

Volkswagen to train engineers to prepare for the production of the I.D. family

Within the framework of the “Future Electronic Engineer Program” (FEEP), 100 young engineers and skilled workers throughout the world will be trained as production experts.

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As start of production specialists, they will occupy future-oriented positions in planning, the pilot hall, the e-mobility model group, the pre-series centre and electronics development. The first participants to complete the three-year program will support the run-up phase of the I.D. family, the new generation of full-electric vehicles based on the modular electrification toolkit (MEB) in Zwickau.

The new training program has been initiated by the Volkswagen brand pilot hall in Wolfsburg, which forms part of the Production and Logistics Board of Management division. Plants in China, Brazil, Argentina, the USA and Mexico are also participating in the program, which is supported by Volkswagen's volunteering initiative and local universities. From June onwards, young specialists from Germany, China and the Americas will be participating in the program.

Oliver Wessel, Head of the Pilot Hall, who is responsible for the product creation process of all Volkswagen models together with his team, ensuring that series production of the models starts in an optimum way, aims to provide one of the most comprehensive specialist training schemes in the industry with the FEEP. "This year and next year, we will have to master about 80 starts of production. The vehicles have more digital intelligence on board than ever before. These are severe challenges. And the situation will become even more challenging with the MEB models. We need start of production specialists who can provide local support at our plants when the need arises and ensure a good start of production."

Thomas Ulbrich, Member of the brand Board of Management responsible for E-Mobility said, "Within three years, Volkswagen will be starting production of a total of 27 electric car models for four brands in three regions of the world. At the Zwickau plant alone, models of three Group brands will roll off the production lines. In future, our MEB plants throughout the world will need young engineers who are thoroughly conversant with the requirements for production of the new vehicle architecture and also have considerable practical experience."

Initially, participants entering the program will be provided with basic training on commissioning at the Volkswagen brand pilot hall in Wolfsburg and will work on current vehicle projects such as the first compact I.D. Following this stage, they will receive intensive seminars; for example during specialist training as programmers and will work on projects with gradually increasing requirements.

They will then complete an assignment to another country where they will work on starts of production and benefit from practically oriented support by highly qualified mentors and senior experts working on a volunteering basis.

Mitsubishi reaches 5 million units at Thailand plant

Mitsubishi reaches 5 million units at Thailand plant

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) announced that Mitsubishi Motors (Thailand) Co., Ltd. (MMTh), its exclusive producer and distributor in Thailand, has produced five million units at the facility in Laem Chabang. The landmark vehicle was a Mitsubishi Shogun Sport.

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The event was graced by Somkid Jatusripitak, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand; His Excellency Shiro Sadoshima, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan; Osamu Masuko, CEO of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation and BOI's Honorary Investment Advisor. Other VIP guests, business partners and employees were also in attendance.

During his address, Somkid Jatusripitak congratulated Mitsubishi Motors for the successful collaboration between the automaker and the Thai government.

He said, "Mitsubishi Motors Thailand's milestone today underlines the role of the automotive industry as one of Thailand's growth engines. The company's commitment to Thailand, and its leadership in sustainable practices is initiative that will help us achieve our national economic goals."

Also speaking at the ceremony was Osamu Masuko, CEO of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation. He expressed his gratitude for the support and cooperation from the Thai government, and explained, "We have always had the confidence in Thailand's potential for domestic market growth. Its long-term policies to grow the automotive industry also a positive sign for our business."

MMTh's facilities at Laem Chabang are the biggest outside Japan, capable of producing 424,000 vehicles a year with exports going to more than 120 countries. The output supports the company's growth in the ASEAN region as well as internationally.

Out of the five million vehicles, 3.7 million were for export markets in more than 120 countries worldwide. In 2016, Mitsubishi Motors Thailand celebrated production of three million export vehicles.

MMTh currently operates three automobile plants in Laem Chabang. The first plant was opened in 1992, and the second in 1996, the latter focusing on production of L200 pickup trucks as the production hub and export base.

In 2007, Mitsubishi Motors Thailand joined the Eco Car project and invested in the third automobile plant, which started producing eco cars in 2012.

Mitsubishi Motors Thailand currently has over 6,600 employees. To enhance its operations and leverage its role among Mitsubishi Motors group, the company also has facilities for Global Parts Logistics, a proving ground and a new training centre.

BMW testing new Z4’s driving dynamics in France

BMW testing new Z4’s driving dynamics in France

The new BMW Z4 is currently undergoing a particularly important stage of the process towards serial production, driving dynamics testing of a heavily disguised prototype at the BMW test centre in Miramas in the south of France.

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This will provide key insights into the performance properties of the new model. Trials at the Autodrome de Miramas are focusing on fine-tuning of all drive and suspension systems; the basis for the sporty driving experience offered by the new BMW Z4. The new BMW Z4 M40i has an extremely powerful in-line 6-cylinder engine, a lowered sports suspension with electronically controlled dampers, a newly developed front axle, M light alloy wheels with mixed tyres, an M sports brake system and an electronically controlled lock in the rear axle differential create an overall package that sees the BMW M Performance model setting a whole new benchmark for driving pleasure in the roadster segment.

"The vehicle concept of the new BMW Z4 is geared consistently towards agility and driving dynamics," explained Jos van As, Head of Application Suspension. "The high level of body stiffness and the very rigid suspension attachment provide the perfect basis for a set-up that guarantees the performance qualities of a genuine sports car in terms of steering precision as well as longitudinal and transverse acceleration."

This intense testing process indicates that the new version of the roadster concept will offer a tangible increase in sporty flair in the new BMW Z4. The new generation will particularly introduce effective enhancements in terms of agile handling, spontaneity and precision when changing direction and accelerating in dynamic style out of bends without losing out on the comfort.

Suzuki celebrates production of 20 million units in India

Suzuki celebrates production of 20 million units in India

Suzuki Motor Corporation has achieved accumulated automobile production of 20 million units in India.

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India becomes the second country after Japan in which Suzuki has reached this milestone, and the fastest country to reach 20 million units in just 34 years and 5 months since starting production in December 1983, breaking the record of 45 years and 9 months in Japan.

Of the 20 million units, Alto was the most produced model with approximately 3.17 million units. Swift produced at Gujarat Plant was the 20 millionth model.

Suzuki's automobile production in India started in December 1983 with its first model, the Maruti 800 by Maruti Udyog, the former company of the present Maruti Suzuki. Since then, production units and models were increased to meet the expanding needs owing to the growing economy in India.

Today, production is held at Gurgaon and Manesar Plants of Maruti Suzuki, as well as Gujarat Plant of Suzuki Motor Gujarat, Suzuki's 100% subsidiary to produce automobiles in India. At these three production sites, 16 models are produced including the Dzire, Baleno, Alto, Swift, WagonR, and Vitara Brezza.

In FY2017, approximately 1.78 million units were produced in India, of which 1.65 million units were sold in India domestic and 130,000 units were exported to over 100 countries and regions including Europe, Japan, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

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