Japan’s Suzuki Motors to increase R&D spends in order to retain market leadership

Japan’s Suzuki Motors to increase R&D spends in order to retain market leadership

Suzuki Motor Corp is said to be increasing its investment in India to develop future technologies for electric vehicles (EVs) and connected cars, with the aim of retaining its top spot in the Indian market.

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Suzuki, a major shareholder in Maruti Suzuki has seen its profits decline due to a stronger Japanese Yen although the company achieved record sales numbers last year. The parent company is said to have earmarked around $1.46 billion for R&D, which is 15% higher than it spent last year. It will be used for research to develop self-driving vehicles, hybrid EVs, more efficient petrol engines and connected vehicle technologies.

Suzuki does not want to be caught off guard at a time when car makers are increasingly focusing on automation, electrification, lower emissions and connected vehicles.

Maruti Suzuki currently holds a 50% market share in India, the fifth largest passenger auto market in the world, with almost 3 million unit sales at present. This number is expected to grow more than threefold to 10 million units by 2030. Suzuki would want to capitalise on its current position to stay the market leader.

Suzuki recently announced a partnership with Toyota in India, which gives it access to Toyota's vast R&D firepower. Toyota would try to build on Suzuki's experience in the small car market in India, which is the country's largest selling segment.

Some of Maruti Suzuki's bestsellers in India are the compact Alto and Baleno hatchbacks as well as the compact SUV Vitara Brezza.

Seoul government reaches an agreement to bail out troubled GM South Korea

Seoul government reaches an agreement to bail out troubled GM South Korea

General Motors and the Seoul government have reached an agreement over the bailout package of $7.15 billion to get GM South Korea back on track.

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The South Korean unit of the American Company has been facing losses due to declining sales in the last few years.

As a part of the deal, GM will convert the $2.8 billion owed by GM South Korea into shares and extend further loans of $3.6 billion to the South Korean unit. Korean Development Bank (KDB), Korea's state-run bank which also holds 17% shares of GM South Korea will also inject $715 million into the company.

Of this money, GM will invest $2 billion into its production facilities locally in the next 10 years. The remaining $1.6 billion will be spent on restructuring and streamlining operations.

The parent company of GM South Korea will be required to maintain its stake for at least five years and also keep maintaining at least 35% of share between 2023-2028. As per the deal GM will introduce two new vehicle models in South Korea's vehicle plant. The state-run bank KDB will have veto power over management decisions.

GM will also set up its Asia-Pacific (except China) regional office in South Korea. This will act as a base for sales, production, technology development and R&D for the region. GM will also increase their purchasing of components from South Korean firms.

A few months back, GM Korea closed down its Gunsan plant which was one of the four manufacturing bases it had in the country. This led to almost 2000 workers losing their jobs. As a result GM had been facing a lot of protests and strikes across the country. The closure of the Gunsan plant led to GM losing $942 million.

Audi board shares 2018 plans with shareholders

Audi board shares 2018 plans with shareholders

New production launches every three weeks, new segments and drive technologies, new organisational structures, Audi has started an extremely eventful and ambitious year.

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The Board of Management informed the shareholders about the current course of business, the model and technology initiative, and the objectives of the Action and Transformation Plan as an enabler for the strategy "Audi.Vorsprung.2025."

"2018 is a key year for Audi with an enormously high speed of change, that will gradually put us back on the offensive," said Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of Audi AG. "We will continue clearing up the diesel crisis and will restructure large parts of our global organisation for the course we have set for the future. At the same time, we are approaching the climax of the biggest model fireworks in our company's history and are entering the age of electric mobility with the Audi e-tron."

As the brand's first fully electric volume model, the Audi e-tron SUV will have its world premiere at the Audi Summit in Brussels on August 30. With the rapid expansion of the portfolio of fully electric cars and plug-in hybrids in each model range, the company aims to sell approximately 800,000 electrified automobiles per annum by 2025. For the production version of the Audi e-tron prototype, customers will for the first time be able to book various functions flexibly online. In total, the brand aims to generate an annual contribution to operating profit of €1 billion ($1.19 billion) with digital services via the myAudi customer portal by the year 2025.

Audi is installing a central product management unit reporting directly to the CEO to steer the planning, implementation and operation of digital products, and is thus establishing digital value added organisationally at the same level as the existing core business.

For this purpose, the OEM is also developing an integrated IT platform for vehicle connectivity and digital services. By means of a shared high-performance backend, the models from Audi and the other brands of the Volkswagen Group will be usable compatibly; this means for example that customers' settings and content will be smoothly transferred between the automobiles of the various Group brands.

With its successfully started Action and Transformation Plan, Audi aims to achieve positive earnings effects totalling €10 billion ($11.9 billion) by 2022 through reduced costs and new sources of revenue. Audi is systematically prioritizing the resources gained from efficiency progress for innovations with high customer relevance as well as Vorsprung durch Technik in the competitive arena.

In the current financial year, Audi is rejuvenating and expanding its model portfolio with more than 20 new market launches. The new Audi design language and the new, fully digital operating concept in the interior will be introduced in all segments, starting with the premium full-size class. Following the launch of the new A8 in late 2017 and the A7 in March 2018 in first markets, a new top model will come onto the market as of the middle of this year: the new generation of the A6. By 2020, Audi plans to increase its unit sales in the brand-defining full-size segment by about 50%. Before the end of this year, the two high-end SUVs, the Q8 and the Audi e-tron, will be launched.

Audi will launch new sporty SUVs also in the compact and midsize segments in 2018. In addition to the new Q3 generation, the sporty SQ2 will have its premiere in the coming months. In China, Audi SUVs will be available for the first time as long-wheelbase versions: the Q2 L and the Q5 L. By the end of 2019, Audi will launch a total of eleven new SUVs, including further models without predecessors such as the Audi Q4, which is to be launched next year.

For full-year 2018, Audi AG maintains its target of an operating return on sales within the strategic target corridor of 8 to 10%, despite its ambitious agenda and challenging conditions. The company anticipates deliveries of Audi automobiles at the record level of 2017, when 1,878,105 automobiles were handed over to customers. Revenue at the Audi Group should rise slightly from last year's level of €60,128 million ($71,552 million). As forecast in the current annual report, there may be considerable fluctuations in deliveries and financial key figures during the year.

Toyota announces profit for fiscal year ending March 2018, car sales numbers fall

Toyota announces profit for fiscal year ending March 2018, car sales numbers fall

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announced its financial results for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2018.

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Consolidated vehicle sales totalled 8,964,394 units, a decrease of 6,466 units compared to the previous fiscal year.

On a consolidated basis, net revenues for the period totalled JPY 29.3795 trillion ($267.35 billion), an increase of JPY 1.7823 trillion ($16.22 billion). Operating income increased from JPY 1.9943 trillion ($18.15 billion) to JPY 2.3998 trillion ($21.84 billion), while income before income taxes was JPY 2.6204 trillion ($23.85 billion). Net income2 increased from JPY 1.8311 trillion ($16.66 billion) to JPY 2.4939 trillion($22.7 billion).

Operating income increased by JPY 405.4 billion ($3.69 billion). Major factors in the increase included currency fluctuations of JPY 265 billion ($2.42 billion) and an increase of JPY 165 billion ($1.5 billion) due to cost reduction efforts.

TMC Senior Managing Officer Masayoshi Shirayanagi said: "Compared to the previous forecast announced at the time of our Q3 results, and excluding the overall impact of foreign exchange rates, swap valuation gains/losses, and other factors, operating income for the ended fiscal year represents an improvement of JPY 180 billion ($1.64 billion)."

In Japan, vehicle sales totalled 2,255,313 units, a decrease of 18,649 units. Operating income, excluding the impact of valuation gains/losses from interest rate swaps, increased by JPY 455.7 billion ($4.15 billion) to JPY 1.6618 trillion ($15.12 billion).

In North America, vehicle sales totalled 2,806,467 units, a decrease of 30,867 units. Operating income, excluding the impact of valuation gains/losses from interest rate swaps, decreased by JPY 198.7 billion ($1.81 billion) to JPY 132.1 billion ($1.2 billion).

In Europe, vehicle sales totalled 968,077 units, an increase of 43,517 units. Operating income, excluding the impact of valuation gains/losses from interest rate swaps, increased by JPY 88.9 billion ($810 million) to JPY 77.1 billion ($701.6 million).

In Asia, vehicle sales totalled 1,542,806 units, a decrease of 45,016 units. Operating income, excluding the impact of valuation gains/losses from interest rate swaps, increased by JPY 4.3 billion ($39.13 million) to JPY 428.8 billion ($3.9 billion).

In other regions (including Central and South America, Oceania, Africa, and the Middle East), vehicle sales totalled 1,391,731 units, an increase of 44,549 units. Operating income, excluding the impact of valuation gains/losses from interest rate swaps, increased by JPY 54.7 billion ($497.78 million) to JPY 118.1 billion ($1.08 billion).

Financial services operating income increased by JPY 63.1 billion ($574.21 million) to JPY 285.5 billion ($2.6 billion), including a gain of JPY 1.5 billion ($13.65 million) in valuation gains/losses from interest rate swaps. Excluding valuation gains/losses, operating income increased by JPY 43.4 billion ($395 million) to JPY 283.9 billion ($2.58 billion).

For the fiscal year ending March 31, 2019, TMC estimates that consolidated vehicles sales will be 8.95 million units.

In addition, TMC forecasts consolidated net revenue of JPY 29 trillion ($264 billion), operating income of JPY 2.3 trillion ($20.93 billion), and net income of JPY 2.12 trillion ($19.29 billion) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2019.

Mercedes-Benz reduces NOx emissions in its new diesel engines

Mercedes-Benz reduces NOx emissions in its new diesel engines

With the market launch of the new A-Class, the new diesel engines from Mercedes-Benz are now available from the compact class to the luxury class.

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With these engines, Mercedes-Benz vehicles achieve average nitrogen-oxide (NOx) emissions of between 40 and 60 milligrams per kilometre over many thousands of kilometres of driving on the road under the conditions of the Real Driving Emissions (RDE) measuring method.

These emissions are significantly below the RDE limit of 168 milligrams per kilometre. This is made possible by an innovative package of combining engine and exhaust-gas after treatment, which has been introduced consistently over the past two years as part of the new generation of engines and is continuously being developed further.

Following the launch of the new generation of diesel engines in the E-Class (four-cylinder OM 654) and the S-Class (six-cylinder OM 656), the four-cylinder OM 608 is being introduced in May in the new A-Class A 180 d (fuel consumption combined: 4.5-4.1 l/100 km combined CO2 emissions: 118-108 g/km).

The new diesel engines from Mercedes-Benz are therefore now available from the compact class to the large, luxury class. As is already the case with the OM 654 and OM 656, the OM 608 engine features a compact exhaust-gas after treatment system close to the engine as well as multiple exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) with high- and low-pressure EGR, which ensures that average nitrogen-oxide emissions are significantly below the current legal limits of the new RDE test method.

For the first time, this model series also features an SCR catalyst with AdBlue exhaust fluid. Mercedes-Benz now offers this technology in all current vehicle classes.

In the coming months, many more Mercedes-Benz models will be launched that are certified in accordance with Euro 6d-TEMP. By September 2018, more than 30 of the currently available models and more than 200 variants are to be changed over to Euro 6d-TEMP Norm (RDE Stage 1) – a full year before this is mandatory for all vehicles.

"Mercedes-Benz's new generation of engines already demonstrated two years ago, how the NOx-challenge in diesel cars can be solved technically. We are fully committed to modern diesel engines as part of the drive mix for the future," said Ola Källenius, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.

At low levels of engine load, for example while driving slowly, the effectiveness of exhaust gas after treatment can be substantially enhanced due to the close proximity of the system to the engine and further developed exhaust-gas temperature management, thus significantly increasing the system's effectiveness in the city.

Alternatively powered vehicle sales go up as diesel sales dip in the EU for Q1 2018

Alternatively powered vehicle sales go up as diesel sales dip in the EU for Q1 2018

Latest figures released by the European Automobile Manufacturer’s Association(ACEA) reveal that diesel vehicle sales in Europe are declining at a rapid pace.

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The slowdown in sales coupled with stricter emission laws being implemented in the EU has led to a lot of OEM's to cease providing diesel options for their vehicle models.

In the first quarter of 2018, 37.9% of all new passenger cars in the EU ran on diesel. Petrol cars accounted for 55.5% of the market, making it the most sold fuel type. Alternatively-powered vehicles accounted for 6.5% of EU car sales in Q1 2018, with electrically‐chargeable vehicles making up 1.7% of all cars sold.

Registrations of diesel cars totalled 1,574,333 units in the first quarter of the year, 17% less than during the same period in 2017. This drop in demand for diesel vehicles was largely offset by an increase in petrol sales. Demand for new petrol cars grew significantly by 14.6% from January to March 2018, with petrol sales totalling 2,303,129 units – roughly 300,000 more than last year.

So far in 2018, EU demand for alternatively-powered vehicles grew by 26.9%. Registrations of battery electric (34.3%) and plug-in hybrid electric cars (60.2%) accounted for the strongest growth. In total, 69,898 electrically-chargeable vehicles (ECV) were registered from January to March 2018 (+47.0%). At the same time, 139,556 hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) were sold in the EU, 25.7% more than in the first quarter of 2017. The market for NGV, LPG and E85 cars also started the year strongly, demand increased by 12.0%.

Compared to one year ago, Germany saw the strongest increase in APV sales (73.4%), followed by Spain (53.4%) and France (15.3%). Demand for alternatively-powered vehicles also continued to grow in the United Kingdom (9.8%) and Italy (9.0%), albeit at a more moderate rate.

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