EVs and Mitsubishi help Renault-Nissan Alliance sales rise in Q2

EVs and Mitsubishi help Renault-Nissan Alliance sales rise in Q2

Sales in all the Alliance's brands rose 7% to 5,268,079 vehicles in the first half of 2017.

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The first six months of 2017 saw increased demand for models from the French and Japanese brands, and the first period of sales contribution from new Alliance member Mitsubishi Motors.

Cumulative sales of electric vehicles by the companies rose significantly to 481,151 units, reaffirming the Alliance's role as the leading electric car manufacturer for the mass-market segment. The increase was driven primarily by demand for the Nissan LEAF and the Renault ZOE, which remains the #1 EV sold in Europe, and Mitsubishi's i-Miev. On the hybrid side, the plug-in hybrid electric versions of the Mitsubishi Outlander reached over 13,000 units.

Carlos Ghosn, chairman and chief executive of the Renault-Nissan Alliance (pictured above with Zoe and Leaf EVs), said: "Our enlarged Alliance is well placed to realise its full potential, not only in terms of unit volumes, but also by providing next-generation mobility services to customers around the world."

Hyundai starts production at Chongqing plant, plans EVs and PHEVs

Hyundai starts production at Chongqing plant, plans EVs and PHEVs

Hyundai Motor has commenced production at its fifth passenger car plant in China, a joint venture with the OEM's local partner Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co.

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The plant has an annual capacity of 300,000 vehicles and will help Hyundai Motor increase local production of SUVs, the fastest-growing segment in China.

With the addition of latest factory, Hyundai will have a 1.65 million-unit annual capacity for passenger vehicles in the world's biggest auto market. The creation of the new facility will also enable Hyundai Motor to maximise the significant and expanding sales opportunity across south-west China, part of the country where development has been accelerated by the Chinese government's Belt-Road initiative.

"The Chongqing plant, constructed as a smart and eco-friendly facility utilising cutting-edge technologies, will produce vehicles of the highest quality for Chinese customers," Hyundai Motor Vice Chairman Euisun Chung said at a ceremony to commemorate the start of pilot production. "We expect the new facility to contribute to Chinese government's Belt-Road initiative and help Chongqing emerge as a new growth engine for China's future."

Following the Chongqing plant's official opening in August, the first model to be built will be a small sedan, targeting young and dynamic Chinese customers. The plant is expected to produce 30,000 vehicles by the end of this year and will build four models by the end of 2019 – two small sedans and two compact SUV models.

To meet Chinese customers' changing needs, Hyundai plans to introduce three to four new models every year, expanding the current line-up of 12 models to 14 by 2020. By then the company will have seven SUV models in production, compared with four in 2017.

As Hyundai Motor looks to build on its values of delivering clean mobility in China, it will launch six eco-friendly models by 2020. This begins with the introduction of an electric version of the Yuedong sedan by the end of 2017, followed by plug-in Sonata in the first half of 2018.

Hyundai Motor and Beijing Automotive have jointly invested $1 billion in the purpose-built plant, which has floor space of 298,000 square metres and is located on a 2.03 million-square-metre site. The facility will enhance Hyundai Motor's design and R&D capabilities in China, allowing it to expand its range of vehicles to include further eco-friendly models, in addition to stepping up its innovations in IT and connected technologies.

The new plant continues Hyundai's efforts to strengthen its core competitiveness and increase its market share in China. The August 2017 opening of the new plant comes nearly 15 years after the company started producing automobiles as Beijing Hyundai Motor Company (BHMC) on October 18, 2002.

Volkswagen Group and SOVAC inaugurate multi-brand plant in Algeria

Volkswagen Group and SOVAC inaugurate multi-brand plant in Algeria

Assembly plant will produce up to 200 units of the models Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen Caddy, SEAT Ibiza and ŠKODA Octavia per day, and Volkswagen Polo and ŠKODA Fabia from 2018.

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To ensure Group-wide quality standards, Algerian production, logistics and quality assurance employees were trained on site by experts from the Group brands. In addition, Algerian managers received a training programme with a duration of several months at the production locations of the brand. This 'train the trainer' programme provides practical qualifications for foremen and managers, allowing them to explain standardised procedures to their employees and train them in these procedures.

Currently, more than 550 employees work at the new factory. In the long term, up to 1,800 jobs are to be created at the Relizane plant. There will also be additional jobs with suppliers and logistics service providers.

Volkswagen already exported the first vehicles from Germany to Algeria in small numbers in 1952. At the beginning of the 1970s, the number of vehicles exported reached several thousand units per year. SOVAC has been the distribution partner of the Volkswagen brand in Algeria since 2001. The brand was later joined by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Audi, SEAT, ŠKODA and Porsche.

The dealership network of SOVAC for the Volkswagen Group includes about 90 dealerships with more than 1,600 employees in Algeria. In 2015, the SOVAC Group dealerships handed over more than 30,000 Volkswagen Group vehicles to customers in Algeria.

FCA powers to a second quarter operating profit up 15% to $2.19 billion

FCA powers to a second quarter operating profit up 15% to $2.19 billion

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has posted a second quarter adjusted net profit up 52% to to €1.1 billion ($1.29 billion) and net profit has more than tripled to €1.2 billion.

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• Worldwide combined shipments(1) of 1,225 thousand units, down 1%
• Net revenues of €27.9 billion, in line with Q2 2016 (down 2% at constant exchange rate, or CER)
• Adjusted EBIT of €1,867 million, up 15%, mainly driven by Maserati with all segments profitable
• Record Group margin of 6.7%. All segments improved margins with record NAFTA margin at 8.4% and Maserati at 14.2%
• Adjusted net profit of €1,080 million, up 52%; Net profit of €1,155 million, up 260%
• Net industrial debt of €4.2 billion, down €0.9 billion from Q1 2017, driven by cash flow from operations
• Liquidity strong at €20.0 billion, after planned gross debt reduction of €1.4 billion in quarter.

While FCA continues to lag behind GM and Ford, given the investments it has made in projects such as the all-new Fiat Argo hatchback exclusively for Latin America, equipped with the new global modular Firefly small engine family, and the geographically diverse nature of its operations, it can be said to be in good shape. The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan, with both conventional and hybrid drivetrains, will be a big success and Alfa Romeo's Giulia sports saloon is looking like a winner.

Daimler posts record sales and revenue for second quarter of 2017

Daimler posts record sales and revenue for second quarter of 2017

The group made sales of 822,500 cars and commercial vehicles worldwide (+8%) from April to June inclusive.

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Contributions to the group's best-ever unit sales came from all automotive divisions, in particular the records set by Mercedes-Benz Cars (595,200 vehicles, +9%) and Mercedes-Benz Vans (103,400 vehicles, +4%) and the sales growth at Daimler Trucks (116,400 vehicles, +8%). Group revenue reached the best-ever figure of €41.2 billion and was thus 7% higher than in the second quarter of last year. Adjusted for exchange-rate effects, revenue increased by 5%.

Unit sales significantly above prior-year level at 822,500 vehicles (+8%)
Revenue up by 7% to €41.2 billion
Significant increase in Group EBIT to €3.7 billion (Q2 2016: €3.3 billion)
Net profit of €2.5 billion (Q2 2016: €2.5 billion)
Free cash flow of industrial business of €3.0 billion in first half of year (Q1-2 2016: €2.1 billion)
Significant growth in unit sales and revenue anticipated for full-year 2017
Group EBIT expected to be significantly higher than in 2016.

Speaking about the impressive figures, Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars said: "We had an excellent second quarter. This strong core business is the best basis to exploit new business models around the CASE topics," CASE stands for the four strategic pillars of connectivity (Connected), autonomous driving (Autonomous), flexible use (Shared & Services) and electric drive (Electric), which Daimler is linking up intelligently.

Highlights for the group in the first half of 2017 include:

China

On June 1, 2017, in the presence of the German Chancellor, Dr. Angela Merkel, and the Chinese Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, Daimler AG and its Chinese partner, BAIC Group, signed a framework agreement on the further deepening of their strategic cooperation by means of investment for vehicles with alternative drive systems in China. On July 5, 2017, Daimler and the BAIC Group announced a framework agreement on the further deepening of cooperation in the German-Chinese production joint venture Beijing Benz Automotive Co. (BBAC).

Russia

With planned investment of more than €250 million, Mercedes-Benz laid the foundation stone for a new car plant in Russia, in June. It is to be located in the Moscow region and to start local production in 2019, at first with the new E-Class sedan, then to be followed by SUV models.

The future of diesel engines

In mid-July, the Daimler Board of Management approved a comprehensive plan for the future of diesel engines. This initiative includes the extension of the ongoing voluntary customer service activities on vehicles in customers' hands, as well as the rapid market launch of a completely new family of diesel engines. Daimler anticipates related expenses of approximately €0.2 billion in the third quarter of 2017.

Investment in electric vehicles

Daimler is investing a total of approximately €1 billion in a global battery production network. This includes a second battery factory with an investment of approximately €500 million at the subsidiary ACCUMOTIVE in Kamenz in the German federal state of Saxony. After Kamenz and Beijing, another battery production facility will be established at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Untertürkheim, Stuttgart.

Blockchain finance technology

In June, Daimler and Landesbank Baden-Württemberg (LBBW) for the first time together applied blockchain technology for financial transactions. The OEM and the financial institute successfully tested the innovative technology for capital-market processes. Through LBBW, Daimler placed a promissory-note loan with a volume of €100 million and a maturity of one year with the banks Kreissparkasse Esslingen-Nürtingen, Kreissparkasse Ludwigsburg and Kreissparkasse Ostalb, as well as with LBBW itself. The entire transaction was carried out completely digitally on a blockchain with the IT subsidiaries TSS (Daimler) and Targens (LBBW) – from initiation to placement, assignment and contractual closing, as well as payment of interest and confirmation of repayment.

Electric MINI to be assembled at Plant Oxford in the UK

Electric MINI to be assembled at Plant Oxford in the UK

The BMW Group has announced that the new battery-electric MINI will be a variant of the brand's core three- door model, it will go into production in 2019, with the electric drivetrain made in Germany and integrated with the car in Oxford.

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The electric MINI's electric drivetrain will be built at the BMW Group's e-mobility centre at Plants Dingolfing and Landshut in Bavaria before being integrated into the car at Plant Oxford.

Plant Oxford has had to fight off competition from BMW's Netherlands plant and the the possibility that a contract manufacturer such as Magna Steyr could have won the deal. It is a testament to BMW's expectation that the new car will be a high volume seller that it is to be assembled at the main MINI plant.

Oliver Zipse, BMW AG Management Board member for Production said, "BMW Group Plants Dingolfing and Landshut play a leading role within our global production network as the company's global competence centre for electric mobility. Our adaptable production system is innovative and able to react rapidly to changing customer demand. If required, we can increase production of electric drivetrain motor components quickly and efficiently, in line with market developments."

The BMW Group currently produces electrified models at ten plants worldwide; since 2013, all the significant elements of the electric drivetrain for these vehicles come from the company's plants in Dingolfing and Landshut. Dingolfing additionally builds the plug-in hybrid versions of the BMW 5 Series and the BMW 7 Series and from 2021, it will build the BMW i NEXT. The BMW Group has invested a total of more than €100 million ($1.17 million) in electro-mobility at the Dingolfing site to date, with investment continuing as the BMW Group's range of electrified vehicles further expands.

Brexit anxiety has slowed the decision but concentrated the mind

Deciding on the location for the MINI EV has been an anxious time for BMW due to the uncertainty over post-Brexit UK's trade agreements with the EU but the carmaker has settled on the Plant Oxford location as it has realised that in the ever-accelerating EV market, it must get started on the new vehicle. If the UK cannot strike a favourable deal with the EU, importing major parts of the vehicle from Germany, such as the complete powertrain, could be very expensive.

BMW to extend Leipzig plant with €200 million investment

BMW to extend Leipzig plant with €200 million investment

The BMW Group is investing a further €200 million ($233 million) in the future of its plant in Leipzig, eastern Germany.

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The building work will begin in early 2018 and include an extension of the paint shop and alterations in the bodyshop and assembly areas. The work is scheduled to finish in 2020, with the facilities being put to use immediately.

"We are delighted by the ongoing high demand for the BMW vehicles we produce here in Leipzig. This further development of the plant is an important move and means we will have the necessary competitive structures in place to continue building vehicles here in the future," commented Plant Director Hans-Peter Kemser. In addition to increased production flexibility, the extension of Plant Leipzig also lays the foundations for a possible future growth in volume.

The central element of the building works is the extension of the paint shop including the integration of the newest paint technologies, which will set new standards in efficiency and sustainability.

Plant Leipzig facts and figures:

Daily production is more than 980 vehicles a day (up to 860 cars in petrol and diesel-engined production and more than 120 cars of the BMW i Series).
Annual production 2016 was 246,550 vehicles
Total production 2005 – 2015 was more than 2 million.

Products:

BMW 1 Series 5-door
BMW 2 Series Coupé
BMW 2 Series Convertible
BMW M2 Coupé
BMW 2 Series Active Tourer
BMW i3
BMW i8.

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