Nissan to sell its battery business to Envision Group

Nissan to sell its battery business to Envision Group

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (Nissan) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Envision Group (Envision), a sustainable energy operator, for the sale of Nissan’s electric battery operations and production facilities to Envision.

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The agreement was signed following the cancellation of an earlier transaction for sale to a third party.

Envision has committed to complete the proposed acquisition of Nissan subsidiary Automotive Energy Supply Corporation and battery manufacturing operations in Smyrna, Tennessee, owned by Nissan North America Inc. (NNA), and in Sunderland, England, owned by Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd. (NMUK).

Envision will also acquire Nissan's Japanese battery development and production engineering operations located in Oppama, Atsugi and Zama.

Yasuhiro Yamauchi, Nissan's Chief Competitive Officer, said: "We are pleased to have secured a definitive agreement with Envision, a leading global company in the field of sustainable energy. The transaction will enable Nissan to concentrate on developing and producing market-leading electric vehicles, in line with the goals set in our midterm plan Nissan M.O.V.E. to 2022. We are confident that Envision will be a strong, long-term owner of the new company and that it will further grow as a battery company with increased competitiveness."

Lei Zhang, founder and CEO of Envision, said: "We are excited to announce the acquisition of Nissan's battery business, a leading producer of advanced, safe and reliable lithium-ion batteries. Together with the battery business management team and its highly skilled workforce, this partnership will see Envision expand both organisations' footprints into the intelligent energy ecosystem to create new innovative solutions for the IoT value chain. With this strategic acquisition and collaboration, we aim to expand our activities via investment into the new company to realise the value of IoT technology for smart transportation, V2G, and smart city solutions."

The workforce at all facilities covered by the deal will continue to be employed. The headquarters and development centers of the business will remain in Japan.

Nissan will implement the transaction by first taking full control of AESC, founded in 2007 to develop advanced lithium-ion batteries, by acquiring the combined 49% minority holding held by NEC Corporation and its wholly owned electrode development and production subsidiary, NEC Energy Devices, Ltd (NECED).

NEC announced its approval of the sale of AESC shares to Nissan and the sale of NECED shares to Envision.

The announced transaction is subject to normal consultation with staff representative bodies and, pending regulatory approvals, is expected to be completed by March 29, 2019.

The transaction is contingent on Nissan purchasing all shares in AESC and Envision concluding purchase of all NECED shares from NEC. Under the agreement, Nissan has agreed to retain a 25% share or equity interest in the entity newly formed by Envision.

Daimler joins sustainable raw material supply chain initiatives

Daimler joins sustainable raw material supply chain initiatives

As part of the offensive for a sustainable raw material supply chain, Daimler AG has joined forces with associations, organisations and competitors in a number of initiatives.

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The common goals are clear: certifiable standards, safe origins and transparency in the procurement of high-risk raw materials and a tangible improvement in the working and living conditions of people locally. By joining, Daimler AG is expanding its broad commitment to initiatives and is actively promoting greater transparency in global raw material supply chains. The company is thus taking another important step towards shaping sustainable mobility.

Joining further initiatives complements Daimler AG's already existing activities for responsible procurement of raw materials and increases their impact. The focus of the initiatives is on the procurement of cobalt, steel and aluminium. A future step on the road to sustainable raw material procurement will be the complete transparency of, for example, the supply chain for battery cell production. Battery cells contain cobalt as well as lithium, nickel, copper and manganese.

"The expansion of electro mobility places new demands on the automotive industry and especially on purchasing. We are aware of our responsibility in the procurement of raw materials and are pooling our strengths in these initiatives through cooperation with other business enterprises," stated Sabine Angermann, Head of Purchasing and Supplier Quality for Raw Materials and Strategy at Mercedes-Benz Cars.

Renata Jungo Brüngger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG for Integrity and Legal Affairs: "Joining initiatives is an important and meaningful addition to our own activities such as the Human Rights Respect System. In this way, we can contribute to long-term improvements for the people affected." With the Human Rights Respect System, Daimler AG developes a holistic approach to respecting human rights both in its own majority holding companies and along the supply chain.

As one important measure, the company has identified around 50 potentially high-risk raw materials. The goal is to make the supply chains for potentially high-risk raw materials transparent and to take risk-based, target-oriented measures successively.

In the interests of a holistic sustainability strategy, joining the four initiatives takes a product's entire life cycle into account – from development, via procurement and production to recycling.

Cobalt is a key component in the production of electric vehicles. Companies which work with cobalt as a raw material face the risk of not being able to completely exclude the violation of human rights during cobalt extraction. Daimler AG has therefore joined the Responsible Cobalt Initiative.

Here Daimler AG works together with other companies and NGOs, government representatives, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to develop measures aimed at combating social and ecological risks along the entire cobalt supply chain. The aim is especially to exclude the risk of child labour, and increase transparency and governance.

To prevent the infiltration of material that might contribute to conflict, the company is also actively involved in the Responsible Minerals Initiative. RMI uses a self-developed, independent validation scheme for refineries and smelters to demonstrate that they have systems in place to ensure the responsible sourcing of minerals.

Aluminium is playing an increasingly important role as a lightweight-design material for electric cars as it is much lighter than steel. Daimler has also joined the non-profit Aluminium Stewardship Initiative to support the implementation of an independent certification scheme for the entire aluminium added value chain. The aim is to intensify dialogue with all stakeholders in the aluminium supply chain to achieve continually measurable improvements in the areas of social affairs, the environment and responsible business management – from aluminium production and usage to recycling.

Steel is the most commonly used material in cars and also represents the world's largest raw material industry. Steel production is highly energy-intensive and therefore accounts for a large share of the CO² emissions in the production phase. The Responsible Steel Initiative is pursuing greater transparency in the supply chain, from mines to steel product, and by developing a certification scheme will provide with new levels of reassurance against social and environmental standards. It also advocates the development and understanding of CO² levels in production.

Additionally Daimler AG is lead partner of the industry initiative "Drive Sustainability", a European Automotive-Workgroup coordinated by the CSR Europe corporate network, which promotes measures to improve sustainability in supply chains.

Nissan expands production of Frontier to Argentina

Nissan expands production of Frontier to Argentina

Nissan has begun producing the Nissan Frontier in Argentina, making it the fifth country to manufacture the company’s most popular pickup as global demand continues to grow.

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The expansion of Nissan's global manufacturing footprint, at Alliance-partner Renault's Santa Isabel plant in Cordoba, is a big drive for the company. Nissan has announced a mid-term plan to increase sales of light commercial vehicles (LCVs) by 40% by 2022.

This version of the Frontier is known as the Nissan Navara outside South America. Thanks to its popularity, it is now produced at facilities in Spain, China, Mexico, Thailand and Argentina. The Frontier is available in 38 markets across Latin America.

"With more than 15 million Nissan pickup owners across 180 countries, trucks are a growing segment across the world and a particular strength of Nissan," said Ashwani Gupta, senior vice president of Nissan's LCV business.

"Today's start of production is fantastic news for the region, as well as for Nissan and the Alliance. We already have a strong presence in Latin America and this production line will ensure better delivery of our pickups as the demand for them around the world continues to grow."

With more than 80 years of experience designing, developing and building trucks and vans, Nissan has earned an enviable reputation for pickups that is synonymous with endurance and capability. One in every six Nissan vehicles now sold globally is a light commercial vehicle.

A key component in Nissan's ambitious regional strategy is to become one of the top three vehicle brands in Latin America. The $600 million investment in the facility at Cordoba is also expected to generate up to 3,000 new jobs and the ability to produce 70,000 Alliance vehicles a year.

The Renault industrial complex in Cordoba will be manufacturing one-ton pickup trucks for Alliance partners Renault and Nissan, as well as Mercedes-Benz as part of an ongoing collaboration with Daimler. The three pickups will share structural components, while preserving their own brand identities, design, and distinctive features.

Honda’s Celaya plant to be fully functional by mid-November post flood damage

Honda’s Celaya plant to be fully functional by mid-November post flood damage

Due to the overflow of a river near Honda’s auto plant in Celaya, Mexico, all auto and component production was suspended beginning June 28.

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While the Honda transmission plant in Celaya resumed production on July 9, Honda's expert teams carried out an investigation of the damage to the tooling and equipment at the auto plant, which produces the Honda Fit and HR-V. On completion of the investigations, the carmaker now expects to resume auto and engine production in Celaya in mid-November.

Production of the refreshed 2019 Honda HR-V is already underway at another Honda auto plant in Guadalajara, Mexico, about 160 miles west of Celaya, which did not experience any flooding.

Due to a critical engine part that is made at the Celaya engine plant, Insight production at the Honda auto plant in Indiana also has been suspended for the month of August. Based on existing parts inventory, the Indiana plant was able to produce Insight through the end of July, and will resume production in the beginning of September.

Honda is committed to provide its customers with high quality products and production will not resume in Celaya until the company can ensure the highest levels of quality for all parts and products.

Made in Bremen - Mercedes-Benz new C-Class

Made in Bremen - Mercedes-Benz new C-Class

At the Mercedes-Benz plant Bremen the first C-Class Saloon of the new generation rolled off the production line.

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The transition of the highly varied series took place during full capacity and within one day. In the highly flexible production, digital solutions and shopping carts are used to control diversity. The new C-Class will be produced in four plants on four continens. Following the lead plant Bremen, the plants in Tuscaloosa (USA), East London (South Africa) and Beijing (China) will gradually start production of the high-volume model. The global production is steered through the plant in Bremen.

The assembly of the new C-Class uses state-of-the-art digital production technologies and forward-looking Industry 4.0 solutions. These makes it possible to optimise the material flow, further increase efficiency and flexibility and further improve ergonomics for employees. For example, preloaded shopping carts are delivered to the production line by driverless transportation systems and paper documentation is replaced by mobile devices such as tablets, Mini-PCs and Smart PDAs in accordance with the "paperless factory" concept.

With more than 12,500 employees, the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen is the largest private employer in the region. Ten models are currently being manufactured at the site: The Saloon, the Estate, the Coupé and the Convertible of the C-Class, the Coupé and Convertible of the E-Class, the off-road vehicle GLC, the GLC coupé as well as the two roadsters SLC and SL.

In 2017 more than 420,000 vehicles were produced in Bremen. As the competence centre for the C-Class, the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen directs the worldwide production of Mercedes-Benz's high-volume model range at the plants abroad in Tuscaloosa/USA, Beijing/China and East London/South Africa. The production of the GLC is also controlled by Bremen as the main production site.

Exports provide impetus to UK car production in H1 2018 amid shrinking domestic demand

Exports provide impetus to UK car production in H1 2018 amid shrinking domestic demand

According to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), UK car production fell by 5.5% in June, with 128,799 cars rolling off production lines.

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While exports grew 6.0% in the month, this couldn't offset a 47.2% decline in production for the UK. Model cycles, operational changes and preparation for a new range of next generation vehicle technology ahead of new WLTP emissions standards, all played a part in the month's anomaly.

Production for export has continued to drive volumes throughout 2018, with overseas orders broadly stable, down by a marginal 0.8% in the first six months. In the year to date, 675,187 cars have been built for global markets, helping to mitigate disappointing domestic demand, with overall output down by just 3.3% to 834,402 units.

In the six months to June, global demand for British-built cars grew in a number of key markets, notably the US, UK's second largest exports destination after the EU, where exports rose by 1.5% thanks to a raft of new, desirable models. Demand also grew substantially in Japan (+77.3%) and South Korea (+67.8%), while China maintained its position as the UK's third biggest customer, taking 6.4% of exports.

However, despite a 3.6% decline in demand, the EU remained the UK's biggest trading partner, accounting for 360,270 units, more than half of all cars produced for export (53.4%). Individually, EU countries also made up half of UK Automotive's top 10 export destinations, with Germany, Italy and France the UK's second, third and fourth biggest markets after the US and ahead of China.

Although UK Automotive now exports more than eight out of every 10 cars it builds to more than 160 countries worldwide, it is also a major importer. More than 87% of the cars registered by British buyers in the first six months of the year came from overseas plants, and more than two thirds (69.1%) from the EU, highlighting the importance of tariff- and barrier-free trade.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, "June's results demonstrate the risks of judging automotive performance one month in isolation, with numerous and varied factors creating a perfect storm for home market output. Looking at the longer-term picture, the sector is performing as expected in the context of market conditions at home and abroad."

"First half figures are a reminder of the exports-led nature of UK Automotive, the integrated EU supply chain and our mutual dependency on free and frictionless trade. The UK government's latest Brexit proposals are a step in the right direction to safeguard future growth, jobs and consumer choice, not just in Britain but right across Europe."

"We now look to negotiators on both sides to recognise the needs of the whole European automotive industry which, combined, employs more than 12 million people. Any disruption risks undermining one of our most valuable shared economic assets."

BMW to open new plant in Hungary

BMW to open new plant in Hungary

The BMW Group continues to expand its production network in Europe, with a new facility to be built in Hungary, close to the town of Debrecen.

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Tyhe new plant will come at an investment of approximately €1 billion ($1.17 billion), offer capacity of up to 150,000 units a year and create over 1,000 new jobs.

"The BMW Group's decision to build this new plant reaffirms our perspective for global growth. After significant investments in China, Mexico and the USA, we are now strengthening our activities in Europe to maintain a worldwide balance of production between Asia, America and our home continent," said Harald Krüger, Chairman of the BMW AG Board of Management. "Europe is the BMW Group's largest production location. In 2018 alone we are investing more than €1 billion ($1.17 billion) in our German sites to upgrade and prepare them for electric mobility."

Oliver Zipse, BMW AG Board Member for Production, added: "In the future, every BMW Group plant in Europe will be equipped to produce electrified as well as conventional vehicles. Our new plant in Hungary will also be able to manufacture both combustion and electrified BMW models – all on a single production line. It will bring greater capacity to our worldwide production network. When production commences, the plant will set new standards in flexibility, digitalisation and productivity."

Europe is the most important market for the BMW Group. In 2017 it accounted for almost 45% of all vehicle sales, with 1.1 million units sold. Up to the end of June 2018, the BMW Group grew in many markets across the continent, with vehicle deliveries totalling more than 560,000 units, a year-on-year rise of 1.2%.

Debrecen is the ideal place for the BMW Group to expand its production network. It was chosen primarily for its very good infrastructure, suitable logistics connections and proximity to the established supplier network.

The qualified personnel in the local area were another key advantage. Besides the team at the plant itself, numerous jobs will be created with suppliers and service providers, both within the grounds of the new facility and across the local region.

The plant in Debrecen will set new standards in digitalisation, sustainability and flexibility. In addition, it will be a technology leader, with innovative solutions for automation, state-of-the-art assistance systems and flexible logistics applications.

Toyota InfoTechnology Centre to be absorbed in TMC and TMNA

Toyota InfoTechnology Centre to be absorbed in TMC and TMNA

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) is to absorb the research and development functions of its wholly owned subsidiary, Toyota InfoTechnology Centre (ITC Japan) into its in-house Connected Company by March 2019.

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The carmaker also plans to absorb the research and development functions of Toyota InfoTechnology Centre, U.S.A. (ITC U.S.A.), a wholly owned subsidiary of ITC Japan, into Toyota Motor North America (TMNA).

As the development of automated driving technologies and the roll-out of businesses related to mobility services continues to gain momentum, this decision fits with TMC's drive to speed up the development and application of better services based on connected technologies to meet the needs of customers more closely.

TMC established ITC Japan and ITC U.S.A. in partnership with other related companies in 2001 with the objective of constructing a new value chain. The new companies were tasked with identifying innovative IT technology trends and market needs in the network business field. Both companies specialise in applied research related to communication and information processing, such as large-scale data processing and high-speed network technologies, which are an essential part of our efforts to enhance services, primarily for connected vehicles.

By absorbing the functions of these companies, TMC aims to create a unified organisation that integrates applied research with service and product application, roles that are currently divided between ITC Japan, ITC U.S.A., and TMC. As a result, TMC intends to further build an efficient and flexible system that speeds up the development process and facilitates the rapid provision of ever-better mobility services in line with customer needs.

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