“Fuel cell technology is an integral part of our drive system strategy”, says Professor Christian Mohrdieck, Head of Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell GmbH and thus responsible for fuel cell drive system development at Daimler AG. “Zero local CO2 emissions, long ranges and short refuelling times, plus a wide range of applications from cars to buses, other large commercial vehicles and not least also for stationary applications make the technology a futureproof alternative. By changing the company name we are sending a clear signal and emphasising the future relevance of fuel cell technology. We are also dovetailing more closely with Daimler AG.”
Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell GmbH has been founded on deep and long-standing know-how in fuel cell technology. All activities concerned with developing fuel cell systems have been focused at the Nabern site near Kirchheim-Teck since 1997. Since 2009 the company has been a fully owned subsidiary of Daimler AG and a worldwide leader in the development of fuel cell and hydrogen systems for vehicle applications.
Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell GmbH is responsible for system concepts and development, component and software development as well as testing and validation. Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell GmbH also develops all components for 700-bar hydrogen storage.
The overall drivetrain and the hydrogen storage system of the new Mercedes-Benz GLC F-CELL, which celebrated its market launch just at the end of October, also comes from the fuel cell development centre in Nabern. The components and drive unit were subjected to stringent individual and endurance testing on a variety of test benches. The first prototypes were also built here.
There is already a new project on the agenda following development completion of the Mercedes-Benz GLC F-CELL: in the coming years fuel cell technology is also set to electrify the Mercedes-Benz Citaro city bus. In the past several dozen Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid city buses have already demonstrated their strengths in public service.
In order to use the technology in other automotive segments and large volumes in future, Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell GmbH is already in the midst of the task of further developing the fuel cell system to ensure that it can be flexibly incorporated into the Group-wide electric modular system.
The Swift was first introduced in India in 2005 and is the only model to win Indian Car Of The Year in each generation. The first Swift won ICOTY in 2006 and the second won it in 2012.
Introduced last year, the third generation Swift is much favoured in India as a premium hatchback with sporty styling, superb driving performance and good user friendliness. It is produced for the Indian market by Suzuki’s manufacturing subsidiary, Suzuki Motor Gujarat Private limited and sold by Maruti Suzuki India Limited.
Since Suzuki launched the Swift in India, more than two million units have been sold and at launch in June last year, it was the fastest to reach sales of 100,000 units, achieved in just 145 days with domestic production subsequently increased to meet demand.
Maruti Suzuki has a current domestic market share in India of around 50% and reached 54 % in November 2018. 119,000 units were sold in December and over the period between April and September 2018, more than 919,000 Suzuki cars were manufactured and sold there.
Suzuki Motor Corporation recently announced that it had sold a total of 663,118 units between January and November 2018 in Japan. This represents 107% year-on-year and an increase in volumes for the eighth consecutive month. 544,895 of these were in the Mini-vehicle or Kei car class whereby cars need to have an overall length of 3.4 metres or less, a width of 1.48 metres or less and a maximum 660cc engine capacity.
Sales of larger Suzuki models on sale in Japan also flourished and volumes were up for the 15th consecutive month at 116% year-on-year. Suzuki is currently the second largest Automotive brand in Japan with a market share of 14.1% and is the eighth largest car brand in the world.
There are 74,585 vehicles affected worldwide, produced between 21 March 2016 and 6 December 2018.
A software error means that there is a possibility that the electric power steering will occasionally be unavailable for a limited period. If this happens, increased force is then required for steering. To avoid this, the associated control unit needs to be re-programmed with an updated data record as a precautionary measure.
Affected customers are being contacted in writing and asked to attend their Porsche Centre as soon as possible. The workshop visit will be free of charge for the affected customers.
GAC Motor and Aisin AW CO., LTD., a subsidiary of Aisin Seiki, have also hosted a foundation stone laying ceremony in the Industrial Park for their joint venture project of manufacturing automatic transmission on the same day. Provincial and municipal government officials, Zeng Qinghong, Chairman of GAC Group, Feng Xingya, General Manager of GAC Group, representatives of staff, investment companies and partners attended the event.
Representing a RMB4.7 billion ($680 million), the factory is the first project of the Industrial Park, having started construction since September 2017. The factory will start production in May 2019, aiming to achieve annual production capacity of 400,000 vehicles. GAC New Energy will release at least 2 electric vehicle models per year after that to enrich its product line and provide consumers with multiple options.
In April, GAC Motor and Aisin AW signed the in-depth cooperation agreement to open the new joint venture. An investment of RMB2.13 billion ($310 million) will pour into the project and its first product will go into production by the end of 2020, aiming to achieve annual production capacity of 400,000 AT units.
Yu Jun, the President of GAC Motor said, “After construction completed, the joint venture project will bring remarkable economic and social benefits. Its estimated annual value of production will be over RMB3.5 billion($500 million). It will create many local jobs and cultivate more professionals in the field of automatic transmission manufacturing.”
As part of its commitment to producing top-quality vehicles, GAC Motor has built strategic partnerships with 18 of the world’s top auto suppliers, including Michelin, Denso, Continental and more, covering areas such as core components and smart technologies, enabling its global supply chain to adhere to the industry highest standards.
The GAC Motor and Aisin AW‘s joint venture will enable GAC Motor to push forward the sustainable development of its high-performance parts and components supply and establish stronger global supply chain.
In a continuation of recent trends, weaker demand in the UK and in key European and Asian export markets was exacerbated by the ongoing impact of new regulation alongside planned model and technology changes.
While home production fell by 1.9% in the month, exports experienced a steeper 22.8% drop, falling for the fifth month in a row. Just over 105,000 cars were exported to global markets in November, still representing some eight in every 10 cars leaving British factories.
In the year to date, more than 1.4 million cars have been built in the UK overall, a 8.2% year on year decline, with export volumes down 75,085 units and output for the domestic market down 54,143.
The month of November also saw a 14.2% decline in UK engine production as manufacturers responded to market changes. Exports held steady with a 0.7% increase, while domestic demand dropped by 30.5%.
SMMT also warned that ‘No Deal’ with the EU would have an immediate and devastating impact on the industry, halting production, undermining competitiveness and causing irreversible and severe damage.
Automotive businesses are exasperated by the current situation with only weeks until Brexit. Industry has been unequivocal about the impact of ‘No Deal’. Delays at the border would fundamentally undermine just-in-time manufacturing stopping production, tariffs would add at least £4.5 billion to industry costs and the demolition of the sector’s competitiveness is already resulting in business and jobs lost overseas.
While many companies have begun implementing contingency arrangements for a ‘No Deal’ Brexit, it is impossible for any individual company to fully mitigate the risks of this scenario. UK Automotive’s complex and integrated supply chain works on a Just-in-Time basis, with the arrival of parts at plants timed to the minute, not the day or the week.
The border chaos caused by a ‘No Deal’ scenario would render this process impossible with warehousing not a viable option given the scale of production, the complexity of the product, the space needed and the lack of immediate availability. Furthermore, the hundreds of SMEs across the domestic supply chain are unlikely to have the time or resources to prepare for the huge and immediate changes to their trading conditions.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “It’s very concerning to see demand for UK built cars decline in November, with output seriously impacted by falling business and consumer confidence in the UK allied to weakening export markets. With fewer than 100 days until the UK leaves the European Union, the automotive industry needs certainty and a ‘no-deal’ Brexit must be ruled out. Thousands of jobs in British car factories and supply chains depend on free and frictionless trade with the EU – if the country falls off a cliff-edge next March the consequences would be devastating.”
The products of the FCA family assembled in Mexico have been awarded worldwide by different specialists in cars and auto parts, demonstrating the continuous commitment of the company and its employees to be at the forefront globally.
The celebration of this important event was carried out with the participation of the staff of the plant, executives of the company and representatives of the H. Workers’ Union of FCA Mexico. The engine was a Pentastar Upgrade 3.6L RU model 2019, engine which will be exported to the Windsor Assembly Plant, Ontario in Canada, and be the heart of a Chrysler Pacifica.
Currently, the multi-award-winning Pentastar is found in the latest models of Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango, Jeep Wrangler, Chrysler Pacifica and Ram 1500 2019 vehicles.
“I am very proud of this important event 22 months after having achieved the production of the 3 millionth engine, this has only been possible thanks to the dedication and effort of each of the workers in this plant,” said Jorge Luis Lares, Vice President of Manufacturing of FCA Mexico. “We closed this year with important achievements in terms of production and I am honoured to be part of this great company,” added Lares.
The Motores Sur plant assembles the 3.6L Pentastar Upgrade engines in the WK, RU, RU Hybrid, JL and DT versions.
Chief engineer Tetsuya Tada and engineers from Japan have put a Supra prototype through its paces on Australian roads, supported by Toyota Australia’s highly regarded vehicle engineering and development (VED) group.
The five-day evaluation and suitability test involved areas where Supra customers are likely to travel, including sweeping country roads, twisty mountain climbs and the Great Ocean Road – considered one of the world’s great drives.
Mr Tada said that he had been keen to use Australia’s roads to confirm performance targets for Supra and ensure it would satisfy the dynamic preferences of local drivers. “It’s vital the driver feels confident during rough-road cornering and that the car is very stable under braking. Speedo accuracy is also very important. Working on aspects of handling and other details here in Australia allows us to make refinements that will result in a better car right up until production starts in the first part of next year.”
Mr Tada also added that the local VED group, led by Paul Diamandis, was regarded among the best in the world for suspension tuning and dynamic evaluation. Australia offered surfaces that replicated 80% of the world’s roads, including some of the toughest that would be experienced by customers anywhere.
The local testing included overall performance and driveability, ride, handling, stability, brakes, seat comfort and insulation from noise, vibration and harshness on coarse-chip bitumen and gravel.
“We’ve taken the Supra prototype across a variety of conditions including popular touring destinations because almost half the people we expect to buy a Supra list their number one hobby as holidays and travel,” Diamandis said.
“Nissan is the most popular auto brand in Ghana because the quality of our products and services has won the trust of our customers,” said Jim Dando, Nissan Group of Africa head of sales and operations. “We want to build on our leadership by supporting the government to create the environment for a successful automotive manufacturing industry in the country. Building vehicles in Ghana will enable us to further improve the products and services we offer to our customers here and will have significant, long-term benefits for the economy in terms of jobs and growth.”
The signing of the MoU was followed by the announcement of three regional hubs; West Africa, East Africa and Central Africa, with their own regional general managers.
“We are committed to Africa,” said Dando, “and this commitment is underpinned by the deep realisation that you cannot have one solution for an entire continent of 54 different countries, but rather need to get as close as possible to your customers and your distributors. Positioning our offices in Accra, Ghana, and Nairobi, Kenya, for West and East Africa underpins exactly that philosophy, bolstered by the appointment of senior, autonomous, managers to run these operations blending the best of local with Nissan’s global benchmark intelligent mobility solutions.”
Part of this includes the roll out and expansion of the Nissan Retail Concept providing a stress-free seamless retail experience for customers from the moment the vehicle is bought throughout the lifespan of ownership thereafter.
Dando said Nissan customers throughout Africa would have much to look forward to in 2019, especially the launch of the new Navara, purpose built for African conditions and complete with Nissan’s legendary after sales service and attention to detail.
Part of this initiative includes the further roll out of the much loved and reintroduced Datsun brand, offering first time African buyers a fantastic opportunity to buy a brand-new purpose-built vehicle that meets their needs.
Nissan Intelligent Choice, the company’s new approved used car programme, will be launched this year. Nissan already offers warranties and service plans for its vehicles with Nissan Assured, and Nissan Intelligent Choice will build on the success of the company’s offerings.
ACEA is concerned about the highly challenging CO2 target that auto manufacturers will have to meet by 2030. Delivering a 37.5% CO2 reduction might sound plausible, but is totally unrealistic based on the industry stands today. The industry believes that this 2030 target is driven purely by political motives, without taking technological and socio-economic realities into account.
“ACEA’s members are of course committed to further reducing CO2 emissions from their vehicles, but these targets will be extremely demanding on Europe’s auto industry,” stated ACEA Secretary General, Erik Jonnaert. “Indeed, they will require a much stronger market uptake of electric and other alternatively-powered vehicles that is currently proving possible.”
Jonnaert continued, “Of course, all our member companies will continue to invest in their portfolios of alternatively-powered cars and vans, but there are still several obstacles putting the brakes on widespread consumer acceptance, such as affordability and the lack of a sufficiently dense network of recharging and refuelling infrastructure.”
ACEA has called on the 28 member states and the European Commission to ensure that all the enabling conditions are in place for these aggressive CO2 reduction levels, notably the much-needed investments in infrastructure.
These extremely ambitious CO2 targets will also have a seismic impact on jobs across the entire automotive value chain, which employs some 13.3 million Europeans. In order to mitigate the negative impact of these structural changes, policymakers need to act swiftly by presenting concrete plans to manage this employment and skills transition in a proper, socially-acceptable way.
This deal still needs to be approved by the Council and voted in the plenary of the European Parliament.
In the past quarter century, 39 different models have rolled off the production lines of Spain’s largest car factory, ranging from the second generation Seat Ibiza and the first Seat Cordoba to the Seat Arona or the Audi A1, which is now into its first few weeks of production.
The factory was inaugurated in 1993 following an investment equivalent to €1.47 billion ($1.68 billion). Seat transferred production there after 40 years in the old Zona Franca factory in Barcelona and since then, the brand’s main models have been made in Martorell, as well as Audi’s Q3 and A1. The factory is the Volkswagen Group’s third largest in Europe, and has become the benchmark smart factory of Industry 4.0.
The vehicle number 10 million, an Arona FR 1.5 TSI combining the colours Desired Red and Midnight Black, has been put on display in the Martorell factory as a part of the exhibition to commemorate the plant’s 25th anniversary. This Arona was built on the MQB A0 platform, which it shares with the Ibiza and newcomer Audi A1.
Seat was the Volkswagen Group’s first brand to use this platform, which allows for greater manufacturing flexibility as it supports various models and enables different kinds of body styles within the same segment, and has made it possible for Martorell to add three new models to its lines in the past 18 months.
Seat Vice-president for Production and Logistics Dr. Christian Vollmer stated, “Since its inauguration in 1993, the heart of Seat has been known for being at the forefront of innovation. Thanks to continuous investment in technology and a highly qualified workforce, the factory has improved the quality of products and processes year after year until becoming what it is today – the factory that makes the most cars in Spain and a benchmark of Industry 4.0 and digitalisation.”
Seat is firmly committed to transforming the Martorell plant to Industry 4.0, with the goal of creating a factory that is smart, digitalised and connected, which adapts to production needs and processes, and which manages resources and communication among areas with greater efficiency.
As an example of this transformation, today the factory has more than 2,000 robots which play an essential role. They are in constant movement to assemble the more than 3,000 parts that go into every new car, and they will play an even more important role in upcoming years. All of these 4.0 novelties coexist with the 8,000 workers at the factory, who turn out 2,400 cars every day, which is the equivalent of one car approximately every 30 seconds.
Owing to the increase in production and in the number of models produced at the Martorell factory, the workforce has increased to more than 15,000 professionals. Of these, more than 12,500 work in Martorell, both on the production line as in the company’s central services and the Seat Technical Centre, where all of the brand’s vehicles are designed and developed. In 2018 alone, more than 500 employees joined the company with an open-ended contract.
Seat has stepped up its sustainability projects in recent years and its commitment encompasses all corporate activities, including R&D, production, logistics and sales, among others. In this sense, the Martorell factory has been implementing the Ecomotive Factory plan since 2011 with the goal of achieving facilities that are efficient, sustainable and ecologically responsible. The company aims to reduce the level of its 2010 environmental footprint by half by 2025.
Seat is the only company that designs, develops, manufactures and markets cars in Spain. A member of the Volkswagen Group, the multinational has its headquarters in Martorell (Barcelona), exporting 80% of its vehicles.
The new A-Class from Mercedes-Benz has undergone European NCAP crash tests and achieved outstanding results in them. As a result, it was awarded the top rating of five stars.
“This Euro NCAP award, which we are delighted about, is recognition of the excellent standards of safety in our vehicles,” explained Prof. Dr Rodolfo Schöneburg, Head of Passive Safety and Vehicle Functions at Mercedes-Benz Cars. “However, the standardised crash tests only represent a small sample of the real-life accidents that may be encountered on the street. For that reason, Mercedes-Benz designs all its model series using around 40 different accident constellations.”
Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Programme) is an organisation of European transport ministries, automobile clubs and insurance associations. It carries out crash tests and assesses vehicle safety based on the safety systems available.
The General Secretary of Euro NCAP, Michiel van Ratingen, says: “In 2018 we introduced new, tougher tests, with a particular focus on protecting particularly vulnerable road users. The winners of the “Best in Class” awards clearly show that the vehicle manufacturers are striving for the highest levels of safety and that the Euro NCAP ratings act as a catalyst for significant progress where safety is concerned.”