Mercedes-Benz Cars Supplier Forum Russia 2017: Mercedes-Benz intends to strengthen Russian supplier network for new passenger car plant in Moscow

Mercedes-Benz Cars Supplier Forum Russia 2017: Mercedes-Benz intends to strengthen Russian supplier network for new passenger car plant in Moscow

Mercedes-Benz intends to expand its existing supplier network with a supplier forum in Moscow to strengthen Daimler´s industrial commitment in Russia.

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After the ground-breaking ceremony for the new Mercedes-Benz passenger car plant Moscovia, which was held in June this year, the first vehicles are planned to run off the line in 2019. With the supplier day, Mercedes-Benz is seeking to prepare potential suppliers for the future production programme in Russia.

"We will produce our best-sellers for the regional market at the new Mercedes-Benz Moscovia plant on a fully flexible basis. To do so, we count on local partners that provide us with top quality and innovations. Thus we are following our general localisation strategy to buy materials, where our production operations are based", said Dr Klaus Zehender, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Procurement and Supplier Quality. Mercedes-Benz attaches special importance to the local settlement. As a further step, potential local suppliers could be given the opportunity to export their components from Russia to other Mercedes-Benz plants around the world.

In addition to more than 100 Russian suppliers, the participants also included local representatives from politics and business as well as Mercedes-Benz delegates from purchasing, quality and production departments. Amongst the attendants of the Mercedes-Benz Supplier Forum was Denis Butsaev, Deputy Chairman of the Moscow Region Government, Minister of Investments and Innovations of the Moscow Region.

"We continue to rely on a close cooperation with our Russian partners. The rapid construction progress already indicates the dimension of the new plant. The supplier forum is part of our strategic commitment to the Russian market", said Axel Bense, CEO of the Mercedes-Benz Manufacturing RUS (MBMR) production company. The Ministry of Industry and Trade provided a list of suppliers in Russia to Daimler to support the supplier search for the local production.

Together with local authorities and employment agencies, Mercedes-Benz is going to select and recruit its staff. The hiring process with a focus on the Moscow region will start in the second quarter of 2018. The settlement of suppliers may also add further jobs to the region.

Mercedes-Benz production activities in Russia

Mercedes-Benz has been present in Russia since 2010 with production operations for vans and trucks and thus already has an existing supplier network. The shell of the new passenger car plant can already be seen on an area of 85 hectares in the Esipovo Industrial Park, 40 kilometres from Moscow. Production will initially start with the E-Class saloon, gradually followed by the SUV models GLE, GLC and GLS. Overall, Daimler AG is locally investing more than 250 million euros. All production steps from body shop and paint shop to final assembly will be performed at the plant.

Volkswagen continues strong growth with best October in its history

Volkswagen continues strong growth with best October in its history

At 550,900 vehicles, worldwide deliveries by the Volkswagen brand in October 2017 were 7.7% higher than the previous year.

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In total, the Volkswagen brand has delivered 5.04 million vehicles to customers worldwide so far this year. As a result, deliveries from January to October were 3.2% higher than the previous year.

Jürgen Stackmann, Volkswagen Brand Board Member for Sales, commented: "This has been the most successful October of all time for Volkswagen. A special boost came from the market in China, where there was an increase of some 26,000 vehicles compared with the same month last year. We are seeing positive momentum in many regions and are delighted with the continued strong demand for our vehicles."

Deliveries in the regions and markets in October developed as follows:

  • At 131,300 new vehicles, deliveries in Europe remained stable The Volkswagen brand reported strong growth in Italy (+6.7%), where the new Polo was successfully launched. In Poland, too, significantly more vehicles were handed over to customers than in the same month last year (+ 15.3%)
  • At 41,900 units, there was a slight decrease (-2.5%) in deliveries in Germany, which also impacted developments in Western Europe as a whole (-3%). However, there is a clear upward trend in orders in Germany which is partly attributable to positive momentum from the environmental efforts of the carmaker
  • The Volkswagen brand recorded significant growth in Central and Eastern Europe, with deliveries up 7%. This positive development was again driven by Russia, which recorded 14.6% growth
  • At 49,300 vehicles, deliveries in North America in October were 6.3% higher than last year. Deliveries in the USA rose 11.9% to 27,700 vehicles. Deliveries in Canada rose 31.5% to 6,700 units, making this the most successful October of all time in Canada, too
  • 35,900 vehicles were handed over to customers in South America, representing an increase of 2%. Key drivers behind this positive development were Brazil with an increase of 73.6%, and Argentina with an increase of 44.5%. Growth in the small car segment, which includes the Gol and Voyage, in these markets was particularly strong compared with the previous year
  • The Volkswagen brand continued its positive growth course in China in 303,800 vehicles were handed over to customers in this, the largest market, corresponding to an increase of 9.2%.

The Tiguan family was much in demand, with 31,100 units delivered in October, an increase of 37.2%.

The Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand is present in more than 150 markets throughout the world and produces vehicles at over 50 locations in 14 countries. In 2016, Volkswagen produced around 5.99 million vehicles, including bestselling models such as the Golf, Tiguan, Jetta and Passat. Currently, 196,000 people work for Volkswagen across the globe. The brand also has 7,700 dealerships with 74,000 employees.

Ford and Zotye sign definitive JV agreement in China to meet growing demand for EVs

Ford and Zotye sign definitive JV agreement in China to meet growing demand for EVs

Ford and Zotye have reached a definitive agreement to establish Zotye Ford Automobile Co., Ltd., a new 50:50 joint venture that will offer a range of stylish and affordable all-electric vehicles for consumers in China under a new indigenous brand.

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The agreement was signed in Beijing by Peter Fleet, Ford group vice president and president, Ford Asia Pacific, and Ying Jianren, chairman of Tech-New Group Ltd. and board director of Zotye Auto.

Pending regulatory approval, the new JV will design, build, market and distribute all-electric passenger vehicles for China, the world's leading electric vehicle market. The establishment of the JV is a key step by Ford towards realising its vision of a cleaner, more environmentally-sustainable future. The new JV will leverage a combined investment of 5 billion RMB ($756 million).

The new JV builds upon Ford's ambitious China electrification strategy. Ford announced earlier this year that at least 70 percent of Ford-branded vehicles sold in the country will offer electrified powertrain options by 2025.

Zotye Ford plans to build a dedicated product research and development centre as well as its own sales and services network. A new manufacturing plant for the JV will be constructed in Zhejiang Province. The all-electric vehicles produced by the JV will be sold under a new Chinese brand designed to meet Chinese consumers' aspirations for electric vehicles.

Zotye Auto is a pioneer in the Chinese all-electric vehicle segment. It is the market leader in China's all-electric small vehicle segment and sold more than 22,500 all-electric vehicles year-to-date through October, representing a growth of over 14% year-over-year. The JV will benefit from Zotye's expertise in designing and commercialising EVs in China, and Ford's global product development and technology capabilities.

Upon its establishment, the new JV will expand Ford's footprint in China. Ford already operates successful vehicle joint ventures with Changan Ford Automobile Corporation, Ltd. and Jiangling Motors Corporation. Ford will continue working closely with its JV partners to develop and manufacture New Energy Vehicles to meet rising consumer demand in China during the impending electrification phase of the Chinese auto industry.

Opel/Vauxhall plan for a profitable global electric future with PACE! plan

Opel/Vauxhall plan for a profitable global electric future with PACE! plan

Michael Lohscheller, CEO of Opel Automobile (pictured at right above, with PSA CEO Carlos Tavares), has announced the strategic plan PACE! to restore financial fundamentals and enhance sustainable competitiveness and growth.

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All PACE! initiatives will contribute to the goals of generating a positive operational free cash flow as well as a recurring operating margin for the auto division of 2% in a first phase by 2020 and of 6% by 2026. Combining strengths will unleash annual synergies on Groupe PSA level of €1.1 billion ($1.28 billion) by 2020 and €1.7 billion by 2026. All actions will contribute to a lower financial break-even point for Opel/Vauxhall of 800,000 vehicles, creating a profitable business model whatever the headwinds may be.

Having full access to Groupe PSA technologies, Opel/Vauxhall says it will become a European CO2 leader. By 2024, all European passenger carlines will be electrified – offering a pure battery electric propulsion or plug-in hybrid version alongside efficient internal combustion engines. By 2020, Opel/Vauxhall will have four electrified carlines on the market, including the Grandland X PHEV and the next generation Corsa as a fully electric vehicle.

The company will enhance its competitiveness by 2020 e.g. by reducing costs by €700 per car. Efficiency of marketing expenses will be improved by more than 10%. Overall efficiencies will be increased by reducing complexity across all functions with a ratio G&A/revenue moving from 5.6% to 4.7% and an objective to bring the company towards industry benchmark in terms of wage cost/revenue ratio. Optimising R&D and CapEx at 7-8% of automotive revenue, manufacturing and administration processes by 2020 and releasing working capital of €1.2 billion by 2022 will also contribute to seizing synergies.

Improved competitiveness of the manufacturing plants will lead to new vehicle allocations that will provide a better utilisation rate for the next decade. The two Groupe PSA platforms CMP and EMP2 will be localised in all Opel/Vauxhall plants. To start with, an EMP2-based SUV is planned for Eisenach in 2019; and an EMP2-based D-segment vehicle is coming to Rüsselsheim. The allocation of new powertrains in Opel/Vauxhall manufacturing sites will accompany the shift from GM to Groupe PSA engines and transmissions.

The plan is designed with the clear intention to maintain all plants and refrain from forced redundancies in Europe. The necessary and sustainable reduction of labour costs shall be reached with thoughtful measures such as innovative working time concepts, voluntary programs or early retirement schemes.

All new Opel/Vauxhall vehicles will be engineered in Rüsselsheim, which will be transformed into a global competence centre for the whole Groupe PSA. First areas of expertise are identified, e.g. fuel cells, certain automated driving technologies and driver assistance developments. This will further guarantee German engineering quality and affordable innovations. Altogether, the number of platforms Opel/Vauxhall uses for its passenger cars will be reduced from currently 9 to 2 by 2024. Furthermore, the powertrain families will be optimised from currently 10 to 4. "Aligning architecture and powertrain families will substantially reduce development and production complexity, thus allowing scale effects and synergies, contributing to overall profitability," said Lohscheller.

Opel/Vauxhall will switch to efficient and flexible Groupe PSA vehicle architectures faster than originally expected. From 2024 onwards, all Opel/Vauxhall passenger car models will be based on joint Groupe PSA architectures. Next to come are the Combo in 2018 and the next generation of the bestselling Corsa in 2019. This course will be steadily continued with one major launch per year. Counting every body style, Opel/Vauxhall will launch 9 new models by 2020. This line-up will enable to increase the pricing power of Opel/Vauxhall brands and reduce the gap against benchmark by four points.

Furthermore, Opel will enter more than 20 new export markets by 2022. Beyond that, Opel will explore global midterm overseas profitable export opportunities.

To foster growth in the financially attractive light commercial vehicle (LCV) business, Opel/Vauxhall will launch new models and enter new markets with the clear goal to increase its LCV sales by 25% by 2020 against 2017.

Audi steps up research into synthetic fuels

Audi steps up research into synthetic fuels

Audi is working with Ineratec GmbH and Energiedienst Holding AG on a new pilot facility for the production of e-diesel in Laufenburg, in Canton Aargau (Switzerland).

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For the first time, the energy needed will be supplied from the renewable source of hydropower. The planned facility will have a capacity of around 400,000 litres (105,669 US gal) per year.

For some years now, Audi has been conducting research into climate-friendly, CO2-based fuels such as e-gas, e-gasoline or synthetically manufactured e-diesel fuel. The company is now taking the next step in e-diesel production. "At the project in Laufenburg, thanks to a new technology we are able to handle the production of e-diesel efficiently in compact units, making it more economical. The pilot facility offers scope for sector coupling, in other words combining the energy sectors power, heat and mobility, and makes it possible to store renewable energy," explained Reiner Mangold, Head of Sustainable Product Development at AUDI AG.

Audi e-diesel has the potential to make conventional combustion engines operate almost CO2-neutrally. To produce it, the power-to-liquid plant converts surplus hydropower into synthetic fuel. A chemical principle is applied: The green power generated on site in the hydroelectric power station produces hydrogen and oxygen from water by means of electrolysis. In the next step the hydrogen reacts with CO2, using an innovative and very compact microprocess technology. The CO2 can be obtained from the atmosphere or from biogenous waste gases and, as with all Audi e-fuels, is the only source of carbon. Long-chain hydrocarbon compounds are formed. In the final process step these are separated into the end products Audi e-diesel and also waxes, which are put to use in other areas of industry.

There are plans to produce the first quantities of e-diesel in Laufenburg as early as next year. Audi and the project partner companies Ineratec and Energiedienst AG will submit the planning application for the facility in a few weeks' time. Construction work is to begin in early 2018.

This is now Audi's second partnership in a pilot facility that operates according to the power-to-liquid principle. Audi has already been working together with the energy technology corporation sunfire in Dresden since 2014. There, sunfire is exploring the manufacturing of e-diesel using the above principle, but involving different technologies. The other Audi e-fuels projects include its own power-to-gas facility in Werlte, north Germany, which makes Audi e-gas – in other words synthetic methane – for the g-tron models A3, A4 and A5. The Ingolstadt carmaker is also researching the manufacture of e-gasoline together with specialist partners.

VW inaugurates 250km/h hot and cold wind tunnel efficiency centre

VW inaugurates 250km/h hot and cold wind tunnel efficiency centre

As part of its largest model and technology offensive to date, the Volkswagen brand has opened a new Wind Tunnel Efficiency Centre in Wolfsburg, which it says is one of the most modern and efficient in the industry.

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The centre, with a floor area of 8,800 m², is also certified for measurements in accordance with WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedures). Vehicles can be tested at wind speeds of up to 250 km/h, simulating real traffic conditions with a view to reducing drag, fuel consumption and emissions. In addition, driving simulations under all the climatic and environmental conditions normally experienced throughout the world can be conducted – at temperatures between -30°C and +60°C.

Works Council Gerardo Scarpino said: "Technical Development at Wolfsburg is the heart of Volkswagen. More than 10,000 colleagues are working on the technology of the future here. With the new Wind Tunnel Efficiency Centre, we will be safeguarding the future of many jobs in Wolfsburg. In order to use the new technology efficiently, we need highly qualified, experienced employees. We have precisely these colleagues here at Volkswagen."

As regards aerodynamic testing, Board Member for Technical Development Dr. Frank Welsch emphasised: "These tests are a key factor in improving efficiency and reducing emissions. Thanks to the new centre, we are also outstandingly well positioned for the future with respect to other development areas such as aeroacoustics and electric vehicle range."

In the aerodynamics and acoustics wind tunnel, the flat belt balance ensures that real-world driving operation can be simulated. Each individual wheel of the vehicle is positioned on its own flat belt. This allows turning motions of the wheels in a way which is similar to driving on the road. The balance, with integrated camera system, aligns each model tested fully automatically in less than five minutes. The previous system required about 30 minutes. And the acoustic insulation of the tunnel makes it one of the quietest automotive wind tunnels in the world. At a wind speed of 160 km/h, the tunnel only reaches a sound pressure level of 65 decibels, comparable with TV operated at a reasonable volume or normal speech.

The thermal wind tunnel, which will be able to simulate snow in addition to rain and sunlight following a pilot phase, will allow significantly more real-life tests than its predecessor. The main component of the tunnel is a highly advanced all-wheel-drive roller dynamometer, which also meets all the requirements for road tests.

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