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News watch December 2010: today's auto industry news

Sun, 31 Oct 2010 00:00:00 -0700

Welcome to CAR Magazine's news aggregator as we round up the daily stories in the auto industry. Top tip: news summaries are added from the top hour-by-hour

Friday 31 December 2010
• A judge in Manhattan has dismissed two lawsuits from hedge funds claiming for $2bn losses when it bought VW shares in 2008. Elliott Associates LP, Black Diamond Offshore and 39 other funds filed a complaint, claiming Porsche misled short-sellers who hadn't realised that Porsche had cornered the market in VW shares (Automotive News)

Thursday 30 December 2010
• Volvo plans to hire an extra 200 staff as it claims demand for its cars is rising. It plans to increase production from 48 cars per hour to 52 at its Gothenburg plant (Automotive News)
• The head of Italian metalworkers union Fiom is threatening a strike in January over Sergio Marchionne's plans to reform Fiat production at its domestic factories (Automotive News Europe)  
• Ford's new MyKey option will allow American motorists to block certain radio stations so their children can't listen to banned frequencies. Peace ensues in thousands of US cars (Detroit News)

Wednesday 29 December 2010
• Chinese car makers say that natural growth will offset the end of tax breaks, which some had feared could stymie car sales in China. GM, Geely and BYD all made statements with positive outlooks (Automotive News)
• GM stock could peak at $42 to $50 per share in 2011, Wall Street analysts report. In the first predictive reports since the bankruptcy, experts say that GM is in good shape (Detroit News)
• More than 19m cars were recalled in 600 campaigns in 2010. It was the highest number of recalls in America since 2004 (Detroit News)

Tuesday 28 December 2010
• Fiat will start selling the Dodge Journey in Europe, badged as the Fiat Freemont (Automotive News Europe)
• Expect the Freemont to be shown at the 2011 Geneva motor show, with European sales in June
• Sales of luxury cars are prospering, reports the Detroit News. It says Daimler and BMW are keeping some plants running between Christmas and New Year (Detroit News)

Monday 27 December 2010
• Shares in US electric car start-up Tesla dipped 15% after a 'lock-up' clause restricting sales of its shares lifted. Stock fell after more shares flooded the stock market, when rules allowed 75 million extra shares to be traded (Automotive News)

Friday 24 December 2010
• A limited Christmas news service today, full service resuming next week. Happy Christmas to all our readers!
• Kia chooses Christmas Eve to confirm a new global debut at the Detroit auto show in January 2011. It will unveil the KV7, a gullwing-doored concept car, which it heavily hints will see production (Kia)

Thursday 23 December 2010
• Aston Martin is back in talks with Daimler - and could even build future Maybachs for Merc, according to the FT (Automotive News Europe) 
• Merc may provide engines to Aston Martin in return for the British sports car company engineering and building the Maybach for Daimler, the FT report claims, quoting insiders (Financial Times)
• Saab has struck a new joint venture with the Swedish government to develop transmissions (Automotive News)

Wednesday 22 December 2010
• Skoda plans to double sales in the next decade. Board members said in an interview that Skoda will sell 750,000 vehicles in 2010, a 10% jump on last year -and next year the target is more than 780,000 (Automotive News Europe)

Tuesday 21 December 2010
• Ford is set to leapfrog Toyota to gain its second spot in the US sales charts after a month in which it made the biggest gain in its market share since the 1980s (Detroit News)
• It's a crucial week for Fiat Spa with its negotiations with unions over plans to build Alfa Romeos and Jeeps in its Turin plant (Automotive News Europe)

Monday 20 December 2010
• Lexus is seeking a sharper global image, reports AN. It says Toyota's upmarket wing is planning to rebrand itself as a maker of 'progressive luxury' cars (Automotive News)
• There's a new electric vehicle in (Mo)Town: the new $25,000 Triac, a three-wheeler EV. It's built by a new start-up (Detroit News)

Friday 17 December 2010
• Daewoo will post its first annual profit since 2007, helped by a surge in exports to Eastern Europe. After making losses in 2008 and 2009, the General Motors company sold 680,305 vehicles in the first 11 months this year, 33 percent more than a year earlier (Automotive News Europe)

Thursday 16 December 2010
• Honda is recalling about 1.35m of its Jazz supermini, also known as the Fit, to repair defective wiring in the headlights. It affects cars built at Honda’s Suzuka factory between November 2001 and October 2007. The company will recall about 385,000 units in Europe, 735,000 in Japan and 143,000 in the US (Reuters)
• UK car production rose by 11.1% to 125,458 cars in November 2010 compared to the same period in 2009, and increased 28.7% to 1,176,147 for the year-to-date. The figures are still some distance away from those of 2005 when over 1,600,000 cars were built in the year (SMMT)
• The Russian businessman who was ousted from the deal to buy Saab has said he still wants to become an owner of the company, reports Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. Vladimir Antonov claimed he faced 'surreal allegations of alleged "economic crimes", "money laundering" and other false horror stories'. He lent €100m to Spkyer and commissioned an independent report which found he was not linked to any criminal activity (Reuters)
• Renault has joined the growing list of companies to announce price cuts. Ten cars' prices have been reduced, ranging from £320 off a 1.6 Grand Scénic Expression, to £2050 off a 2.0 dCi 150 Grand Espace in Dynamique TomTom trim (Renault)

Wednesday 15 December 2010
• Vauxhall is offering a 20% discount on the majority of its cars between 27 December 2010 and 31 January 2011. The reduction is calculated by taking 20 percent from the model's list price before VAT, after which VAT is applied to the discounted price. That means anything from £1890 off an Agila to a chunky £6165 trimmed from an Insignia VXR (Vauxhall)
• Volkswagen is recalling 377,286 cars in the US, including the Golf and Jetta, after the manufacturer discovered a fire risk from fuel-supply lines that may chafe and leak (Automotive News)
• Vauxhall has denied reports that it will sell MG cars in its UK showrooms, after Kevin Wale, president and managing director of GM's China operations, said that GM partner SAIC Motor Corp (the company that owns MG) could be granted access to Vauxhall's UK sales network (Automotive News Europe)
• PSA Peugeot Citroen will add 1000 jobs and boost production at its assembly plant in Slovakia, the country's prime minister has said (Reuters)

Tuesday 14 December 2010
• Nissan and Mitsubishi are extending their partnership. Nissan will supply a light van/wagon to Mitsubishi for sale in Japan, and Mitsubishi will provide an SUV to Nissan that will be sold in the Middle East. A possible 50:50 joint venture for producing mini cars for Japan is under consideration (Mitsubishi Motors)
• Ford's sales dropped 11% last month in its primary European 19-nation region, registering 100,500 cars in November. Overall industry European sales fell for the eighth consecutive month, by 5.2% to 1.23m (Bloomberg)
• China will be Audi's biggest market in 2011, overtaking sales in Germany. Sales figures for the two countries are neck-and-neck for 2010 (Bloomberg)

Monday 13 December 2010
• Car makers are struggling to find engineers, despite hundreds being laid off during the recession. Many engineers have mechanical training, but the new demand is for knowledge of and experience in electric vehicles (Automotive News)
• Volvo Car Corporation and ING Belgium have signed a five-year €198m loan agreement to secure car projects at Volvo’s manufacturing plant in Ghent, Belgium (Volvo)
• Leeds City Council has said it is scrapping all but ‘core road maintenance’ in part of a plan to save £90m (Financial Times)
• Audi has denied claims that the price of the A1 has limited sales. 20,000 have been sold since the car’s launch in late August, and Audi are confident they’ll have built 50,000 by the end of 2010, with 30,000 delivered to customers. The A1 starts at £13,145 (Automotive News Europe)
• Renault expects to have sold 2.6m cars by the end of 2010, beating their previous record in 2005 of 2.5m. The success has been attributed to government incentives encouraging demand for its Dacia brand (Reuters)
• The senior vice president of brand management for Mini, Dr Wolfgang Armbrecht, has said Mini may develop a ‘mini’ Mini for parent BMW, which would become the BMW group’s smallest car (Automotive News Europe)
• Caterham Cars will introduce an entirely new model, powered by a Caterham Motorsport engine, at the Autosport International Show at the NEC, Birmingham on Thursday 13 January, 2011 (Caterham Cars)

Friday 10 December 2010
• The governing body of Formula 1, the FIA, has announced new regulations for the sport. From 2013 the engine regulations will mandate the use of turbocharged 1.6-litre engines. There will be a 12,000rpm rev limit, but the extended use of KERS should keep the cars as quick as today's racers. The new engines are expected to be 35% more efficient, with drivers limited to five engines in 2013, and four in every year thereafter. There are rule changes for 2011 too, including the banning of team orders, though teams can still be punished for bringing the sport into disrepute (FIA)
• VW's global sales from January to November 2010 were up 12.7% versus the same period in 2009. A total of 6.59m vehicles were sold, which is more than the Volkswagen Group's total for all of last year (Volkswagen)
• Audi has sold more cars from January-November 2010 that it did in the entire 12 months of 2009. Around 1,003,900 cars were sold in those 11 months, versus 1,003,469 in the same period of 2009, a rise of 15.3% (Audi)

Thursday 9 December 2010
• Ford is planning to show a B-Max concept car at the 2011 Geneva motor show. It's likely to point to the future Fusion replacement, a mini-MPV (Automotive News Europe)
• The ageing XC90 has become Volvo's best selling UK model of 2010 with more than 6600 sold this year (Volvo)
• Banks and lenders in the US are softening their credit to less well off buyers. The Detroit media report that car loans to sub-prime borrowers are now easier to track down (Detroit News)
• Daimler is investing $290m in its south African plant. The eastern Cape factory will get the investment spread over four years, as Merc modernises the facility (Financial Times)
• Tata has extended the warranty on its Nano to four years/60,000km in an attempt to pep up sales of the one-lakh car (Tata)

Wednesday 8 December 2010
• The world's cheapest car, the Tata Nano, is still not selling its original predicted 20,000 a month. Just 509 were sold to Indian buyers in November (Financial Times)
• VW may oppose demands by German unions for a payrise to workers in western Germany. They're negotiating for a 6% rise to 95,000 manufacturing workers and 5000 of the financial division (Automotive News)
• BMW aims to increases sales by 10% and add expertise in electric vehicles, hybrid powertrains and cleaner combustion engines by recruiting 2600 new employess by 2011 (Automotive News) 
• Daimler plans to spend £50 million at its Indian factory to double the plant's capacity to 10,000 vehicles a year (Automotive News)

Tuesday 7 December 2010
• Peugeot’s car and LCV sales continue to outperform the market with car sales up 7.7% and LCV sales up 24.2% (Peugeot UK)
• UK new car registrations fell by 11.5% in November, a smaller drop than expected (
• Damaged vehicle recalls in the US led to a 3.2% drop in Toyota sales last month (

Monday 6 December 2010
• Talks between Fiat, Chrysler and unions to relaunch the group's main factory in Italy as a joint venture with Chrysler have stalled. Unions suspended talks over the companies' plan to invest more than €1 billion in the Mirafiori plant to enable it to build top-line Alfa and Jeep products (Automotive News Europe)
• Honda says it will stop building the Element after seven straight years of dipping sales (Detroit News)
• The FT reports of further clandestine meetings between Volkswagen and Fiat, as VW eyes the upmarket Alfa Romeo brand (Financial Times) 

Friday 3 December 2010
• Group Lotus have announced that Karl-Heinz Kalbfell, formerly of BMW, Alfa Romeo, Rolls-Royce and Maserati, will be joining the senior management team. In addition Lotus has appointed former Ferrari man Guillaume Chabin as Director of Sales (Automotive News Europe)
• Toyota Motor Corporation's profit per vehicle in China for its luxury Lexus brand has eclipsed that of the US, where it has been forced to increase incentives following record recalls earlier this year (Bloomberg)
•  Nissan will start selling its Leaf electric vehicle in Japan from December 20, hoping to become a leader in the electric car market (Wall Street Journal)

Thursday 2 December 2010
• Sales of Tata Motors' Nano, the world's cheapest car, plunged by 85% in November  compared with a year earlier, the Indian car maker has said (BBC News)
• Economic woes and the end of scrappage schemes threatened a bleak start to 2011 for Europe's car markets (Automotive News Europe)
• One of Daimlers AG's stars, Jerome Guillen, has moved to US electric sports car manufacturer Tesla Motors. Guillen was director of Daimler's business innovations project (Automotive News Europe)

Wednesday 1 December 2010
• After 10 successful years at Mini Design, Gert Hildebrand is handing over the running of the design studio to Anders Warming at the end of 2010 (Mini)
• General Motors and Chrysler, the US car makers saved from collapse by government bail-outs, have announced plans to hire about 1000 staff (BBC News)
• General Motors' Daewoo Auto and Technology Co unit agrees to repay a $1 billion revolving credit facility led by Korea Development Bank this month, reducing the company's borrowing costs (Automotive New Europe).
• Porsche SE investors have approved plans for a €5 billion stock sale to reduce the sports-car maker's debt as it prepares to combine with Volkswagen AG (Automotive News Europe)
•  Most Indian car makers continue to post strong sales in November, fuelled by strong domestic demand, despite drops in exports (WSJ)

By Peter Adams, Richard Jones, Tim Pollard and Sarah-Jayne Harrison