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News watch Jan 2011: today's auto industry news

Fri, 28 Jan 2011 00:00:00 -0800

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 28 January 2011
• Mazda has signed a deal to supply Nissan with its 5/Premacy MPV from May 2011. Nissan will sell a 'cleary differentiated' version of the people carrier in Japan (Mazda) 
• VW has begun construction of a new engine plant in Silao, Mexico. From 2013 the factory will build 330,000 engines and supply Volkswagen's vehicle plants in Puebla, Mexico, and Chattanooga, USA. VW is investing £345m in the new factory (Volkswagen)
• Renault-Nissan sold 7,276,398 vehicles in 2010, up 19.6% in a market that grew 11.8%. The figures are a new record for the Renault-Nissan alliance (Renault)

Thursday 27 January 2011
• Radio reports claim that Renault's new operating margin, to be announced as part of a strategic review in February, will target a 5% margin (Automotive News Europe)
• US vice president Joe Biden vowed America would have 1 million electric cars on the roads by 2015 by investing in R&D. In its budget next month, the White House will announce some $8 billion annual grants for clean energy schemes, including EVs (Detroit News)
• Toyota has begun recalling 1.7 million cars globally, including Lexus IS models and Toyota Avensis models in the UK over a remote chance of fuel system problems (Automotive News)
• Rising sales in China and America contributed to record profits in the final quarter of 2010 at Hyundai. Net profits stood at 1.4 trillion won (£789m), up 48% year on year. Revenues were up 3.1% (BBC News)
• Mini plans to build the Paceman alongside the Countryman 4x4, according to German media reports (Automotive News Europe)
• Renault has launched a new own-brand tyre, the Motrio. Designed for its older vehicles, prices start at just £36 fully fitted (Renault)

Wednesday 26 January 2011
• Woops - the entire CAR team ended up out on a photoshoot all day long. Apologies for the lack of News Watch updates!

Tuesday 25 January 2011
• Nissan will reach full production capacity of the Leaf electric car by March, as it ramps up facilities at the Oppama factory near Tokyo. It will eventually build around 4000 models a year to sate demand before production facilities in Europe and elsewhere begin manufacturing (Automotive News Europe)
• Volvo is setting up an HQ in China as part of its bid to become a leading quality car manufacturer there by 2015. It targets 200,000 annual sales there by 2015, up from 30,000 in 2010 (Automotive News Europe)

Monday 24 January 2011
• Phil Murtaugh former GM and Chrysler exec is the new CEO of Coda the electric car maker
• Despite recalls and declining US sales, in 2010 Toyota remained the world's largest car manufactuer. Toyota's sales (including its Lexus and Daihatsu brands) rose 8% to 8.42m units, while GM was up 12% to 8.39m units, and the VW Group was up 14% to 7.14m units. Toyota's US sales were down 0.4% to 1.76m units. The Japanese automaker has now been the world's biggest for three years (Automotive News Europe)
• GM boss Dan Akerson's recent senior management shake-up is designed to ensure the American car company intensifies its focus on leading technologies (Automotive News Europe)
• Bentley has appointed a new board member and manufacturing boss, Michael Straughan. Straughan was previously operations director at the Jaguar/Land Rover Halewood plant. He replaces Doug Dickson, who will front a number of strategic projects before his retirement later this year (Bentley)
• Mazda is developing an electric vehicle based on the compact Demio, which it plans to lease in Japan from spring 2012 (Mazda)

Friday 21 January 2011
• GM's new executive, Dan Akerson, aims to bolster GM's technological leadership and customer service by reshuffling senior positions. Mary Barra, previously vice president of HR for GM, will become head of global and production development(Financial Times)
• Audi has announced UK prices for its range-topping twin-charged A1 1.4 TFSI. The 182bhp hatch is the most expensive A1 yet, costing £20,705 (Audi)
• UK car and commercial vehicle production was up 28% in 2010, despite a slump in the last month of the year (Financial Times)
• Mitsubishi plans to kill off much of its US range over the next three years and focus on producing 'global' vehicles (Automotive News)

Thursday 20 January 2011
• Audi plans record production in 2011, as it readies 13 new models to launch this year. Audi built a record 1,148,791 cars in 2010 - 23% up on 2009 - but expects the new A6 and Q3 to further fuel its expansion plans (Audi)
• Fiat has recruited former Toyota Italy head of sales Thierry Dombreval to help revive European sales (Financial Times)

Wednesday 19 January 2011
• Volkswagen could launch a new local market brand for its China-built cars (Automotive News Europe)
• The first fruits of the Daimler-Renault Nissan tie-up will be seen next year; a Kangoo-based Merc small commercial vehicle will be launched in late 2012 (Autotmotive News Europe)

Tuesday 18 January 2011
• Lancia is planning a hybrid version of its Thema range-topper (Automotive News Europe)
• Volvo plans to decrease last year's 12% loss in the US by increasing advertising and marketing spend for 2011. Now owned by Geely, Volvo expect to see a double digit increase in 2011 (Volvo Cars)
• Rising petrol prices in the US, tipping above $3 a gallon, could threaten the recovery underway at the Big Three, reports the Detroit News. It claims Ford, GM and Chrysler are more exposed to higher gas prices than rivals (Detroit News)

Monday 17 January 2011
• French prosecutors have launched an official probe into the industrial espionage at Renault; three key managers have been suspended over allegations of leaking details of the electric car programme to overseas rivals (potentially China) (Automotive News Europe)
• The UK could be brought to another standstill if oil tanker drivers carry out a planned threat to strike. The Unite union said it was balloting around 3000 tanker drivers, over continued erosion of their working conditions (BBC News)
• Fifty four percent of Fiat staff at the Mirafiori have voted to accept changes to their contracts - paving the way for radical change at Italy's biggest car maker. Bosses had threatened to take work abroad unless staff accepted longer hours, cuts in benefits and limits on strikes (BBC News)
• Porsche could build the Cajun junior SUV in China, according to a report in Germany's Focus magazine (Automotive News Europe)
• Smart will decide by this summer whether to launch an electric scooter based on its 2010 Paris motor show concept (Automotive News Europe)

Friday 14 January 2011
• Renault has asked the French authorities to investigate the alleged industrial espionage affecting its electric car programme. It has filed a criminal complaint 'against persons unknown' accusing them of industrial espionage, corruption, breach of trust, theft and concealment' (BBC News)
• All three Renault execs deny any wrongdoing
• GM is rumoured to be allowing Russian investor Viktor Antonov back as a stakeholder in Saab, according to Swedish newspaper reports. Last year GM barred him from Spyker's bid to buy Saab - but Detroit is considering letting him take over some of their $326m of redeemable preference shares in the Swedish car maker (Automotive News Europe)

Thursday 13 January 2011
• Lancia will launch its version of the Chrysler 200C at the 2011 Geneva motor show in March; the Flavia name is tipped (Automotive News Europe)
• Renault has uncovered links to various Chinese companies in its spy scandal. Three senior executives have been suspended over allegations they leaked sensitive plans to China (Automotive News Europe)
• A Congressional report in the US criticises the government's $85 billion bail-out for GM and Chrysler in the economic crisis. It claims taxpayers lost $600m when the Treasury sold its stake in Chrysler Financial (Detroit News)
• Car makers in America are worried that California is planning its own fleet average economy rules - despite an Obama push have a national target. The preliminary proposal aims for a corporate average economy of between 47mpg and 62mpg by 2025 (Automotive News) 
• VW today will show the Amarok pick-up for the first time in the UK at the 2011 Outdoors Show at the ExCel exhibition centre in London’s Docklands (Volkswagen)

Wednesday 12 January 2011
• Volvo expects China to become its biggest market, now it's Chinese-owned. A senior exec from Asia pledged that Volvo sales in China would rocket sixfold by 2015 (Automotive News Europe) 
• Chrysler's minivans will get ZF's nine-speed automatics in 2013, the company confirmed at the Detroit auto show (Automotive News)
• Chrysler is planning two new pick-ups - a unibody replacement for the Dodge Dakota and a Jeep with a truck bed, according to the local rag (Detroit News)

Tuesday 11 January 2011
• Audi has registered the SQ5 and RSQ5 as potential names for go-faster versions of its Q5 SUV, according to Car & Driver (via Autoblog)
• Vauxhall has announced a three and a half year sponsorship deal with England's Football Association. It will cover the 2012 Euro championship and the 2014 World Cup (BBC News)
• Akio Toyoda, Toyota chief exec, confirms that his company will build the Prius hybrid in the US in future (Automotive News)
• After a slow start, US new car sales in 2010 recovered at the year end - and AN reports some analysts are increasing their forecasts for 2011. Sales in December were the best of the year and last month's seasonally adjusted rate was 12.6m, the third month in a row over 12m (Automotive News)

Monday 10 January 2011
• Most of our reporting attention is at the Detroit auto show today. Click to the CAR Live Blog for all the news and annoucements from the NAIAS
• Automotive News reports that it's appointed investment bank Goldman Sachs to arrange its initial public stock offering set for the fourth quarter of 2011. The US bank advised Fiat in the spin-off of its truck division and is now helping Chrysler refinance its debt as well as arrange its IPO. Fiat has raised its ownership of Chrysler from 20% to 25% (Automotive News)

Friday 7 January 2011
• New car sales in Great Britain rose 1.8% in 2010 off the back of strong fleet demand, but the SMMT warns that registrations are likely to fall 5% this year (BBC News)
• Skoda sold 762,600 vehicles worldwide in 2010, a 12% rise year on year. The company plans to double sales by 2018 (Skoda)
• PSA Peugeot Citroen sold 3.6 million vehicles in 2010, a jump of 13% on 2009, according to CEO Philippe Varin (Automotive News Europe)
• The Renault espionage case that emerged yesterday includes senior ranking executives, it has emerged. One of the three execs suspended for allegedly leaking details of Renault's electric car strategy is Michel Balthazard, vice president for advance engineering and a member of the management committee, Bloomberg News claims (Automotive News)

Thursday 6 January 2011
• Renault has suspended three executives for alleged leaking of details of its electric car plans to rivals. A four-month investigation tracked down the three suspects, but Renault has refused to name their identities (Financial Times)
• Saab sales in the last quarter of 2010 were double that a year before, says the Swedish company. It sold 11,448 cars in the last three months, up 129% on 2009 (BBC News)
• However, in the whole of 2010 it sold 31,696 Saabs - some way adrift of the 45,000 it had aimed for. Bosses blamed the time taken to rebuild the supply chain after it went bankrupt
• GM has bought a stake in a start-up which makes a cordless recharging facility. The car makers plans to offer the system in its cars, which lets you top up your phone or MP3 player without plugging it in (Automotive News)
• Most global car execs do not see 'reasonably priced electric cars' being available within five years, a new survey by KPMG reveals (BBC News)

Wednesday 5 January 2011
• Ferrari sales in China leapt 50% in 2010. They sold 300 cars (Ferrari)
• Germany's new car registrations grew in December 2010, rising to 230,000 - 7% up on the previous year. Total new car sales for 2010 stood at 2.92 million (Automotive News)
• GM sales in China increased 29% last year, selling 2.35 million vehicles (Automotive News)
• Seat is swallowing the VAT increase on certain model ranges. Sporty models have up to 20% off, while other models qualify for a 10% discount (www.seat.co.uk) 
• London's daily Congestion Charge rises from £8 to £10 from today (Transport for London)
• It's the end of another Detroit brand, as the last Mercury sedan rolls off the production line today (Automotive News)
• Ford sales are up in the US, putting Ford ahead of Toyota for the first time since 2006 (Financial Times)

Tuesday 4 January 2011
• VW chief executive Martin Winterkorn's contract has been extended for a further five years, as he seeks to complete the merger with Porsche (Financial Times)
• Hyundai and Kia expect to boost global vehicle sales by 10% due to rising demand of new models in China. Hyundai sales gained 16% last year and Kia jumped 40% (Automotive News)
• Fiat may extend ownership of Chrysler from 20% to 50%, according to the latest reports in the US (Automotive News)
• Toyota has agreed to pay $10m settling legal claims after last year's recall crisis (Automotive News)
• Tata's Nano went on sale nationwide in India yesterday, lengthier warranties and easier financing helping boost sluggish sales. It had previously only been sold in certain provinces (Automotive News)
• Turkish car sales have risen to a record 750,000, up from 557,126 in 2009 (Automotive News) 
• 80% of the Subaru range will dodge the UK's 2.5% rise in VAT (Subaru)
• The Porsche 918 Spyder is tipped to reappear as a coupe at the Detroit 2011 show (Automotive News)
• BAIC, the Chinese car maker, is looking to buy Pininfarina (Autoblog) 


By Sarah-Jayne Harrison, Tim Pollard and Ben Pulman