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News watch June 2010: today's auto industry news

Wed, 30 Jun 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

Wednesday 30 June 2010
• Tesla shares have rocketed 40% on their first day of trading; the company went public this week with the first IPO of an American car company since Ford in the 1950s (BBC News)
• GM may sell off its interests in finance arm GMAC and parts supplier Delphi as it seeks to write down its debts (Financial Times)
• A Federal judge has approved the $20m sale of a former GM plant in Wilmington to Fisker Automotive; Fisker hopes to build 100,000 cars a year once production hits a peak after launch in 2012. It is using a $529m government loan to fund its launch (Detroit News)

Tuesday 29 June 2010
• UK business secretary Vince Cable has warned that the car industry is no longer in an emergency – and cannot expect direct government support. He revealed that the new coalition government had not yet decided whether to continue with the £5000-per-car subsidy promised by the outgoing Labour government (Financial Times)
• Tesla's share offer launched this morning and has already raised $226 million. That's $40m more than anticipated. Tesla is the first US car maker to go public since Ford in 1956 (BBC News)
• Lotus is trying to lure ex-GM product chief Bob Lutz and former Rolls-Royce boss Tom Purves as advisors, reports ANE. The Norfolk sports car maker has a five-year turnaround plan underway (Automotive News Europe)
• Tata Motors will seek to raise as much as $1bn to expand operations and cut back debt accrued when it bought Jaguar Land Rover (Automotive News)

Monday 28 June 2010
• Alfa Romeo CEO Harald Wester says the Italian premium marque could top 500,000 sales a year within four years. 'In the past you have heard several times Alfa promising such growth figures, but this time we have the right conditions, the right products and the right synergies to get there' (Automotive News Europe)
• Tesla's IPO kicks off tomorrow. It has lost $290 million since launch in 2003, yet its business plan hopes to be in profit from around 2012 (Detroit News)
• Dodge is planning to make its minivans more 'manly', according to the Wall Street Jounal. While Chryslers will continue to offer more practical wares, the Dodge MPVs and suchlike will become more edgy, it reports (via Autoblog)

Friday 25 June 2010
• Volkswagen of America is holding talks with CEO Stefan Jacoby, after he was linked to the chief exec job at Volvo. Two execs have temporarily taken over the day-to-day running of VW Stateside (Automotive News)
• Piecing together the jigsaw, it sounds like Jacoby could jump to Volvo; Volvo's CEO Stephen Odell is tipped to replace John Fleming as CEO of Ford of Europe
• Lamborghini has built its 10,000th Gallardo – a yellow car, fittingly bound for China (Lamborghini)
• ACEA, the European car makers' association, has finally agreed a joint spec for how electric cars can plug into the mains to recharge. It's not quite a final deal to standardise plugs globally, but ACEA hopes the European spec may be adopted elsewhere too (ACEA)
• Rolls-Royce has opened its eighth showroom China. The latest dealership is in Ningbo, East China (Rolls-Royce)

Thursday 24 June 2010
• Pirelli's CEO Marco Tronchetti is today fielding questions about the tyre manufacturer's entry into F1. It's signed up this week to compete from 2011 to 2013 (Pirelli)
• Volkswagen is said to want to appoint Porsche R&D chief Wolfgang Durheimer as the new CEO of Bentley on Franz-Josef Paefgen's retirement next year (Automotive News Europe)
• VW's 1.4-litre TSI Twincharger engine has won the International Engine of the Year award for the second consecutive year; Fiat's 1.4-litre MultiAir turbo engine was voted the most exciting newcomer of the year at the motor Oscars (Engine Technology International)
• Lotus Engineering has struck a deal with Spain's Fagor Ederlan, part of the world's biggest cooperative group, to develop and produce its range extending hybrid technology. It means that Lotus's 1.2-litre range extender could appear in a variety of new cars in the coming years (Group Lotus)
• Saab is still pushing ahead with its proposed new 92 Mini rival, says Spyker CEO Victor Muller. It hopes to have a partner in place this year (Automotive News Europe)
• Lexus's chief test driver has been killed in an accident on public roads near the Nurburgring while testing the LF-A, sources report (Automotive News)

Wednesday 23 June 2010
• Renault and Nissan chief exec Carlos Ghosn took home Y890 million ($9.8m) last year, new figures reveal. The Brazilian car boss is now the best paid executive of any Japanese firm, reports the FT (Financial Times)
• GM Europe boss Nick Reilly says Opel and Vauxhall 'have a shot' of becoming profitable in 2011 (Automotive News)
• Ford is prepared to lose market share in Europe, as it focuses on profitable business ahead of outright market share, European CEO John Fleming has said. The ending of scrappage schemes has skewed the market, he said (Automotive News Europe)

Tuesday 22 June 2010
• Proton says it is in talks with an Indian partner to discuss building cars in India within two years (BBC News)
• Shanghai Automotive has opened its new design centre at Longbridge, UK – the former home of MG Rover. It's spent £3m on the design studio and £1.7m on an engine test centre. It marks the second wave of the MG rebirth; the MG6 will be finalised at Longbridge, and a new MG3 hatch is pencilled in for a late 2010 debut (Automotive News Europe)
• Audi says it is increasing production of the new A1 and A8 to meet demand. CFO Axel Strotbek said the company was enjoying 'above average growth' as global markets bounced back post recession (Automotive News Europe)

Monday 21 June 2010
• Saab has appointed former Pininfarina and Bertone designer Jason Castriota as new design director. He replaces Brit Simon Padian and will be responsible for the next generation of Saabs – which the bosses have already told CAR they want to be 'more Saab'  (Saab)
• Lotus says it's 100 days until it makes a major announcement at Paris; we're expecting a concept car and a new five-year business plan, spelling out the prospects for a new Esprit and other model news (Lotus)

Friday 18 June 2010
• Euro NCAP today appointed a new president and chairman. Professor Andre Seeck, head of the German Federal Highway Research Institute succeeds Prof Claes Tingvall of Sweden (Euro NCAP)
• Porsche has come top in the American JD Power Study on new car quality. The 911 was the first-placed car in the sports car category and second overall; the Panamera was third in the luxury car category (Porsche)
• Detroit's big three have fewer defects than their foreign rivals for the first time in a quarter century, according to the annual JD Power survey. GM, Ford and Chrysler scored an average of 108 problems per 100 vehicles – just below the 109 glitches reported on Asian and European models. Ten years ago, Detroit averaged 164 defects per 100 (Financial Times)
• Staff at one of Toyota's Chinese parts suppliers have walked out, but production at Toyota factories has not yet been affected, the company said (BBC News)

Thursday 17 June 2010
• Russia's biggest car maker Avtovaz reports its losses have doubled in 2009. It lost 49.2bn roubles (£1.1bn) last year, as revenues slumped 45% but said it hopes to return to profit this year since the Russian scrappage scheme launched in March and with an impending budget car built with know-how from part-owner Renault (BBC News)
• Renault-Nissan wants to win 10% of the car market in China and US, chief exec Carlos Ghosn said in an interview (Automotive News Europe)
• Jaguar is about to sell the 25,000th XF in the UK. To celebrate, it's giving away a car in support of the NSPCC children's charity (Jaguar)

Wednesday 16 June 2010
• Tesla hopes to raise $178 million in a stock offering at the end of June; it will sell 11.1m shares priced between $14 and $16 each, according to filngs with government securities agencies (Automotive News)
• GM has announced it will fund Opel/Vauxhall's restructuring itself – it has withdrawn its request for state aid from European governments. It had asked for €1.1bn in loan guarantees (Automotive News Europe)
• GM Europe president Nick Reilly said it was 'disappointing'. 'We cannot afford to have uncertain funding plans and new time-consuming complex negotiations at this time when we need to keep investing i new products and technologies. We these new products and the impact of restructuring, we expect to return to profitability shortly' (BBC News)
• McLaren says that Europe will snap up at least half of the new MP4-12C supercars that go on sale next year. In an interview, MD Antony Sheriff predicted the market for supercars will bounce back around 35% this year after the recessionary slump (Automotive News Europe)
• The VW Jetta unveiled yesterday is the first part of Volkswagen's US assault; the Germans enjoyed just a 2.3% market share last year and they hope that the new US-built Jetta will boost its plan to become the world's biggest car maker by 2018 (Detroit News)
• The strikes in Honda's Chinese car factories went largely unnoticed in China. The FT reports how the government banned local reporting of the industrial action at Honda Lock; although overseas outlets such as CAR have reported the unrest, in China many locals are unaware of the walk-out (Financial Times)

Tuesday 15 June 2010
• McLaren confirms three dealers for its new MP4-12C: Rybrook Holdings in Birmingham, Jardine Motors Group in London and Sytner Group in Manchester will be the UK's first McLaren showrooms. It's already got '2500 expressions of interest' (McLaren Automotive)
• Tata Motors posted a rise in sales in May 2010 to 79,819 vehicles; Jaguar and Land Rover sales rose 72% to 19,053 last month, but that's up on a disastrous May 2009 (Automotive News Europe)
• Daimler has big plans for its small cars, reports the FT. CEO Dieter Zetsche told the newspaper that its partnership with Renault-Nissan will allow it to leapfrog BMW in profitability and revenues (Financial Times)

Monday 14 June 2010
• Carlos Ghosn says Renault will repay around €500m of the €3bn it borrowed from the French Government by the end of this year. Renault has until 2014 to clear the debt (Renault)
• Toyota is counting on its new European boss Didier Leroy to pull the company out of a sales slump attributed to the well-publicised recall problems
• Lincoln-Mercury dealers in the US fear closure following Ford’s announcement that the Mercury brand will die later this year. Posh Lincolns don’t sell in sufficient quantities to keep a business busy so most dealers are looking to branch out into other brands

Friday 11 June 2010 
• Nissan has nearly 20,000 preorders for the Nissan Leaf. Japanese-built cars go on sale in Europe, the US and Japan later this year; production at the Sunderland plant doesn’t begin until 2013
• Smart is launching a trial of its electric city cars in the US. Meanwhile parent company Daimler reckons Mercedes sales will climb 7% this year thanks to strong demand from the Chinese market
• Eight UK Honda dealers have signed a deal to distribute Mugen tuning parts including brakes, wheels suspension packs and bodykits

Thursday 10 June 2010
• Dominique Thormann has been named as chief financial officer of the Renault Group, replacing Thierry Moulonguet from 1 July. Thormann's new position means he becomes a member of the executive committee, and will report directly to chairman Carlos Ghosn (Renault)

Wednesday 9 June 2010
• Berlin is widely expected to reject GM's plea for loan guarantees to support its restructuring of Opel and Vauxhall, reports the FT. If accurate, the decision will leave GM with a €600m funding gap in its €3.7bn turnaround plan in Europe (Financial Times)
• Mercedes outsold Audi last month for the first time in 2010, sales figures reveal. BMW is the number one premium brand globally, but the race for second spot is close. Merc was helped by a record growth in China (Automotive News Europe)
• Honda production has been suspended at two of its Chinese factories after a further wave of strikes. It's the second time in two weeks that the dispute over pay at a local supplier has struck production (BBC News)
• GM is recalling 1.5m vehicles because of a risk of fire in certain Buicks, Cadillacs and Chevrolets, mostly in the US (BBC News)

Tuesday 8 June 2010
• Renault and Nissan have submitted a letter of intent to buy South Korean maker Ssangyong. It's languished in bankruptcy protection since spring 2009 and has received seven bids so far (Automotive News Europe)
• General Motors is issuing its 12 top executives shares worth $25 million; CEO Ed Whitacre plans for GM shares to be back on the market by the fourth quarter of 2010 (Automotive News)
• Meanwhile, GM is eagerly awaiting the decision from the German government over how much state aid it will pump into Opel. GM has requested $1.2bn in loan guarantees but many in Detroit fear the reality could be different (Detroit News)

Monday 7 June 2010
• Toyota has celebrated the production of 3m vehicles in the UK by planting a commemorative tree (Automotive World, subscription required)
• Daimler has reported sales in the month of May are up 14% versus the same period in 2009. The hike is apparently due to an increase in Mercedes-Benz deliveries to China and the USA (Wall Street Journal)
• A 17-strong team from the Japanese Electric Vehicle Club has driven its own modified Daihatsu Mira EV over 1000km on a single charge. The club's Mira EV, which has 8,320 lithium-ion batteries, managed 1003km (623 miles) and the team is now asking the Guinness World Record team to recognise their efforts (Gizmag)

Thursday 3 June 2010
• Ford has confirmed it will axe its Mercury brand after 71 years; instead Lincoln will be the focus of Ford's luxury ambitions (Financial Times)
• Spyker will sell its supercars in certain Saab dealerships, CEO Victor Muller said in an interview. It will treble the number of outlets from 35 to 60 this year, and then to around 90 by 2011 (Automotive News)
• Lexus has reported a 31% sales jump in May, stretching its lead over Mercedes in the US (Automotive News Europe)
• Mercedes UK has appointed Gary Savage as managing director. He will succeed Dermot Kelly, who retires at the end of June (Mercedes-Benz)

Wednesday 2 June 2010
• In a bid to offset any damage caused by the recent recalls, Toyota has announced all its new cars sold in the UK from 1 June 2010 will come with a five-year warranty as standard (Toyota)
• Porsche has extended the warranty on all Approved Used Porsches – the scheme will now cover pre-owned cars for two years (Porsche)
• The actual Aston Martin used in the Goldfinger and Thunderball films is to be auctioned by RM Auctions on 27 October 2010. It’s the first time the car has been offered for sale, and it’s expected to sold for in excess of $5 million (RM Auctions)

Tuesday 1 June 2010
•  Jaguar-Land Rover chief executive Carl-Peter Forster has announced that the company will manufacturer at least two models in China. ‘We'll take one to two years to set it up, but first we will need a partner,’ said Forster in an interview (BBC)
•  Spyker Cars N.V.has completed its purchase of Saab Great Britain Ltd, the UK distributor of Saab. Saab GB will launch the new 9-5 in UK dealerships on 8 July 2010, and is expected to move to new premises in August (Spyker)
•  Renault UK has appointed a new marketing manager. Thierry Sybord leaves his post as MD of Renault Netherlands to take up the position in the UK, after current MD Roland Bouchara was promoted to vice president of sales in Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK (Renault)


By Tim Pollard and Ben Pulman