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News watch July 2011: today's auto industry news

Fri, 29 Jul 2011

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

Friday 29 July
• The BBC and Sky have a agreed a TV deal for F1, which will see the Beeb only broadcast half of all Grand Prix races from the 2012 season (BBC) 
• Aston Martin Racing will revert to its older, V12-powered DBR1-2 LMP1 racer for the remainder of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC) while the new straight six-powered AMR-One 'continues to undergo review' (Aston Martin Racing)
• Dr Heinz-Jakob Neußer is to take charge of drivetrain development at VW from Volkswagen 1 October 1 2011. His predecessor Dr Jens Hadler is leaving at his own request, and Dr Rüdiger Szengel is to become deputy head of VW's drivetrain development and retain his role as head of petrol engine development (Volkswagen)

Thursday 28 July
• Porsche today dug the first soil at its €150m extension of the Weissach R&D base. It is building a new design studio, high-tech wind tunnel and an electronics integration centre (Porsche)
• Renault's first-half profits fell 19%, analysts blaming an ageing product line-up, supply problems and rising raw materials cost. Operating profit fell to €630m (Automotive News Europe)
• Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn said: 'The financial results were impacted by external events, including supply constraints. The supply problems will subside in the second half'
• Ferrari has posted strong first-half results for 2011, with revenues up 19%, profits up by 24% and car deliveries by 12%. Maranello announced net profits of €92m and said China was now its second biggest market (Ferrari)
• US president Barack Obama will announce new 2017-2025 corporate average fuel economy standards this Friday. White House press secretary Jay Carney said the government had asked car makers to endorse a plan to average 54.5mpg by 2025 (Automotive News)
• Oil giant Shell today reports a 77% jump in second-quarter profits. It made $8bn, up from $4.5bn in the same quarter 2010 - thanks to higher energy prices (BBC News)
• Daimler projects slower growth than BMW, forecasting 50,000 extra sales in 2011. It now expects to sell 1.35m vehicles this year. Second-quarter earnings have risen 23% to €2.58bn (Automotive News Europe)

Wednesday 27 July
• Nissan Motor Co today announced a €1.28 billion operating profit in the first quarter of the 2011 tax year. CEO Carlos Ghosn said the rapid recovery after the tsunami was a reflection of Nissan's speed to change. Nissan sold 1,056,000 vehicles in the first quarter, up 11% on the same period in 2010 (Nissan)
• Fiat expects to raise its 2011 targets for earnings and revenues in the wake of consolidation with Chrysler. Turin forecast 2011 income before interest, tax and one-off costs of around €2.1 billion (Automotive News Europe) 
• It's a sign of a renewed confidence at Fiat. It announced €1.24bn profits in the second quarter of 2011, compared with a loss of €17m last year. 'We have improved our operating performance,' said CEO Sergio Marchionne. 'More importantly, it is the first time we are seeing the impact of Chrysler in the consolidated accounts of Fiat (BBC News)
• Ford's Q2 profits slipped 8% in 2011, the Blue Oval has announced. Net profits fell to $2.4bn (Automotive News)
• At least five car makers are expected to vote for a big rise in corporate mpg rules in the US. The American government plans to mandate an average fuel efficiency of 54.5mpg by 2025 (Detroit News) 

Tuesday 26 July
• Shares in BMW rose to a record high yesterday on rumours that the Quandt family may raise its stake in the Munich car maker to more than 50%. Shares went up 1.4% to €72.59 (Automotive News Europe)
• Fiat’s parent company reports a big jump in profits to €239 million in the second quarter of 2011 – up 84% on the previous year. It said sales of farm and construction equipment bolstered sales (BBC News)
• Oil giant BP has made a $5.3 billion profit in the quarter to 30 June, as it reaped the benefits of higher oil prices. In the same quarter last year it lost $17bn as it paid to clear up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (BBC News)
• Michigan is in shock after it was revealed then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a dozen members of Congress spent about $35,000 on a trip to the 2010 NAIAS Detroit auto show. New documents revealed the expense on Monday (Detroit News)
• Sweden’s debt enforcement agency is to collect debts from eight Saab creditors, forcing the line to stop again. Creditors include Kongsberg Automotive AB, the company that makes Saab’s seats (Automotive News Europe)

Friday 22 July
• Think Global AS has been bought by a Russian businessman. Boris Zingarevich, who's based in St Petersburg, has been approved a court-appointed trustee to buy the failed electric car business (Think)
• Toyota has reported its first-half results, and production in the first six months of 2011 dropped 38% while sales plummeted 41%. It blamed a shortage of parts after the March tsunami and promised it would build an extra 350,000 vehicles from October 2011 to March 2012 to make up (BBC News)
• Fiat is likely to name a single worldwide management board to run both Fiat and Chrysler, reports ANE. It reports that CEO Sergio Marchionne will name 25 executives to run both car makers (Automotive News Europe)

Friday 22 July
• Luc Donckerwolke, ex-Lamborghini design boss and currently director of design at Seat, will be promoted to head of advanced design at the VW Group from 1 August. He will be succeeded at Seat by Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos, currently design director at Renault Samsung Motors (Volkswagen) 
• Renault is in talks with Russian car maker Avtovaz with a view to taking a 51% stake in the company, alongside partner Nissan (Automotive News)
• Renault plans to build a third production plant in Russia in partnership with its Japanese ally Nissan and its local affiliate Avtovaz, according to the Russian carmaker's chief executive (Financial Times)
• Fiat is now Chrysler’s major shareholder having increased its holding from 46% to 53.5%, and is on track to hold 58.5% by the end of the year (Automotive News)
• Mercedes plans to pump more than $2bn into its Alabama plant in a bid to battle BMW for the title of best-selling luxury brand in the US. The plant currently builds the R-class crossover and the G-class SUV, and will soon have the capacity to build the new C-class (Automotive News)
• Saab has once again extended its production stoppage, at least to the end of August, as it struggles to secure the necessary parts from suppliers (Automotive News)

Thursday 21 July
• Famed Italian design hosue Zagato has confirmed that it's had a joint venture with Coventry-based CPP (which owns supercar maker Spyker and off-road specialist Bowler) since July 2010. Registered in Italy as CPP Milan (the Milan Design Centre operates under the licence of the brand Zagato), the pair's latest project has been Aston's V12 Zagato (Zagato)
• Jarno Trulli has been dropped by Team Lotus for this weekend's German GP; he will be replaced by reserve driver Karun Chandhok. Trulli will be back in his Team Lotus car for the Hungarian GP (BBC Sport) 
• Audi CEO Rupert Stadler is reported to favour his company building its own factory in Mexico to produce the Q5 SUV, but VW bosses want its profitable premium arm to utilise its new facility in Tennessee, where the US-spec Passat is built (Automotive News Europe)
• GM and ABB want use the Chevrolet Volt's batteries after the car's useful life. The plan is for them to be used to store back-up power, which could sold during peak demand period or shortages (Detroit Free Press) 

Wednesday 20 July
• Lotus says it could still create up to 1200 new jobs at its factory in Norfolk, despite losing a £27.5m bid for government money (BBC)
• The Caterham Seven will be sold in China for the very first time after the company signed an exclusive deal with importer Courtenay Trading International (CTI). CTI hopes to appoint six retailers in China over the next year, and is targeting initial sales of 30-50 Sevens in the first 12 months of operations (Caterham)
• United Auto Workers (UAW) president Bob King, preparing to enter negotiations with GM, Ford and Chrysler next week, has said he will make no new concessions to the Big Three (Detroit Free Press)
• Russian car sales in 2011 are expected to rise between 20 and 40%, to between 2.1m and 2.5m units (Automotive News Europe)
• McLaren will open its first German showroom today, in Düsseldorf, while a second dealer in Hamburg will be up and running by this weekend. There will be a total of four German dealers for the new MP4-12C, and as with every McLaren showroom, each will display a real race car. The MP4/5 which took Alain Prost to a world championship in 1989 will be on display in Düsseldorf, and Ayrton Senna's MP4/6 (the car in which he won his third and final championship in 1991) will feature in the Hamburg showroom (McLaren)

Tuesday 19 July 2011
• Jaguar is planning to enter the Le Mans 24hrs with an LMP1 racer. The decision to mount a bid has been made, but no timeframe as been set (Autosport)
• Tata Motors, owner of Jaguar and Land Rover, is considering pooling engine development with JLR and its Tata car brand, with manufacturing facilities in both the UK and India (Financial Times)
• British firm Ricardo, which engineered the Veyron's seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, expect its profits for 2011 to be ahead of market expectations (Automotive News Europe) 
• The UAW (United Auto Workers), along with labour unions and environmental groups, has written to US President Barack Obama in support of 'strong' fuel economy targets for US vehicles, which they say would save consumers money at the pumps, create new jobs and strengthen the economy (Detroit Free Press)

Monday 18 July 2011
• Fiat has built its 2,000,000th Panda at its factory in Tychy, Poland (Fiat)
• Aston plans to open four new dealers in China over the next 12 months. Sales of the British brand's cars in China in 2010 were up 25% over the previous year (Aston Martin)
• Lamborghini has opened a new dealership in Macau, its 15th in China. Lamborghini sold 206 cars in China in 2010, up 150% over 2009, and deliveries in the first half of 2011 are up 60% over the same period in 2010 (Lamborghini)
• The relationship between Volkswagen and Suzuki is reported to have soured, after an executive at the Japanese automaker said the joint venture between the pair has made no progress. VW purchased a near-20% stake in Suzuki in December 2009 for $2.5bn (Automotive News Europe)

Friday 15 July 2011
• BMW has revealed a prototype electric bicycle, part of the fleet of 4000 vehicles it is supplying to the 2012 Olympic Games. BMW will also supply motorcycles, hybrid and electric cars for the games (Financial Times)
• Skoda to build a fifth model in China to strengthen its presence in the Chinese market. Production of the new compact saloon is due to start in 2013 (Automotive news)
• Fiat and Chrysler will be run by one management team as part of an ongoing streamlining and cost reduction strategy. Boss Sergio Marchionne says that no date has been set for the merger, but it is unlikely to take place this year (Automotive news)
• Since going on sale in March the new Ford Focus has sold 68,600 units in Europe, helping push half year sales in European markets up by 1.6% year-on-year. Overall Ford’s half-year sales totalled 836,000 units, including the new Focus C-Max’s record sales of 10,200 units (Automotive news)

• VW has set a new sales record with a total of 4.09million vehicles delivered worldwide in the first half of this year (VW)

Thursday 14 July 2011
• Skoda has announced a 20% global sales increase for the first half of the year, with 454,700 cars sold. In the UK 24,000 Skodas were sold in the same period, putting the company on course for its most successful year ever (Skoda)
• BMW and VW face an EU probe over proposed state funding to help them produce cars in the German state of Saxony. The proposed grants – €46m to BMW, to subsidise production of two electric models in Leipzig, and €83.7m to VW for changes to its Zwickau plant – may violate rules restricting state aid affecting competition in the 27-nation EU. (Business week)
• America’s first all-electric car-sharing fleet will be launched in San Diego this autumn. Car-2-go announced today that it will operate a fleet of 300 electric Smart Fortwos across the city. You walk up to the empty vehicle, use your membership pass and drive to wherever you wish to go. Charges are by the minute
Wednesday 13 July 2011
• BMW is on target to sell 1.6milllion vehicles by the end of 2011, after an unexpected 19.7% rise in the first six months of this year resulted in 833,366 units sold (Automotive News)
• Toyota sales in Europe rose by 4.6% in the first half of the year, to 425,639 units, despite major delivery and supply problems caused by the Japanese Tsunami back in March. According to Toyota, output in Europe resumed at full capacity at the beginning of June, and the company plans to ship an extra 5000 units to Europe in July to meet the backlog of orders caused by disruption in Japan (Automotive News)

Tuesday 12 July 2011
• Volkswagen's passenger car division delivered 2.5 million units during the first six months of 2011, up 11.8% on the 2.26m from the same period in 2010. VW's June sales were also up 9.8% over June 2010, to 438,500 units (VW)
• GM will reportedly offer a diesel-powered Cruze for sale in the USA by 2013, to help it meet more-stringent government gas mileage requirements. Last month the Cruze was the best-selling passenger cars in the US (Detroit Free Press)
• Ford has become the first automaker to back a bill that would ban US motorists from using mobile phones while driving (Detroit Free Press)
• Despite losing $1.6bn in 2010, and posting a loss in the first quarter of 2011, sources at Vauxhall/Opel have hinted that GM's European arm will make a 'substantial three-digit-million euro profit' in 2012 (Automotive News Europe)

Monday 11 July 2011
• Vauxhall and sister brand Opel have signed an agreement with rental car company Europcar, which will see the Ampera range-extender offered for hire in Europe by the end of 2011. Europcar's rental outlets in Germany will be first, while the UK will follow in early 2012 (Vauxhall)
• Renault's global sales were up just 0.4% in the first six months of 2011, after European sales between January and June slumped 9.6% compared to the same period in 2010 (BBC)
• A lawsuit has been filed against Ford by a small technology company, Eagle Harbour Holdings, which claims the Blue Oval infringed on seven of its patents for the technology behind Sync (Automotive News)
• Toyota believes sales of its Prius in 2011 will top those of 2010, despite the March earthquake in Japan leading to a 61% drop in US deliveries in June of this year. Prior to the earthquake Toyota had hoped to beat the 2007 sales record of 181,221 units, but it still hopes to exceed 2010's deliveries of 140,928 cars (Automotive News)
• Audi will build a vehicle assembly plant in North America, and is also considering an additional engine and transmission factory (Automotive News) 

Friday 8 July 2011
• Saab says it hopes to restart production at Trollhattan on 9 August after its leasback property deal was approved by the European Investment Bank (Automotive News Europe)
• Audi is adding 2100 new jobs at its Hungary plant which builds the TT sports cars. It currently employs 6500 staff at the Gyor factory (Automotive News Europe)
• Ford says its pilot social media programmes are performing well. It unveiled the Explorer on Facebook, rather than at a motor show and the Blue Oval says it went from 7000 visits on its Explorer website to more than half a million (Detroit News)
• Toyota forecasts that it will sell more Prius models in 2011 than last year – despite the delays caused by the March earthquake. It is rushing to replenish stock after Prius deliveries in the US fell by 61% (Bloomberg)

Thursday 7 July 2011
• Vauxhall and Opel sales rose 8.2% in the first half of the year, GM Europe said. Sales in Germany rose 17% to 138,000 vehicles (Automotive News Europe)
• Aston Martin will start importing cars into the world's largest automarket, China. A decade ago, Aston sold 90% of its products in the UK, but that has now been weaned back to 30% (Financial Times)
• Suzuki plan to spend 40 billion yen (£31k) to relocate further inland off the coast of Japan (Makinohara to Hamamatsu), in an attempt to avoid damage from possible tsunamis (Automotive news)
• Mitsubishi has lowered the price of a version of its i-Miev electric car in Japan from 3.98m Yen (£30,741) to 2m Yen (£15,445). Currently leading the electric car market, Mitsubishi has sold 10,000 i-Miev vehicles worldwide, but Nissan are hot on their heels having already sold 8500 of the Leaf EV since December 2010 Automotive news) 

Wednesday 6 July 2011
• Silverstone has announced this weekend's British Grand Prix has sold out. The Sunday is full, but tickets are still available for practice and qualifying on Friday and Saturday (Silverstone)
• Ford has pulled all advertising from the News of the World over the ongoing phone tapping scandal. This week it emerged that the British newspaper had allegedly accessed voicemails of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler (Automotive News)
• UK new car sales slipped 6% in June 2011 to 183,125 registrations. The SMMT predicts 1.93 million sales for the year (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders)
• GM has announced projects totalling $2bn to expand and modernise 17 facilities in eight states of the US (Financial Times)
• Toyota plans to spend $500m plus to upgrades its two plants in Ontario (Financial Times)
• Not to be outdone, Ford is planning to spend $600m to overhaul a plant in Kentucky to produce a new model of its Escape sports utility vehicle (Financial Times)
• GM sales in China rise 10% in June, selling 193,878 units after a previous two-month decline. Buick and Chevrolet passenger cars are the favourite GM products in China (Automotive news China) 

Tuesday 5 July 2011
• New car sales in Germany rose 10% in June, and the trade association VDIK said it expected further growth in the second half (Automotive News Europe)
• Owners have filed a lawsuit against GM, claiming the Impala had design faults that made tyres wear faster than acceptable. The writ claims GM fixed the glitch for police car versions, but not 400,000 other drivers of the 2007-08 Impala (Detroit News)
• Saab has been given the green light by the European Investment Bank to sell part of its factory site to real-estate investors. Saab's parent company, Swedish Automobile NV, has struck a €28m deal to sell 50.1% of its property to Hemfosa Fastigheter to raise much needed cash (Automotive News)
• Nissan has started testing its NV200 van-based electric cars (Nissan)
• State-owned car makers in China are recruiting overseas engineers heavily, as Beijin steps up its plan to bolster the domestic car industry (Financial Times)

Monday 4 July 2011
• Land Rover's Halewood plant will today build its first production Evoque at 3.00pm. The company reports 17,000 advance orders (Land Rover)
• Chevrolet will price its Volt range-extender hybrid at £28,545 in the UK, it confirmed at the 2011 Goodwood Festival of Speed. That includes the Government's £5000 subsidy for EVs (Chevrolet)
• BMW's US sales rose 13% in June to extend its lead as America's best selling premium brand this year. BMW sold 21,637 vehicles, pipping Mercedes which registered 20,652 cars. Lexus sales slumped 38% to 10,773 as earthquake disruption continued (Automotive News Europe)
• Volkswagen has secured its slot as Europe's biggest truck maker after it bought a 56% stake in MAN. Originally, VW had sought 40% of its stock, but more shareholders than expected voted for the deal (Automotive News Europe)
• Citroen confirms it has taken more than 100,000 orders for its DS3 (Citroen)
• Ford of Britain has appointed a new managing director. Mark Overden replaces Nigel Sharp, who retires after 39 years with the Blue Oval in the UK (Ford)
• Saab's 28 million euro deal to sell their property to a consortium of investors has been approved by the European Investment Bank.  (Autonews)

Friday 1 July 2011
• Bentley sales worldwide have jumped 20% in the first half of the year. It delivered 2978 cars from January to June 2011 - the best start to the year since 2008 (Bentley)
• Nick Reilly, chairman of Opel Vauxhall, vows the restructuring of GM Europe is ahead of schedule. But ANE reports that he failed to quash rumours that the GM mothership in Detroit plans to spin off its European arm - saying GM 'does not comment on speculation' (Automotive News Europe)
• New car sales in France have fallen for the third consecutive month. Buyers snapped up 210,236 new vehicles, down 13% on last June - when the scrappage incentives were boosting sales (Automotive News Europe)
• Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn received $11.46 million in renumeration last year, including salary and stock options. His income rose 10% after Nissan captured a record market share - and his salary is the highest of any Japanese car maker, according to Bloomberg (Detroit News)
• Volkswagen has won approval to build two new factories in China. The plants in Foshan and Yizheng will assemble up to 300,000 vehicles a year, taking VW's Chinese factory count to 11 (Automotive News Europe)

By Tim Pollard, Ben Pulman and Sarah-Jayne Harrison