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News watch June 2012: today's auto industry news

Fri, 29 Jun 2012

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 29 June 2012
• As predicted, BMW and Toyota today announced the next stage of their cooperation to jointly develop powertrains, lightweight technologies, fuel-cells and future platforms (BMW and Toyota)
• Today's announcement follows the initial agreement signed in December 2011; in March 2012, BMW and Toyota signed a binding agreement to work together on lithium-ion battery research and for Munich to supply Toyota with diesel engines from 2014 
• Now Toyota and BMW have signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on the electrification of car powertrains, research into lightweight technologies, develop fuel-cells and to consider future vehicle architectures – 'for a sports car, for example'
• Renault will cut 300 jobs at its Flins plant near Paris, it announced today. The factory builds the Clio and is preparing for the new Zoe ZE too (Automotive News Europe)
• Ford has warned its pre-tax operating profit in the second quarter will be 'substantially lower' than before. It will, however, be profitable in the three months ending 30 June - but losses in Europe, South America and Asia have dragged the results down (Bloomberg)
• Porsche has built its 500,000th car at its Leipzig factory, which opened 10 years ago. The anniversary car was a white Cayenne V8, which will be converted and donated to the Leipzig fire brigade (Porsche)
• BMW is in talks to build cars at Mitsubishi's NedCar factory in Holland, a spokesman has confirmed. Mitsu earlier revealed it would not build any cars after the Colt and Outlander run out at the end of 2012 - but Mini has been touted as a possible replacement, as BMW seeks to expand the capacity at flat-out Oxford (Automotive News Europe)

Thursday 28 June 2012
• BMW and Toyota are holding a joint press conference on Friday, likely to confirm a further partnership to share knowledge on hybrids and fuel-cells
• BMW has announced they are no longer discussing fuel cell technology sharing with General Motors. Both marques will continue to work together, bloomberg reports, but on matters aside from alternative fuel sources (Automotive News Europe)
• Chrysler reports that sales in June are running as slow as they were in May - the slowest month of US car sales in 2012, reports Bloomberg. Chrysler and Ford both say that the annual US sales figure currently stands at around 13.8 million (Bloomberg)
• The Chinese-Japanese owned investment group who bought Saab from its administrators earlier in June is now fighting for the right to be able to use the Saab name. National Electric Vheicle Sweden, which plans to build electric cars on the old 9-3 platform, did not acquire the rights to the Saab name and badge logo in the original deal, worth an estimated $250million (Automotive News Europe)
• In an effort to save Mitsubishi's NedCar plant in Holland, BMW has begun talks to build the Mini at the Japanese maker's factory, which is currently responsible for the Colt supermini and Outlander SUV. Currently Oxford, UK is the home of all Mini production, save for the Austrian-built Countryman crossover (Automotive News Europe)

Wednesday 27 June 2012
• Rolls-Royce has appointed Giles Taylor as design director at Goodwood; he succeeds Ian Cameron, who's headed up the design team since 1999. Taylor is 44 and has worked at Jaguar in previous roles (Rolls-Royce)
• Opel is dismissing reports in the German media that the Russelsheim factory in Germany could build Peugeots and Citroens after the PSA-GM partnership was announced. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that the C5 and 508 could be built at the under-used Opel plant (Automotive News Europe)
• The first of five outstanding court cases taking Porsche to task over its aborted takeover of VW is due to be heard in Germany today. Bloomberg reports the plaintiffs are demanding a total of $5 billion in damages from Porsche SE (Bloomberg)
• Bentley has launched a new dealership in the Czech capital Prague; sales for the luxury brand in the republic rose 23% in 2011 (Bentley Motors) 
• Lotus, the featured mark at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this weekend, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Elan at the event in West Sussex (Lotus)

Tuesday 26 June 2012
• Ferrari has posted first quarter 2012 profits of €42.1million, up 17.2% on the same period last year. Even so, boss Luca de Montezemolo was satisfied with the €600million profit recorded during 2011, and confirmed the company has no plans for a share listing (Automotive News Europe)
• The planned 3p hike in UK fuel duty has been postponed friom August 2012 until January 2013 at the earliest, due to pressure from consumer motoring groups. The Chancellor of the Exhechequer argued the freeze would fuel economic recovery - despite previously announcing in the 2012 Budget that fuel price increases were neccessary to cut the UK economic deficit (BBC News)
• Nissan's Carlon Ghosn has revealed to shareholders he was paid a salary and bonus of 987 million yen ($12.5 million) for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. The deal means Ghosn remains Japan's highest paid CEO, as he steers Nissan through post-tsunami and Eurozone difficulties  (Automotive News Europe)

Monday 25 June 2012
• Toyota is to supply BMW with hybrid know-how and hydrogen fuel-cell tech, reports ANE. An announcement is due this week (Automotive News Europe)
• General Motors CEO Dan Akerson says that rising sales in Russia should offset a weak performance in Europe. It is more than doubling capacity at its plant in St Petersburg (Bloomberg)
• Porsche SE is holding its annual general meeting today and CEO Martin Winterkorn is to say that VW and Porsche are forging ahead integrating their two businesses. Porsche SE is the holding company of Porsche and it announced a profit after tax in the 2011 financial year of €59 million. It will also lift its dividend to 76 cents per share (Porsche)
• But ANE reports that the VW-Porsche merger is taking longer than hoped for. It is being plagued by a series of unresolved tax and legal issues. The two companies are forging ahead, regardless - and the new Boxster is being built at a VW factory in Osnabrueck, for instance (Automotive News Europe)
• Toyota's factory in France will make the Yaris bound for North America. It had previously been sourced from Japan, but will shift in May 2013 (Automotive News Europe)

Friday 22 June 2012
• Nissan chief exec Carlos Ghosn, 58, may step down before the mid-term business plan starts in around five years; spokesman Koji Okuda said there was a succession plan in place (Automotive News Europe)
• Meanwhile, Nissan has received one million endorsements for electric cars in its Big Turn On online campaign. It had planned to get the backing in 100 days, but passed it 15 days early. The city with the most 'turn-ons' will now win 30 quick chargers by Nissan (Nissan)
• Fisker is expanding its European dealer network. Guarnieri will market vehicles in Spain, Portugal and Morocco, it announced today (Fisker)
• Volvo is in talks with manufacturers to find a partner who can help it build cars in North America. 'In the medium term, five to six years, we need to find a proper solution in North America,' said Volvo chief Stefan Jacoby. 'Building a plant ourselves is maybe more unlikely. I'm looking for a partner that could help us utilise a North American plant' (Automotive News Europe)
• Skoda has unveiled a plan for a complete overhaul of its museum in Mladá Boleslav. The 1800sq m facility will display 45 cars and bikes once finished (Skoda)

Thursday 21 June 2012
• PSA Peugeot Citroen's biggest shareholder is keen for a management change - and a new CEO to replace Philippe Varin, according to reports in the French press. The Peugeot family is unhappy with the group's slump in sales and the GM alliance. The Peugeot family controls 38% of the voting rights (Automotive News Europe)
• France should introduce punitive taxes on luxury cars, according to a policy document supported by the economy minister. La Tribune newspaper reports that it would boost sales of French-built cars, but any such move would surely be scrutinised by European competition authorities (Automotive News Europe)
• Tesla has delivered its first $95,400 Model S electric saloon cars in the US. Chief Elon Musk said that more than 10,000 people had placed a $5000 deposit for the model (Bloomberg)
• Land Rover and Bowler have struck a formal brand partnership agreement, cementing a decade-old relationship by which off-road specialist Bowler has turned Landies into rally raid vehicles (Land Rover)
• Ford has announced 15 new models will be launched in 2012 that are best-in-class for fuel efficiency. They will be powered by a mix of Ecoboost, TDCi diesel and Econetic technologies engines (Ford)
• Ferrari has raised €1.8 million in its online auction to raise money for the victims of Italy's recent earthquake. The 599XX which was auctioned alone raised €1.4 million (Ferrari)
• Ford staff in the UK will meet later this week to decide whether to hold more strikes; the Unite union is resisting plans to cut salaries for new staff and block access to the final-salary pension scheme (Automotive News Europe)
• GM has scored its best ever performance in the US JD Power new-car quality survey, reports Bloomberg. But Lexus again topped the survey for the second consecutive year (Bloomberg)

Wednesday 20 June 2012
• Rising sales of hybrid cars and tablet computers are pushing up the prices of lithium used in batteries, reports AN. It says prices have trebled since 2000 and the market is now worth $1 billion a year (Automotive News)
• McLaren plans to have eight dealers in China by 2014, as the British sports car brand seeks to rival Ferrari and Lamborghini's popularity in the fast-growing region (Automotive News Europe)
• Car thefts have fallen for the eighth year on the trot in the US, according to the National Insurance Crimbe Bureau. Figures for 2011 suggest thefts fell 3.3%, following from a 7.2% drop in 2010 - thanks to the greater security measures built into new cars (Bloomberg)

Tuesday 19 June 2012
• GM Europe has shuffled its designers: Mark Adams, the current head of Vauxhall Opel design in Europe, has been appointed executive director of global Cadillac and Buick design. He's replaced by David Lyon, who is currently working in the US as head of interior design (GM)
• Renault may add two upmarket brands, reports ANE. Chief operating officer Carlos Tavares said the company was reshaping its business to make it less dependent on European sales - with four brands, including Renault, Dacia, sporty Alpine and posh Initiale Paris. A decision on the latter two is due later in 2012 (Automotive News Europe) 
• The growth of the UK's automotive supply chain is being restricted by the lack of banking funds available to business, according to a new report by the Smith Institute, commissioned by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)
• Nissan has donated £31,732 to armed forces charities - a pound for every mile travelled by the 14 Nissan-powered cars competing at Le Mans (Nissan)
• PSA Peugeot Citroen may announce the closure of the Aulnay-sous-Bois factory in Paris on 25 July, according to town mayor Gerard Segura. It builds the C3 supermini, which is due for replacement in 2014 (Automotive News Europe)
• The organisers of the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power claim a record crowd at last weekend's event: more than 50,000 fans attended the motoring festival in the north-west of Britain (Cholmondeley Pageant of Power)

Monday 18 June 2012
• Unions warn that it could cost up to €1 billion to close GM's Bochum car factory in Germany. Opel has earmarked just €500 million to shutter Bochum, if the company decides to close the plant entirely, reports ANE (Automotive News Europe)
• Lexus is chasing the number one sales spot in the US luxury car market - and has increased incentives by a massive 54%, reports Bloomberg. Discounts on Lexus SUVs have leaped 60%, according to research by Autodata Corp. It compares with incentives growing by 11% at Mercedes and 7% at BMW in the US (Bloomberg)
• Bentley has set up a new sales company in Russia to boost the brand's sales in this fast-growing market. Russian sales of Bentleys rose by 45% in 2011 and the launch of Bentley Russia should see that increase further, according to Crewe (Bentley Motors)
• UK engineering specialist Ricardo has won a sub-contract to work on 100 MOD Foxhound vehicles for the British Army (Ricardo)
• Mazda has announced it will prepare a race-ready version of its SkyActiv-D diesel engines for the LMP2 prototype class for the 2013 Le Mans 24-hour race. It comes as Audi marks the first win for a hybrid car at La Sarthe (Mazda)
• Italian design powerhouse Leonardo Fioravanti, who penned such classics as the Ferrari Daytona and 288 GTO, has been hired by Chinese car maker Beijing Auto to give its cars a dash of style (Automotive News Europe) 

Friday 15 June 2012
• Fiat is cutting investments in Europe by €500 million in anticipation of a weak car market. CEO Sergio Marchionne said: 'The capital expenditure reduction is about half a billion euros from what we planned last year for 2012 in Europe' (Bloomberg) 
• Jeep is gunning for a huge increase in European sales - up from 23,745 last year to 125,000 by 2015, reports ANE. In the first four months of 2012 it is Europe's fastest-growing brand, with sales up 52% to 9807 (Automotive News Europe)
• ANE reports that growth will come from a new small SUV dubbed a baby Wrangler and due in mid 2014; the Cherokee will be redesigned in late 2013; and a single SUV will replace the Compass and Patriot 4x4s from late 2014 (Automotive News Europe)
• PSA Peugeot Citroen is looking to sell 'at least 50%' of its profitable Gefco trucking division as it seeks to raise funds as its sales stall, reports Bloomberg. Patrice Clos, union representative and head of Gefco’s works council, said: 'The chief executive told us that more than half of the shares would be sold' (Bloomberg)
• Rolls-Royce has appointed Henrik Wilhelmsmeyer as director for mainland China from 1 July 2012. He comes from parent company BMW, where he was head of dealer development in south China (Rolls-Royce)
• Hyundai is to lift output at its Czech factory by 20% in 2012 to 300,000 units in order to meet growing demand for its i30 range (Automotive News Europe)

Thursday 14 June 2012
• Car production in the UK continues to rise: in May 2012, British car factories produced 141,146 vehicles, up 42% year on year (BBC News)
• McLaren Automotive has entered its 21st new market - it's now selling supercars in Sweden through premium car dealer Autoropa in Stockholm. The MP4-12C will be available exclusively through the specialists to Nordic customers from today (McLaren)
• In recognition of efforts to reduce tailpipe emissions and carbon offset its operations, Jaguar Land Rover has won an environmental prize at the BITC (Business in The Community) awards in its West Midlands homeland (Jaguar Land Rover)
• The winning bidder has confirmed acquisition of Saab, following an agreed deal as reported by News Watch on Friday 8 June. National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB plans to make electric vehilces based on the defunct 9-3. The Chinese-Swedish consortium confirmed the business would remain based in Trollhattan, Sweden, with production due to begin in 2014 (Automotive News Europe)

Wednesday 13 June 2012
• Renault has confirmed the launch date for Dacia in the UK: 28 June. Prices will be announced on the same day, but Renault has confirmed warranties of up to seven years - if you pay extra to extend the standard three-year cover (Renault)
• Porsche sold more cars in May 2012 than ever before during the same period. So far during 2012, Porsche has delivered 56,472 new vehicles - buoyed by the arrival of new 911 and Boxster models. (Porsche)
• Ford's UK-designed 1.0-litre three-cylinder Ecoboost engine has been crowned International Engine of the Year for 2012. The engine will join the B-Max and C-Max ranges this year, after debuting in the Focus (Ford)
• Nissan and Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn has admitted he predicts 'three to four more years of stagnation' in the European car market. Ghosn also said a best case scenario for growth in the period was 'zero to oner per cent' (Automotive News Europe)
• Daimler has got the jump on rival BMW's i3 electric city car, with production of the Smart ForTwo EV beginning this week. The zero-emission microcar, which can run for 90 miles on once charge, is being built at Smart's French Hambach plant, fresh from a €200million tooling upgrade (Automotive News Europe)
• Reports suggest VW is mulling a stake in troubled US truck maker Navistar International. The move would allow VW to compete directly with US haulage market leaders Daimler and Volvo (Reuters)

Tuesday 12 June 2012
• Engines for BMW's flagship i8 hybrid sports car will be built exclusively at the Hams Hall plant near Birmingham, UK. The three-cylinder petrol units will be produced alongside motors for the X1, 1 and 3-series, and Mini (BMW)
• VW sales in the US and China during May 2012 rose 9% over the same period last year. The demand offset weaker performance in Europe after fears for the Eurozone (Automotive News Europe)
• Audi has big plans for the new A3 in the US. America will get a sedan-only bodystyle which Audi predicts will be its second most-popular Stateside car after the A4 when it goes on sale in 2014 (Automotive News Europe)
• Apple has announced several manufacturers will be integrating the iPhone's Siri voice control into their future models via an 'eyes free' interface. Audi, BMW, Honda, General Motors and Jaguar Land Rover are expected to adopt the system (Forbes) 

Monday 11 June 2012
• If the euro collapses, as is threatened, new car sales will bomb, warns Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne. He predicts sales would slump below 10 million vehicles - down from 13.1m last year (Automotive News Europe)
• Brit engineering outfit Ricardo has announced it's built the 1500th engine for the McLaren MP4-12C. Ricardo builds the M838T V8 for McLaren - and it's now at full capacity, making 45 engines a week from a single shift (Ricardo)
• Volkswagen's American boss Jonathan Browning is gunning for further sales increases, reports ANE. Sales jumped 23% to 443,840 in 2011 - and it's now aiming for 1 million sales across the group by 2018 (Automotive News Europe)
• After last week's good news about rising car registrations in May 2012, the UK now reports strong sales of buses and coaches. They rose nearly 120% last month (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders)

Friday 8 June 2012
• Ken Forbes has been appointed marketing director of Jaguar Cars UK (Jaguar)
• The UK's new car market grew 7.9% in May 2012, accoring to new SMMT figures. A total of 162,288 cars were registered - it's the biggest percentage increase for 23 months. It means that sales from January to May have actually risen 2.6% to 868,166 units (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders)
• Britain's best-selling car in May 2012? The Vauxhall Corsa, overtaking the Fiesta for the first time this year (SMMT)
• The US State of Texas may let you pay to drive at up to 85mph, reports Jalopnik. The transport department announced testing between Austin and San Antonio (Jalopnik)
• Fisker is extending its US dealer network via a new deal with the Penske network; the new Scottsdale showroom brings the global network to 80 locations (Fisker)
• As reported by CAR last night, Lotus chief exec Dany Bahar has been fired. Neither the BBC nor CAR has been able to contact him for further updates (BBC News)
• Ford is revising its five-year business plan because of weak demand in Europe. AN reports that the Blue Oval expects to lose between $500m and $600m in Europe this year (Automotive News)
• A Chinese consortium has completed a deal to buy the assets of bankrupt Saab, according to media reports in Sweden.National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) will pay between 1.5bn and 1.8bn kronor ($210m-$250m), although the company's administrators have yet to confirm the deal. NEVS is 51% owned by Hong Kong energy company National Modern Energy Holdings, the remainder owned by Japanese energy specialist Sun Investment  (Automotive News Europe)
• Toyota Motorsport GmbH will showcase its high-performance electric powertrain tech at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado on 8 July, the company announced (Toyota)

Thursday 7 June 2012
• After yesterday's report that CO2 output targets of 130g/km by 2015 will be relaxed to aid ailing European automakers, further news have emerged that the European Commssion wishes instead to impose even stricter legislation by 2020. Some commentators have protested the 95g/km goal will hinder growth in the industry (Automotive News Europe)
• Fiat workers will be paid to take eight days leave from the company's Turin headquarters in June and July. Paying an 80% wage to the 5400 employees affected will save Fiat €1 million per day (Automotive News Europe)

Wednesday 6 June 2012
• Dr Wolfgang Schrieber has been appointed as CEO of Bentley Motors. He replaces Wolfgang Durheimer, who has joined Audi as R&D boss, as News Watch reported earlier this week (Bentley)
• Schrieber will also assume the role of president at Bugatti, again replacing Wolfgang Durheimer, at the record-breaking luxury brand (Bugatti)
• Audi has topped Chinese car sales charts during May 2012, ahead of key rivals BMW and Mercedes. Ingolstadt posted growth of 44% in the last month, 10% higher than its nearest challenngers in the crucial Chinese market (Automotive News Europe)
• The US government's stake in GM would be sold off, even at a loss, as a priority should the Repubicans win the 2012 US presedential election, according to nominee Mitt Romney. The Republicans would also re-evaluate the Obama administration's targets of 54mpg vehicle average fuel consumption by 2025 (Automotive News)
• CO2-reduction targets may be softened in an attempt to ease pressure on Europe's car makers, reports suggest. German newspapers have hinted that the financial penalties directed at manufacturers who cannot meet the average 130g/km by 2015 may be reconsidered by the European Comission (Automotive News Europe)
• BMW's Hams Hall engine plant near Birmingham has built its three millionth engine. The milestone motor, a 1.6-litre four-pot petrol unit, is destined for Mini's Oxford plant, where it will be fitted into a car headed for India's emerging market (BMW)

Tuesday 5 June 2012
• The former head of Audi of America has been lured away to be the senior vice president of Infiniti worldwide. The appointment of Johan de Nysschen is considered quite a coup for Infiniti, says AN (Automotive News) 
• German car sales are being propped up by dealer self-registrations, according to ANE. It says that Germany is considered a bright spot in a tough European market, but suggests it's being artificially boosted by pre-registrations by the industry. Dealer association ZDK said nearly 30% of all registrations are by manufacturers and dealers - a new record (Automotive News Europe)
• Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda said the appreciating yen, Europe's debt crisis and a slowing US car market are causing alarm among Japan's car makers. 'In the short run, the European economy and a possible slowdown in the US are a concern,' he said (Bloomberg)

Monday 4 June 2012
• Bank holiday in the UK, as we mark the Queen's diamond jubilee. Even News Watch has the odd day off!

Saturday 2 June 2012
• What we reported yesterday (and first rumours surfaced a few weeks ago) was true: VW has shaken up its board significantly, and Bentley and Bugatti CEO Wolfgang Durheimer will leave Crewe to become Audi R&D chief. He replaces Michael Dick. Other changes include Luca De Meo replacing Peter Schwarzenbauer as Audi's marketing chief (Automotive News Europe) 

Friday 1 June 2012
• The Chrysler Group reports May 2012 sales rose 30%. It's the best May in five years (Chrysler)
• Nissan claims to be powering more than half the LMP2 category at this summer's Le Mans 24-hour race. A quarter of all cars at La Sarthe will use Nissan power, rising to 13 of 20 cars in the LMP2 category (Nissan)
• Volkswagen is poised to shake up its supervisory board, according to reports in Spiegel magazine. ANE quotes the story, saying that technical director Michael Dick, marketing head Peter Schwarzenbauer and Chinese boss Karl-Thomas Neumann could all leave the board (Automotive News Europe)
• Porsche has spent the past seven months preparing its Leipzig factory in eastern Germany for the Macan. It is investing €500m in a new body assembly line and paint job (Porsche)
• Mercedes-Benz is continuing its sponsorship of the Louvre museum in Paris; until 2013, it will sponsor the contemporary sculptures under the glass pyramid (Mercedes)
• Peugeot-Citroen has been hit hardest by a 17% drop in overall domestic sales during May. PSA saw a 28% fall in sales, with Renault suffering a 14% decline, and Fiat 21%. The French car market has declined month-on-month since Jan 2012 (Automotive News Europe)
• Ferrari will auction a 599XX Evoluzione track car and other race memorabila to benefit victims of the recent Italian earthquakes. Other items going under the hammer include genuine Alonso/Massa race overalls and an F1 V8 engine (Daily Telegraph)
• Porsche will expand its Leipzig plant in order to support production of the sub-Cayenne SUV due next year - the Macan. 500 million euro will be invested in the site to expand the production line and paint shop (Porsche)

By Tim Pollard & Ollie Kew