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News watch November 2011: today's auto industry news

Tue, 29 Nov 2011

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

Tuesday 29 November 2011
• Saab's UK division today filed for administration as it waits for funding from its would-be Chinese investors (Automotive News Europe) 
• In a statement, Saab GB said: 'Saab Great Britain Ltd filed for administration with the High Court in London... The  board of Saab GB is of the opinion that administration gives the company and creditors the necessary legal protection until the required funding for the company has been secured'
• Frantic negotiations continue between Saab owner Swedish Automobile and its Chinese suitors, Youngman and Pang Da, which signed an MOU to buy Saab for €100 million. But that offer lapsed and now GM is blocking the sale
• Porsche China expects sales to grow 70% in 2011 - to pass the 20,000 barrier for the first time (Automotive News Europe)
• A string of fires in US Chevrolet Volts, and the resulting probe, threaten to unsettle GM's plans to leapfrog Toyota for the number one slot in global sales, reports Bloomberg (Bloomberg)

Monday 28 November 2011
• Daimler invested more than €1 billion in its failed Maybach brand, which was revived in 2002 after more than 60 years in production, according to the BBC (BBC News)
• 'It would not be sensible to develop a successor model for the current Maybach,' CEO Dieter Zetsche told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung at the weekend, as predicted by CAR
• The UK chancellor George Osborne is set to announce a £30bn infrastructure splurge to help build new roads and railways - in a bid to let Britain build itself out of recession (Bloomberg)
• Volkswagen's stated aim to become number one by 2018 hinges on Skoda hittings its targets. In an interview with Bloomberg, sales chief Juergen Stackmann said Skoda would be the new people's car maker. 'The term "exclusivity" is nowhere to be found at Skoda,' he said (Bloomberg)
• BMW is tipped to be working on a deal with Toyota which would see it provide diesel engines to the Japanese in return to access to Toyota's hybrid know-how. A deal could be announced as soon as the Tokyo motor show this week (Automotive News Europe)
• Saab and its would-be Chinese saviours Pang Da and Youngman continue despite GM's opposition, Saab said. 'We want to come to an agreement with GM, that is basically where we are at the moment,' said spokesman Eric Geers today (Automotive News)

Friday 25 November 2011
• A rare day when the whole CAR team were out and about. Sorry about the lack of Newswatch updates!

Thursday 24 November 2011
• Toyota today announced it would invest £100 million in its Burnaston, UK, plant to build the next-generation C-segment family hatchback. That means the Auris replacement, to you and me (Toyota)
• Suzuki has started arbitration in a bid to claw its shares back from Volkswagen. Wolfsburg holds a 19.9% stake in Suzuki, but the relationship has totally broken down. The case will be heard by the International Court of Arbitration in London (Automotive News Europe)
• Tata Motors has named board member Cyrus P Mistry as the successor to Ratan Tata. He will take over as chairman in 2012 (Bloomberg)
• GM continues to oppose Saab's sale to China's Pang Da and Youngman, according to Swedish business newspaper Dagens Industri. It is worried that GM tech could be compromised in one of its biggest markets (Automotive News Europe)

Wednesday 23 November 2011
• Renault Nissan are plotting a €2500 basic car for emerging markets. La Tribune newspaper said the cheap car would eventually find its way back to the European market. The team will be led by Gerard Detourbet, who was previously in charge of the Dacia budget-car programme (La Tribune)
• The UK Government has announced the second phase of the Growth and Innovation Fund, which will pump £60m into smaller and medium sized businesses to develop skills in their staff (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills)
• Land Rover's Range_e concept car has won the SMMT's Award for Automotive Innovation. The under secretary of state for transport presented the gong at a dinner last night (SMMT)

Tuesday 22 November 2011
• Britain's car manufacturing industry is in rude health, according to a new SMMT report out today. It says exports rose 31% in 2010, totalling £29bn, automotive apprenticeships rose 9% and output was up 28% returning to pre-recession levels (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders)
• GM has named its vice chairman Steve Girsky as the new head of GM Europe. He replaces Nick Reilly as the boss of Opel/Vauxhall, who retires in spring 2012 (Automotive News Europe)
• Fiat is relying on styling veteran Lorenzo Ramaciotti to develop a style for Chrysler and Lancia which works on both sides of the Atlantic. He was lured out of retirement in 2007. 'We are trying to find an international language, which could have a place both here in Italy and in the U.S,' he told Bloomberg.'If you put all the models into the showroom, they must fit together. It’s a delicate problem' (Bloomberg)
• Car demand in China may climb as much as 10% in 2012, report GM, Honda and VW, who have JV production in China (Bloomberg)
• Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne forecasts sales in 2011 of 4.2 million across the group - but predicts this will rise to 6 million by 2014 (Automotive News Europe)

Monday 21 November 2011
• Ferrari plans a collector's club for high-end prospects of its limited edition cars such as the SA Aperta. These uber-rich clients would be given first dibs on special editions and Luca di Montezemolo told ANE that there were about 300 collectors worldwide who would qualify (Automotive News Europe)
• PSA Peugeot Citroen is teaming up with China's Changan in a new joint venture to build electric cars and hybrids (Automotive News Europe)
• Toyota has restored production in Japan to 'near-normal' levels after the disruption caused to parts supply by the floods in Thailand (BBC News)
• Volkswagen has rejected an attempt by Suzuki to end its two-year partnership(Bloomberg)
• It seems likely that the stalemate between Suzuki and Volkswagen will continue until legal proceedings or until one side backs down. And a predatory VW could of course snap up Suzuki

Friday 18 November 2011
• Suzuki has formally notified Volkswagen it's cancelling their partnership and will seek mediation if Wolfsburg puts obstacles in its way. In a statement issued by chairman Osamu Suzuki, it said VW had disparaged the Japanese car maker by alleging it had violated the terms of their cooperation (Automotive News) 
• This seemingly brings an end to the VW-Suzuki partnership, but the Germans still own a 19.9% stake in Suzuki
• GM CEO Dan Akerson says that over-capacity in Europe is hurting General Motors' business. 'When you're running your plants at a utilisation of anything less than 100% - and in most of EUrope they run at 85% - you're trying to bend the demand curve to beat the supply curve'. The comment at a business club in Detroit suggests that further painful restucturing in Europe may be inevitable (Automotive News Europe)
• GM boss Akerson told the Detroit Economic Club lunch that the company would seek to lower its break-even point in Europe further (Detroit News)
• Ferrari says it wants more technical transfer from racetrack to road - and chairman Luca di Montezemolo said 'we will soon take the KERS [kinetic energy recuperation system]' on to a future road car (Automotive News Europe)
• Toyota has won appeal against a judge's decision to allow US drivers who hadn't suffered unintended acceleration to seek damages for the alleged defect (Bloomberg)
• The new compact Dodge to be shown at Detroit will not be called the Hornet. It's the first Chrysler group vehicle to be engineered by Fiat and was tipped to carry the 2006 concept car's name (Detroit News)

Thursday 17 November 2011
• McLaren Automotive formally opens new production centre to build its new range of sports cars (CAR Online)

Wednesday 16 November 2011
• Talks are continuing between Swedish Automobile and China's wannabe buyers, Pang Da and Youngman - despite the memorandum of understanding (MOU) lapsing yesterday. 'They are still in discussions about the structure of the deal going forward and they are continuing their cooperation as if the memorandum of understanding continues,' said Gunilla Gustavs, a Saab spokeswoman (Automotive News Europe)
• Nissan and Daimler are planning a new joint assembly facility in Mexico, which would build around 200,000 cars a year from 2014, mainly for sale in the US (Automotive News) 
• UK business secretary Vince Cable today visited Ferrari North Europe in Slough to talk about youth unemployment. Ferrari takes apprentices from 16+ and Cable met the 16 latest recruits (Ferrari)

Tuesday 15 November 2011
• Volkswagen's two-year project to merge with Porsche is in danger of being derailed, reports Bloomberg. It says the board will consider alternatives to a merger announced in 2009 at a meeting on 18 November (Bloomberg)
• British MPs are debating a motion to cut fuel duty - in the wake of an e-petition signed by more than 110,000 motorists. It's supported by more than 100 members of the House (BBC News)
• Sales of new cars in the US could accelerate to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 14 million, a senior GM exec claimed today. Don Johnson, vice president of US sales at the General, was bullish about growth in the States (Bloomberg)

Monday 14 November 2011
• Tata Motors today announced revenues jumped 27% in the second quarter of its 2011-12 financial year - and its British wing Jaguar Land Rover was a major boost to profits. JLR delivered 139,090 vehicles and sales hit £2.9bn (Tata Motors)
• A Staffordshire enthusiast businessman is reviving the Atlanta Motors badge, with a planned performance car due to be unveiled in spring 2012. The company founded in Staines in 1936 and the man behind the renaissance is Martyn Corfield (Atlanta Motors)
• Nissan and Honda have resumed some car production after the Thai floods disrupted build. Both companies make cars in Thailand, which has suffered the worst floods for 70 years (Bloomberg)
• Saab owner Swedish Automobile may liquidate even if it successfully sells Saab, as the sale may not be enough to pay creditors. The parent company has debts of  €137 million (Bloomberg)
• Component supplier Bosch says orders are falling because of the Eurozone crisis. The boss told a German newspaper on Sunday that a recession couldn't be ruled out (Automotive News Europe)
• But German car making giant Volkswagen forecasts its global workforce could grow by 10% in 2012. Chairman Martin Winterkorn said in an interview that the VW group could employ 500,000 staff by the end of next year, up from 449,000 today (Automotive News Europe)

Friday 11 November 2011
• GM is hinting it may be about to kick off another round of restructuring and cost-cutting in Europe. Chief financial officer Dan Ammann said no options were being ruled out (Automotive News Europe) 
• Europe's debt crisis and the austerity measures are sparking bigger discounts on new cars (Automotive News Europe)
• BMW plans to double its hybrid offering to challenge Lexus (Bloomberg)

Thursday 10 November 2011
• Nissan sales in Europe jumped 17% in October, the company announced today. Sales have been up every month of this year - and it sold 57,818 vehicles in October (Nissan)
• GM's third quarter profits have slipped 12% to $1.7 billion. The company is making good money in the US, but it's been offset by losses in Europe. Chief exec Dan Akerson said GM has 'a lot more work to do, especially in Europe' (Automotive News)
• Jaguar Land Rover today announced plans to create 1000 new jobs at the Solihull manufacturing site. It's all part of a plan 'to deliver 40 significant product actions over the next five years,' according to the company (Jaguar Land Rover)
• Des Thurlby, human resources director at JLR, said: 'This is great news for Solihull. We shall be increasing the plant workforce by more than 25%. These jobs are well paid with great benefits. We expect to receive many thousands of applications' (BBC News)
• China's Youngman still wants to invest in Saab, despite GM's likely opposition to a deal, according to director Rachel Pang. 'Of course we do,' she told Sweden's TT news agency. 'If you are afraid you cannot succeed in business. There are always difficulties. One has to find solutions, not just give up' (Automotive News Europe)
• Seat is working on its first electric car, believed to be an Altea EV, and a plug-in hybrid version of the Leon hatch. The hybrid is due for launch in 2015, the EV a year later (Automotive News Europe)

Wednesday 9 November 2011
• Saab continues to have court protection despite the seeming obstacle placed in its way by GM, which says it will block a sale to the Chinese. Court administrator Guy Lofalk told Reuters: 'We will now try to get clarity about what the decision from GM means and if there is any way ahead' (Automotive News Europe)
• Car sales in China have slowed, reports Bloomberg. Sales in October rose at their slowest rate for five months - blamed on an 18% drop in demand for MPVs and the end of a two-year government stimulus programme (Bloomberg)
• Nissan is giving away 400 quick-charge EV charging stations to acclerate the creation of a European network for electric cars. They will charge batteries to 80% in 30 minutes (Nissan)
• Porsche's strong sales growth continued in October, when it sold 9419 vehicles (up 7% on 2010). It has already delivered more than 100,000 cars in 2011 - year to date sales are up 28%. The best seller? The Cayenne, with 50,600 sales (Porsche)

Tuesday 8 November 2011
• Lotus has opened its first showroom in China this week. The Beijing dealership is the first manifestation of the Norfolk brand in China - after it set up operations there on 15 June (Group Lotus)
• Volkswagen's passenger car division today announced the fourth quarter had started strongly with a 10% sales jump year-on-year. It sold 430,800 cars in October, continuing the 12% increase in the first nine months of the year (Volkswagen)
• Saab's sale to Pang Da and Youngman looks set to be derailed by GM. 'Although General Motors is open to the continued supply of powertrains and other components to Saab under appropriate terms and conditions, GM will not agree to the continuation of the existing technology licenses or the continued supply of 9-4X vehicles to Saab following the proposed change in ownership as it would not be in the best interests of GM shareholders,' GM spokesman Jim Cain told the BBC (BBC News)
• Toyota's second quarter operating profits have slumped by 32%, the company has announced. It said its profits from July to September was 75.39 billion yen, revenues fell 5% to 4.57 trillion yen. The reason? The spring earthquake, the autumn floods, economic slumps and a strong yen (Automotive News) 
• GM Europe chief Nick Reilly, 61, is to retire in March 2012 after 37 years with the company. He will be replaced by Opel chief Karl-Friedrich Stracke (Automotive News Europe)

Monday 7 November 2011
• Toyota says it will start selling fuel-cell cars by 2015. It plans to have 'a few thousand' hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles on sale by then, 'retailing at about  €100,000', according to Toyota's European product planning chief Alain Uyttenhoven (Automotive News)
• Opel forecasts that its Zaragoza plant in Spain will reutrn to full capacity in 2013. It's where they build the Corsa supermini - and the new Corsa lands in two years' time (Automotive News Europe)
• Toyota and Honda may not recover their sales from the Easter earthquake on account of the new delays caused by the Thai floods (Bloomberg)
• The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders is calling for an overhaul in tax credits to encourage R&D and create more jobs in the challenging economic environment. The UK's automotive sector is one of the biggest R&D spenders in the country (SMMT)

Friday 4 November 2011
• British new car registrations rose 2.6% to 134,944 units in October 2011, the SMMT reported today. However, in the first 10 months of the year, the new car market is down 4.5% - pointing to a year-end total of 1,923,000 sales (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders)
• Toyota is extending the production cuts at its factories in Thailand and Japan after the parts shortage caused by floods in Thailand (BBC News)
• Meanwhile the Thai floods have delayed the European launch of the new Honda Civic by three to four weeks (Automotive News Europe)
• An Alabama dealer in the US has been awarded $7.5 million in damages by a court after a rival Toyota dealership dubbed it 'Taliban Toyota'. Eastern Shore Toyota won the case for slander (Automotive News)
• General Motors says it could be difficult to give the Saab sale to Youngman and Pang Da its blessing if it endangers GM's existing deals in China. GM must approve the deal before it progresses, as it remains a major supplier to Saab (Automotive News Europe)
• Opel boss Karl-Friedrich Stracke has warned that European new car sales are likely to shrink 'significantly' in 2012. He called it a 'painful cooling' (Automotive News Europe)

Thursday 3 November 2011
• BMW announces a 21% jump in pre-tax profits in the third quarter, to €1.6 billion. It has sold 9% more vehicles in the last quarter than a year before (BBC News)
• Saab has lost its head of manufacturing and purchasing, Gunnar Brunius, who's been there for 30 years (Automotive News)
• Porsche importer Hugo Pulenta has pledged to ship wine from his Andean vineyards in return for permits to import Porsches into Argentina (Bloomberg)

Wednesday 2 November 2011
• Infiniti today said it planned to set up its new global HQ in Hong Kong from April 2012. Why? Becuase China and Asia are sure to be one of the big growth areas for the brand, as it seeks to push sales to 500,000 and beyond in Nissan's six-year business plan (Infiniti)
• Honda is cutting production at its Swindon, UK, factory because of the Thai floods affecting parts supply. The delays will affect Civics and CR-V (Automotive News Europe)
• Jaguar Land Rover UK has a new boss: Jeremy Hicks has been appointed managing director of the UK division. Hicks has been poached from Audi, where he's been MD since 2005 (Jaguar Land Rover)
• Nissan's net income after tax in the first half of the 2011 financial year slipped 12% to 183.4 billion yen (€1.6bn). However, Nissan sales jumped 11% on the same period last year, to 2,225,000 vehicles (Nissan)
• Skoda says it is on course to hit a sales record in 2011. Sales in the first nine months have risen 17%, and its operating profit from January to September has leaped 83% to €575 million (Skoda)

Tuesday 1 November 2011
• New York's taxi and limousine commission has added six electric Nissan Leafs to the service. Starting from spring 2012 it plans to extend the number of electric cars on fleet (Engadget)
• Subaru's parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries, has announced a 20% slump in global sales in the second quarter of the 2012 financial year compared with the same period in 2010. It sold 193,000 vehicles and operating income collapsed 67% to 18.8 billion yen (Fuji Heavy Industries)
• As a result of the weak performance, Fuji has reset its forecast for the financial year. It now expects to sell 645,000 vehicles this year, with revenues of 1480 billion yen and an operating income of 30 billion yen (Fuji Heavy Industries)
• Honda says it is cutting production at its US and Canadian factories by 50% owing to a shortage of parts caused by floods in Thailand. The stoppage will affect the group's annual results, Honda warned (BBC News)
• Saab's prospective new owners, Pang Da and Youngman, are likely to cut at least 15% of the company's 3400-strong workforce, according to plans submitted to a Swedish court (Automotive News)
• Lotus has successfully won funding from the second round of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills' Regional Growth Fund. The undisclosed funding will support R&D on the group's future range and CEO Dany Bahar said: 'This is great news for all those concerned about Group Lotus moving production overseas' (Group Lotus)

By Tim Pollard and Sarah-Jayne Harrison