Saturday, 30 November 2019

BMW and Great Wall Motor to build all-electric Mini cars in China


The BMW Group, together with China’s Great Wall Motor, is to construct a plant that will produce future fully-electric models of the famous Mini car brand.
The facility’s construction phase is slated to take place between 2020 and 2022, and it will be located in the city of Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu Province, the BMW Group said Friday.
The two firms have set up a joint venture called Spotlight Automotive Limited and the combined investment in the plant will amount to approximately 650 million euros ($715 million). Once up and running, the factory line will have the capacity to produce as many as 160,000 vehicles annually.
Alongside the manufacture of vehicles, the joint-venture will also focus on the “joint development of battery electric vehicles”, BMW said.
“This joint venture will enable us to produce a larger number of Mini-brand-fully electric vehicles at attractive conditions for the world market,” Nicolas Peter, a member of BMW AG’s board of management, responsible for finance, said in a statement.
“This is also an important strategic step for the Mini brand,” Peter said, adding, “The joint venture with Great Wall underlines the enormous importance of the Chinese market for us.”
The Mini Electric is already being built in Oxford, England. It is due to hit showrooms in March 2020 with prices officially starting at £27,900 ($36,000).
Worldwide electric car sales hit 1.98 million in 2018, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), with global stock reaching 5.12 million.
China’s electric car market is the biggest on the planet – a little over one million electric cars were sold there last year — the IEA says, with Europe and the U.S. following behind.
The BMW Group is the latest major automotive firm to focus on e-mobility in China.
Last week Volkswagen Group China said that, alongside Chinese partners, it would invest more than 4 billion euros next year. Roughly 40% of this investment will focus on e-mobility.

In July, Renault and the Jiangling Motors Corporation Group officially set up a joint venture for electric vehicles in China. In an announcement at the time, Renault said that the venture would look to “further promote the development” of China’s electric vehicle industry.

Daimler Plans 10,000 Layoffs Amid Auto Industry’s Electric Vehicle Pivot

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stands next to a battery powered Mercedes Vision EQS car at the International Auto Show in September.
Daimler became the latest carmaker Friday to announce cost-cutting measures⁠—in the form of 10,000 layoffs by 2022⁠—to help fund production of electric vehicles, in what the company called “the biggest transformation in history” for the automotive industry. 
  • Daimler, which owns Mercedes-Benz, said it aims to reduce its workforce of over 300,000 by 3% (and cut 10% of management positions), saving 1.4 billion euros ($1.54 billion) by 2022.
  • The job cuts will be made “as socially responsible as possible,” said Wilfried Porth, a labor management board member for Daimler, in an emailed statement to Forbes.
  • The shift toward electric vehicle production⁠—fueled by a demand for more environmentally friendly cars⁠—is also driven by slowing global sales, according to Reuters
  • Audi, Volkswagen’s luxury car unit, said Wednesday that it’s cutting 9,500 jobs⁠—or 1 in 10 of its staff⁠—by 2025 as it moves into electric cars.
  • And BMW said Wednesday that it had reached an agreement with employees to reduce bonuses and other pay perks to fund its electric car push.
  • Continental and Osram, two German car parts suppliers, have also announced layoffs and other cost-cutting measures in the past two weeks.
Chief critic: The VDA, Germany’s auto lobby, which represents Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen, among others. The organization said Daimler’s job cuts would “restrict entrepreneurial activity,” after previously warning that 70,000 industry jobs were at risk.
Big number: 5.1 million. That’s how many electric vehicles are on the road in the world as of last year, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The IEA also said that 2018’s electric car sales doubled compared with 2017.
Key background: Daimler said in November it expected to post lower profits over the next two years due to Brexit, tariffs and the struggle to produce enough electric vehicles to meet the European Union’s legally mandated standards. If Daimler fails to make enough of the vehicles by 2021, the EU could fine the carmaker over one billion euros. And, despite pressure to reduce global emissions, only 1% of the one billion vehicles on the road are electric. Tesla, Nissan and two Chinese carmakers, Beijing Electric Vehicle and BYD, are the world’s top electric vehicle manufacturers.

Friday, 29 November 2019



Electric car brand Karma is set to bring its new model to Europe, taking on Tesla to become the leader in luxury electric vehicles.
The 2020 Revero GT is the latest Karma design and a revamp of the 2019 model, after the Southern California-based manufacturer wrapped up production of its previous model last month. The first cars will roll off the production line ready for delivery in the final three months of the year.
Its new design cuts 0.9 seconds off its 0-60mph speed, going from 5.4 seconds to 4.5 seconds, while its top speed will be electronically limited to 125mph. The twin three-cylinder electric motors deliver 536 horsepower and 499kg-ft of torque.
Karma has put a hefty price tag of $135,000 (€123,128) on the model, each of which are bespoke with one-off designs created for each customer.

So committed is the brand to becoming a leader in luxury electronic cars that it has hired former Tesla executive, Rogier Kroymans, to coordinate the launch of the 2020 Revero in Europe.
New features include three different drive modes, which the driver is able to select from the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
Its ‘stealth’ mode is purely electric, allowing for emissions-free travel, while ‘sustain’ turns on the range-extending generator to preserve the battery pack’s power for use when the driver chooses. It also has a ‘sport’ mode that combines the output from the battery pack and the generator for maximum driving performance.
“The 2020 Revero GT is the definitive luxury electric vehicle. A true reflection of our luxury electric vehicle design and engineering capabilities, ushering in a new era for the company,” said Karma’s chief revenue officer John Maloney.
“Our car offers the best of both worlds – extended EV capability without any range anxiety. We believe this is the optimal solution for the luxury markets of today.”
The new range will also feature ecologically-friendly, reclaimed wood as interior trim, the brand claimed.

BMW to Cut Staff Bonuses in Electric-Car Savings Push


BMW AG will reduce bonus payments for employees in Germany as the luxury-car maker grapples with the costly shift to electric and self-driving vehicles.
While BMW’s efforts lack the bite of drastic cutbacks outlined by rival Audi, they reflect the growing pressure facing Germany’s horsepower-focused brands to adapt to a new automotive era.
and its employees agreed on a new formula to calculate bonus payments, BMW’s new Chief Executive Officer Oliver Zipse told workers at a staff meeting in Munich on Wednesday. If applied to last year’s payouts, they would have been nearly 20% lower. The company is also introducing a pension component based on dividend payments.
“Together with the works council, we have reached a common solution” to lower personnel expenses, Zipse said, according to excerpts of his speech. “This allows us to avoid drastic measures that others are taking to reduce their costs.”
BMW’s bonus cuts and other measures are part of a broader push to save more than 12 billion euros ($13 billion) and free up funds for developing new technology.
works council chief Manfred Schoch backed the labor accord in a statement and said bonus payments “remain attractive.” The dividend-linked pension component was “unique in the auto industry,” he said.
Stricter emissions regulations are all but impossible to meet without sizable sales of electric vehicles, which have so far met with limited interest from consumers. Trade wars and softening demand in major markets like China have made navigating the transition even more fraught.
Under Zipse, BMW’s third-quarter results showed signs of improvement. Its automotive profit margin widened to 6.6% from 4.4% a year ago -- well below its target range of between 8% and 10%. Arch rival Mercedes-Benz is also struggling, forecasting a return on sales of just 4% for next year.
To shore up profits by 6 billion euros, Volkswagen AG’s Audi division mapped out a sweeping cost-cutting drive on Tuesday including shedding as many as 9,500 jobs in Germany and streamlining operations at its two main factories in its home country.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Audi plans 9,500 job cuts to save £5bn for electric car investment

Audi factory
Carmaker Audi is to cut 9,500 of its 61,000 jobs in Germany between now and 2025 to make more money available for electric vehicles and digital working.
The cuts - which aim to save €6bn (£5.1bn) - will be achieved through an early retirement programme.
But the Volkswagen-owned firm also said its move into electric cars would mean the creation of up to 2,000 jobs.
The car industry is facing a downturn in key markets, including China, as well as increased costs as it meets tougher European Union emissions regulations and the costly switch to electric vehicles. Audi saw falling sales, revenues and operating profits in the first nine months of 2019.
In a statement, the carmaker said the job cuts would "take place along the demographic curve - in particular through employee turnover and a new, attractive early retirement programme".
"The company must become lean and fit for the future, which means that some job profiles will no longer be needed and new ones will be created.
It added that it would continue to train young people and maintain its number of apprentices and student trainees over the next three years. Speaking about the extension of the job guarantee for the workforce, spokesman Peter Mosch said: "We have reached an important milestone.
"The jobs of our core workforce are secure. The extension of the employment guarantee is a great success in difficult times. In addition, the upcoming electrification of the Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm plants. underscores the long-term success of both German sites."
Like its rivals, Audi is spending billions of euros on new technologies, including battery-electric and hybrid vehicles, connectivity and autonomous driving. But the firm last year also had to pay an €800m fine over its role in the "dieselgate" emissions scandal scandal that started at parent company VW.
It is not just German carmakers that are facing sluggish growth. Car parts suppliers Bosch and Continental have announced thousands of job cuts. And it comes against the wider backdrop of a slowing German economy, which has narrowly avoided a recession.
Audi has sailed through some stormy seas over the past few years, but now it's setting its sights on a new horizon.
The upmarket VW Group brand was at the heart of the diesel emissions cheating scandal, which erupted in 2015. Its former chief executive, Rupert Stadler, has been charged with fraud over his alleged role in the affair.
Now, like its parent, Audi is focusing on the future - and working flat out to develop electric cars.
It has already launched the E-tron, the first of 20 battery-powered models due to appear by 2025. But developing electric cars that people actually want to drive costs money.
No surprise then that Audi is trying to streamline its operations and slim down its workforce.
Competition in the electric car market is heating up rapidly. Within the next few years we could even see a battle for survival among the traditional mainstream carmakers, as they adapt to what will soon become a very different environment.
Being lean could be a big advantage.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Bugatti Plots Electric Four-Seater for Less Than $1 Million

 Automakers Unveil Their Latest Vehicles Ahead Of Geneva International Motor Show
Bugatti Automobiles SAS looking to broaden its appeal by flanking the 2.5 million-euro ($2.7 million) Chiron supercar with a slightly more accessible alternative.
The potential second model line would be an electric-powered grand tourer or crossover that could seat up to four people and would cost between 500,000 and 1 million euros. The French boutique manufacturer is in discussions within parent Volkswagen AG about the investment, Bugatti Chief Executive Officer Stephan Winkelmann said in an interview at Bloomberg’s office in Berlin.
Opening Day of The 2018 Paris Motor Show
Stephan Winkelmann
Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg
“The industry is changing fundamentally, and we have to address what opportunities there are to develop Bugatti as a brand going forward,” Winkelmann said. He acknowledged that it’s a “hard fight” to secure funds for such a niche project.
The plan shows how even automakers decoupled from the day-to-day realities of transport are grappling with the gradual end of the combustion-engine era. For Bugatti, it’s less about emissions and more about the changing definition of progress and innovation.
Winkelmann, who previously ran Volkswagen’s Lamborghini brand, is trying to make Bugatti viable enough to potentially survive outside the German auto group and head off the risk of being phased out once again. Since the 2015 diesel-cheating scandal, Volkswagen has been taking a closer look at its portfolio amid the growing burden of investing in electric cars and self-driving technology.
Bugatti has long been viewed as prime example of Volkswagen’s engineering extravagance. It was revived under former Chairman Ferdinand Piech in 1998 after the brand had largely faded from existence in the 1950s. Volkswagen rebuilt the Molsheim-based marque around a hulking 16-cylinder engine, rolling out the Chiron’s predecessor in 2005 after a series of development issues.
The elite nameplate offers limited opportunities for sharing parts and technology. Because of high development costs and low volumes, the Veyron -- Bugatti’s first model under VW control -- was considered one of the biggest money losers in the auto industry.
Winkelmann said that Bugatti is “earning decent money” these days and that the brand now needs to justify itself with a business case, rather than just engineering feats. After setting a speed record earlier this year when a Chiron derivative drove faster than 300 miles per hour, the executive said the carmaker is done pursuing such performance milestones and is looking to increase its cache as a luxury brand.
Bugatti limited the production run of the Chiron to just 500 vehicles, and fewer than 100 are still up for grabs. It currently crafts some 100 highly customized cars per year. The addition of a cheaper model would be a massive expansion, with output surging by more than 600 vehicles annually, said Winkelmann, who was a key driver behind Lamborghini’s decision to add the Urus SUV.
Ferrari NV, which has more than tripled in value since its public listing, has become a poster child for the potential of an independent elite car brand and raised interest in potential spinoffs by Volkswagen. But the recent struggles of Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings Plc highlight the challenges in replicating the strategy.
Volkswagen Chief Executive Officer Herbert Diess is pushing the company’s high-end brands to generate better returns and mapped out a plan last year to pool Bugatti in a so-called super-premium group that includes Bentley and Lamborghini. Porsche would lead the division.
“If you look at that combination of brands, I think it would be unique in the auto industry,” Winkelmann said.

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Porsche Is Going All In on Electric, but 911 Will Be Last to Switch

Inside Automobility LA Ahead Of Los Angeles Auto Show
“We are in the beginning of a transition phase in the car industry, and to Porsche, to switch over to battery electric fully,” said Klaus Zellmer, president and chief executive officer of the luxury automaker’s North American division. “Luxury consumers expect, with a brand’s purpose, for sustainability to play a major part.”
Zellmer discussed the next phase in high-end automobiles during a conversation with Bloomberg car columnist Hannah Elliott at the second annual The Year Ahead: Luxury summit on Thursday. Hosted by the lifestyle group Bloomberg Pursuits, the conference was held at the company’s headquarters in New York. Speakers included  Tiffany & Co. CEO Alessandro Boglioloarchitect Robert A.M. Stern, pastry chef Christina Tosi, and Rent the Runway’s Jenn Hyman, as well as executives from Virtuoso Ltd. and Marriott International Inc.
By 2025 every other car Porsche sells will have a plug, Zellmer predicted. He pushed back against the notion that luxury cars and sustainability are incompatible. 
“To remain what we are, we have to adapt,” he said. “If we don’t adapt, we’re going to be left out.
Porsche’s legendary 911 will be the last in its line to go electric, Zellmer said. There’s been considerable controversy over when and how the brand’s oldest model will make the transition.
He also noted that worries about “range anxiety” are less of a concern for Porsche because its customers have an average of three cars. Still, the company is working to increase the number of miles its vehicles can drive between charges.
In addition, Porsche is working to target new and younger customers with a Super Bowl ad in 2020. It will promote the Taycan, the brand’s first all-electric sports car.
“For a car brand that only sells three cars out of 1,000 in the U.S., that is a big move,” Zellmer said. “We want to engage new audiences. We want to be bigger.”

Electric Cars Racing at 170 MPH Are Test Labs for SUVs

(Bloomberg) -- Not every advance in electric-vehicle technology takes place inside the sterile calm of a research laboratory.
BMW AG, Volkswagen AG’s Audi and a Silicon Valley-based battery maker are helping push the boundaries by racing electric-powered cars through Saudi Arabia, New York, London and Seoul at speeds topping 170 mph.
Breakthroughs made by competitors in Formula E, which began its sixth season this week, are being incorporated into family SUVs and sedans –- and even India’s electric rickshaws -- as manufacturers seek to improve and extend their electric lineups while nations gradually phase out gas guzzlers. More powerful batteries and better motors, energy-management software and braking systems are all being transferred from the racetrack to the showroom.
“What we are doing in Formula E is highly relevant back on the road,” said Dilbagh Gill, chief executive officer and team principal of India’s Mahindra Racing, the motorsport unit of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. “We are able to come in and help them immediately in improving the product.”
Formula E, which began in 2014 with an “E-Prix” in Beijing, has 12 teams, almost all of which involve automakers producing or developing battery-powered vehicles for consumers – such as Nissan Motor Co. and Tata Motors Ltd.’s Jaguar brand.
Volkswagen’s Porsche and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz brand are new participants in the 14-race season that opened Friday in Saudi Arabia. The schedule runs through July, concluding with the two-day London E-Prix.
Briton Alexander Sims racing with BMW i Andretti Motorsport won Saturday’s race on the outskirts of the Saudi capital Riyadh, with his German teammate Maximilian Guenther coming in second.
Last season’s champion was DS Techeetah, the Chinese-owned team of PSA Group’s DS Automobiles. Its DS E-Tense FE20 machine can accelerate from zero to 100 kph (62 mph) in 2.8 seconds.
DS Automobiles is taking the powertrain –- parts including the motor and inverter -– from its Formula E entry and putting it inside a concept car called the DS X E-Tense. It also will use the same operating software across its planned range of electric passenger vehicles.
PSA Group, also home to the Peugeot and Citroen brands, is targeting a fully electrified fleet by 2025.
“The cars that win in Formula E are the most energy efficient, which is largely driven by software,” Paris-based DS Automobiles said. “Everything we do in Formula E with algorithms and software we try to replicate in series production.”
Rules intended to limit costs for teams and keep the series competitive mean racers use a standardized lithium-ion battery manufactured by a unit of Newark, California-based Lucid Motors Inc.
During the first four seasons of Formula E, drivers needed to change cars in the middle of a race -- leaping from one cockpit into another -- because the power packs couldn’t complete a whole event, which typically lasts about 45 minutes.
Lucid’s batteries, introduced last season, eliminate the need for that switch.
“The real reason we are doing this is to demonstrate that we have world-class technology, which will find its way into our forthcoming road car,” said Chief Executive Officer Peter Rawlinson, previously chief engineer of Tesla Inc.’s Model S.
The company plans to start producing its Lucid Air sedan in Arizona next year, boasting of a range topping 400 miles and a speed exceeding 200 mph.
Lucid’s Formula E batteries pack in more energy than alternatives that are commercially available for regular cars, said James Frith, a London-based analyst for BloombergNEF.
“If Lucid can transfer this technology to commercial electric vehicles, it could give them a real advantage,” he said.
Another key focus for Mahindra, DS Techeetah, Audi and the others is finding the best way to slow a car down.
Since most vehicles lose energy as heat when a driver hits the brakes and causes friction, electric race cars use regenerative braking systems. In effect, a car’s motor goes into reverse to both slow the wheels and act as a generator to send power back into the battery.
The technology helps to boost driving range, meaning passenger cars could use smaller batteries, said Allan McNish, team principal of Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler.
“Regenerating energy is going to be a key factor for the development of road cars,” said McNish, an ex-Formula 1 driver and a three-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race.