JUDGE NARROWS VW EMISSIONS CASE
A U.S. judge on Thursday dismissed portions of a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit against Volkswagen AG related to the German automaker's diesel emissions scandal. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco granted the automaker's dismissal motion, apart from its request to strike the SEC's effort to obtain injunctive relief and disgorgement. The judge also rejected former VW Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn's motion to dismiss SEC claims against him.
VW BEGINS PRODUCTION OF ID4 EV IN GERMANY
Volkswagen Group has begun regular production of the ID4 crossover, the second model in a planned family of electric vehicles that will be built and sold around the world, the company said Thursday.
The ID family is the linchpin of the VW brand's ambitious
plan to build 1.5 million electric vehicles a year by 2025. The
broader VW Group has said it will spend nearly $40 billion by 2024
to ramp up electric vehicle production in Europe, China and the
Initial production of the ID4 has begun at VW's plant in Zwickau, Germany, which was converted to build electric vehicles exclusively at a cost of $1.4 billion.
The ID4 is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. by the end of the year. U.S. production in Chattanooga, Tenn., near VW's existing factory, is slated for 2022.
The ID4 and its companion, the ID3 hatchback, are built on a
dedicated EV platform that Volkswagen calls MEB. The same platform
will be shared with Ford Motor Co as part of a broader
collaboration with the U.S. automaker. The ID3 is not expected to
be sold in the U.S.
Rival General Motors has said it expects to build 1 million EVs a year by 2025, mainly in China and the United States. Ford has said it plans to build at least one new EV in Europe on the MEB platform and is considering a second variant.
Preproduction of the ID4 already also started near Shanghai.
ONLINE FINANCING NO LONGER DRAWS ONLY SUBPRIMERS
In the past, online consumers seeking auto loans mainly had subprime credit ratings. They figured if they got turned down, they'd rather avoid the awkwardness of a person-to-person rejection. Today, a much wider range of borrowers uses the Internet to arrange auto financing, including people with sterling credit. Twenty-eight percent of consumers go to manufacturer websites for financing information, while 25% visit lender websites to apply for online financing. Automakers' captive finance arms currently account for 75% of new-vehicle lending. That's up from 60% two years ago, according to J.D. Power.
MAZDA, TOYOTA BOOST INVESTMENT IN ALABAMA JV
Mazda Toyota Mfg., a joint manufacturing venture between Japanese automakers Mazda and Toyota Motor, announces an additional $830 million investment in its Huntsville, AL, facility. The investment will incorporate more cutting-edge manufacturing technologies into production lines and provide enhanced training to the plant's workforce of up to 4,000 employees, MTM says in a news release. When the plant comes online in 2021 it will have annual capacity to build 150,000 units of a yet-to-be-announced Toyota SUV and 150,000 units of a future Mazda CUV, the JV says.
NEW YORK INVESTMENT FIRM DORILTON CAPITAL BUYS WILLIAMS F1 TEAM
Dorilton Capital purchases Formula 1 franchise for reported $200 million.
The Williams F1 team has new owners this week after the team announced on its website Friday that Williams Racing has been sold to New York-based investement firm Dorilton Capital.
The deal comes on the heels what the team calls a "Strategic Review" of its options as Formula 1 heads into a new era featuring team budget caps and a change in the sport's competitive package in 2022
According to Williams F1, as posted to its website, this transaction "received the unanimous support of the Board of Williams, including Sir Frank (Williams), who determined the transaction delivers the best outcome for the Company's shareholders and secures the long-term success of the Williams Formula 1 team."
To new owners do not plan to relocate the team from its U.K. headquarters in Grove.
Williams, the sport's dominate team from 1980-97 with nine F1 Constructors' Championships, has hit rock bottom in recent years. The team finished 10th (out of 10) in the Constructors' Championship in 2019 and has failed to score a single point so far in 2020 with drivers George Russell and Nicholas Latifi. "The Strategic Review was a useful process to go through and proved that both Formula One and Williams have credibility and value," team deputy team principal Claire Williams said. "We have now reached a conclusion and we are delighted that Dorilton are the new owners of the team. When we started this process, we wanted to find a partner who shared the same passion and values, who recognized the team's potential and who could unlock its power. "In Dorilton we know we have found exactly that. People who understand the sport and what it takes to be successful. People who respect the team's legacy and will do everything to ensure it succeeds in the future. As a family we have always put our team first. Making the team successful again and protecting our people has been at the heart of this process from start. This may be the end of an era for Williams as a family owned team, but we know it is in good hands. The sale ensures the team's survival but most importantly will provide a path to success. We are enormously grateful to Dorilton for the faith they have shown in our team and we look forward to working with them now. I would also like to thank the Williams Board and our advisers who have worked tirelessly over the past months to make this happen and our employees who have remained steadfastly loyal."
According to Forbes, Williams lost $17 million (£13 million) in 2019. Bloomberg reported over the weekend that the sale price was approzimately $200 million (£152 million).
Williams Grand Prix Engineering Ltd was founded by Frank Williams and British engineer Patrick Head in 1977. "The transaction announced today marks the next stage in the history of Williams Formula 1 at an exciting time in the sport," Williams CEO Mike O'Driscoll said. "The Company has successfully completed its strategic review and we are pleased to announce the sale to Dorilton Capital, which delivers a great outcome for shareholders and secures the long term future of the Company."
Chairman Matthew Savage of Dorilton Capital said that the goal is to get Williams back to the front of the F1 grid. The team has won just won F1 race since 2004, that being Pastor Maldonado's win in Spain in 2012. "We are delighted to have invested in Williams and we are extremely excited by the prospects for the business," Savage said. "We believe we are the ideal partner for the company due to our flexible and patient investment style, which will allow the team to focus on its objective of returning to the front of the grid."
PORSCHE LAUNCHES PROBE INTO SUSPECTED ENGINE MANIPULATION, REPORT
Volkswagen Group's luxury sports vehicle unit Porsche has launched an internal investigation into the suspected manipulation of gasoline engines, German weekly Bild am Sonntag reported.
Porsche has informed Germany's automotive watchdog KBA, the Stuttgart prosecutor's office, as well as U.S. authorities of suspected illegal changes to hardware and software that could affect exhaust systems and engine components, the paper said. "Porsche is regularly and continuously reviewing technical and regulatory aspects of its vehicles," a Porsche spokesman said. "As part of such internal examinations Porsche has identified issues and has, just like in the past, proactively informed authorities." The spokesman said that the issues relate to vehicles developed several years ago, adding that there were no indications that current production was affected. The carmaker is working closely with authorities, he said.
BamS, not citing where it obtained the information, said that engines developed between 2008 and 2013 were the subject of the investigation, including those of the Panamera and 911 models. The paper also said that apart from discussions with employees, meeting protocols and hundreds of thousands of emails were being examined in search of evidence, adding KBA has launched an official investigation.
TESLA'S MUSK HINTS OF BATTERY CAPACITY JUMP AHEAD OF EVENT
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said the U.S. electric car maker may be able to mass produce longer-life batteries with 50 per cent more energy density in three to four years. "400 Wh/kg *with* high cycle life, produced in volume (not just a lab) is not far. Probably 3 to 4 years," Musk tweeted on Monday ahead of its anticipated Battery Day event where Tesla is expected to reveal how it has improved its battery performance.
Researchers have said the energy density of Panasonic's 2170 batteries used in Tesla's Model 3 is around 260 watt-hour per kilogram, meaning a 50 per cent jump from the current energy density which is key to achieving a longer driving range.
Tesla said Battery Day will take place on the same day as its 2020 annual meeting of shareholders on Sept. 22. The automaker also showed a background image where a number of dots are clustered in line formations, sparking speculation among media and fans about what it will reveal at the event.
South Korean battery expert Park Chul-wan said the image may hint at "silicon nanowire anode," a breakthrough technology which can potentially increase both battery energy density and battery life sharply.
Panasonic earlier told Reuters that it plans to boost the energy density of the original 2170 battery cells it supplies to Tesla by 20 per cent in five years.
Tesla is also working with China's Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. (CATL) to introduce a new low-cost, long-life battery in its Model 3 sedan in China later this year or early next year, with the batteries designed to last for a million miles of use, Reuters reported in May. A very "limited number of stockholders" will be able to attend the Sept. 22 events due to pandemic-related restrictions, Tesla said, and a lottery will be held to select attendees.
TWO TESLAS CRASH AT PIKES PEAK, DRIVERS OK
Veteran racer Randy Pobst is among those going off course.
Two Tesla Model 3s entered in this year's Pikes Peak International Hill Climb have crashed off the course. Neither driver was injured. Both cars were products of Tesla tuner Unplugged Performance of Hawthorne, California, located just across the alley from Tesla and SpaceX.
Rookie Pikes Peak Hill Climber Josh Allen, who once worked at AC Propulsion, the company that built the precursor to the original Tesla Roadster, and who has been a track-day racer for many years, went off the course past the picnic grounds on a left-hander. He managed to avoid contact with any trees and was not injured. Allen had just set a lap record for Teslas weeks before at Buttonwillow race track in California.
Veteran racer Randy Pobst was the other Tesla pilot to go off. "In racing, the highs are high, and the lows are low," said Pobst, on his YouTube video channel. "The car was faultless yesterday, I don't think I've ever driven a better-handling car. The trick here is the car had been so great yesterday, fantastic, perfect, but this was the first run on the notoriously bumpy top section (of Pikes Peak), I've driven it in a street car, I drove it the last two years (in the race) ... friends who ran yesterday told me they were getting airborne in a couple places ... I really don't have any excuses..." Pobst was not driving at max speed at the time of the crash, he said. "I ran a pace where I felt like I could keep it in control."
Pobst had hit 113 mph on the straight approaching the turn, got on the brakes and was going about 68 mph when the car hit the frost heave and went off course. Luckily that section had runoff room, albeit over a drainage ditch. "I'm not real sure what happened," Pobst concluded.
The impact of the crash popped off the Unplugged Performance aerodynamic bodywork, including the big rear wing, and bent the aluminum frame of the car. The Unplugged team is working hard to get the car in shape to run this Sunday, Aug. 30. "We would like to run on Sunday and we are trying our best to find a way to repair the car," said Unplugged's founder, Ben Schaffer, when we reached him at Pikes Peak. "The damage is extremely severe. At the moment we are trying to find the best way to rapidly get A LOT of replacement parts. That in itself is daunting given the extent of damage. Simultaneously, we need to find a way to straighten the frame fast as a precursor to even getting new front and rear subframe."
In the meantime, practice and qualifying continue at The Race to the Clouds.
AUGUST SALES FORECAST
Analysts are predicting sales of new vehicles are continuing to improve in August, though they remain stuck below the level recorded before the COVID-19 pandemic sent the economy into a lockdown. ALG Inc., a subsidiary of TrueCar Inc. and the industry benchmark for determining the future resale value of a vehicle, estimates total new vehicle sales will hit 1.3 million units in August 2020, down 15% from a year ago when adjusted for the same number of selling days.
Source: The Detroit Bureau
HYUNDAI ALL OUT
Hyundai Motor Co.'s U.S. plant is running flat out to meet demand for sport-utility vehicles, and the company's top North American executive says it will need to consider expanding production capacity if that continues. The South Korean automaker was slow to transform its lineup to meet Americans' penchant for SUVs but now is capitalizing on a rebound in showroom traffic following pandemic-related U.S. shutdowns. Sport-utility vehicles were 67% of U.S. retail sales in July, thanks to models like the Tucson and Palisade, according to Jose Munoz, Hyundai's chief executive officer of North America.
CARS.COM SURVEYS REINFORCE IMPORTANCE OF PERSONAL VEHICLE
Especially for dealerships in larger metropolitan areas where public transit is more prevalent, a new Cars.com study reinforced how valuable vehicles are to consumers nowadays — particularly ones who have made a purchase since the coronavirus pandemic began. Based on the individuals who participated [in the] Cars.com survey conducted earlier this month, 21% of respondents said they have purchased a car in the last six months, with 57% saying it was due to the pandemic.
Source: Auto Remarketing
Originally published by Crowe MacKay, August 2020
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