Automotive News, August 2016

Mitsubishi Motors has been told to stop selling eight more models after it was found they overstated fuel efficiency.  The latest models affected by the fuel efficiency scandal include variants of the Pajero, Outlander and RVR SUV cars.


“Our investigation confirmed that the fuel economy on eight models were as much as 8.8% and on average 4.2% lower than advertised,” the Japanese transport ministry said in a statement. The ministry ordered the carmaker to stop selling those eight models on the domestic market while it submitted correct readings.


In the wake of the initial scandal in April, some $3bn was wiped off the carmaker’s market value. In May, fellow carmaker Nissan moved in to take a 34% controlling stake in the company in a 237bn yen ($2.2bn; £1.52bn) deal.





The US court handling the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal turned up the heat on the German carmaker by ordering lawyers on both sides to begin “Plan B” negotiations in case 85,000 cars that currently violate US pollution rules cannot be fixed.


Judge Charles Breyer called it “intolerable” that Volkswagen cars with 3-litre engines that do not meet US standards continue to be driven on the road with no solution in sight.  Last month the judge gave preliminary approval to a $15bn settlement in which VW agreed to buy back or fix almost half a million of the cars – those with 2-litre engines.


“What makes this case a bit different from the run of the mill case is that having the car on the road in violation of EPA standards is, in the courts view intolerable,” the judge said. “It’s something that must be addressed and corrected as expeditiously as possible.”


VW has submitted several proposals to fix the cars, but after weeks of testing they have all been rejected.  VW now has until October 24 to offer a new proposal, the court said.



Judge Breyer said finding a fix is still “Plan A”, but given progress is slow and he wants the cars off the road, he ordered a contingency plan — including settlement talks—be developed. “I am directing the parties to participate and to come back on November 3rd with an update”, he told the lawyers.  Separately, lawyers told the court that VW had agreed to settle with 650 US dealerships that had sued the carmaker in April for fraud over the scandal. The dealers are seeking compensation for a drop in the value of diesel-engine cars and in their ability to sell new models.





Volkswagen decided against suing South Korea which last month suspended sales of most of its models and slapped a fine of 17.8 billion won (12.16 million pounds) on the German carmaker.


Instead, Volkswagen will try to achieve certification for the affected models and resume sales quickly rather than taking on a lengthy legal spokesman for Volkswagen’s South Korean unit said.


Last month, the government revoked certification for 80 model variants of VW, Audi and Bentley vehicles on grounds that the German automaker fabricated certificates or vehicle emissions and noise-levels.  Volkswagen’s sales slumped 40% to 12,888 vehicles from January to July in South Korea, after jumping 17% last year, in the wake of its emissions test cheating scandal.





More than 1 million cars were built in the UK in the first seven months of this year, the biggest number m more than a decade. Car production rose by 7.6% to 126,566 units last month, according to the Society of Motor Manufactucturers and Traders. So far in 2016, output is up by 12.3% to 1,023,723. This is the first time since 2004 that the 1 million mile-stone has been reached in July.


Production for the UK market increased by 14.1% last month, while exports rose by 6%, Almost 80% of cars manufactured this year, more than 750,000, were destined for overseas markets. The EU is the biggest export market for cars made in the UK.





Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) posted global retail sales growth for May of plus 18% year on year, driven by strong results across key regions. Models such as the Discovery Sport, XE and the F-Pace are all performing above expectations. It was the best May ever for the firm.


Across its different markets, JLR sales were up 28% year on year in China, 23% in the UK and 24% in Europe. The US lagged with growth of “only” 8%.  The performance in China was especially interesting, with sales up to 9,300 units, with Land Rover up 2% and Jaguar up 22%. This is an impressive performance given the maturing automotive market in China and recent slow down there.


The ramping up of Discovery Sport production in China and the launch of the long-wheel base Jaguar XFL will boost JLR sales in China further.


Globally Jaguar retail sales were up 90% to over 10,600 units driven by the XE small executive saloon that sold 3,100 units in May and the launch of the F-Pace crossover that sold a remarkable 3,000 units globally.


Overall, the XE and F-pace models accounted for close to a third of Jaguar’s global sales for the month. Other Jaguar models such as the XF, XJ and F-Type continued to see a sales decline of between 9% and 16%. Overall, the strong growth in the new F-Pace and the XE models is likely to outweigh the underperforming models like the XJ and is thus likely to deliver continue growth for the Jaguar brand.


The new Discovery is expected to launch in the third quarter of JLR’s next fiscal year and a new mid-size Range Rover model is expected in the quarter after that.


So far this year, Jaguar has sold nearly 50,000 units, up 60% on the same period in 2015. Land Rover remains the dominant brand with 34,300 Land Rovers sold in May, representing sales growth of 6%. For the year Land Rover volumes are up by 16%, to 196,600 units.





Volkswagen has settled a damaging dispute with two of its suppliers that hit car production at more than half of its German factories. After more than 20 hours of negotiations that lasted through the night, the German carmaker said that it had reached an agreement with CarTrim, which makes seats, and ES Automobilguss, which manufactures cast iron parts for gearboxes. The dispute affected almost 28,000 workers at six of VW’s 10 factories in Germany.


VW said that the suppliers would start delivering parts again “in the near future” and that the affected factories would gradually resume production. Reeling from the emissions scandal, which has resulted in a sales slump and billions of euros of costs, VW had indicated that it would be pushing for price cuts from its suppliers. It has set aside €18bn to cover litigation and other costs of the scandal, after admitting last September that 11 million diesel-powered cars around the world were fitted with software designed to cheat emissions tests.


VW asked a German court to take action against Prevent, the Bosnia-based parent group of CarTrim and ES Automobilguss, for refusing to follow an order to resume deliveries. The dispute centred on a cancelled contract.  Prevent’s German subsidiaries stopped delivering parts to VW when it refused to reimburse the supplier for changes made at its factories before the start of a new contract that was then cancelled.


At Emden, where the company makes the Passat, production was halted when the carmaker ran out of seats. Production ceased at Wolfsburg, which normally makes 2,200 Golfs a day and employs 10,000 people; Zwickau, which produces Golfs and Passats; and Braunschweig, which makes chassis components and plastic parts.





The UK automotive industry’s reputation as a global leader in quality and efficiency will be boosted this October with the publication of a new global quality standard for design and manufacturing.


lATF 16949:2016, which was co-written by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, replaces the ISO Technical Specification 16949, one of the industry’s most widely used international standards for quality management.


Technical Specification 16949 applies to the design/development, production and installation and servicing of products, and provides a quality management system to deliver continual improvement, with an emphasis on defect prevention and reducing variation and waste in the supply chain.


The updated standard, which is strongly customer focused, includes new automotive-specific requirements, including those for safety-related parts and processes; product traceability; warranty management; and products with embedded software. It also includes requirements for downstream supply chain management and corporate responsibility processes.


The standard will be used in conjunction with ISO quality management systems and standard, ISO 9001:2015.



Leading multi-disciplined engineering solutions company, adi Group, has partnered with BP to become the first business in the UK to offset its fleet’s carbon emissions through the BP Plus Fuel Card.  As part of adi’s ongoing commitment to the environment, each time one of its 193 company vehicles uses the BP Plus fuel card to refuel at a BP service station, the carbon emissions associated with that purchase will be calculated and offset, leaving its vehicle fleet driving carbon neutral.


Calculating the C02 emissions from the purchase of fuels and offsetting the equivalent amount of carbon is done in partnership with BP’s carbon reduction and offsetting programme, BP Target Neutral.


UK Fuel Cards manager for BP, Andy Allen added: “We recognise the increasing challenge our customers face from reducing their fleet emissions without significantly impacting operations. “Our new fuel card offer in collaboration with BP Target Neutral overcomes this challenge by enabling customers to continue their operation while ensuring the environmental impact from riving is fully mitigated. It’s a real win-win for business.”





Ford has said it will mass-produce a fully autonomous self-driving car without a steering wheel by 2021.  The bold ambition was outlined by the company’s president, Mark Fields, at an event in Palo Alto, California.




Ford said it would double its Investment in its research centre in the city, as well as making sizable investments in technology companies in the autonomy industry.


In partnership with Chinese firm Baidu, Ford has made a joint investment of $150m (£115m) in Velodyne – a company that works on light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology. LiDAR is the system used for accurately detecting objects around the car.


Ford was also part of an investment round that raised $6.6m for Civil Maps – a digital mapping company – as well as money put towards neuroscience research.


Ford said it would be focusing on “Level 4” autonomy in reference to the standards put in place by the US based Society of Automotive Engineers. The levels represent the sophistication of self-driving technology. At Level four – “high automation” – the car is able to operate, unmonitored in a particular use case. For Ford, the use case would be a city area. Level 5 would mean full autonomy in any driving condition.


Tesla’s Autopilot, which changes lanes and monitors traffic flow; is officially Level two – although critics say human nature means drivers are instinctively treating Autopilot as if it were in fact level three automation. Level three is that where constant monitoring is not required, but drivers should be ready to take control in emergencies.

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