News: November 2011

27 Nov

  • The McLaren F1 successor will be called MP4-27. The announcement was made at the opening of the McLaren Production Centre, which PM David Cameron attended.
  • Tech-savvy youngsters turn off cars: 46% of US 18-24 year olds would take internet access over owning their own car. For baby boomers (born between 1946-1964), the future is 15%. ‘The iPhone is the Ford Mustang of today’ said one analyst. Ford open innovation leader K. Ventakesh Prasad says car makers must thus make vehicles more like smartphones – ‘creating an experience rather than a mode of transport’. (Car Advice)
  • BMW first to export from China: The Chinese-market long-wheelbase BMW 5 Series will become the first Chinese-built foreign brand car to be exported from the country. Built by the Brilliance-BMW JV, sales of the Chinese 3 and 5 have already topped 100,000. Full year sales are expected to be 15-20% higher than 2010′s Chinese BMW sales of 169k. (China Car Times)
  • BMW 4 Series to remain CC: The BMW 4 Series cabriolet will retain a folding hard-top model despite the US importer requesting a traditional canvass roof for greater differentiation over the coupe. The new cabrio is codenamed F33 and will go on sale in mid-2014. There will also be an M4 version – meaning the new M3 is going to be saloon-only. (Autocar)
  • China to be Porsche’s no. 1: China will become Porsche’s largest market in 2014. It is currently second-largest, with 55% of its sales coming from the Cayenne (the Panamera accounts for 30% of sales with sports cars taking the remaining 15%). Further SUV volume will come from the Cajun junior SUV, but porsche has not decided whether to locally-produce it. To make a business case, at least 25-50k annual sales are needed. (Car News China)
  • Chevy Cruze hybrid ‘not a Chevy Volt’: GM is to develop a plug-in hybrid version of the Chevrolet Cruze – but it will not share technology with the Chevrolet Volt. It will use a combination of electric and combustion engine drive for the front wheels (a hybrid with plug-in recharge capability): the Volt is driven by an electric motor alone, even when the range extender engine is running. (goauto)
  • Chinese SUV boom: 1.33m SUVs were sold in China in 2010 – a 101% rise year on year and four times the sales growth of saloons. (Car News China)
  • Toyota GT 86: Toyota’s new front-engine, rear-drive sportscar co-developed with Subaru will be called GT 86. The 197hp model will go on sale in June 2012. Details include a 365mm diameter steering wheel, the smallest ever fitted toa Toyota (test engineers also specified the grade of buckskin leather cover to deliver the best steering performance and grip). Toyota fits a bespoke D4-S twin-injector fuel injection system to the Subaru-designed boxer engine – which has a bore and stroke of 86mm x 86mm. (Toyota Blog)
  • Renault HQ probe: Renault’s corporate HQ was searched this week by the magistrate investigating attempted fraud. (Automotive News)

26 Nov

  • Jaguar’s second-ever estate for 2012: The 2012 Jaguar XF Sportbrake will get an XJ-style black wraparound D-pillar. It is different from the B-pillar back and will go on sale later in 2012. CAR, which scooped the model during testing, says an XF wagon wasn’t planned under Jaguar’s Ford ownership, so the engineers have had a fair task in making the conversion. (CAR)
  • Second Reilly replacement named: Nick Reilly’s successor as chairman of Adam Opel AG is Stephen Girsky. Karl Friedrich Stracke has already been announced as president of GM Europe and CEO of Opel/Vauxhall. GM CEO wants Opel to ‘realise its full potential’, optimise its cost structure and improve margins. (4wheelsnews)
  • Veloster outsells 500 2:1: The first full month of Hyundai Veloster sales has seen it take 31% of the compact sports car sector. The MINI Cooper took 29% and both the Scion tC and Fiat 500 each took 15%. A Veloster takes 8 days to sell: a Honda CR-Z takes 139 days to sell. (Auto Guide)
  • New trio for the trident: Maserati is planning three new models – a Quattroporte successor, a smaller Maserati (based on the Chrysler 300 but with new suspension and Ferrari/Maserati engines) and the JeepGrand Cherokee-derived Kubag SUV. (CAR)
  • Lexus planning GS ‘M5′ to stop being vanilla: Lexus is planning a GS to rival the BMW M5. Autocar speculates it could use a downside 4.6-litre version of the LFA’s 4.8-litre V10. There will still not be a diesel version when the car launches in the UK in summer 2012 though: Lexus feels the GS 450h hybrid offers all the benefits of diesel. Lexus doesn’t want to be a bland ‘vanilla’ brand anymore. (Autocar)

24 Nov

  • Suzuki begins arbitration against VW: Suzuki is starting arbitration proceedings against Volkswagen with the ICC International Court of Arbitration in London: it wants VW to either sell the shares back to Suzuki, or sell them to a third party named by Suzuki. Suzuki had already ended the partnership with VW back in September, although VW says Suzuki has no legal foundation to force the sale of shares. (BBC)
  • The 38th Audi: The Audi Q3 is the 38th model from Audi. It is built at the SEAT Martorell factory near Barcelona: full-year production is expected to be 100k units. (Glass’s)
  • The rotary engine is not dead: Production of the Mazda RX-8 ends in June 2012 but rotary engine development will continue said CEO Takashi Yamanouchi. He is ‘very attracted’ to the rotary engine and said, at the LA Motor Show, that development will continue for so long as he heads the firm. Engineers have already confirmed they are working on a form of laser injection for the rotary engine which may be fitted to a new RX-9 sportscar. (Car Advice)
  • VW US success: VW October sales rose 40% year on year, led by the Jetta and Passat. The latter has just been voted Motor Trend car of the year: it is built in VW’s Chattanooga, Tennessee plant and costs from the equivalent of £13k (it is a longer-wheelbase version of the UK car with bespoke body panels and a different interior). 5000 Passat were sold in September: last year, VW sold 12k in the whole of 2010. Jetta sales are up 62% and Audi US sales were up 20%. VW wants to sell 800k cars a year in the US by 2018. (Autocar)
  • Saab delays creditor report: Saab has delayed its submission to creditors due November 22. This document specifies how Saab will pay its outstanding debts and how future components will be paid for and delivered. The delay has been agreed by Saab and administrator Guy Lofalk due to ongoing discussions with GM over IP licensing.
  • GM Europe must cut costs: European overcapacity is costing GM, said CEO Dan Akerson. Most of its plants are running at 85% capacity: ‘when you’re running your plant at a utilisation of anything less than 100%… you’re truing to bend the demand curve to beat the supply curve’. The EU problems mirror those in the US which tipped the brand into bankruptcy in 2009. Overproduction results in price cuts or dumping cars into fleets. 17% of GM’s sales are from Opel/Vauxhall. (Automotive News)

21-23 Nov

  • New Volvo XC90 leaked: Sketches of the 2014 Volvo XC90 have been leaked by Car and Driver. They apparently come from the firms’ Californian design studio and were shown in a pre-LA Motor Show preview. (Car Advice)
  • Chinese boost for Jaguar Land Rover: Chinese demand helped boost Jaguar Land Rover quarterly revenue by 30%, to £2.9bn. Pre-tax profits rose 9% to £287m. JLR sales rose 13.8% in the first half of 2011, to 130,090It was also revealed 7700 Range Rover Evoque have been delivered since launch. Parent firm Tata Motors, however, reported a 16% fall in quarterly profits. (4wheelsnews)
  • Ford improves MyFord Touch:  Ford has upgraded it MyFord Touch system to boost reliability and ease of use. The simplified system will be available to current owners next year via a flash drive, delivered to them for upgrading without visiting the dealer. Ford’s position in surveys such as J. D. Power reliability and quality studies has ben adversely affected due to complaints about the MyFord Touch system. (4wheelsnews/YouTube)
  • Mercedes planning new 335hp V6: Mercedes is planning a twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 producing 335hp and 400Nm – but it will also be more fuel efficient than the current 300hp/370Nm 3.5-litre V6 7.0 instead of 8.3). This relatively new direct-injection engine is expected to continue as a lower-price alternative (in models such as the SLK and C-CLass Coupe). There is much speculation over Mercedes’ engine range, with talk of a twin-turbo V6 due in a years’s time, while CAR also speculates Mercedes could switch to straight-six engines in 2015. (Car Advice)
  • Gucci lift for Lincoln: Ford is planning to revive Lincoln in a similar way to Burberry clotting or the Gucci brand said Ford global marketing chief Jim Farley. Lincoln US sales were down 11% in October. Farley admits the brand has been neglected but is now investing in it, with bespoke designs based on Ford models. Ford sales, meanwhile, were up 11% in the US in October, ahed of its 10% goal. (Automotive News)
  • Modular Merc platform applications expand: Mercedes‘ modular steel rear-drive platform, already used in the E-Class and M-Class, will underpin both he 2012 S-Class and future C-Class. The S-Class may become the world’s safest car thanks to new technologies inclusion a ‘Braking Bag’ that trusts under the front axle to add an extra burst of last-second stopping power. Mercedes is also planning a convertible version of the new S-Class-derived CL, with a futuristic roof based on the 2006 Ocean Drive concept, to take on the Bentley GTC. (Autocar)
  • 2012 MG5 spied: The MG5 has been caught undisguised prior to its launch on Monday 21 November at the Guangzhou Auto Show. European deliveries are expected in around a year’s time. (China Car Times)

20 Nov

  • The Vauxhall Senator: Vauxhall sold 30k Senator in the seven years it was on sale in the UK. It shared the floorpan, engines and running gear of the Carlton but had a longer wheelbase. (Definitely Motoring)
  • Oz designer revives Lincoln: Lincoln design is now controlled by Australian Max Wolff. The 2013 MKS and MKT were his production efforts, says Car Advice. Wolff has previous worked at Holden, GM Daewoo Korea and Cadillac: he joined Lincoln in December 2010. Every panel forward from the A-pillar on the MKS is new: he said the design was ‘deliberately provocative’. Five new or refreshed models overseen by Wolff will be launched in the next three years, including the first Lincoln premium compact car. (Car Advice)
  • Zetsche not letting go of Mercedes: Daimler chief Dieter Zetsche is not planning to relinquish control ofMercedes to production chief Wolfgang Bernhard and will continue as dual head of Daimler and Mercedes. Daimler shares have risen 27% since 2009 but those in BMW have doubled: for the first time ever, BMW stock is worth more than Daimler, despite BMW being 33% smaller in terms of revenue. Mercedes’ margin of 9.4% is comparable to Skoda: Audi and BMW both boast 12% margins. (Reuters)
  • Other dual group and brand heads include Martin Winterkorn (VW cars and VW Group), Carlos Ghosn (Renault-Nissan) and Sergio Marchionne (Fiat-Chrysler). ‘It’s a positive development that a majority of those responsible in the auto industry also have an operational role and don’t just walk around as a mere figurehead,’ Zetsche told Reuters.
  • Saab discussions continue: The Memorandum of Understanding between Saab, Pang Da and Youngmanended on November 15 but discussions continue over a takeover deal for Saab. GM’s refusal to continue its technology licence if the deal were to happen is the latest sticking point.
  • Mercedes SL lightweight: The 2012 Mercedes SL will be 140kg lighter than the current car, boosting economy by 30%. The new chassis will be made from aluminium and be 20% more torsionally rigid than the current model. Mercedes has also invented a new in-wiper washer system dubbed Magic Vision Control. This lessens the risk of windscreen washer spray entering the cabin with the roof down. (Car Advice)
  • Chevrolet Cruze sales suffer as supplies of rivals revives: GM will soon idle the US Chevrolet Cruze factory for a week due to falling sales. October sales of 14,295 marked the first time since January that monthly sales fell below 18k. The Cruze has been the best-selling compact car in the US for five months this year. Sales of theToyota Corolla and Honda Civic have slowed this year due to limited supplies but are now being replenished. (4wheelsnews)

19 Nov

  • 4WD a priority for Jaguar: Jaguar will launch four-wheel drive XF and XJ within two years to satisfy US demand: it accounts for 30% of overall sales and 70% of luxury sector sales in snow belt states. Jaguar is prioritising development ahead of hybrids. (Autocar)
  • Lexus eyes 2012 revival: Lexus reckons 2012 will be a good year, despite losing its 13-year record as the best-selling premium brand in the US (due to the Japanese earthquake and strong yen). Lexus will end 2011 in third place behind BMW and Mercedes-Benz: full inventory will only be reinstated in Q1 2012. Lexus reckons US luxury car sales will grow by 100k units next year. Four new or revised Lexus arrive next year: the new GS and the revised ES, IS and LS. A new RX arrives in early 2014. (4wheelsnews)
  • Land Rover Solihull to become UK’s biggest car plant: 1000 new jobs for 2012 will make Land Rover Solihull the UK’s largest car factory. Nissan Sunderland and Solihull currently vie for first place with 5000 workers each. (Autocar)
  • PSA may join up in China: PSA is considering a combined production and sales network in China. Currently, the Dongfeng PSA JV production division is separate to PSA vehicle imports. The move would make the dealer network more efficient and help streamline sales and marketing strategies plus the roll-out of new models – but would also feel PSA HQ relinquish control to China, which is why the firm has previously been reluctant. (Gasgoo)
  • Oz may beat UK for car sales: Australian car sales are expected to his 2.1 million by 2015 due to growing consumer confidence. 476k private buyers (which represent half the market) have bought cars in the past 12 moths: this will rise to 625k in the next 12 months, say analysts. The UK’s full year forecast for 2011 is 1.93m units. (Car Advice)

14-18 Nov

  • GM Europe losses ‘unacceptable’: GM Europe quarterly losses narrowed from $559m to $292m (and deliveries rose 4.6% to 407k) but GM CEO Dan Akerson still says they are ‘unacceptable’. GM Europe was meant to break even this year but economic conditions have deteriorated in the region and new model development has increased costs. GM is also moving Chevrolet marketing to its Asian and Middle Eastern ‘GM International Operations’ division from January 1 2012. (Bloomberg)
  • Ferrari GT spied: The new Ferrari GT car has been spied in testing. Apparently codenamed F152, it will replace the 599 and is expected to be called F620. It apparently will use a 6.3-litre V12 with more than 700hp. It will debut at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show. (Car Advice)
  • Chevrolet Spark in the pink: 25% of Chevrolet Spark sold in South Korea are ‘Techno Pink’. Because of this success in the male-dominated Korean market, Chevrolet has thus decided to offer it in the US for the car’s debut. The colour is also available in the UK but the update take is a lot lower… (Detroit Free Press)
  • US says no to DCT: Chrysler has delayed the introduction of its Fiat-sourced DCT automatic in the US while it works on refinement and smoothness. The DCT ‘feels differently than what consumers are used to in the United States’, a spokeswoman told The Car Connection.
  • Zimbabwe car industry: Chinese firm Quest has invested $4m in a Zimbabwe car assembly plant. Around 180 single and double cab models will be produced from January 2012, using CKD kits from China, but the firm hopes to eventually up local content to around 30-40%, while also rolling out new models. Last year, 6000 new cars were sold in Zimbabwe, compared to 20k in in 2008. The country has two vehicle assembly plants. (Car News China)
  • Autocar Boris Bus becomes reality: Production of the ‘Boris Bus’ championed by Autocar writer Hilton Holloway has begun. The aluminium space frame bus has a 4.5-litre diesel generator which drives an electric motor on the rear axle and recharges the 17kWh battery pack. Tests show it averages 11.6mpg (640g/km CO2): a conventional diesel double decker averages 5.8mpg (1295g/km CO2). The New Bus for London begins testing next month. (Autocar)
  • Ford Flex retention boast: Ford’s seven-seat large crossover has the highest retention rate of any Ford. It has just been revised for 2012 and becomes the world’s first car with airbag-equipped rear seats. (Autocar)
  • Holden’s last car: The 2014 Holden Commodore could be the last one engineered in the country. Owner GM wants to use more global platforms as niche market-specific designs are costly. Holden employs 250-300 people in its engineering department which has ran since 1948. (LeftLaneNews)
  • Car sales decline continues in India: Indian car sales fell for the fourth month in a row in October. 138k sales was a 24% decline, caused by strikes and rising borrowing costs. (Businessweek)
  • Mexico marriage for Daimler and Nissan: Daimler and Nissan are to invest $1bn to jointly assemble vehicles in Mexico, according to Nikkei business daily. The 200k a year plant will open in H1 2012. The plans are part of the April 2010 Daimler/Renault-Nissan Alliance JV to jointly manufacture engines and vehicles. (4wheelnews)
  • Spark sparks EV1 comparison: The 2013 Chevrolet Spark will be GM’s first pure electric vehicle since the launch of the EV1. (Detroit Free Press)

13 Nov

  • BMW remains luxury leader but watch out for Audi: BMW sold 115k cars worldwide in October, a 6.8% rise and enough to give it leadership in the premium car sector. It’s watch out for Audi though: sales there were up 24% to 108k. Mercedes was third, with 103k sales marking a meagre 2.9% rise. BMW has sold 1.13m cars to October 2011: Audi has sold 1.08m and Mercedes has sold 1.02m. (4 Wheels News)
  • GM back to no.1: GM is expected to regain the world’s number 1 car maker title this year. To September 2011, it had sold 6.79m cars, 1m higher than Toyota. Indeed, Toyota will be third, behind VW Group which has sold 6.17m cars. Toyota is, apparently rethinking its strategy of being the biggest global maker, after being hit by recalls and quality dramas. GM sales are up 9.2% so far this year. (Bloomberg)
  • Volvo rectifies ‘cock-up’ with V30: CAR has spotted the 2012 Volvo V30 five-door rival to the VW Golf in testing. Slotting between the C30 and V50, it rectifies the glaring lack of a five-door alternative to the C30 three-door. It will be based on Volvo’s current small car platform, itself derived from the last generation FordFocus. An XC30 crossover is also rumoured. (CAR)
  • Trouble at PSA: PSA plans to cut 6000 jobs to reduce costs by €800m after a warning 2011 free cash flow will be negative by year-end. A previous prediction that it will post clear profit has been cut to break-even. The parent of Peugeot and Citroen blames greater competition, pricing pressure and the fall-off in demand in southern Europe: Q3 sales were down 1.6% to €9.3bn. Analysts say PSA’s intention to move upmarket, and the need to stand firm on pricing, is increasing costs. (Reuters)
  • VW XL1 on sale 2013: The VW XL1 is being developed for small-series production (in either Dresden or Wolfsburg), VW Group CEO Martin Winterkorn has confirmed. It will have a 27hp electric motor and a 48hp 80cc two-cylinder diesel, mated to a seven-speed DSG. It will average 313mpg and emit 24g/km CO2. (4wheelsnews)

12 Nov

  • Vauxhall planning new Senator: Vauxhall/Opel is working on a model to sit above the Insignia, confirms Opel CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke. It could be based on the long wheelbase Epsilon II platform also used by the Saab 9-5. (Car Advice)
  • Opel to launch in Australia: GM’s European division, Opel, is to go on sale in Australia in the second half of 2012. The Corsa, Astra and Insignia will launch the brand, with more models planned in the future. (Car Advice)
  • Reilly retires: GM Europe president Nick Reilly will retire in March 2012 after 37 years at the firm. Brit Reilly launched  the GM Daewoo Auto and Technology division in 2002 and has led GM Europe since 2009. He has also been chief of Vauxhall in the UK (famously taking zero pay for a year to help negotiations with unions). He will be replaced by Karl Stracke. GM chairman and SEO Dan Ackerson said Reilly had ‘answered the call for GM at every turn’.
  • Mercedes MLC: CAR magazine has revealed details of the 2014 Mercedes MLC that will take on the BMWX6 from 2014. Codenamed C166, it was approved in July and will be built at Mercedes’ US plant. BMW sells 40-60k X6 a year… (CAR)
  • US says no to DCT: Chrysler has delayed the introduction of its Fiat-sourced DCT automatic in the US while it works on refinement and smoothness. The DCT ‘feels differently than what consumers are used to in the United States’, a spokeswoman told The Car Connection.
  • Audi does a BMW: Audi has followed BMW in making an intriguing US/EU transmission call. On the 2012 S4 and S5, it’s DSG only in Europe – but the US keeps the manual option. BMW did the same thing with the E60 M5, despite the presumption that Europeans love manuals and Americans prefer autos. As the piece says, is it proof times are changing? (Fourtitude)

11 Nov

  • GM aims to boost margins: GM wants to improve its earnings before interest and tax margin from 6% to 7%. Its margin is currently worse than all automakers apart from PSA, Renault and Toyota: GM is targeting the 7%-plus margins of Ford and Volkswagen. Savings will be achieved by reducing the number of engine variants from 16 to 10 by 2018, and the number of platforms from 30 to 14. (AutoBeat)
  • GM wasting cash: GM product development chief Mary Barra revealed that GM has been wasting $1bn a year on engineering models that were later delayed or cancelled. (AutoBeat)
  • Porsche may super-platform-share: Porsche may share the forthcoming second-generation Audi R8 andLamborghini Gallardo platform to build its Ferrari 458-rivalling sportscar. The model, that will sit above the 911 and below the 918, is considered a must-have new model by Porsche chief Matthias Muller, but Porsche is also reluctant to share the part-carbonfibre chassis previewed by the Audi R8 E-tron at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show. The dilemma may even see Porsche’s 458 rival delayed until the third-gen R8 arrives some time in the 2020s: this would allow Porsche more input into the basic platform engineering. (Autocar)

9 Nov

  • Lotus helps BTCC: Lotus Engineering is conducting independent testing to help equalise the BTCC NGTC 2.0-litre turbo engines for the 2012 season. The move comes after the 2011 season was mired in controversy, led by Chevrolet driver Jason Plato, about engine power inequality. (Pistonheads)
  • GM blocks Saab saviour deal: GM has blocked a deal that would have saved Saab, by saying it will not supply components and technology licences if the deal went through. All of Saab’s current cars are based on GM platforms. The US firm, which still holds preference shares in Saab, said the deal would run counter to its own shareholder’s interests. Saab says it acknowledges GM’s position and is now discussing with Pang Da andYoungman to see if a structure suitable to all parties can be agreed.
  • Evoque in China: The Range Rover Evoque is now on sale in China – with the sole engine option being the 240hp 2.0-litre turbo Si. (carnewschina)
  • Peugeot 301 for 2013: The Peugeot 308 replacement will be called 301. It will be more compact, lighter, have a higher quality interior and include three-cylinder engine options. The 309 tag has been bypassed as Peugeot bosses feel it is too soon to resurrect the 1980s tag. There will be no three-door version of the model, codenamed T91. (Autocar)
  • Citroen to further expand DS range: The Citroen premium DS range will eventually encompass six cars, including a Fiat 500-rivalling DS1 city car and a big flagship aimed at the Chinese market. The DS1 will be based on the next-gen C1 platform, to be revealed at the Paris Motor Show next autumn. (Autocar)

6 Nov

  • Ford strengthens UK share: Ford’s UK market share stands at 13.7%: last month, it sold 18,476 new cars, 2132 more than 2010 (a notable sales boost was granted by the arrival of the new C-Max: volumes rose from 460 to 1723). It commands 14.9% of the fleet market and 12.2% of the retail market.
  • Honda Europe struggles continue: Honda is delaying the launch of the new Civic in Europe by ‘three or four weeks’ due to parts shortages caused by the Thai floods. The Civic is traditionally Honda’s best-seller in Europe: this year, the Jazz will take that slot (JATO Dynamics says the Civic is down 29% year to date, to just 27,882 units. The Jazz is down 15%, to 38.422 units). Production will now start in late February. (4wheelsnews)
  • Volvo aims high: Within five years, Volvo aims to sell 200k cars in China. The country is already its third largest region, with year-to-date sales of 33k cars. Volvo opened its 306-acre R&D site in China this week: the Volvo C30 Electric will reportedly be developed there. (Gasgoo)
  • Audi declines in world’s biggest car market: Audi supplied 70% of the cars used by Chinese government in the 1980s: this bureaucratic image means younger Chinese buyers see the brand as old fashioned. Audi’s Chinese luxury car market share has declined 25% in two years. BMW’s share grew to 25% from 21% in the first six months of this year: Mercedes has risen to 22% from 16% in 2009. Audi has declined from 40% to 30%. (Businessweek)

4 Nov

  • Honda highlights global interdependence of car industry: Honda has illustrated how significant disruptions to the supply chain can be: it is cutting US and Canadian car production by half due to a shortage of key components from factories in flood-hit Thailand. Honda profit also fell 55% during the last quarter. (BBC News)
  • Nissan outperforms expert predictions: Nissan beat analyst estimates by announcing a 4.6% decline in quarterly profits, to $2bn. The firm also upped its annual sales target to 4.75m cars, including 1.25m in China and 1.35m in the US. (4wheelsnews)
  • Lotus develops crossover: Lotus and Youngman are developing a seven-seat crossover for the Chinese market, based on the 2006 APX concept. It will use old Mitsubishi engines, including 1.8, 2.0 and a 1.5 turbo. (China Car Times)
  • Australian new car market a-changing: The traditional Australian best-selling stereotype is changing: October new car sales statistics show the oh-so Australian Holden Commodore only fifth, with the VW Golf taking third. Toyota took a one-two with the Corolla and Hilux: year to date, the Mazda3 is Australia’s best-selling car. The market is around half the size of the UK: year to date, 837,324 new cars have been sold in Australia. (Car Advice)
  • Front-drive 1 Series spied: The front-wheel drive BMW 1 Series GT has been spied testing. Based on the UKL platform, it will be shared with next-generation MINI and also eventually underpin the 1 Series itself. (Bimmerpost)
  • Audi confirms UK MD: Audi’s new UK MD is Martin Sanders. Joining from Audi Canada, he starts on 3 January 2012.
  • China key market for Lotus: Lotus wants to sell 25% of its annual volume in China within four years. Sales begin next year with an initial target of 300: Lotus is aiming to sell 6000-8000 cars annually by 2015. (Car News China)

3 Nov

  • Pre-1960 cars to be MOT exempt? The government is opening consultation on whether pre-1960 cars should be made MOT exempt. They make up around 0.6% of the total UK car parc but are involved in 0.03% of road casualties and accidents.
  • Mazda says no to eco sub-brands: Mazda is not planning an eco sub-brand as the company is too small and ‘can’t afford it’, and feels they are confusing to customers. Instead, its SKYACTIV technology will encompass all areas of car design, as BMW’s EfficientDynamics strategy does. (carandvannews)

2 Nov

  • Audi man joins JLR: Former Audi MD Jeremy Hicks has joined Jaguar Land Rover to head both brands in the UK as MD. Current Land Rover MD Colin Green becomes director of global dealer operations director and current Jaguar MD Geoff Cousins becomes global sponsorship and partnerships director.
  • DAB struggling in UK:Auto Express has revealed that 60% of new cars sold has NO option to select DAB digital radio. Of 24 mainstream makers, 50% don’t give a DAB option. Although 85% of the population can receive DAB, only 18% actually listen via it. Brands that don’t offer it at all include Citroen, Fiat, Hyundaiand Nissan. A Citroen spokesman told Auto Express: ‘No Citroens have digital radio fitted (or as an option) and no date has been set as to when this will change.’ (Auto Express)
  • VW boss says Skoda, SEAT on the up – and no to bikes: VW Group CEO Martin Winterkorn says Skoda is one of the world’s fastest growing automotive brands: 762k sales last year will become 1.5m by 2018. The USP is ‘affordable, technologically solid cars’. SEAT is als moving in the right direction, he adds, with improving sales, new cars and sales in China. VW has no intention to add a motorcycle division either. (Automotive News)
  • Infinit to get new HQ: Infiniti is to get its own global HQ in Hong Kong. It is currently run from Nissan’sglobal HQ in Yokohama. It’s part of the brand’s plan to achieve 500k annual sales by 2016: China will fuel a big part of this growth. The new HQ also gives Infiniti ‘breathing space’ away from Nissan, although engineering operations will still remain embedded within Nissan. (Automotive News)
  • Geely gets Volvo design guru: Volvo designer Peter Horbury has joined Volvo owner Geely as senior vice president of design. A replacement at Volvo has yet to be announced. Horbury started at Volvo in 1991, rejoining the company in 2009: he is credited with overturning the old ‘boxy Volvo’ image.
  • Audi gets a wiggle on: Audihas already beaten 2010′s operating profit, nine months into 2011. It has made €3.96bn, including a record €1.4bn in the last quarter. It now commands a return on sales of 12.2% (8.7% in 2010). A 17.4% increase in deliveries, to 973,211, also set a new record.
  • VW and Suzuki stalemate continues: VW has announced it no longer considers Suzuki an ‘associate’. It says the opportunity to apply ‘notable influence’ on Suzuki is no longer available. It now identifies Suzuki under ‘other holdings’: in response, Suzuki reiterated its desire to divorce from VW. (4 Wheel News)

1 Nov

  • Government grants for British car firms: Bentley, Lotus and Jaguar Land Rover have all been awarded government cash uunder the Regional Growth Fund. Bentley’s £3m apparently saves 200 jobs (and is rumoured to be earmarked for diesel engine development) and Lotus’ £10.4m safeguards 1000 jobs. This cash will be put towards a second car production line to build the front-engined new cars, alongside the existing mid-engine line. JLR’s cash award has not been disclosed but is rumoured to be going towards four-cylinder engine development. (Autocar)
  • BMW to move more production out of Germany: BMW plans to reduce its reliance on Germany as a manufacturing base. In 2002, 70% of annual production was built there: by the end of 2010, this was down to 62%. It currently stands at 58% and the future goal is to get it down below 50%. BMW has four car production plans in Germany – Munich, Leipzig, Dingolfing and Regensburg – plus a motorbike production plant in Berlin. (Automotive News)
  • Toyota Yaris a double millionaire: Toyota last week produced the two millionth Yaris at its plant in Valenciennes, northern France. Production started in January 2001 with an annual peak of 262k Yaris being reached in 2007. Initial annual production was 150k: Toyota is restarting three-shift production in 2012 to meet demand.
  • Caravan sales decline: Ever wondered how many new caravans are sold every quarter? 4987 in the last quarter for 2011, 11.8% lower than 2010. Sales were down 4% in August and a huge 36% in July. 23,883 caravans have been sold in the UK so far this year. (Glass’s)