Motor industry news – June 2013

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v8-supercar28 June

Nissan, Mercedes-Benz and now Volvo are entering the Australian V8 Supercars series long dominated by Ford and Holden – but although it’s been approached, Jaguar isn’t following suit. Its regional MD said the business decision around it is “insane”. Who wants to be ‘flogged by a Holden every week’?

27 June

When alliances work, the benefits are staggering. This was the dream of people like Jurgen Schrempp, and it’s the Renault-Nissan Alliance that’s making it a reality: last year, the Alliance achieved a record synergy of €2.69bn. The synergies actually grew 54% last year, allowing Renault and Nissan to compete in the ‘elite tier’ of global car makers. Instead of mergers, then, perhaps Renault and Nissan are showing the benefits of alliances – making savings without losing independence.

Tesla is moving towards its third growth phase, says CEO Elon Musk – which will take this years targeted 20k sales up to an annual 200k within 3-4 years. Direct sales of the new Model S, rather than through ‘problematic’ US dealers, is key.

More changes at Opel/Vauxhall: a dedicated board member post for marketing has been created. Tina Muller is the first to take the hot seat. Vauxhall boss and (still) acting GME VP for sales and aftersales Duncan Aldred loses the ‘marketing’ bit of his acting role as a result. No reflection on him: GME has belatedly realised how important marketing is, hence the new bespoke role.

26 June

The Chevrolet overhaul continues. European market share has almost halved in the first five months of 2013: following Susan Doherty’s retirement, GM has appointed Opel board member Thomas Sedram to the role. His first job: turn around a 32% YTD sales decline…

25 June

Brit Alan Batey is expected to take up a newly created global head of Chevrolet role this week. The former Vauxhall apprentice (he joined the firm in 1979) moved to Seoul in 2001 to work on GM’s integration of Daewoo, and has been US-based since 2010. EDIT: this has now been confirmed – Batey is senior vice president, Chevrolet AND the head of US sales, service and marketing cor Chevrolet, Buick and GMC.

Aston Martin is said to have signed a new five-year deal with Ford to receive Cologne-built V8 and V12 motors. The deal is expected to fill the slot while the firm integrates its new technical supply with Daimler: it also, says Autocar, confirms the VH architecture will last for at least another five years.

23 June

Interbrand has revealed the top 10 greenest brands in the world: car firms make up five of them. Who? Toyota (1), Ford (2), Honda (3), Nissan (5) and Volkswagen (7). Interestingly, adds Interbrand, ‘the secret to be considered as among the greenest brands in the world is not just what they produce, but also how well they tell customers what they are doing’.

Renault needs to sell 75k units in the UK to be viable. Last year, it sold 55k cars and vans. With Clio 4 and Captur, though, I’d say it’ll hit the target easily.

It looks like the Renault Initiale Paris premium sub-brand won’t be coming to the UK.

The new Land Rover Defender may not be the utilitarian separate-chassis working vehicle many have been expecting, says Hiton Holloway. What price a lifestyle model using the Range Rover’s all-aluminium platform?

22 June

Interesting Audi/Durheimer revelation: boss Rupert Stadler says it was the former Bentley man’s inability to cope with the complexity of the Audi model range that led to his downfall (oh, and the fact he eschewed EVs). Could this be tied in with earlier news that Audi is reducing the number of model variants it offers, I wonder..?

21 June

Chevrolet Europe boss Susan Doherty is to retire on September 3oth.

Renault UK is back in profit for the first time since 2007. The sometimes-painful restructuring that was carried out here may now be rolled out to other loss-making European countries.

20 June

Audi has reportedly dismissed former Bentley chief Wolfgang Durheimer. High-level disagreements seem to be the cause – look out for a possibly ‘ostentatious’ new Q7.

17 June

Porsche is now back to being wholly owned by Porsche and Piech families: it’s bought back the 10% stake owned by Qatar Holdings.

Mercedes-Benz AMG is the fastest-growing performance brand in the UK. Registrations in 2012 were up 119%.

The Renault Scenic XMOD has more than twice the amount of stowage capacity INSIDE the cabin as the Renault Twizy does overall (71 litres v. 31 litres). Its boot also stretches to 1870 litres..

16 June

Autonomous driving systems mean Ford can now do 75% of its durability testing driver-free. The ‘robot car’ has saved many a test driver from weeks being rattled by the Belgian pave – and nobody’s lost their job as a result of them, either.

When the boss describes the styling of his large family car as ‘a little bit strange’, you know plenty is going on behind the scenes not to repeat the mistake. If it’s good, will we get the next 2014-15 Renault Laguna in the UK?

Proving that there are still sectors it has not explored, first details of an Audi A3-derived compact MPV have emerged. Expect to see the first concept next year, says Auto Express.

15 June

Bob Lutz as EV advocate? Who’d have thought.

Peugeot will be in raptures: the 2008 is TWICE as popular as first expected. It’s been making 5000 a month – yet still has 16,000 orders. So it’s doubling capacity at the Mulhouse plant to 10,000 a month, with a second shift starting September.

Europe bought 151k subcompact SUVs last year: by 2015, this will rise to 500k. The Nissan Juke is the current sales leader, ahead of the Vauxhall Mokka. Both the Renault Captur and the Peugeot 2008 will soon overtake them: the 2008 will be market leader, selling 200k a year: 100k built in Europe, 45k in Brazil and 55k in China.

Will there be a new Ford Ka? Well, the current one isn’t One Ford… and the firm’s making no money on it, either.

Sergio Marchionne reckons Fiat has ‘everything we need’ to relaunch Alfa. I hope so.

Expect to see scrapyards packed with March 2006-on cars emitting 226g/km CO2 and more, according to CAP: VED of at least £475 a year’s going to make them financially unviable.

Fiat is stopping development of hydrogen fuel cells after 30 years as compressed natural gas and other solutions are better and more viable. Not sure about the £50bn ‘recharging roads’ idea, though…

Ford is planning to cut CO2 emissions from its cars by 30% come 2025. It’s already cut them by 37% between 2000-2012 (and its car plants have almost halved their CO2 emissions, too).

9 June

The new Skoda Rapid Spaceback looks really rather smart. And really rather A3 Sportback-like…

3 June

Strong realism from Infinit chief Johan de Nysschen in this piece for Automotive News. The EV is on hold: 500k remains the target but profitability does too: he’ll only worry if it’s less than 200k…

Strong votes of support for PSA CEO Philippe Varin here too: he turned around Corus – can he do the same for Peugeot-Citroen?

Chinese new car market stats: the compact sector is 6m units a year – bigger than the entire Japanese market. The luxury sales leaders are Audi, then BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover, Lexus, Volvo. Japan exports most cars to China, then the US, then Germany (Mercedes and BMW SUVs come from the US). All stats thanks to @dunnecarsasia.

2 June

No city car for Dacia, it seems: Renault COO Carlos Tavares is cautious of the brand having too many cars and having to stretch its marketing budget too thinly. Raising brand awareness is also a greater priority at the moment. Presumably the smaller profit margins of city cars would also be a factor..? Just how cheap COULD a Renault Twingo-derived Dacia be? Possibly, I reckon, not cheap enough.

Hyundai will start making the i10 and i20 in Turkey from next year – meaning 90% of the cars it sells here are also produced here.

Cadillac ELR: looks good, doesn’t it? Pre-production models have started rolling off the Detroit production line, prior to it going on sale early next year. Based on the Chevrolet Volt and Vauxhall Ampera, it’s likely to be a convincing drive but it’s the looks and US-premium badge that could really help give range-extender motoring a real lift.

Renault has admitted it’s spoken with Mitsubishi about a possible collaboration in the past, but no partnership discussions are currently taking place.

Former Jaguar boss Mike O’Driscoll has been appointed group CEO at Williams – overseeing both Williams F1 and Williams Advanced Engineering.

1 June

JLR made more money in the past 12 months than Tata paid for it five years ago. Profit was a record £1.7bn, on revenue of £15.8bn (that was a record, too). JLR accounts for three quarters of Tata Motors’ group revenues.

Jaguar will sell 8000-12,000 F-Type a year, to high-earning 35-55 year olds. Hopefully patient ones, though: it’s already sold out now until the end of the year. It will take 15-20% of Jaguar’s 60k annual volume (surely that’s set to start growing now?) and key markets will be Germany, the US and the UK. It’ll also be going to China where the average millionaire is – get this – 38.

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