Motor industry news: September 2013

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VW-XL129 September

God love Ferdinand Piech. He wants an 1199c Ducati Superquadro V-twin version of the EV hybrid VW XL1, to be dubbed XL Sport? He gets it. 195hp at 10,750rpm and a redline of 11,500rpm sounds fiendishly good. There’s talk of a sub-three second 0-62mph time and, if unlimited, a near-200mph top speed… epic.

Is there a VR6 turbo on the way? Behold the narrow angle V6: 60 degree or 90 degree vee angle? Nah, 15 degrees rules…

All you need to know on the Porsche Macan, 911 Targa and Cayman GTS. Well, maybe not all, but certainly more than Porsche intended to have public at this stage.

Coachbuilt Rolls-Royce made from carbon fibre could be on the way…

… as could, at the opposite end of the scale, a budget brand for Volkswagen.

JLR is focused on a cross-party political approach, following the news exec director Mike Wright is to produce a report for the Labour party.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class convertible for Paris 2014 launch, to follow up S-Class coupe? Apparently, it’s confirmed. That’s it for CL, then?

The Audi nanuk wasn’t meant to be at Frankfurt: Ferdinand Piech ordered it, after liking the idea of the Italdesign Parcour Concept (for Lamborghini) shown at the Geneva Motor Show in March. That’s despite it being rejected for the Concorso d’Eleganza because it was ‘not good enough’. What does this tell us? That we shouldn’t be surprised if an Audi/Lamborghini crossover JV emerges in the future: is it linked to the Lamborghini Urus that boss Stephan Winkelmann recently revealed was close to getting the green light? Oh, and is it a rare stumble or yet more far-sighted genius from Piech?

Mercedes-Benz mused on launching a rebadged Nissan Titan. Now, it may develop its own pickup. While Nissan may roll out the extensive NVH and premium-upgrade features proposed by Mercedes-Benz for an Infiniti version of the Titan…

As it says, what’s going on with Fiat and Chrysler and all this IPO stuff? This explains all. Marchionne must be fuming.

28 September

GM might build C3 for Citroen in Spain. And Peugeot might build Zafira for Vauxhall in France. Alliance starting to take shape?

How many in the British car industry will be delighted to read this: industrial relations at a Midlands car firm are “good”

27 September

The next Renault Megane is due 2015 and will be based on the CMF2 platform also used by the new Nissan X-Trail and Qashqai. Britain won’t be getting the new Espace that’ll debut on it next year though – nor will we get the dreaded Laguna. We will get the new Scenic though, which will probably gain SUV themes (there’ll likely be a Megane crossover similar to Captur too).

Britain will take 17 per cent of global 4 Series production when it goes on sale next month: that’s 6500 cars, making us the world’s second biggest market for it. That’s fewer than the 9k peak of the 3 Series, mind: that’s competition (A5, C-Class Coupe) for you. Best seller? 420d SE. That’s CO2-based taxation for you…

BMW has ‘dropped’ the EfficientDynamics 520d, because the regular 520d now matches its 119g/km (in both manual and auto as well). 15,500 5 Series saloon are sold here each year, along with 4500 Touring and a meagre 1200 GT. 45 per cent are M Sport, most are 520d.

Nine of the top 20 most innovative companies in the world are car makers, reveals Boston Consulting Group’s annual survey. 70 per cent of auto industry respondents plan to spend more on R&D this year. Ferrari will increase investment by half, to €2bn.

Those top 20 innovative car makers are Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, GM and VW.

22 September

Fiat and GM each own half of Italian engine builder VM Motori. It seems Fiat may soon be buying GM out.

Rumour: PSA may sell a stake to China’s Dongfeng, to raise cash for international expansion. This could cause 25.5 per cent stakeholder the Peugeot family to lose control of the firm. It has already reportedly offered to cede control in return for a closer link with 7 per cent stakeholder GM.

Ford of Europe has a new COO – rising star Barb Samardzich. Stephen Odell remains president. Joe Bacaj replaces her has European product chief. (Here’s some thoughts on COOs, CEOs and McLaren)

Political backing for the UK car industry is now cross-party.

Ford is hoping to be profitable in Europe by 2015 – an 18 per cent production capacity reduction is a key part of that. The firm is also upping its portfolio expansion from 15 all-new and replacement vehicles to 25 over the next five years. Thank you, One Ford.

21 September

Five new Fiats are coming in the next two years: they’ll be focused on the 500 and Panda ranges. Is Fiat trying to be MINI, asks one commentator? Yes, says another.

Infiniti boss Johan de Nysschen gets it: to broaden its appeal, Infiniti needs to de-Americanise its line-up. The partnership with Daimler is crucial here; it’ll bring in 2.2-litre diesels instead of 330hp entry-level V6 petrols. Nissan executive VP Andy Palmer is still also keen for a halo car, though…

KPMG believes UK car production will continue to rise in the next few years – and because we’re making more premium cars, the trade surplus will hit a staggering £8 billion by 2016.

Steve Cropley explains why JLR’s new engineering boss Dr. Wolfgang Ziebart’s arrival should be celebrated.

Barak Obama has heaped praise on Ford – and its leader Alan Mulally.

Infiniti is to build a QX30 crossover at Nissan’s Sunderland plant, alongside the Q30 premium compact car.

Bentley has confirmed it won’t be making the Mulsanne convertible concept.

Ford is suspending production in Romania for 13 days due to weak demand: the plant makes the B-Max. Ford took over the plant in 2008.

RIP to longest-serving Toyota president Eiji Toyoda – it’s worth reading his achievements to see what a significant influence he was on the firm.

19 September

Manager Magazin says Volkswagen may miss its 2015 financial targets without further costs-cutting. The firm quickly denied this.

A hailstorm in Wolfsburg, Germany has damaged 28,000 cars – and is being blamed for the brand’s steep 17 per cent drop in August 2013 registrations.

62 per cent of Peugeot 208 buyers are conquest; for the 2008, the figure rises to 75 per cent.

18 September

85 per cent of Citroen DS3 are bought via PCP; so are 85 per cent of MINI.

Volkswagen will go totally turbo within 3-4 years.

16 September

Ford of Europe CEO Stephen Odell says the European new car market will stop declining in the second half of 2013 – but a full recovery may not come until 2018. 13.5 million vehicles will be sold in Europe this year: 18 million were sold in 2007.

Ford will lose $1.8 billion in Europe this year.

15 September

Aston Martin is now using design software provided by Autodesk. This will cut design time: an alloy wheel can be created in a day rather than two weeks.

Lincoln isn’t a true luxury brand yet, says Ford design chief J Mays, but it will be within a decade by adding features such as Bentley-style push-pull air vent controls and panoramic glass sunroofs.

Ford has sold more Fiestas than Lincolns in the US so far this year.

14 September

HR Owen has recommended shareholders accept a takeover offer from Berjaya Phillippines Inc that values the company at £43.2m.

GM confirms something perfectly logical: the Vauxhall Cascada is off to the US (albeit wearing Buick badges).

Range Rover Sport RS? Yes please.

13 September

Ferrari’s engine future in V6 turbos rather than high-revving normally aspirated V8s?

12 September

Former McLaren Automotive MD Anthony Sheriff (who was replaced by current CEO Mike Flewitt) is suing the firm for wrongful dismissal.

7 September

Vorsprung Durch Technik? Not at the moment – and the Durheimer situation hasn’t helped Audi…

6 September

Eight years after it was relegated, Ford has once again earned investment grade status from Standard & Poors. GM is still junk status, but it too is improving…

Former MINI UK boss Jochen Goller is the new boss of MINI, replacing Dr Kay Segler who departs to lead communications of BMW Asia.

Looks like the Lamborghini Gallardo replacement will be called Cabrera.

Is Ford saviour Alan Mulally in the running to be new boss of Microsoft?

5 September

Audi UK has a new director: Andre Konsbruck replaces Martin Sander on 1 October. Since 2005, he’s been executive director for the overseas region at Ingolstadt and has worked at Audi for 21 years.

4 September

Two in three Vauxhall Adam are sold in two-colour guise. To meet demand (upping production from 13 to 17 an hour), Opel’s thus invested another €8m in the German paint shop.

3 September

Wolfgang Durheimer is reportedly leaving VW Group after refusing to take on his old job as Bentley chief. He was replaced as head of Audi development in June, after just nine months.

Hyundai had expected to grab 5 per cent EU market share by 2015: it’s now moved that back to 2020. The brand is, however, ‘marginally profitable’ in Europe.

2 September

Matt Harrison has been appointed president and MD of Toyota GB plc. He replaces Jon Williams, who moves to a private distributor based outside the UK. Harrison moves up from commercial director at Toyota GB.

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