TOYOTA REACHES SETTLEMENT
Toyota Motor Corp settled a lengthy Justice Department civil probe into its delayed filing of emissions-related defect reports for $180 million, the government said on Thursday. Reuters first reported the expected settlement, which resolves the violations of the Clean Air Act. Toyota first disclosed in 2016 it was under investigation for the delayed reports to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Justice Department had not previously confirmed the investigation until Thursday's announcement by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan that the government had filed a civil lawsuit against the Japanese automaker.
BMW, AUDI PULL PLUG ON VEHICLE SUBSCRIPTIONS
BMW is shutting down its vehicle subscription pilot at the end of the month. The Access by BMW subscription pilot launched in April 2018 and never expanded beyond its initial Nashville market. It was targeted at affluent customers willing to pay high monthly fees for two tiers of service starting at $2,000. Audi Select, a similar program offered by the Volkswagen Group premium brand, will be discontinued on Jan. 31, according to a notice on the service's website.
Source: Automotive News
BMW AIMS TO DOUBLE FULLY-ELECTRIC VEHICLE SALES IN 2021
BMW said on Friday that it aims to double its sales of fully-electric vehicles this year as the German carmaker and rivals race to release new models to comply with CO2 emissions targets and chase market leader Tesla Inc. BMW also said that including plug-in hybrids, it aims for a 50% increase in sales of electrified vehicles versus 2020. It did not give sales volumes for its fully electric vehicles but in 2020 data released on Tuesday BMW said it sold close to 193,000 electrified vehicles - fully electric and plug-in hybrid - last year.
A CORVETTE SUV??
General Motors is evaluating whether to expand its Corvette lineup – currently a two-seat sports car – to add its first-ever crossover or SUV, a person familiar with the discussions confirmed to CNBC. Expanding one of GM's most-prized nameplates to a different body style, if not a family of models, has been an on-again, off-again discussion inside the Detroit automaker for some time. In late 2019, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said a Corvette sub-brand could be worth $7 billion to $12 billion for the automaker.
MICROSOFT AND GM INVEST US$2-BILLION IN SELF-DRIVING VENTURE CRUISE
Partnership with software giant will let Cruise tap its cloud-computing platform
General Motors and Microsoft are leading a US$2-billion investment round in self-driving car startup Cruise in a deal that will bring the software giant's cloud and edge-computing capabilities to the venture.
The additional funds will raise Cruise's post-investment valuation to an estimated US$30 billion. Cruise partner Honda and other institutional investors are also participating in the new round.
The partnership with Microsoft gives Cruise, which is majority-owned by GM, a major software player in its corner. That will help the company compete with Waymo, which has access to the software capabilities of parent Alphabet Inc.
Cruise will be able to use Microsoft's Azure cloud-computing platform to manage its self-driving vehicle network. Azure will handle data and mapping, as well as enable cars to communicate with Cruise's back office and customer-facing app for ride-hailing. It's a vital piece of software infrastructure that Cruise needs to build its planned commercial robotaxi service.
Source: Driving.ca and Bloomberg
GM'S BARRA BOOSTS STOCK AS TECH STORY GAINS CREDIBILITY
All General Motors Co. Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra needed to hit a stock record was $27 billion and a bit of braggadocio. The carmaker's shares surged after Microsoft Corp. partnered with it to lead a $2 billion fund-raising round in a self-driving venture called Cruise LLC. The software giant also will lend its prowess in cloud-computing, an essential tool for managing the GM-owned startup's planned fleet of robotaxis. GM rose 1.6% in premarket trading Wednesday to $55.72 as of 8:16 a.m. in New York after closing almost 10% higher Tuesday.
AUDI DELAYS OUTPUT, IDLES 10,000 STAFF ON CHIP SHORTAGE, FT SAYS
A global semiconductor shortage is forcing Audi to delay the production of some high-end cars and furlough workers, its chief executive officer told the Financial Times. The Volkswagen AG brand has put more than 10,000 workers on furlough as production slowed, but overall output for 2021 shouldn't be affected because the company expects to make up for lost time in the second half, Markus Duesmann said in the interview published Sunday. VW, the world's biggest carmaker, had said last month that it's bracing for a major production disruption in first-quarter manufacturing around the globe because of the bottleneck. Other carmakers, including Daimler AG, Nissan Motor Co., Honda Motor Co., Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, have also said they face impact from the chip shortage.
FORD MOTOR CO. PLANT IN LOUISVILLE MAY HAVE TO HALT PRODUCTION AGAIN
Fresh off a one-week shutdown, one of Louisville's Ford Motor Co. plants may be halting production for an additional two weeks as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the supply chain. Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker confirmed to The Courier Journal on Tuesday that there is a tentative shutdown planned for the Louisville Assembly Plant for the weeks of Jan. 25 and Feb. 1. She declined to comment further.
Source: Detroit Free Press
U.S. AGENCY ORDERS FORD TO RECALL 3 MILLION VEHICLES OVER AIR BAGS
Ford Motor Co must recall 3 million vehicles with potentially defective driver-side Takata air bags, the U.S. auto safety regulator said on Tuesday, rejecting a bid by the second-largest U.S. automaker to avoid a recall. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it was denying petitions filed by Ford and Mazda Motor Corp in 2017 seeking to avoid recalling vehicles with potentially dangerous inflators. The decision also will require Mazda to recall and repair driver air bags in approximately 5,800 vehicles. The recalls will cover various vehicles from the 2006 through 2012 model years.
Stellantis — the product of a $52 billion merger between automakers Fiat Chrysler and Groupe PSA — plans to offer an array of all-electric or hybrid vehicles through 2025, including 10 new models in 2021, according to CEO Carlos Tavares. From Dodge to Maserati, every new model the company launches from now until 2025 will offer an "electrified" variant. He did not specify how many would be all-electric, plug-in hybrids or traditional hybrids that don't need to be plugged in.
MERCEDES-BENZ EV ROLLOUT PLANS
Mercedes-Benz is taking on one of the most complex industry challenges with the rollout of its battery-powered EQA: selling small electric cars without a big profit squeeze. The brand's first fully electric compact model will hit European showrooms this spring, flanking the mid-size EQC sport-utility vehicle and the EQV van, the Daimler AG unit said Wednesday. Prices in Germany start at 47,541 euros ($57,734) and the vehicle offers 486 kilometers (302 miles) of range.
VW CONFIRMS ADVANCED NEW PROJECT TRINITY EV CONCEPT
Volkswagen CEO Ralf Brandstätter reveals the first details of a new in-house program that he says aims to place the German automaker at the forefront of global electric vehicle development. In an English language posting to his LinkedIn account on Wednesday, Brandstätter refers to what he calls the "next step" in Volkswagen's EV development: Project Trinity. The posting was accompanied by a graphic revealing a low-profile, sedan-style vehicle draped with a veil.
SUVS OFFSET EV EMISSION GAINS
Added emissions from SUVs offset emissions reductions by electric cars in 2020, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Emissions from SUVs increased last year, even as overall carbon emissions decreased due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Overall emissions fell 7%—the largest drop in history, according to the report. But SUV emissions increased by 0.5%, the report said. Oil consumption from SUVs also increased, reaching 5.5 million barrels per day globally, which cancelled out declines in driving due to coronavirus-related lockdowns, according to the report. SUVs also cancelled out reductions in oil demand brought on by increased electric-car sales. Overall car sales fell 14% in 2020, but EV sales increased 50%, to about 850,000 units globally, the report noted. That just wasn't enough to counteract the momentum of SUVs, which were already outselling sedans in the United States before the pandemic.
Electric cars helped reduce global oil demand by around 40,000 barrels a day, but that was cancelled out by growth in SUV market share, to 42% of the new-car market, the report said.
Most modern SUVs aren't the stereotypical gas guzzlers of old, but they're still generally less efficient than conventional cars. On average, SUVs consume 20% more energy than a medium-sized car for the same distance traveled, according to the IEA. A 2019 report named SUVs the second-largest contribution to carbon-dioxide emissions increases in the previous decade, ahead of heavy industry, trucking, aviation, and shipping. This phenomenon has already been seen in Europe, where increased SUV sales outpaced growth of EV sales between 2016 and 2019, making the fleet dirtier despite stricter emissions standards ramping up at that time.
The IEA report did deliver some good news, however. The reported increase in sales shows that the pandemic hasn't stunted EV growth nearly as much as anticipated.
Source: Green Car Reports
5 MINUTE - FAST CHARGING BATTERIES
Isareli startup StoreDot has long promised a Holy Grail of battery technology: a battery that can recharge in about the same amount of time it takes to pump gasoline. Now the startup is delivering the first samples of its so-called "five-minute charge" lithium-ion battery cells.
The sample cells were produced to show off the technology to potential industry partners, including automakers and battery manufacturers, a StoreDot press release said. So don't expect to see these cells in a production electric car just yet. StoreDot first discussed plans for fast-charging EV batteries in 2015, and now has the support of British Petroleum. StoreDot's cells use a variation of the lithium-ion chemistry found in all current electric-car batteries. The new chemistry replaces graphite in the cell's anode with "metalloid nanoparticles," according to the company.
Manufacturing of sample cells, which was done by Chinese firm Eve Energy, shows that a commercially-viable version of this chemistry is possible, StoreDot said, adding that its cells could be manufactured using the same facilities as conventional lithium-ion cells. However, the company has yet to show how its cells would scale up for mass production at a gigawatt-hour scale. If it can find a manufacturing partner able to produce its cells at scale—and they can meet tough longevity and degradation standards for electric cars—StoreDot could surpass the most ambitious goals of some established firms.
Many automakers are targeting a 10-minute fast-charge time for future EVs, while Toshiba has claimed a six-minute charge will soon be possible.
Chinese automaker Nio is resorting to a different strategy: optional battery swapping, providing a fully-charged battery in three minutes, for those really in a hurry. But as a reality check, the need for such fast charging might be a relatively small niche after all. A 2020 study found that 31-minute charging—along with a 291-mile range and a $36,000 base price—is the global tipping point for mass EV adoption.
Source: Green Car Reports
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