News watch November 2012: today's auto industry news

News watch November 2012: today's auto industry news

By Tim Pollard and Ollie Kew

Motor Industry

30 November 2012 08:55

Welcome to CAR Magazine's news aggregator as we round up the daily stories in the auto industry. Top tip: news summaries are added from the top hour-by-hour
 
Friday 30 November 2012
• Europe's trade ministers are looking at a free-trade pact with Japan, despite resistance from EU car manufacturers. Currently Japanese cars attract a 10% tariff upon import to Europe. But European trade body ACEA warns that a free-trade deal would bring slightly higher sales of their cars in Japan, while Asian car imports here would soar tenfold (Automotive News Europe)
• All three major French car makers were hit by strikes yesterday as workers protested against the cuts being implemented at Renault, Peugeot and Citroen. PSA's Aulnay plant, which builds the C3 and is earmarked for closure in 2014, ground to a halt (Automotive News Europe)
• A Bristol car-share scheme, Go Low, has taken delivery of 12 Citroen C-Zero electric cars (Citroen)
• The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders trade body is lobbying the UK Government to tread carefully around motoring taxation in the forthcoming autumn Budget statement. It's calling for longer incentives to promote low-carbon cars and for a freeze on VED tax disc restructuring until 2020 so owners can make long-term plans (SMMT) 

Thursday 29 November 2012
• Aston Martin is in 'advanced talks' to sell new shares to raise funding for future model development, the company confirmed today. A spokeswoman told Bloomberg it needed the funding to 'deliver its medium- and long-term growth plans'. Gaydon still refuses to name likely partners, but existing owner Kuwait's Investment Dar has received competing bids from Investindustrial and Mahindra & Mahindra of India, according to the news wire. Mahindra is understood to have made a bid higher than £250 million (Bloomberg)
• Volkswagen is to extend its cooperation with China's FAW for a further 25 years. The current deal comes to an end in 2016 and a renewal had appeared under threat after a wrangle over copyright infringement in drivetrains (Automotive News Europe)
• Jaguar Land Rover has opened its 100th dealership in China in central Beijing. The Beijing Changjiushida 4S Center, employing 110 people, reflects premium brands' increasing reliance on the world's biggest car market (JLR)
• Ford may delay the replacement Galaxy and S-Max models because of the closure of its Belgian factory, reports in the German media claim. They are made in Genk and the Blue Oval wants to switch production to Spain - which would almost certainly hold up their successors (Automotive News Europe)
• Meanwhile Ford HQ is making contingency plans in case of a US economy wobble, reports Automotive News. 'We want to be able to adjust our production appropriately and make sure we have the right amount of liquidity, said Mark Fields, who takes over as COO of the Blue Oval on 1 December (Automotive News)

Wednesday 28 November 2012
• Fiat is, for now, ruling out selling the 500 electric car in Europe. Set to go on sale in the US in the second quarter of 2013, the 500e is designed to meet tough Californian regs (Automotive News Europe)
• Ford chairman Bill Ford has urged China to start taking congestion more seriously. In a speech, Ford said an estimated 350 million people will move into Chinese cities in the next two decades and he's calling for more backing for electric cars and other congestion/pollution measures (Bloomberg
• Porshce is copying the format of its Silverstone experience centre in the UK for its new flagship outlet in the US. In 2014, it'll open the new $100m US HQ next to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest airport (Automotive News)

Tuesday 27 November 2012
• In the latest twist in the Aston Martin sale story, a source close to India's Mahindra and Mahindra says the group hopes to strike a deal to buy Aston Martin by the end of the week. Mahindra is said to have topped an offer for Aston from Italian private equity fund Investindustrial. "There are a lot of moving parts here," the source told Reuters on Monday, adding that an initial 40% stake could rise to 50% for a total price unlikely to top $400 million (Automotive News Europe)
• German car manufacturers are seeking to widen a loophole in EU regulations that would allow them to produce more cars with carbon emissions above a preset 2020 EU target. The goal set by the EU is to cut carbon emissions to an average of 95 g/km, but this has met with opposition in Germany, where an industry body wants to permit manufacturers to produce more cars that exceed the EU target if they also make very low emission cars, such as EVs or hybrids. A proposal from German automakers' union VDA would allow manufacturers effectively to add on around 10 grams of carbon per km to the EU target, campaigners say. Currently, the limit for registrations of high-polluters is 20,000 registrations per automaker (Automotive News Europe)

26 November 2012
• Company insiders have revealed to Bloomberg that Aston Martin owner Investment Dar Co. has received competing bids from Investindustrial and Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. for half the sports car maker. Gaydon could choose a winner by the end of this week, reports suggest. It is understod that the bids fall around the £250m mark. Investindustrial’s offer for Aston Martin includes plans to use technology and car parts from Mercedes performance arm AMG, two of the whistleblowers stated (Bloomberg)
• Nissan luxury arm Infiniti will become further entwined with the Red Bull F1 racing team from 2013, with the team to be rebranded as 'Infiniti Red Bull Racing'. Infiniti's relationship with Red Bull stems from Nissan's partnership with Renault, who supplies Red Bull's F1 engines. Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel yesterday capped off the 2013 season by winning his third consecutive F1 driver title: the team also won the constructor title for the third time in as many years (Infiniti)

Friday 23 November 2012
• An industry survey has unearthed worrying statistics regarding child car seats, with as many as 70% incorrectly or poorly fitted. According to the research carried out by babyware firm Mamas & Papas and carmaker  Alfa Romeo for the 'SAFER SEAT' campaign, it was discovered that one in 10 parents choose car seats based on price alone, rather than the correct fit or function for their specific vehicle. Almost two-thirds (61%) of parents did not know that different car seats are suitable for different types of vehicle – installing a car seat that is wrong for the vehicle can severely compromise its safety. A third of survey respondents also did not know that the safest direction for a baby up to at least 13kgs is to face rearwards in the car seat. Despite 80% of new parents admitting to a post-natal change in driving habits, the survey results indicate a worrying over-reliance on advice from friends and family, rather than a consultation of proper guidance on safely transporting children. The companies are now jointly backing the 'SAFER SEAT' campaign in order to raise awareness about checking the attributes of particular child seats, and assuring the products are installed correctly. (Alfa Romeo/Mamas & Papas)
• BMW is targeting 1m car sales in China in the next three years, showcasing the colossal influence the Chinese market is now having on European brand strategy. BMW Groups's China car sales rose 51.7% to 27,828 last month, boosted by demand for the locally built X1 small SUV and the stretched 3-series long wheelbase (Automotive News Europe)
• Volkswagen is continuing its push towards world's biggest automaker status by announcing a substantial increase in investment into new vehicles and factory facilities, though costs have been cut somewhat from previous forecasts due to the economic slowdown. According to analysts, the company will increase spending by 12% to as much as €70bn for its twelve brands over the next five years, compared with €62.4bn for the 2012-16 period agreed a year ago. That would be a record level, but also represent a slight levelling-off of the rate of investment. Previously, the spending target was raised 20.9% for the 2011-15 period. If all goes to plan, VW should overtake GM as work number one in 2018 (Automotive News Europe)

Thursday 22 November 2012
• Here's a positive twist in recent Renault fortunes: the French automaker is set to create 1300 new jobs in Spain, as it looks to boost production ahead of a forecasted rise in demand towards the middle of this decade. The Spanish Palencia plant will be entrusted with building a three Renault models and a Nissan with shared components under the deal, boosting annual Renault production by 40,000 units (to 280,000 per annum). Over the 2014-2015 period, production at the company's engine and gearbox plants will rise to nearly 1.4m units per year, the statement also said (Automotive News Europe)
• A survey by UK tyre-fitter Kiwk-Fit has found that drivers are risking break-downs over the winter by putting undue strain on their car's batteries, thanks to the plethora of gadgets available nowadays. Their research revealed more than 16m (45%) drivers have at least one factory-fitted luxury in their car. The most commonly installed devices in a car are climate control (26%, 9.2m), heated wing-mirrors (20%, 7m) and heated seats (11%, 4m), which can all be a major drain on the battery. Some owners, however, have taken their love for in-car extras to the extreme with 430,000 drivers running between four and five luxury devices. Kwik-Fit say 140,000 motorists run more than ten. With such power consumption becoming commonplace, and a rise in shorter journeys which don't allow batteries to recharge over the winter period, the company is warning motorists to be frugal in the choice of gadgets they choose run in cars during the cold weather (Kwik-Fit)

Wednesday 21 November 2012
• Fiat will stop production of its ageing Punto supermini for more than 20 days in December 2012 and January 2013. The move will force 5000 workers at the Melfi plant in southern Italy into temporary redundancy. Fiat's Italian car plants are currently running at an average 50% capacity due to low demand in the sector (Automotive News Europe)
• Car care and parts retailer Halfords has recorded a large drop in profits, despite a surge in bicycle sales following the success of Team GB at the London Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer. The company said it took advantage of the 'summer of sport', with like-for-like cycling sales up 1.9% in the half and 14.7% in the second quarter. Nevertheless, profit before tax and after exceptional items fell 22.5% to £42.4m (BBC News)

Tuesday 20 November 2012
• Fiat has built its millionth 500 city car. Produced since 2007 in Poland and since 2011 in Mexico, the Fiat 500 is sold in more than 100 countries worldwide (Fiat)
• In other Fiat news, the Italian company's share values have suffered after investors provoked fears that the Italian will need to raise fresh cash to finance CEO Sergio Marchionne's plans to combine with Chrysler Group LLC. Fiat may need to raise between €1.6bn and €2.9bn to finance the purchase of the remaining shares in Chrysler, according to an Automotive News Europe source (ANE)
• Nissan is aiming to sell 80-100,000 examples a year of its new Golf-sized hatchback when it comes to market in 2014. Nissan has acknowledged the old Almera was 'a flop' but having seen success with the crossover Qashqai model, the brand will re-enter the family hatch fray as it continues its bid to to pass Toyota as the top-selling Asian brand in Europe by 2016 (Automotive News Europe)
• Renault predicts that the global car market will boom to 100m annual new car sales by 2020, despite the current stagnation of the market, and the company's own dwindling profits. Due to demand from China and Russia, Renault chief operating officer Carlos Tavares predicted a rise from the 2011 total of 78m annual sales (ANE)
• Peugeot has priced its facelifted RCZ from £21,595, a £385 increase over the outgoing model. Deliveries begin in January 2013 (Peugeot)

Monday 19 November 2012
• Jaguar Land Rover this weekend confirmed a massive $1.75 billion deal with Chery to start local assembly in China. JLR hasn't yet confirmed which models it'll build in China but insists it won't affect UK production. The first vehicles will roll off the production line in 2015 - word is, they'll be Freelander/Evoque sized vehicles. But 2015 is the likely launch date of the new Defender, based on the DC100 concept car... (Jaguar Land Rover)
• Turkey's target of becoming the world's tenth-biggest economy by 2023 is in jeapordy due to the declining European car market. The country's government had wanted to reach the economic milestone by 2023: the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic. However, sales are down 10% in the country this year, pushing the country further away from its target of $75bn worth of exports within 10 years. Some 13 automakers – including Ford, Fiat, Renault, Hyundai, Toyota and Honda – build vehicles in Turkey. Twice as many vehicles are exported as are sold domestically, according to latest figures (Automotive News Europe)

Friday 16 November 2012
• Citroen's 200,000th DS3 supermin has rolled off the production line at the Poissy plant in France. The 200,000th model was a DS3 THP 155, destined for a customer in Spain (Citroen)
• Figures from October show the European car market downturn has slowed in recent weeks, but even the strongest manufacturers are posting some red ink on their production numbers. New car registrations in the EU dropped 4.8% last month to 1m vehicles, according to data published by Brussels-based industry group ACEA.  The ACEA figures showed even Europe's best-selling brand, Volkswagen, posted a 0.5 %dip in sales to 127,793 cars. The UK was the only major market to post material growth in October, up 12.1%.
 (ANE)

Thursday 15 November 2012
• BMW UK announced today that all new BMW UK models will have DAB digital radios fitted as standard from January 2013. Currently BMW provides digital radio as an option on new models and as standard in high-end models like the 7-series. This follows the decision of the BMW Group to fit new Minis with digital radio as standard from September 2010 (BMW)
• The UK's car manufacturing scene continues to remain resilient to the market downturn. According to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, car manufacturing rose 6.5% in October and was up 9.7% over the year-to-date. Engine output is also recovering: UK engine production was up 1.2%, with output over the year-to-date down 0.2% (SMMT)

Wednesday 14 November 2012
• Toyota has announced a worldwide recall of 2.7m cars due to faults with the steering system and water pump. The company admits an 'insufficient hardness of the steering shaft materials' which could cause damage to the steering system when manoeuvring at slow speeds on full lock. There is potential for 'deformation and wear' on components which could lead to loss of steering ability. Toyota says despite nine cases of the issue being reported, no accidents or injuries have been caused. However, the company intends to address the issue as a precautionary measure. The other fault relates to the coolant pump in Prius models, which could fail leading to a malfunction of the hybrid system. Three such cases have been reported, with no related injuries. Owners will be contacted by Toyota if they have a potentially affected car; water pump replacement is said to take 90 minutes, and the steering splines around an hour if the work is deemed necessary. All work will be carried out free of charge. The recall affects the following models: Avensis and Corolla (July 2001 to March 2009) and Prius (July 2003 to April 2009) (Toyota, BBC News)
• Socialist Parisian mayor Bertrand Delanoë is eyeing proposals to ban all classic cars and goods vehicles from the city by September 2014. Under the plan, the use of cars and utility vehicles more than 17 years old, and lorries or buses more than 18 years old, would be outlawed in the French capital. Motorcycles built before 2004 would also be forbidden, as the mayor said they were the 'most polluting and noisiest'. Mr Delanoë has met with strong opposition from supposed fellow left-wingers who argue the mayor wants to price the poorest Parisians out of their Citroen 2CVs and Peugeot 205s and off the streets completely. However, there is a strong green movement behind the idea: air pollution is responsible for 43,000 deaths per year in France and is estimated to take six months off Parisians' lives compared to those outside the capital. Enforcement of lower city speed limits and eco-zones with fines for gas-guzzler vehicles are set to come into action between 2013 and 2015. (Daily Telegraph)
• Hyundai and Kia are coming under increased scrutiny from their European rivals as the Korean brands' sales success continues to defy the market trend. During the first nine months of 2012, Hyundai's vehicle sales rose 9.6% and Kia's by 20.5%, despite a 7.2% overall European market contraction. French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg accused Hyundai and Kia of 'dumping' (selling cars at below-market prices to boost sales records) and taking advantage of an unfairly weak Korean currency, as well as using cheap parts fabricated in Vietnam and China, due to of low labour rates in the region. (Automotive News Europe)
• Toyota's GT86 television advert has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority for 'condoing dangerous driving', reports the London Evening Standard. The virtual CGI ad shows a GT86 sports car drifting through city streets before bursting out of a giant screen into the 'real world'. (London Evening Standard)

Tuesday 13 November 2012
• Nissan's annual European sales are up 5.4% according to company figures released today. In Russia and the UK, year-to-date market share was up 7.5% and 4.5% respectively. France also posted strong year-on-year market share gains with an increase of 15.1% versus this time last year (Nissan)
• VW passenger car sales were up 16.3% last month versus October 2011, with a total of 4.72m vehicles delivered since January. That only look set to continue as VW has also announced it has secured 30,000 pre-orders of the new mk7 Golf (VAG)

Monday 12 November 2012
• Although the brand new mk7 Volkswagen Golf has only just arrived, VW chairman Ferdinand Piech is already making plans to extend his tenure at the company until the new car arrives in 5-7 years time. Piech, whose current contract expires in 2016, is already the oldest-ever chairman of a listed German company. He told German tabloid Bild am Sonntag 'I have asked (CEO) Martin Winterkorn to launch the next Golf. A new model of the Golf usually comes out every 5-7 years. At least that long I will cover Winterkorn's back as chairman' (Automotive News Europe)
• Fiat has appointed veteran Alfredo Altavilla to head up its troubled European car-making division. He succeeds Gianni Coda, who's retiring (Automotive News)
• Porsche announced sales of 11,688 vehicles in October 2012 - up 24% over the same month last year. Sales year-to-date are up 16%, boosted by the arrival of the new 991 (Porsche)

Friday 9 November 2012
• Following Tuesday's news that Suzuki's American arm has declared bankruptcy in the US, Bloomberg reports that the Japanese manufacturer has had to take out a $45m (£28.2m) loan in order to close its dealerships and rejuvenate motorcycle and boat sales. Eventually, Suzuki hopes to borrow up to $100m at a lower rate of interest than the market average in order to wind up its US operation (Bloomberg)
• Cadillac could be forced to tone down its trademark sharp-edged styling, if the brand wants to capitalise on the booming Chinese luxury car market, according to Reuters. Chinese culture tends to favour curvaceous, flowing designs (a la Jaguar and Porsche) as opposed to technical angular surfacing, a trait which is costing the American brand sales in a crucial region. China is the world's second-biggest economy, and forecasters predict demand for luxury vehicles will grow to 2.7m cars a year by 2020, overtaking the US as the world's leading luxury car market (Reuters)
• As many as 200,000 used and new vehicles damaged by Hurricane Sandy will have to be scrapped and replaced, according to findings from The Detroit News. Toyota, Chrysler, Nissan and Honda plan to scrap about 15,000 damaged vehicles, while Nissan estimates more than 6000 Nissan and Infiniti models are 'un-saleable' because of the superstorm. Fisker too is counting the cost of losing 320 Karma range-extender saloons in a fire at a New Jersey port, likely caused by salt water interfering with the cars' batteries (DetNews)

Thursday 8 November 2012
• Vauxhall and Opel have scrapped the planned electric version of the Adam, according to ANE. It was going to borrow EV tech from the forthcoming inhouse Spark, but it was deemed too expensive. 'It was a business decision,' said Opel's chief engineer for the Adam, Dieter Metz. 'We could not charge the customer the price needed to make it work on the cost side' (Automotive News Europe)
• Bosch has sold its 5% stake in Japanese component supplier rival Denso for $1.4 billion (Automotive News Europe)
• Mercedes reports a record sales month in the UK in October 2012 - it sold 6463 vehicles, bolstered by the arrival of the new A-class (Mercedes-Benz)

Wednesday 7 November 2012
• Jaguar Land Rover has reported strong results for the second quarter of the 2012/13 financial year. The company collectively sold 84,749 vehicles, up 29% on quarter two last fiscal year. JLR also recorded £431m profit before tax, a 100% increase on the same period in the last financial year (Jaguar Land Rover)
• Ford could make even deeper job cuts unless the European market improves, according to CEO Alan Mulally. The Ford boss called the Eurozone downturn 'very volatile', and warned Ford is planning ahead should matters get even worse before they get better. In October, Ford announced the loss of 6200 European jobs and a cut in production capacity due to slowing sales (ANE)
• Hyundai's deliberate misselling of fuel economy figures in the US may costs the company $100m in customer compensation. On Friday, Hyundai and its Kia sister brand said that they would reduce the fuel economy estimates on nearly 1.1m vehicles sold since 2010 in North America, in response to an Environmental Protection Agency investigation. The EPA discovered irregularities in Hyundai and Kia economy claims and found high mpg figures in line with brochure stats simply unachievable (DetNews)
• Ferrari's revenues for the first three quarters of 2012 are up 10% according to company figures released today. Trading profits increased by 9.6% to €232.8m, while net profits grew 7.6% to €152.4m. A total of 5267 new Ferraris were delivered in the period (Ferrari)

Tuesday 6 November 2012
• The BMW Group (BMW, Mini, Rolls-Royce) has recorded increased profits in the third quarter of 2012. Net profit for the period came in 16.0% higher at €1.3bn (2011: €1.1bn). The total number of BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce cars delivered to customers during the period increased by 9.0% to 434,963 units (2011: 399,218 units) (BMW Group)
• Kia has beaten its previous annual sales reocrd already in 2012, with two months to spare. Sales of 4837 vehicles in October have pushed the year-to-date sales to 57,736 units - 1622 units above the record 2010 full year figure when 56,114 vehicles were sold. Sales in October were 12.4% up on the same month in 2011 whilst the year-to-date sales are currently 21.5% better (Kia Motors)
• Suzuki is to cease selling cars in the US after a consistently poor sales performance. The company's US distribution arm has filed for bankruptcy, and has stated the company now intends to focus on sales of motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. Suzuki had looked to sell 200,000 vehicles annually in the US but has only managed 21,000 so far in 2012 (DetNews)
• Positive figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders today show a 12.1% rise in new UK car registrations in October, despite decline in mainland European markets. The new car market has increased 5.0% over the year-to-date, growing in all but one month, totalling 1,771,861 units. This represents an increase of 83,823 units on a year ago. Small cars continue to see the healthiest sales figures, with the resilient growth causing the SMMT to revise its forecast of 1.94m car sales in 2012 to over 2 million (SMMT)

Monday 5 November 2012
• The European car market is facing its lowest sales for 20 years, reports ANE. It warns that most major territories are experiencing a slow-down and analysts claim that western European car sales are set to slump below 12 million - a level not seen since 1993's slump of 11.3m (Automotive News Europe)
• Toyota has raised its profit forecast as it recovers from the Japanese earthquake crisis. It today predicted a net profit of 780bn yen (£6bn) for the financial year to the end of March 2013 - that's an increase from an earlier plan of 760bn yen (BBC News)
• Meanwhile, Toyota this week started building the new Auris hatchback at its Burnaston, UK factory (Toyota)
• Shares in Hyundai and Kia Motors have fallen by around 7% in Seoul as they're due to make pay-outs to US consumers complaining about misleading fuel economy claims. Analysts predict the scandal affects some 900,000 vehicles and could lead to millions of dollars in compensation (BBC News)

Friday 2 November 2012
• Opel has remained coy on a report suggesting that Volkswagen manager and former Continental CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann could take the helm of the suffering marque, saying "as a general rule, the company does not comment on speculation about personnel." Opel has been the subject of fierce scrutiny during 2012 as the European arm of GM continues to sustain substantial financial losses. In the third quarter of 2012 alone, GM Europe posted an operating loss of $478m (£297m) (Automotive News Europe)
• New car registrations in the weak French market fell by a further 7.8% in October 2012. It's the twelfth monthly decline on the trot in France, with just 162,411 new cars being delivered in the period (Automotive News Europe)
• The premium US car market race remains a real sales battleground: BMW's October sales were up 21%, with Mercedes sales only up 5.9% in the same period. Mercedes now leads by only 2748 vehicles in the month-on-month delivery stakes. Both manufacturers are squabbling over the top spot vacated by Lexus in the wake of the Japanese tsunami (Automotive News Europe)
• Hyundai and Kia's North American arms are in trouble after being rumbled claiming inaccurate fuel economy figures for some of their models in the US. An investigation by the US Environmental Protection Agency found unexplained discrepancies between the car companies' claimed frugality and the EPA's own data. Kia and Hyundai will have to spend millions of dollars to compensate owners for the faulty claims, and reduce brochure figures for all the 2012-13 Kia and Hyundai models (DetNews)

Thursday 1 November 2012
• Ford has appointed Mark Fields as chief operating officer. Analysts suggest this means he's in prime position to succeed CEO Alan Mulally when he retires no sooner than 2014 (Automotive News Europe)
• Chrysler has reported the best October sales since 2007 - it's the 31st consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains, according to its latest results today. Its UK sales rose 10% (Chrysler LLC) 
• Fisker Automotive is helping with disaster relief efforts for the 500,000 people living in the Delmarva region by turning its Wilmington factory into a base for local repair crews fixing the carnage left by the recent storms battering the east coast of the US (Fisker)
• GM Europe says its Vauxhall and Opel arms should return to profitability in Europe by mid-decade. Despite third-quarter profits sliding 14% this week, the company vows it'll reach breakeven by 2015 (Automotive News Europe)
• Investors have reacted positively to GM and Ford's third-quarter profits this week, reports the Detroit News. Both companies enjoyed a surging share price, although Chrysler Group saw its stock tumble on fears over Fiat's future. Ford shares rose 8%, above $11 for the first time since May (Detroit News)
• Oil giant shell reports profits in the third quarter of 2012 fell 6% compared with last year. Royal Dutch Shell said it made $6.12bn (£4.5bn) in the past three months, down from $7.2bn in 2011 - blaming lower oil and gas prices (BBC News)
• Euro NCAP is reaching out into new territories - it's now launching its website in Russian and Turkish in a bid to encourage those nations to switch on to the safety messages (Euro NCAP) 
• Renault is starting negotiations with French unions over a deal to boost productivity. It wants to avoid plant closures in France in return for aligning production costs with cheaper factories elsewhere in Europe (Automotive News Europe)
• Administrators at London taxi maker Manganese Bronze have announced 156 redundancies - more than half the company's 274 staff. PricewaterhouseCoopers says it has 'encouraging' talks with interested parties to buy the cab firm (BBC News)
• Honda's airborne division, Honda Aircraft Company, has started building the HondaJet, what it claims is 'the world’s most advanced light jet aircraft' (Honda)