News watch October 2011: today's auto industry news

News watch October 2011: today's auto industry news

By Keith Jones, Tim Pollard, Ben Pulman and Sarah-Jayne Harrison

Motor Industry

31 October 2011 09:51

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

Monday 31 October 2011
• The two companies planning to buy Saab - China's Youngman and Pang Da - have agreed to pay a €50 million bridging loan, court documents show. And they are pledging €610m in long-term funding from 2012, according to ANE (Automotive News Europe)  
• Martin Winterkorn, the CEO of the Volkswagen group, says he is pleased with the performance of Seat and Skoda. While Skoda is one of the world's fastest growing car makers, loss-making Seat is on the mend, Winterkorn said. 'Seat is now heading in the right direction in numerous ways. Sales are rising, great new cars are coming out and the brand is now competing in China' (Automotive News Europe)

Friday 28 October 2011
• Volvo's design chief Peter Horbury has moved to a post with parent firm Geely (Volvo)
• Renault today reported an 11.9% jump in revenues and record third-quarter sales - up to 632,412 vehicles, up 7% (Renault)
• Saab owner Swedish Automobile is close to a deal with China's Youngman and Pang Da - and it could lead to a takeover, according to sources ANE spoke to(Automotive News Europe)
• VW says it no longer views Suzuki as an 'associate'. In a statement, Wolfsburg said it had downgraded its relationship with the Japanese maker to that of 'other holdings' (Automotive News Europe)
• Chrysler has posted a profit of $212 million in the third quarter. Analysts in the US say they are impressed by the turnaround at Chrysler, which has moved from the red to the black since being taken over by Fiat in 2009 (Detroit News)
• Credit agency Moody's has lifted ratings for Ford and GM to the cusp of investment grade after the four-year labour deals struck with unions (Bloomberg)

Thursday 27 October 2011
• Daimler and Renault could form an alliance to produce premium models, claims Jerome Stoll, executive vice president for sales and marketing at the French firm. This would supplement the April 2010 agreement to jointly develop small cars, commercial vehicles and powertrains (Automotive News Europe
• Kia intends to increase western European sales by 50% over the next two years, according to vice president Hank Lee. By March 2012 a third shift will be in operation at Kia's Slovakian plant pushing annual capacity to more than 300,000 units (Automotive News Europe)
• Ford has reported third quarter profits of $1.6 billion, down some $38 million from the same period last year. Losses at its European and Asian operations and falling metal prices are cited. The Blue Oval had hedged that raw material prices would continue to rise (BBC News)
• PSA Peugeot-Citroen will cut 6000 jobs across Europe in 2012 in a bid to scythe costs by €800 million. The move follows yesterday's confirmation of November's production halt (Automotive News Europe)
• Volvo's chairman, Li Shufu, believes the company will challenge the German dominance of the global premium car market over the next five years. $11 billion is being invested in new models, 80% of which will be built on one modular platform (Automotive News Europe)

Wednesday 26 October 2011
• Fuji Heavy Industries, parent of Subaru, has reported a drop in production in sales for the first half of the year - blaming the disruption caused by the earthquake. Domestic sales and exports both fell, by around 20% and 30% respectively (Subaru)
• Renault and PSA Peugeot-Citroen are to take advantage of November's national holidays in France and suspend production at several plants. Both firms claim the move is to reduce stock levels rather than because of falling demand (Automotive News Europe)
• Hyundai-Kia, the world's fifth largest car manufacturer, has announced ambitious targets to increase sales to 7 million units in 2012, an increase of 7.5% on 2011's expected volume (Automotive News Europe)
• Toyota is halting production at some Japanese plants due to recent floods in Thailand having a negative impact on the component supply chain (BBC News
• Volkswagen's chairman, Ferdinand Piech, has support for a third term in office according two VW supervisory board insiders. Piech's current tenure at the helm ends in April 2012, just after his 75th birthday (Bloomberg)

Tuesday 25 October 2011
• Avtovaz, Russia's largest car builder, reports its net profit for the first six months of 2011 is more than double that of the same period last year at $209 million (Automotive News Europe)
• Caterham continues its expansion in new markets, launching its iconic Seven in India on the eve of the country's inaugural Formula 1 race (Caterham) 
• Formula 1 teams have hired small investment bank Evolution Media Capital to help evaluate the value of the sport's media rights. The news comes ahead of 2012's discussions on a new 'Concorde Agreement' outlining how F1's wealth will be divided (Financial Times)
• Chevrolet will capitalise on North America's growing love affair with small cars at the Sema show in Las Vegas. Twenty-one of the models on display will be tricked-out versions of its new Sonic, aka the Aveo in Europe (Automotive News)
• Volkswagen's credit rating may be reduced should its alliance with Suzuki not bear fruit. Moody's investment service suggests this would limit VW's growth across Asia (Automotive News Europe
• BYD signals its intent to lead a charge on the US market with a range of electric cars, following the opening of its headquarters in Los Angeles (Edmunds)

Monday 24 October 2011
• Volkswagen is set to overtake GM and Toyota as the world's biggest car maker this year, reports Bloomberg. VW was third in 2010, but analysts forecast a jump in sales of 13% to 8.1 million vehicles, boosted by gains in emerging markets (Bloomberg)
• Nissan announces its third mid-term environmental plan, investing 70% of its research and advanced engineering budgets on green technologies (Nissan)
• Opel/Vauxhall intends to position itself as 'the market leader in electric mobility'. The forthcoming Ampera will be joined by two zero-emissions vehicles, including a production version of the Frankfurt RAK-e concept (Automotive News Europe)
• Rolls-Royce will enter the South American market for the first time in spring 2012. The luxury brand intends to build upon its sales momentum, which has increased by 41% year to date (Rolls-Royce)
• Volkswagen Group aims to continue its renewed assault on the North American market by offering larger, high-value models despite positive European reception to new cars like the A1 and Up (Automotive News)
• Maserati, and not Ferrari, is set to challenge Bentley and Porsche as the luxury sports sector expands into new niches, according to Fiat CEO Sergio Marchinonne (Automotive News Europe)

Friday 21 October 2011
• Mercedes will invest $350million to produce a fifth model at its Alabama factory in 2015, creating 400 new jobs. (Automotive News
• Saab has snubbed a ‘token’ takeover bid from Chinese investors, preferring to court a $70m investment from US equity firm North Street Capital which may be a prelude to a buy-out. (Automotive News
• GM will invest $5.5million to ready its Ohio factory to build the diesel Chevrolet Cruze. Currently outselling the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla in the US, the Cruze has become a hot pick for the compact buyer. (Detroit News
• Since the city’s curb on sales of new vehicles, Beijing has seen used-car sales increase 12% year-on-year, beating new car sales for the second month in a row. (Autonews China)

Thursday 20 October 2011
• Audi may double its production in China to meet growing demand. Its factory in Changchun has a 300,000 unit capacity but a second facility may be built to boost numbers to 700,000 by 2015 (Automotive News Europe)
• Kia has moved production of its Venga mini-MPV to its factory in Zilna, Slovakia. It was previously built by sister company Hyundai at its plant in the Czech Republic (Kia)

Wednesday 19 October 2011
• Peugeot and Citroen's Slovakian factory will suspend production at the end of October 2011 in response to falling orders. The Peugeot 207 and Citroen C3 Picasso are built in Trnava (Automotive News Europe)
• Greggs, the UK's biggest chain of bakers, plans to open new shops at motorway service stations. A trial is underway, and could leave to 30 stores being opened (BBC News)
• Porsche CEO Matthius Mueller has said the company's order books are full and it sees no sign of a downturn. With the new 911 and Boxster, it hopes sales will climb from 120,000 units in 2011 to 140,00 units in 2012  (Automotive News Europe)

Tuesday 18 October 2011
• Infiniti has confirmed that it will put its FX Sebastian Vettel into limited production. Prices and production run numbers of the Vettal-tuned FX50 SUV have yet to be announced (Infiniti)
• Ford's new four-year deal with the United Auto Workers (UAW) looks set to be passed. Nearly 24,000 of the 41,000 workers have voted, with 62% voting in favour of the deal (Detroit Free Press)
• Porsche will be break ground today on a £435m expansion of its Leipzig factory in eastern Germany. The facility currently builds the Cayenne and Panamera, and production of the Cajun (Cayenne Junior SUV) is due to start there in 2013 (Automotive News Europe)
• Mercedes' US boss has been removed from his position as CEO after five years. Ernst Lieb will be replaced by Herbet Werner, Mercedes-Benz USA's chief financial officer, 'until further notice'. Merc's US sales are up 7% in 2011 (Automotive News Europe)
• Infiniti is expanding its partnership with the Red Bull Racing F1 team. Already a sponsor with its branding on the rear wing of the RB7, next year's car will feature more decals and logos on the side of the car and around the cockpit (Infiniti)

Monday 17 October 2011
• Hyundai has announced UK prices for its Veloster four-door coupe. Prices start at £17,995, a BlueDrive version that cuts CO2 emissions to 137g/km is £18,345, and the top-spec Sport model with a dual-clutch gearbox is £21,745 (Hyundai)

Friday 14 October 2011
• Suzuki has responded to Volkswagen's claims of non-compliance by saying VW breached its agreement to share technology. The two companies bought stakes in each other: Wolfsburg bought a 19.9% share of Suzuki, the Japanese responded with a 1.49% share (Bloomberg)
• Suzuki chairman Osamu Suzuki demnaded in a statement that VW sold back its share in Suzuki: 'This capital alliance was intended to facilitate Suzuki’s access to VW’s core technologies. I remain disappointed that we have not received what we were promised. If VW will not allow access, it must return Suzuki’s shares'
• Porsche is planning a record sales year in 2012, thanks to its youngest ever range. The new 911, the fresh Cayenne, new versions of the Panamera and the imminent next-gen Boxster will all help Porsche hit nearly 140,000 sales, well placed sources have told Bloomberg (Bloomberg)
• Saab is receiving money from China's Youngman partner, it has emerged. Youngman has signed a $97 million loan, but while they wait for Chinese authority approval a smaller bridging loan is paying day-to-day bills, according to Saab (Automotive News Europe)

Thursday 13 October 2011
• GM plans an electric version of the Spark city car for US sales in 2013, reports Bloomberg. Chevrolet made the announcement in the States as part of teh brand's centenary celebrations (Bloomberg)
• Volvo says it's winning fleet business in the UK because of its shorter delivery times of 6-8 weeks - compared to 6-7 months for many European rivals (Volvo Cars)
• Skoda has started manufacturing the new Rapid sedan in Pune, India. It's the new compact saloon to slot between Fabia and Octavia - and will come to Europe and China in 2012-13 (Skoda) 

Wednesday 12 October 2011
• Porsche sales in September rose 38% globally, to 10,560 vehicles. So far this year, it's up 31% with China nearly at twice the level of last year (Porsche)
• Lotus owner Proton says its Norfolk subsidiary 'is not for sale', dismissing claims it will sell to Genii Capital which funds the F1 operation (Automotive News Europe)
• The statement by Proton said: 'Proton and Lotus have reached a juncture whereby the market is eagerly waiting for Lotus's new products and all our energy and efforts have to be channelled towards achieving this critical goal. The Proton Group of companies will continue to initiate and consider viable business opportunities and arrangements which will benefit and add value to the Group's interest'
• Chrysler has reached accord with the UAW representing staff at its US sites. The car maker, which hasn't turned a profit since 2009's bankruptcy, include commitments to invest $4.5bn on new products up to 2015 (Bloomberg)

Tuesday 11 October 2011
• Saab's reorganisation is at risk, according to several Swedish news reports. They claim that the $96m bridging loan from Chinese car maker Youngman has not yet materialised and that the court-appointed administrator could end Saab's creditor protection (Automotive News Europe)
• Fiat is now being propped up by its US partner Chrysler, according to Bloomberg. Chrysler is due to beat Fiat's operating profit by 87% in the second half of 2011 and into 2012, the news wire reports (Bloomberg)
• 'Fiat would be very vulnerable now without Chrysler, with few industrial and financial options on its hands,' chief investment officer Emanuele Vizzini at Investitori Sgr in Milan told Bloomberg
• Renault Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn is likely to get a strengthened role at his French division, French media report. La Tribune newspaper claims Ghosn will make an announcement on 14 October (Automotive News)
• The UK's Technology Strategy Board is investing £140 million over the next six years - and a new centre in high value manufacturing should benefit Britain's car makers. One of the new centres planned is a National Composites Centre at the University of Bristol (Technology Strategy Board)
• Britain's business secretary Vince Cable will today announce government plans to spend 'at least another £15 million' to boost the take-up of low-carbon vehicles. The cash will be spent on reducing costs in the supply base, on energy storage and management and lightweight vehicle structures (Technology Strategy Board)

Monday 10 October 2011
• Kia today reports a 16.3% jump in sales in September globally. That's 217,736 cars sold worldwide. Balance of power shifting again? (Kia)
• Meanwhile, Jaguar Land Rover announced a 26% jump in global sales in September 2011. China rose the most, up 157% for Jaguar and 85% for Land Rover (JLR)
• One of the UK's 13 new much heralded University Technical Colleges (UTC) will be opened at the Silverstone race track. Run in collaboration with Tresham College of Further and Higher Education, specialising in high-performance engineering, motorsports, and event management and hospitality (BBC News)
• Fiat chief Sergio Marchionne fears the sovereign debt crisis in Europe could lead to a slump 'worse than a recession' (Automotive News Europe)
• BMW will run its factories at '110% capacity' in 2011, according to the company's production boss Frank-Peter Arndt (Automotive News Europe)

Friday 7 October 2011
• UK new car sales dipped 0.8% in September, traditionally the biggest sales month of the year. Trade body the SMMT now revises its annual forecast down to 1.96 million units - blaming sluggish retail demand and uncertainty over Eurpean finances (Automotive News Europe)
• Chief exec of Renault Nissan Carlos Ghosn has complained to the Japanese prime minister about the strong yen - warning it could 'hollow out' Japan's industriral base unless the government acts. The yen has climbed nearly 6% against the dollar this year, touching a post-war high of 75.95 (Bloomberg)
• Mitsubishi is struggling to cut costs on account of the strong yen, the president told reporters this week (Automotive News)
• Toyota is telling Japanese car parts suppliers to cut their prices or face being replaced by overseas rivals. Shares in Japanese suppliers dipped on the news (Bloomberg)

Thursday 6 October 2011
• Volvo owner, China's Geely, today denied it was interested in buying Saab. It came after Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported the eastern car maker 'is interested in buying the whole thing (Automotive News)
• BMW UK today reports a 12.2% rise in UK registrations in the first nine months of hte year. It's sold 128,874 cars in the first three quarters (BMW UK)
• Lamborghini has responded by a rise in sales in South Africa by launching two new dealerships - in Johannesberg and Cape Town. They're run by Lambo's new SA partner, Pearl Automotive (Lamborghini)

Wednesday 5 October 2011
• Renault announces it will increase its production capacity in Brazil by 100,000 units in 2013 (Renault)
• Honda will halve the amount of production it exports from Japan to tackle the rising yen exchange rate, according to Japanese media reports. It plans to increase local production in different markets so around 80-90% of cars sold in each territory are produced locally (Automotive News)
• British motorists have cut their fuel use by 15% since the recession, according to the AA. It says the UK's fuel supply was 1.7 billion litres lower in the first half of 2011 than a year before (BBC News)
• Renault has announced a third trim level of its new Twizy, which goes on UK sale in March 2012. Prices start at £6690 - and you can step up to higher specs for £260 and £450 (Renault)
• Alfa Romeo has confirmed it will build a new direct-injection petrol turbo engine at its Pratola Serra plant in Italy from early 2013. Despite having just 1.8 litres, it will produce 296bhp - and meet Euro 6 emissions regs (Alfa Romeo)

Tuesday 4 October 2011
• BMW has sold its two millionth car in the UK since becoming a factory owned concessionaire in 1980. The first car was an E12 5-series - the two millionth sold this week was a 5-series GT (BMW)
• Volvo will close its plant in Uddevalla, Sweden, making the C70 because of insufficient demand for its coupe-cabriolet. The site, co-owned by Pininfarina, made 10,000 cars last year and is running at just 65% capacity (Automotive News)
• Ford and the UAW auto workers union have reached a tentative agreement covering working conditions for 41,000 US staff (Automotive News)
• Ford could create up to 10,000 new jobs in the US, as it looks to switch production of the Fusion sedan from Mexico to the US - the union talks above are all inter-linked, reports Bloomberg (Bloomberg)
• Thought the Chinese car market was the saviour for all European car makers? Think again. ANE reports that BMW is having to offer 19% discounts on the 3-series to shift metal, while Merc is cutting a fifth off the C-class (Automotive News Europe)

Monday 3 October 2011
• Fiat will build a baby Jeep in Turin for European and possibly US sales, alongside the replacement Fiat Sedici (Automotive News Europe)
• GM proposed a secret merger with Ford a year before it went bankrupt, according to a new report in the New York Times. Alan Mulally, the Blue Oval's CEO, met his counterpart at GM but declined the offer, the report says (Automotive News)
• Renault has struck a government fleet deal for 16,000 electric cars, according to unconfirmed media reports in France (Automotive News Europe)
• Hyundai's co-CEO Steve Yang has resigned, citing personal reasons (Automotive News Europe)
• Chrysler's former CEO Bob Nardelli claims that the Obama administration didn't need to spin Chrysler off to Fiat - and argues that his private equity backers could have done a better job of saving the American car maker. He still works for Cerberus, and claims that the financiers would've been better owners (Detroit News)