News watch July 2010: today’s auto industry news

Published: 25 July 2010

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 July 2010
Renault has reported a net income of €823 million – with an operating margin of 4% and sales up 22% globally. Its worldwide market share now stands a whisker up at 3.8% (Renault)
La Regie said its business was performing much better than during the same period last year, when the recession bit into its profits. Group revenues soared by 23% to €19,668m (Renault)
Bosch has sold 1.5 million stop-start systems since it launched series production in 2007, and now it’s branching out into stop-start modules for automatic transmissions (Bosch)
Nissan today opened the order books for the Leaf EV in Portugal and the Republic of Ireland (Nissan)

Thursday 29 July 2010
Nissan today announced a 107 billion yen (€910m) net income in the first quarter of the 2010 tax year – compared with a net loss of 17bn yen (€140m) in the same period last year. Operating profit stood at 168bn yen (€1.4bn), off the back of 954,000 vehicle sale in the first quarter, up a third on same period in 2009 (Nissan)
As part of its quarterly results, Nissan confirmed it will introduce 10 new products globally in the current tax year, including the Juke, Leaf and eight other new products (Nissan)
‘First quarter results for Nissan are good and our recovery is vigorous and ahead of schedule,’ said Nissan president and CEO Carlos Ghosn. ‘Challenging market conditions persist, but our performance reflects strong demand for Nissan’s products as well as our relentless focus on operational efficiency. Despite uncertainty surrounding the ongoing global economic recovery, raw material costs and exchange rate volatility, we are confident to achieve our FY2010 forecast [of 350bn yen operating profit, or €2.92bn, and net income of 150bn yen, or €1.25bn]
The Ford sale of Volvo to Geely is expected to close next week, according to Bloomberg. The Blue Oval is selling to Geely for $1.8bn, less than a third of what it paid for Volvo in 1999 (Automotive News Europe)
Mercedes is the first lorry manufacturer to fit a double-clutch gearbox, it claimed today. It uses the Duonic transmission from Fuso (Mercedes-Benz)
Hyundi Motors has warned that car demand in Europe will shrink in the second half of 2010, but vice president Lee Won-hee said on Thursday that Hyundai’s sales would continue to grow as it rolled out new models (Automotive News Europe)
Profits at oil giant Shell have nearly doubled in the second quarter. It reported profits of £2.9bn, and hailed a year-long corporate restructuring as the cause of the turnaround (BBC News)
Jack Roush, Nascar team owner, crashed his plane on Tuesday in Oshkosh, USA, upon landing. He’s in a serious but stable condition at hospital, but his injuries are not life threatening (Automotive News)
Porsche has built its 25,000th Panamera after just 10 months of production. It’s built at its Leipzig factory in east Germany, alongside the Cayenne 4×4 (Porsche)

Wednesday 28 July 2010
 UK car buyers will be able to claim a grant of up to £5000 towards an electric vehicle from January 2011. Previously announced by the former Labour Government, the scheme was put on hold by the the Liberal-Conservative coalition, but has now been given the go-ahead in a show of commitment to low CO2 transport

Monday 26 July 2010
 Soon-to-be-replaced Porsche boss Michael Macht has confirmed that the Stuttgart sports car company will build an electric sports car in the future, and as part of the research process, it will start trials of three electric Boxsters in 2011. Macht also confirmed a Panamera S Hybrid will go on sale in 2011 (Porsche)

Friday 23 July 2010
 GM has bought finance firm AmeriCredit for $3.5bn in cash. The deal is designed to boost sales to non-prime car and pick-up buyers (Financial Times)
 Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne has lifted his annual sales forecast. Back in April, he had predicted a sales drop of 15% in Europe this year; now he says sales should fall by 10% to 13.25 million units (Automotive News Europe)
 Porsche has secured the jobs of its 8600 German staff for five years in return for a pledge by the union to raise productivity by 6% a year each year (Automotive News Europe)
 A former General Motors employee and her husband accused of stealing GM’s hybrid tech secrets and supplying them to China’s Chery have been charged in a US federal court. Shanshan Du and Yu Qin are accused of stealing more than $40m of intellectual property (Detroit News) 

Thursday 22 July 2010
UK car production rose by 28.6% in June and was up 55% over the year-to-date (SMMT)
• The Chrysler Group’s operating profit stands at $146 million for the second quarter, the second operating profit in a row for the American firm. From April to June sales grew 6.7%, compared to a $231 million loss in the same period last year (

Wednesday 21 July 2010
Fiat has beaten its forecasts by doubling its second-quarter trading profit. Profits rose to €651m from €310m a year ago, while revenues nudged up by 13% to €14.8bn. Fiat said it was likely to ask shareholders to approve the separation of its cars unit from its other wide-ranging business interests on 16 September (Financial Times)
Honda will launch a plug-in hybrid and a battery-powered EV in the USA, according to CEO Takanobu Ito. He also confirmed a smaller capacity diesel engine for Europe (Automotive News Europe)

Tuesday 20 July 2010
Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn claims that 3% of group sales will be electric cars by 2018 (Automotive News)
Kia will unveil a car for the Chinese market in 2011, global head of design Peter Schreyer tells CAR

Monday 19 July 2010
Skoda has sold a new record of 378,747 vehicles worldwide in the first half of 2010 (Skoda)
Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn will today spell out how he intends to reverse eight years of losses in the US. However, he is also under pressure to name the replacement for Stefan Jacoby, the US boss and 25-year VW veteran who stepped down in the last month (Automotive News)
The US Treasury is facing criticism that it didn’t do enough to help the Big Three during the financial meltdown. A report due today will question the orders to axe tens of thousands of jobs as part of the government’s $81bn bail-out of GM and Chrysler (Financial Times)
Infiniti will price its new 5-series rivalling M from £35,150 for an M37 (Infiniti)
PSA Peugeot Citroën has received a seven-year, €200 million loan from the European Investment Bank to develop its plug-in hybrid vehicles; the first one is due in the 3008 in 2012 (Automotive News Europe)
Toyota has just passed a new milestone: it’s sold 200,000 Prius models in Europe in the past decade (Toyota)

Friday 16 July 2010
Peugeot claims its 508 will be the greenest large car in Europe when it goes on sale in 2011. The hybrid version will emit just 99g C02/km (Automotive News)
With its 250,000-unit a year Sanand plant becoming operational early, Tata says it can now produce Nanos ahead of schedule (Tata)
President Barack Obama has said that electric technology could ‘help revive Michigan’s battered economy’ (Detrot News)

Thursday 15 July 2010
Nissan will build its final Micra supermini at the Sunderland factory tomorrow. Production is switching to India, as the Juke replaces the Micra line in the UK (Nissan)
The Chevrolet Volt will come with an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty on its battery as standard, the company announced today. The move is designed to persuade customers that battery cars can be a safe choice (Chevrolet)
Toyota says it will extend warranties on 235,000 US RAV4s and address steering complaints on 500,000 Matrix and Corollas in the country (Automotive News)
Nissan has been forced to halt production at two of its plants in America for three days, owing to a parts delay from Hitachi (Automotive News)
Struggling French coachbuilder Heuliez will no longer build cars but it has a future as a parts supplier, CEO Francois de Gaillard said after a €10 million loan from the French government was confirmed (Automotive News Europe)
Two years after unveiling its new logo, Vauxhall has finally got round to updating all its UK dealers with the new Griffin (Vauxhall)
Tata’s group sales grew by 46% in June 2010 to 92,000 vehicles (Tata) 

Wednesday 14 July 2010
Porsche has taken 16,000 orders for its new Cayenne, which went on sale on 29 May (Porsche)
Obama is set to vist Michigan tomorrow to help break ground on a $303 million (£200 million) battery manufacturing plant (Detroit News)
Renault-Nissan has hired former Toyota USA boss Jim Press as a sales and marketing consultant (Automotive News)
Mini’s CEO Wolfgang Armbrecht claims that the new Countryman crossover will help the company’s sales top 300,000 a year ‘in the near future’ (Automotive News Europe)

Tuesday 13 July 2010
US buyers of the 2011-spec Corvette ZR1 and Z06 will be able to build the engine for their car for £3800, excluding the cost of getting to Detroit (Automotive News)
Renault and five other bidders for Ssangyong have been given another three weeks to finalise their offers for the troubled Korean car maker. It is likely to reach up to $500m (Automotive News Europe)
Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates and Khosla Ventures have invested $23.5m in a two-year-old Michigan start-up EcoMotors International. It is developing an Opoc engine using a different configuration of cylinders and pistons for a 50% fuel saving (Detroit News)
Ford’s European sales have fallen for the third month in a row as the Blue Oval’s volumes fell by 8.3% to 119,000 units (Automotive News)

Monday 12 July 2010
Porsche is reported to be considering a price of $630,000 (£420,000) for its new 918 Spyder hybrid supercar, reports ANE. It says 2000 expressions of interest have been made (Automotive News Europe)
Honda has revealed that its sales in China during June 2010 fell 2.7% compared with the same period in 2009. Labour strikes at Honda’s suppliers hit the supply of cars (Automotive News)
The last ever Chrysler PT Cruiser will roll off the assembly line in Mexico today. Sales have slowed down since Chrysler showed its successor earlier in 2010 (Detroit News)
Toyota and Tesla’s first jointly devloped battery powered car will be based on the RAV4 and Lexus RX an insider has revealed (Automotive News)

Friday 9 July 2010
Lamborghini has opened a new composite research centre in Sant’Agata, as it steps up its drive to adding carbonfibre to more of its cars (Lamborghini)
Lotus chief operating officer Frank Tuch has been poached by Volkswagen. However, Hethel has struck back by recruiting AMG’s chief engineer Wolf Zimmermann, who joins Lotus as chief technical officer from 1 September (Lotus)
The Renault-Nissan Alliance today signed a memorandum of understanding with Bajaj Auto over its new world cheap car. The two announced their new Tata Nano rival in November 2009 (Renault-Nissan)
Mercedes has leapfrogged Audi to take second place in the global premium car market in the first half of 2010. BMW was biggest worldwide (Automotive News Europe)
PSA Peugeot Citroen has struck a deal with Changan Automobile to set up a new joint venture in China. The €1bn deal will usher in a new dedicated car brand for the Chinese market (Financial Times)
Fiats and Jeeps are being sold alongside each other for the first time in Paris’s Champs Elysees showroom. It’s the first time we’ve seen co-selling since the buy-out last year (Automotive News Europe)

Thursday 8 July 2010
Rolls-Royce built over 300 cars in June, a record for the company since it launched in January 2003. The Goodwood factory is currently building 15 cars a day, and sales in the first six months of 2010 were up 200% over the same period last year. ‘This is an excellent interim result and we are well on our way to meeting our target of at least doubling our 2009 sales result,’ said Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös (Rolls-Royce)
Land Rover sales in the UK were 3417 units in June 2010, up 40% on the same period last year. Year-to-date sales in the UK are up 50%, and the company has also received over 10,000 expressions of interest in the Evoque (Land Rover)
• The Renault group (Renault, Dacia and Renault Samsung Motors) saw its sales increase 21.6% in the first half of 2010 – 1,347,169 vehicles were sold in total, and the group’s worldwide market share rose 0.2% to 3.9% (Renault group)
2011 model year Audi A4, A5 and Q5 TDI models will be fitted with a new fuel filler neck to ensure they cannot be filled petrol. Other Audi models will receive the preventative fuel necks in the near future (Audi)

Wednesday 7 July 2010
McLaren has announced its first UK dealers; the new MP4-12C will be sold by Sytner in Manchester, Rybrook in Birmingham and Jardine in London. McLaren has had 2500 expressions of interest on its website for the 12C (McLaren)
The new Jaguar XJ has outsold both its key rivals in its first full month on sale – 295 XJs were shifted versus 214 for the Merc S-class and 173 for the BMW 7-series (Jaguar)
BMW has announced that the outgoing E60 M5 has been the best-selling model in the car’s history – 20,584 were sold between 2007 and 2009, including 1025 Touring variants (BMW)
Following its highly successful IPO on June 29, shares in Tesla have fallen below its initial asking price. Shares jumped 41% on the first day of trading, but four consecutive days of drops have seen them slump to below their original $17 listing (Bloomberg) 
Toyota knew of its latest valve-spring engine problem as long as three years ago. In papers filed to to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Japanese company said it received reports between March 2007 and June 2008 of abnormal engine noises from faulty engines (including some engine failures) but no crashes had resulted (Reuters)

Tuesday 6 July 2010
As predicted earlier, Porsche has a new CEO. The company confirmed this lunchtime that Matthias Müller, 57, will replace Michael Macht from 1 October. Müller is seen as an acolyte of VW chief Martin Winterkorn and will be crucial for the full integration of Porsche into the Volkswagen fold (Porsche)
• Following its agreement to pay for Saab in two instalments, Spyker has completed the deal ahead of schedule. It was due to pay $24m on 15 July 2010, but Spyker has settled up two weeks early (Spyker)
Alvis aims to return to the British car market. The brand, which has not produced a new car since 1968, is owned by Red Triangle, an Alvis parts and restorations specialist. The firm hopes to reintroduce updates versions of its classic models (Alvis)
Volkswagen will announce a management shake-up today as it tries to accelerate the integration of Porsche into its business; Michael Macht, Porsche CEO, is likely to be replaced by Matthias Müller, the current VW Group strategy boss (Financial Times)
New car sales in the UK rose 11% in June – and 20% in the first half of 2010. However, the SMMT who published the figures warn that sales will slip again in the second half of 2010 as the end of scrappage is felt and demand weakens (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders)
The new Vauxhall Astra was the top seller in June; year to date, Ford’s Fiesta has proved most popular (SMMT)

Monday 5 July 2010
BMW and Mazda are being investigated in America following 140 complaints of power steering system failure. The problems relate to only the Mazda 3 and previous-generation Z4, and are said to have resulted in four crashes (Bloomberg Businessweek) 
There are growing reports that Toshiba are working closely with Mitsubishi to develop batteries for their next-generation EVs. The lithium-ion batteries are still undergoing tests prior to a deal being finalised (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Friday 2 July 2010
Lexus UK has confirmed that faulty valve springs in up to 3200 cars may lead to odd engine noises at idle and in some instances the engine may cut out. Affected models include the GS450h, GS460, LS460 and LS600h. Worried owners are advised to contact their local dealer (Lexus) 
Ford buyers are now able to buy their cars directly over the internet without even going on a test drive. The service is the first of its kind in the UK and was launched on 29 June, with 50 dealers signed up to the scheme (Daily Telegraph) 
Fiat has revealed the prices of their two new Arbarth models, the Punto and the 500C: £16,500 and £17,500 respectively. They are being shown for the first time today at Goodwood and go on sale on 17 July (Fiat)
Those of us who don’t trust our mechanics are in luck: Audi is equipping its technicans with ‘Audi-Cam’ and a two-way audio link. This allows the customer to sit in comfort of the waiting rooms whilst still being able to see their car being worked on (Audi)  

Thursday 1 July 2010
Ford has cut the list prices of its small and medium cars by around 10-15%. It claims it’s moving to a no-haggle policy, reflecting the similar cuts to Mondeo, Galaxy and S-Max this spring (Ford)
Toyota has issued a warning over further potential engine faults, stating that as many as 270,000 cars worldwide may suffer from intermittent stalling. There is yet to be a recall of affected cars (BBC News)
Smart Car designer and Swatch founder Nicolas Hayek died on Monday. The car, originally tagged the Swatchmobile, was initially created under a joint venture with VW, before becoming the final Smart project with Mercedes (New York Times)
Peugeot-Citroen PSA and Mitsubushi Motors have formed an alliance to produce electric drivetrains for light commercial vehicles, which would initially be sold by PSA. The agreement follows a deal in September under which Mitsubushi i-MiEV underpinnings will be used for future PSA models (Just-Auto)

>> Click ‘Add your comment’ below and let us know what you think of the latest auto industry news