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VW seeks to settle German class-action suit; Hyundai announces ambitious EV push


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VW seeks to settle German class-action suit; Hyundai announces ambitious EV push


* Volkswagen AG agreed to enter into settlement talks with the Federation of German Consumer Organisations over its emissions scandal, the company said in a statement to S&P Global Market Intelligence. "The discussions are at a very early stage, and there is no guarantee that they will result in a settlement," the automaker said. "Both parties have agreed that the discussions should remain confidential." This comes after Volkswagen in September 2019 rejected a judge's call to settle the lawsuit, filed by more than 400,000 car owners.

* Hyundai Motor Co. said it will invest more than 100 trillion South Korean won, or nearly US$87 billion, over the next five years in its electrification and mobility strategy. Hyundai will release 44 electrified models by 2025, including 11 battery-electric vehicles. The South Korean carmaker also plans to commercialize autonomous driving technology by 2023 and accelerate the development of level 4 and level 5 technology. On Dec. 4. 2019, Hyundai announced plans to spend 61.1 trillion South Korean won to transition into a smart mobility solution provider by 2025.


* Ford Motor Co.'s luxury SUV brand Lincoln started taking preorders for its first China-made model, Corsair, Gasgoo reported, citing the brand's WeChat account. The new model is reportedly expected to go on sale in the first quarter of 2020.


* Tesla Inc. aims to deliver the second batch of Model 3 assembled at its Shanghai plant to customers Jan. 7, a company representative told Reuters. The electric-car maker delivered its first 15 China-made vehicles to employees Dec. 30, 2019.

* Tesla will establish a supercharger network across northernmost Scandinavia in 2020, The Barents Observer reported.

* German auto-parts producer Bosch said it is developing its first mass-market long-range light detection and ranging, or LIDAR, sensor system for use in level 3 to level 5 autonomous vehicles. The new product launch is scheduled for Jan. 6. It will be the third addition — after camera and radar — to Bosch's portfolio for automated driving equipment.


* Tokyo prosecutors raided the residence of former Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. Chairman Carlos Ghosn after he fled the country for Lebanon, local public broadcaster NHK reported. Separately, Reuters reported that Ghosn's plan to flee Japan was crafted over three months and was handled by a private security company. Ghosn reportedly plans to hold a press conference Jan. 8 in Beirut.

* The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will investigate a fatal Dec. 29, 2019, Tesla crash in Los Angeles that killed two people, CNBC reported, citing the auto regulator. According to CNBC, it could not be immediately determined whether Tesla's advanced autopilot driver assistance system was a factor in the crash.

* U.S. District Judge William Orrick in San Francisco turned down Tesla's plea to dismiss claims made by two former workers about facing racial harassment at the company's Fremont, Calif., plant, Reuters reported, citing a court order from Orrick. "The n-word is perhaps the most offensive and inflammatory racial slur in English, a word expressive of racial hatred and bigotry. This case will proceed to trial," Orrick reportedly wrote. The trial is May 11.


* Hyundai Mobis Co.Ltd. plans to hire an outside director to enhance shareholder value and its governance structure, Yonhap News Agency reported, citing a company statement.

* Bosch's India unit, Bosch Ltd., intends to slash about 10% of 3,700 white-collar jobs and a slightly higher percentage of 6,300 blue-collar jobs in the country over the next four years due to a severe slowdown in the auto sector, India Managing Director Soumitra Bhattacharya told Bloomberg News in an interview.

* Austrian sensor producer Ams AG said it acquired a 59.9% stake in German lighting group Osram Licht AG, at €41 per share. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2020, subject to regulatory approvals.


* China's Faw-Volkswagen, a joint venture between the state-owned Faw Car Co. Ltd. and Volkswagen AG, said 2019 sales of its Audi brand increased 4.2% to 688,888 vehicles in China, reported. The company reportedly sold 630,800 domestically produced models, including Audi A6L and Audi Q5L, and 58,088 imported models, including Audi A8L.

* Hyundai Motor and affiliate Kia Motors Corp. said their combined global sales decreased 3% in 2019 to 7.19 million vehicles, missing their target of 7.6 million vehicles, The New York Times reported. This is the duo's lowest combined sales in seven years, with business in China slumping. The South Korean automakers, however, expect combined sales to increase 5% to about 7.5 million vehicles in 2020, the report said.

* French car registrations rose 27.69% in December 2019 to 211,193 units, Reuters reported. Renault SA saw a 29.93% increase, followed by a 6.51% rise in registrations at Peugeot SA, the report said.

* Indian carmaker Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. said its domestic sales increased 2.4% year over year to 124,375 vehicles in December 2019. Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. reported a 1% increase in local sales during the month to 37,081 units, while Tata Motors Ltd. saw domestic sales drop 12% to 44,254 vehicles.


* Trucks and tractors manufacturer CNH Industrial NV intends to create two separate "on highway" and "off highway" divisions in 2021, with an aim to more than double profit margins to 10% by 2024, the Financial Times (London) reported, citing CEO Hubertus Mühlhäuser.

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The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng gained 1.25% to 28,543.52.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.84% to 7,606.17, and the Euronext 100 increased 1.17% to 1,157.83.

On the macro front

The jobless claims report, PMI manufacturing index, the Fed balance sheet and the money supply report are due out today.

Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

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