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Fiat Chrysler to review €5B Italy plan; VW-Ford call off alliance announcement

TOP NEWS

* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV's CEO Mike Manley said the carmaker is reviewing its €5 billion strategic plan in Italy after the government approved plans to impose higher taxes on larger gasoline and diesel cars, Reuters reported, quoting Manley on the sidelines of the Detroit auto show.

* Volkswagen AG and Ford Motor Co. called off their proposed Jan. 15 announcement at the Detroit auto show on an alliance, which could include the sharing of autonomous and electric car technologies, as the automakers have only decided upon a commercial vehicles partnership so far, AFP reported, citing a source close to the talks. Ford spokesman Mark Truby reportedly told the agency that the companies do not have enough details yet "to go out in front of more than 500 journalists." Ford Chairman Bill Ford told reporters that talks were on track but that the companies would have "more to say later" in the week of Jan. 14, AFP reported.

CARMAKERS

* Volkswagen said it will invest €700 million to begin production of its electric SUV, called "ID. CROZZ," at its Chattanooga, Tenn., factory by 2022. The German carmaker also said it will hire 1,000 more employees at the Tennessee site. VW said it plans to open eight more electric vehicle production facilities in Europe, North America and China over the next few years.

* A district court in Tokyo has refused to grant bail to embattled automotive executive Carlos Ghosn as he awaits trial on charges of underreporting his income by millions of dollars and breach of trust during his near-two-decade career at the helm of Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., Reuters reported Jan. 15.

* Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa said Renault SA's board should be granted access to Nissan's findings against Ghosn and said "they will draw the same conclusions as we did," Reuters reported, quoting Saikawa's interview with French newspaper Les Echos. Alliance partner Renault has cited judicial confidentiality in restricting access to Nissan's findings even by Renault's own board members, and its largest shareholder, the French government, has backed Ghosn as Renault CEO until he is "chronically incapacitated" by the Japanese investigation, Reuters reported.

* Toyota Motor Corp. began producing a new variant of its Corolla hatchback and the Touring Sports wagon at the automaker's Burnaston plant in Derbyshire, U.K., AM-online reported. Both models reportedly are due for commercial launch across Europe from February. Toyota, which had put in £250 million into the Burnaston facility in 2017, warned in September 2018 that a no-deal Brexit could force it to temporarily stall operations at the site.

* China's Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. Ltd.-owned unit GAC Motor registered its North American sales operations in Irvine, Calif., which will oversee branding, marketing, product planning and financial affairs of the company ahead of a likely debut in the U.S. in 2020 or later, Automotive News reported. A previously announced research center in Detroit reportedly also has opened.

ELECTRIC AND AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES

* General Motors Co. president Mark Reuss said the Detroit carmaker's strategy of making the luxury Cadillac brand as its lead electric car brand is the last chance of taking Cadillac "to a really new place" as "this is pretty much it" for Cadillac amid its falling sales in the U.S., Reuters reported, quoting Reuss on the sidelines of the Detroit auto show. Reuss reportedly did not specify what would happen to Cadillac if the multiyear plan fails. He further expected "one of the first" fully electric Cadillac models to hit the streets around 2022, but added that it was too early to forecast how long it would take to electrify Cadillac's entire lineup, the news agency reported.

* Driverless startup Zoox appointed former Intel Corp. executive Aicha Evans as CEO and board member, effective Feb. 26. Most recently, Evans was senior vice president and chief strategy officer during her 12 years at Intel. Zoox removed its co-founder and CEO Tim Kentley-Klay in August 2018.

* Chinese electric-vehicle maker WM Motor Technology Co. Ltd. launched "Project W- WM City Mobility on Demand" to further develop autonomous driving in the country, Gasgoo reported. The company reportedly has built a number of research and development centers across the world and seeks to partner with global entities to accelerate the development of autonomous driving technology.

POLICY, REGULATIONS AND SAFETY

* U.S. metal tariffs will raise Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV's 2019 costs by $300 million to $350 million, or about $135 to $160 per vehicle, Reuters reported, citing a statement made by the company's CEO Mike Manley during the Detroit Auto Show. Manley's projections were based on the automaker's 2018 U.S. sales, the report said. The company later confirmed the executive's comments to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

* Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who is poised to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel as chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union party, said there is a "growing impression" that nongovernmental environmental groups like DUH are leading "crusades" against diesel, Reuters reported, quoting Kramp-Karrenbauer's comment to German broadcaster n-tv. "That hundreds of thousands of jobs depend on the [automotive] industry is an aspect that is often lost," Kramp-Karrenbauer reportedly said. DUH is petitioning to bar diesel cars in at least 28 cities, with Berlin to ban older diesel cars, followed by Frankfurt and Stuttgart, in 2019.

AUTO PARTS AND EQUIPMENT

* Canada's Magna International Inc. expects 2019 total sales of $40.2 billion to $42.4 billion, marginally higher than its 2018 total sales forecast range of $40.3 billion to $41.4 billion, due to relatively level light vehicle production across North America and Europe. The estimate excludes foreign currency headwinds and any impact from Ontario-based Magna's sale of its global fluid pressure and controls business, which it continues to expect to occur at the end of the first quarter of 2019. For 2021, the company aims to hit total sales of $42.4 billion to $45.4 billion.

* Ohio-based Dana Inc. completed the purchase of Arzignano, Italy-based SME Group, which makes low-voltage AC induction and synchronous reluctance motors for off-highway electric vehicle applications, including material handling, agriculture, construction and automated-guided vehicles. Dana said the deal, which strengthens its electrified products portfolio, is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019.

* Daimler AG forged a global long-term agreement with Belgian automotive braking control systems supplier WABCO Holdings Inc. for using the latter's next-generation advanced manual transmission control technology in its bus and trucks series production.

AUTOMOTIVE RETAIL

* Peugeot SA rode over a 34.2% year-over-year dip in China passenger vehicle sales to post a global growth of 6.8% year-over-year to about 3,878,000 units in 2018, the fifth straight yearly increase. The French carmaker said a "perfectly managed" switchover to the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure emissions norms in Europe helped it to gain a competitive edge in the last four months of 2018. The company, whose light commercial vehicle sales rose 18.3% year over year to 564,147 units, added that it is working on action plans with its Chinese partners to tackle ongoing issues.

* The Indian automotive industry group, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, or SIAM, pared down expected passenger vehicles sales growth in the fiscal year ending March 31 to an at-best 5.5% figure, from the previous growth estimate of 7% to 9%, on a slowdown in the economy and rising fuel prices, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. "In this festive season, the sentiment was not like what we usually saw," SIAM president Rajan Wadhera reportedly told reporters in New Delhi as December 2018 passenger vehicle sales fell 0.4% year over year for the second consecutive month to 238,692 units.

* GrabTaxi Holdings Pte Ltd. announced a one-year tie-up with Singapore-based real estate company CapitaLand Ltd. that will allow users of the ride-hailing service provider in Singapore to convert their GrabRewards loyalty points to CapitaLand's multi-store rewards program, STAR$. Grab also intends to work with CapitaLand to introduce GrabPay's cashless payment systems to merchants, among other initiatives.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng increased 2.02% to 26,830.29, while the Nikkei 225 rose 0.96% to 20,555.29.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 increased 0.022% to 6,856.51 and the Euronext 100 was up 0.42% to 933.19.

On the macro front

The PPI-FD index, Empire State Mfg Survey and Redbook index 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.

The Daily Dose is updated as of 8 a.m. ET. Some external links may require a subscription. Links are current as of publication time, and we are not responsible if those links are unavailable later.