* Daimler AG's investors sued the German carmaker for €896 million in damages over its involvement in the "dieselgate" scandal, according to German law firm TILP, which is representing the plaintiffs. Investors, including "banks, capital management companies, insurance companies and reinsurers as well as sovereign wealth funds and pension funds" from several countries, said Daimler violated capital markets law by concealing the emissions-cheating devices installed in its vehicles and spreading related disinformation. Daimler was fined €870 million in September 2019 over the scandal.
* Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings PLC saw shares drop as low as 11.83% to £4.59 after issuing its second profit warning for 2019 following "a very disappointing year." The luxury-car maker lowered its adjusted EBITDA margin to fall between £130 million and £140 million, nearly half of £247 million a year ago and below an S&P Global Market Intelligence analyst estimate of about £195 million.
* Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. said it will continue to take appropriate legal action against its former chairman Carlos Ghosn after the former executive escaped from house arrest in Tokyo and fled to Lebanon. Ghosn reportedly is now the subject of an Interpol red notice. Ghosn, who also formerly led Nissan's automotive alliance partners Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., was detained in Japan in November 2018 over allegations of financial misconduct.
* Daimler's Mercedes-Benz brand said it teamed up with parts-maker Bosch to build a vehicle testing center for semi-automated driving, safety, suspension control and energy efficiency in Brazil. The companies will begin constructing the 400,000-square-meter center this year, with operations beginning in 2021.
ELECTRIC AND AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES
* Sony Corp. unveiled its first electric concept car, called the Vision-S, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The prototype contains a range of Sony technology including 33 sensors that are able to monitor the inside and outside of the vehicle. President and CEO Kenichiro Yoshida said Sony has tapped at least 11 companies to help develop Vision-S, including Bosch, Continental AG, Magna International Inc. and ZF Friedrichshafen AG. Yoshida added that the prototype was built on a "newly designed EV platform allowing for future applications in other vehicle types, such as SUVs."
* New Jersey's legislators passed Assembly Bill 4819 and Senate Bill 2252, which would see the construction of at least 600 fast-charging and 1,000 public charging stations by Dec. 31, 2021, Electrek reported. By Dec. 31, 2025, the state plans to have at least 330,000 electrified vehicles on its roads.
* Tesla began preparations for producing its Model Y vehicle at its Shanghai gigafactory, Gasgoo reported. The all-electric SUV is expected to retail between 444,000 yuan and 535,000 yuan.
* Aptiv PLC said it was cleared to test self-driving vehicles at the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. The service, which can pick up and drop off selected passengers, is part of Aptiv's plans to launch production-ready Level 4 self-driving cars by 2022.
* Uber Technologies Inc. partnered with Hyundai Motor Co. to develop a future aerial rideshare network called Uber Air Taxis. The companies unveiled a full-scale electric personal aircraft vehicle concept called the S-A1, which has a range of up to 60 miles and seats four passengers at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
POLICY, REGULATION AND SAFETY
* Michigan prosecutors charged former United Auto Workers director Vance Pearson with conspiracy to embezzle funds as part of a racketeering enterprise, The Wall Street Journal reported. The latest charge is the first to specify racketeering, though Pearson and other officials have been charged with embezzlement, fraud and money laundering.
AUTO PARTS AND EQUIPMENT
* Japanese parts-maker Denso said it formed a joint venture with Qualcomm Technologies to develop cockpit systems with advanced driver assistance functions using Qualcomm's information and communication technologies and semiconductors and Denso's Harmony Core cockpit system.
* Ford Motor Co.'s U.S. sales dropped in both the fourth quarter and full year 2019. The Michigan-based automaker's fourth-quarter sales fell 1.3% year over year to 601,862 vehicles, while its 2019 sales dropped 3% to 2.42 million vehicles. Ford, which is phasing out sedans in North America, sold 63,400 cars in the fourth quarter, down 41% year over year. It sold 349,091 cars in 2019, down 28.2%.
* General Motors Co. saw China sales plummet 15% year over year to 3.09 million vehicles in 2019, down for the second consecutive year, Reuters reported, citing GM China President Matt Tsien. The executive added that "we expect the market downturn to continue in 2020, and anticipate ongoing headwinds in our China business."
* Chinese automaker BAIC Motor Corp. Ltd. said its 2019 revenue grew 4% to 500 billion yuan from 480 billion yuan in the prior-year period, meeting its revenue target for the year. The carmaker targets revenue of 520 billion yuan in 2020. The company said it sold 2.26 million vehicles in 2019.
* Honda Motor Co. Ltd. said its Chinese arm sold a record 1,554,433 vehicles in 2019, Gasgoo reported. However, the Japanese carmaker saw December sales in China drop 25.6% to 142,831 vehicles.
* Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. sold 130,036 vehicles in December, surging 39.3% year over year. The carmaker, which sold 1.36 million vehicles in 2019, expects 2020 sales to grow 3% year over year to hit 1.41 million automobiles.
* Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. Ltd.-owned Volvo Cars sold a record 705,452 vehicles worldwide in 2019, up 9.8% year over year. The sales were driven up by an 18.7% increase in sales in China to 154,961 and a 10.1% sales growth in the U.S. to 108,234 vehicles. It sold 74,239 cars in December 2019, jumping 23.4% year over year.
* German car registrations grew 5% in 2019 to a decade-high 3.6 million vehicles as carmakers tried to empty their inventories of high-emissions vehicles that would be banned in 2020, the Financial Times (London) reported, citing registration figures and several auto analysts. Vehicle production plunged to a 23-year low in 2019 at 4.66 million, down 9% year over year as international demand continued to drop, Bloomberg News reported, citing VDA.
* Van registrations in the U.K. grew 7.8% year over year in December to 27,551 vehicles, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
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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 0.34% to 28,322.06. Nikkei 225 was up 1.60% to 23,575.72.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.11% to 7,583.60, and the Euronext 100 increased 0.12% to 1,157.28.
On the macro front
The International Trade report, Redbook index for retail sales, Factory Orders report and ISM Non-Manufacturing 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.
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