* General Motors Co. said it expects to introduce more than 20 new models in China in 2019, half of which will be new nameplates in China, to sustain its growth momentum in the country. GM China expects to exceed its five-year plan to launch 60 new or refreshed products between 2016 and 2020, including 10 so-called new energy vehicles, or NEVs. The company could offer 20 NEVs in the country by 2023, with the company saying that from 2021 through 2023, it expects to double the number of its NEVs available in China.
* Ford Motor Co. expanded an existing airbag recall, adding over 953,000 vehicles in North America. The carmaker expanded its Takata airbag inflator recall to include vehicles with certain passenger frontal airbag inflators, marking the fourth such planned expansion, according to Ford. Separately, Ford also issued a new safety compliance recall affecting about 87 EcoSport vehicles that have an insufficient weld in their seat backs, which could increase the risk of injury. Ford said it is not aware of any accidents from either recalls.
* French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire asked Renault SA to provide more details on a payout to executives of a Dutch holding company, which the carmaker jointly owns with Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., Reuters reported. The statement comes after trade union CGT called attention to the payments and asked for more transparency from the automaker after the arrest of Renault's current CEO, Carlos Ghosn. The former Nissan chairman's lawyers will hold a conference Jan. 10 ahead of Ghosn's first court appearance since his arrest in November, Reuters reported, citing the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan.
* Nissan Motor CEO Hiroto Saikawa again denied speculations that the carmaker's alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. was damaged by its ouster of ex-chairman Ghosn but added that the Japanese carmaker could renegotiate the partnership's distribution of shares, AFP reported. Renault holds 43% of Nissan's shares while the Japanese carmaker, which outsells Renault, only holds 15% of the latter. Separately, Nissan's chief performance officer, José Muñoz, is taking a leave of absence from the Japanese automaker to concentrate on "special tasks arising from recent events," Reuters reported, citing a statement released by the company. The executive was considered to be a supporter of Ghosn.
ELECTRIC AND AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES
* Tesla Inc. broke ground on its Gigafactory in China and plans to finish initial construction this summer, according to tweets by CEO Elon Musk. The executive said the site will start Model 3 production T the end of 2019, reaching high-volume production in 2020. The Shanghai factory will produce "affordable versions of 3/Y for greater China," with higher cost offerings such as Model S, Model X and high-end Model 3 continuing to be built in the U.S., Musk tweeted. Tesla aims to start delivering Model 3 vehicles to consumers in China by March.
* Auto parts maker DENSO Corp. plans to develop an end-to-end autonomous driving system with navigation solutions provider TomTom N.V. Amsterdam-based TomTom will combine its high definition map with Denso's in-vehicle sensors, such as cameras and radars, to power the self-driving technology. The team will be based in Japan and will share data from both companies to develop localization, perception and path planning functions for the system.
* Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz brand aims to be one of the first two carmakers to scale up the self-driving tech, Reuters reported, citing executive Christoph Schroeder's statement to German paper Welt am Sonntag.
POLICY, REGULATIONS AND SAFETY
* The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association, or ACEA, said it "deeply regrets" the EU's decision to continue restricting steel imports after the commission retained its tariff-rate quota that places a 25% duty on imports above a certain level until July 2021. ACEA said the automotive sector still requires steel imports to fill supply-chain gaps and that the move will negatively impact the competitiveness of European carmakers.
* German state Baden-Wuerttemberg sued Volkswagen AG after the VW vehicles the local authorities purchased were banned in cities like Stuttgart, Reuters reported, citing German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Volkswagen told Reuters that it had yet to see the lawsuit. Officials at Baden-Wuerttemberg state could not be immediately reached for comment.
AUTO PARTS AND EQUIPMENT
* French auto parts maker Faurecia completed the transition of its legal status to a European company, or an SE, from a France-registered company, or an SA. The company said it will remain listed on the Paris stock exchange and will keep its headquarters in Nanterre, France. The change in legal status is because half of the company's revenue comes from Europe, where it employs 45,000 people, the company said.
* DENSO Corp. will merge its domestic sales and service companies into a new company called Denso Solution Japan Corp., effective April 1, to efficiently expand its automotive aftermarket business. The units to be merged are Denso Sales Japan Corp. and Denso Ten Ltd.'s two units, Denso Ten Sales Ltd. and Denso Ten Service Ltd.
* Auto parts maker BorgWarner Inc. agreed to sell its thermostat business to Arlington Industries Group Ltd for about €24 million, subject to customary adjustments. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019 and includes manufacturing facilities in Oberboihingen, Germany, and Piracicaba, Brazil. The business expects to report 2018 full-year sales of about €110 million. BorgWarner will incur a book loss of approximately between $20 million and $30 million from the sale of the unit.
* U.K.'s car registrations for 2018 fell 6.8% year over year to 2,367,147 vehicles, reflecting "months of turbulence" and the "second year of substantial decline," according to U.K. trade body Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, or SMMT. The fleet sales were hardest hit in 2018 with a 7.3% decline at 1222,849 vehicles sold. Registrations of plug-in hybrids rose 24.9%, while demand for pure electric cars grew 13.8% at 15,474 registrations, the SMMT said.
* Mov'InBlue, a car-sharing platform developed by French auto parts company Valeo SA and tech company Capgemini SE, has teamed up with car rental services provider Drivy, SAS to launch a connected shared mobility solution. Through the partnership, professional organizations such as traditional car rental companies, businesses and local authorities with a fleet of vehicles will be able to offer their vehicles for self-service car-sharing on the Drivy platform.
* Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd.'s December sales plummeted 39% year over year to 93,333 units. In 2018 the carmaker sold 1,500,838 units, up 20% from 2017 but missing its target of 1,580,000 automobiles. Geely attributed its sales figures to "prevailing uncertainties" in the Chinese passenger vehicle market and set a conservative 2019 sales target at 1,510,000 autos.
* Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. Ltd. sold 186,689 vehicles in December, up 4.73% from the same month last year, Gasgoo reported. GAC Toyota sold 42,037 vehicles in December, up 26.15% year over year, while GAC FCA's sales plummeted 50.78% year over year to 10,180 automobiles. The automaker sold 2,147,892 units in 2018, up 7.34% from 2017.
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Hang Seng was up 0.82% to 25,835.70. The Nikkei 225 rose 2.44% to 20,038.97.
In Europe as of midday, the FTSE 100 fell 0.63% to 6,794.27, and the Euronext 100 retreated 0.48% to 916.89.
On the macro front
The Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing index, the TD Ameritrade Investor Movement Index and the factory orders 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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