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Tesla drops after sales report, price cut; GM crosses 200,000 EV sales mark

TOP NEWS

* Although Tesla Inc.'s production and deliveries grew in the fourth quarter of 2018, the company's share price tumbled as much as 10% Jan. 2 as the electric-car maker reduced prices on its models by $2,000 to help offset the reduction of the federal electric-vehicle tax credit. On Jan. 1, the tax credit for Tesla customers dropped from $7,500 to $3,750. The federal tax credit starts phasing out once an automaker sells 200,000 electric cars, which Tesla achieved in 2018.

* General Motors Co. sold 200,000 electric vehicles in the U.S. by 2018-end, which began the phaseout of a federal tax credit for consumers who purchase the company's model, Reuters reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. The Detroit-based automaker told S&P Global Market Intelligence in November that it expected to reach 200,000 in EV sales by the end of the year. A GM spokesperson said in an email that the company has not confirmed its 2018 sales numbers but expects to release those numbers Jan 3.

CARMAKERS

* Hyundai Motor Group Executive Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun said the group aims to offer 44 electrified models and annual sales of about 1.67 million EVs by 2025. The Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. parent also aims to invest about 8 trillion South Korean won, or nearly $7 billion, in fuel cell technologies, including fuel cell electric vehicles, by 2030. The company plans to pilot a self-driving taxi service by 2021 in South Korea, create its own mobility service business, and partner with leaders in autonomous technology and mobility industry. It also plans to strengthen the diversity, expertise and independence of the board at each affiliated company.

ELECTRIC AND AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES

* Norway's electric vehicle sales grew 40% in 2018, with 31.2% of the country's 147,929 new vehicles all-electric, making it the largest market for EVs, Electrek reported, citing data from the Norwegian Road Traffic Information. If plug-in hybrid vehicles are included, 49.1% of the vehicle registered in Norway in 2018 were EVs.

* Daimler AG unit NuCellSys GmbH, which develops automotive fuel cell and hydrogen storage systems, will operate as Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell GmbH from January. Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell is working on developing a fuel cell system that can be flexibly incorporated into the Group-wide electric modular system.

POLICY, REGULATIONS AND SAFETY

* A Canadian court ruled Uber Technologies Inc.'s dispute arbitrating process unlawful and unconscionable, The Wall Street Journal reported. The ride-hailing firm was forcing its drivers to resolve any complaints through a mediator in the Netherlands, the ruling by the Court of Appeal for Ontario said. Drivers reportedly had to pay $14,500 to initiate the arbitration, which Uber chose to "favor thus take advantage of its drivers." Uber said in a statement that it is reviewing the decision.

AUTOMOTIVE RETAIL

* France's December passenger vehicle sales fell 14.5% year over year to 165,390 cars amid "yellow vest" protests against stricter economic policies by the government. French carmaker Peugeot SA reported a 1.9% decline in monthly sales at 49,818 cars, despite a 13% growth in its Citroen brand, while its local rival Renault SA reported a 19% drop in sales to 41,058 cars. For 2018, French passenger vehicle sales grew 3% year over year to 2,173,481 cars. Total vehicle sales, including light commercial vehicles, dropped 11.5% to 206,119 vehicles in December 2018, but grew 3.3% to 2,632,607 vehicles in 2018, as per data from French Automobile Manufacturers Committee, or CCFA. For 2018, Renault sold 689,788 automobiles, including light commercial vehicles, up 2.4% from 2017.

* SAIC Motor Corp. Ltd.'s joint venture with Volkswagen AG sold the most vehicles in China for 2018 with 2,065,077 new registrations. The Volkswagen name brand sold 1.713 million units in China, while VW's Skoda brand sold 352,000 units for 2018, up 5.7% year over year.

* Finnish food retailer Kesko Oyj's retail company K-Caara plans to acquire car dealer LänsiAuto Oy's Volkswagen AG, Audi AG and SEAT businesses in the cities of Kotka, Kouvola and Lappeenranta, Finland. Financial terms were not disclosed. The deal, which is subject to approval by the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority, is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2019.

TRUCKS AND MOTORCYCLES

* Daimler AG's truck brands sold over 500,000 trucks in 2018, surpassing 2017's 470,700 units and its best result in a decade. The group's sales in the NAFTA region increased 15% year over year to 172,700 units, while sales in Europe rose 4%. Sales in Asia rose 12% to 147,900 units.

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The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng fell 0.26% to 25,064.36.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 fell 0.61% to 6,693.36, and the Euronext 100 was down 1.03% to 900.95.

On the macro front

The motor vehicle sales report, the MBA Mortgage applications report, the ADP employment report, the jobless claims report, the ISM manufacturing index, the construction spending report, 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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