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Ford recalls 2 million trucks; Elliott revives reform push at Hyundai

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Ford recalls 2 million trucks; Elliott revives reform push at Hyundai

TOP NEWS

* Ford Motor Co. said it is issuing a recall for about 2 million vehicles in North America, 1,619,112 of them in the U.S., due to problems with driver and front passenger seat belt pretensioners that could pose a fire risk. The recall involves select F-150 Regular Cab and F-150 SuperCrew Cab vehicles of 2015-2018 make. Ford said the affected seat belt pretensioners can generate excessive sparks while deploying, raising a possibility of gases exhausted inside the cars' B-pillars to ignite and subsequently catch fire.

* Hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. has revived its campaign for structural reforms at Hyundai Motor Group, the parent company of Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp., Bloomberg News reported, citing an Aug. 14 letter to the conglomerate. In the letter, the activist fund invited the South Korean conglomerate to discuss its proposed merger of some key divisions to boost shareholder value and refine the group's framework. Rejecting Elliott's request, Hyundai said in a statement that it hopes to share its thoughts "on how to improve shareholder value with all of our shareholders in due course."

CARMAKERS

* China FAW Group Corp. appointed Giles Taylor, most recently the director of design for Rolls-Royce Motorcars U.K., as the Chinese carmaker's global vice president of design and chief creative officer to oversee design strategies for FAW's luxury brand Hongqi, as well as for autonomous passenger cars. Taylor, who was previously the chief designer at Jaguar Land Rover Ltd., will set up a new FAW advanced design center in Munich to spearhead design works on the Hongqi brand.

* Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. Indian arm plans to strengthen its premium brand appeal while building on the company's position in the electrified and connected cars space, the Japanese carmaker said in a release. Under its redrawn strategy for premium and connected cars, Nissan Motor India Private Ltd will shift its focus on SUVs, beginning with the Kicks SUV in 2019, and expand its global digital hub in Kerala by hiring 500 employees within 2018. The company, which sells Terrano SUVs, Micra superminis and Sunny sedans in India, also said it will double its sales and service network from the current 270 car dealerships over the next three years.

* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said its shareholders elected CEO Michael Manley as executive director of FCA. At the same meeting, FCA Chairman John Elkann said Manley will announce organizational plans for the carmaker by September-end, Reuters reported. Separately, shareholders of Italian sports-car maker Ferrari NV elected CEO Louis Camilleri as the company's executive director. Manley and Camilleri on July 21 replaced Sergio Marchionne as CEO of FCA and Ferrari, respectively.

* Fitch Ratings said it plans to withdraw the ratings on Japanese carmaker Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. for commercial reasons. The rating agency's current long-term issuer default rating for Nissan Motor is BBB+ with a stable outlook, its short-term IDR is F2, its long-term local currency IDR is BBB+ with a stable outlook and its short-term local currency IDR is F2.

ELECTRIC AND AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES

* Short seller Andrew Left of Citron Research has sued Tesla Inc. and CEO Elon Musk over alleged violations of federal securities laws. Among the allegations in the lawsuit, lodged in a San Francisco federal court, Left claimed that Musk artificially manipulated Tesla's stock price by issuing materially false and misleading information. Tesla did not immediately respond to S&P Global Market Intelligence's request for comment. Several lawsuits have been brought against Tesla since Musk's Aug. 7 tweet that he is taking the company private, a plan that was later dropped by Musk.

* Osamu Suzuki, Suzuki Motor Corp.'s chairman, said the Japanese carmaker will "start road-running tests using a fleet of 50 [electric vehicle] prototype vehicles in India" from October, Reuters reported, quoting the chairman at an event in New Delhi. Suzuki reportedly aims to launch EVs in India around 2020 as part of an agreement with Toyota Motor Corp. Suzuki Motor's India unit Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. previously inked a pact with the government to develop 12 automated driving test tracks across Delhi.

* Hyundai Motor Co. Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun launched a three-point strategy, focused on clean mobility, freedom in mobility and connected mobility, to expand into India's nascent smart mobility industry, The Korea Herald reported. As part of the program, the South Korean automaker reportedly will release three electric vehicles in India in the near future.

* Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. completed installing nine fast-charging stations on the I-95 freeway connecting Boston and Washington, D.C., comprising 52 chargers in total, in collaboration with the U.S. fast-charging provider EVgo. Each I-95 Fast Charging ARC consists of two charging connector options that can charge multiple electric vehicles at one go.

* Chinese beverage-maker Hangzhou Wahaha Group Co. Ltd. could begin making cars as it sets up a new subsidiary called Zhejiang Deqing Wahaha Technology Innovation Center Co. Ltd. on Aug. 27, Gasgoo reported, citing China's National Enterprise Credit Information Public System. The unit, with a registered capital of 50 million yuan, would work in the new energy vehicle and intelligent vehicle technology domains, among others.

REGULATIONS AND SAFETY

* Volkswagen AG's Australia unit committed to a court-enforceable undertaking to address consumer issues, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said in a release. VW, which did not disclose the related costs associated with the order, would review past complaints and offer refunds, replacements or repairs to customers where "consumer guarantees rights were not honored," the regulator said. The undertaking is not related to the ACCC's ongoing probe into the German automaker's diesel emissions complaints.

AUTO PARTS AND EQUIPMENT

* Bayerische Motoren Werke AG unveiled a voice-activated digital assistant that will be available across the U.S., France, Germany, the U.K. and other markets from March 2019. The Intelligent Personal Assistant will also be operable through a smart speaker or smartphone, receive remote software updates, and be compatible with other digital voice assistants like Amazon Alexa. The artificial intelligence-based system can control a car's navigation system, temperature and other settings and find nearby parking spaces, among other features, BMW said.

AUTOMOTIVE RETAIL

* Uber Technologies Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi sees the ride-hailing service provider moving away from its core business toward dockless scooters, bikes and possibly flying taxis in 10 years, TechCrunch reported. "We want to be the Amazon of transportation," Khosrowshahi said, as the CEO expects ride-hailing to comprise less than 50% of Uber's business, in terms of transactions, in a decade. "I'm actually very, very bullish on personal individual electric vehicles," the Uber CEO said.

TRUCKS AND MOTORCYCLES

* Daimler AG-owned Mercedes-Benz's trucks unit rolled out an upgraded version of its Actros heavy-duty truck that features partially automated driving, a first for a series-produced truck. The upgraded model features the active drive assist function that can brake, accelerate and steer in all speed ranges and helps prevent an impending rear-end collision or other crashes through automatic full braking.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng decreased 0.01% to 26,973.47, and the Nikkei 225 declined 0.80% to 22,307.06.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.85% to 7,256.55, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.20% to 1,025.18.

On the macro front

The employment situation report, the quarterly services survey, the Treasury STRIPS report and the Baker-Hughes Rig Count 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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