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Poland fines VW over 'dieselgate'; Nissan to force former CEO Saikawa's exit

TOP NEWS

* Polish regulator UOKiK fined Volkswagen AG over 120 million zlotys over the carmaker's dieselgate scandal, Reuters reported. Marek Niechcial, acting president, UOKiK, said Volkswagen, which cheated emissions-testing by installing defeat devices in its vehicles, spread misinformation in advertising that "referred to Volkswagen's pro-ecological attitude, when in fact the cars were not environmentally friendly."

* Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. will remove its senior adviser posts to quickly push former CEO Hiroto Saikawa out of the company, the Nikkei Asian Review reported, citing sources. Nissan will "shortly" file a report with the Tokyo Stock Exchange regarding measures to prevent future financial misconduct scandals similar to that of Saikawa and former Chairman Carlos Ghosn. Saikawa admitted to being overpaid and resigned as CEO but not as a director.

CARMAKERS

* Peugeot SA-owned Opel said it will protect its workers from forced redundancies through July 2025, two years longer than originally planned. The carmaker, which will reportedly cut up to 4,100 jobs by 2029, said it also reopened a voluntary leave program for up to 2,100 employees. Separately, The Telegraph reported that PSA is shifting production of a key Vauxhall Astra variant to Germany from Ellesmere Port plant in the U.K., raising concerns over the future of the facility that hires 1,000.

* Bayerische Motoren Werke AG said it will launch 17 new models in China in 2020, three of which will be new-energy vehicles to be introduced in the first quarter, Gasgoo reported.

* U.S.-based Capital Group Cos. sold its 2.56% stake in Hyundai Motor Group, the South Korean carmaker that owns Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp., for about 660.8 billion won, The Korea Herald reported.

* Mitsubishi Motors Corp. named Masami Ichiki President of GAC Mitsubishi Motors Co. or GMMC, its joint venture with China's Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. Ltd., replacing Shinsuke Katsuragi.

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

* Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. Ltd.-owned Volvo Cars will build a $600 million U.S. battery assembly plant in Ridgeville, S.C., Automotive News reported, citing a company representative. The plant will produce batteries for its battery-electric XC90 crossover and will be completed by 2021-end. XC90 production will reportedly create 1,000 jobs.

* Amazon said it ordered 40 electric vans from Deutsche Post-owned StreetScooter for its Munich distribution center, Reuters reported. The German carmaker also installed 60 charging stations at the site. Separately, Daimler-owned Mercedes-Benz said it also delivered 10 battery-electric eVito vans to Amazon's fulfillment center in Munich-Daglfing.

* Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz will roll out the all-electric EQC in India in April 2020 ahead of its U.S. launch, Electrek reported. The EQC 400 is expected to retail for about $140,000, double the expected U.S. prices of about $68,000 due to high taxes on luxury cars in India.

AUTONOMOUS AND CONNECTED VEHICLES

* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV could join the self-driving alliance of Germany's Daimler and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, along with "several vehicle manufacturers [that] expressed an interest in the alliance," Bloomberg News reported, citing BMW development head Klaus Froehlich. In August 2019, reports surfaced that Volkswagen-owned Audi will join the alliance.

* Volvo Cars said it will team up with China Unicom to develop a 5G-powered network to allow cars and infrastructure to communicate. The China-based project will use Volvo's vehicle-to-everything or V2X technology and China Unicom's network and software solutions.

MOBILITY SERVICES

* Lyft Inc. said it teamed up with various safety organizations to form a safety advisory council that will advise the ride-hailing company on initiatives and best practices. The council will be led by Eman Barhoumeh, vice president of safety and customer engagement.

* Toyota launched a mobility brand called Kinto, which will focus on Europe-based mobility services including car-sharing and leasing and subscription services. The Japanese carmaker also plans to use its e-Palette concept for a self-driving transportation service in the future.

POLICY, REGULATION AND SAFETY

* Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling approximately 696,000 vehicles in the U.S. over a potentially faulty fuel pump that could stop operating. If the fuel pump stops working, warning lights and messages might be displayed and the engine could run rough, resulting in a stalled vehicle and increasing the risk of a crash.

AUTOMOTIVE RETAIL

* Audi AG's hypercar brand Lamborghini sold 8,205 vehicles in 2019, surging 43% from the prior year.

* Spain's new vehicle sales dropped 4.8% year over year to 1.26 million in 2019, Automotive News reported. Sales in December 2019 jumped to 105,853 vehicles, up 6.6% year over year. Industry association ANFAC forecasts 2020 sales to be at a similar level to 2019, with a weaker first half and a recovery in the second part of the year, according to the report.

COMMERCIAL VEHICLES

* Volkswagen-owned truck-maker Traton SE sold 242,200 vehicles in 2019, up 4% from the prior year. Traton, which went public in June 2019, said it will meet its target for 2019 operating return on sales of between 6.5% and 7.5%.

* Honda Motor Co. Ltd.'s research and development unit signed an agreement with Isuzu Motors Ltd., which makes commercial vehicles and pickup trucks, for joint research on using fuel-cell powertrains in heavy-duty trucks. The partnership provides Isuzu a next-generation powertrain for its trucks and gives Honda the opportunity to expand the application of its fuel-cell tech beyond passenger vehicles.

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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 declined 0.39% to 28,773.59, and the Nikkei 225 fell 0.45% to 23,916.58.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 gained 0.10% to 7,629.13, and the Euronext 100 was essentially flat at 1,157.62.

On the macro front

The U.S. PPI-FD, the U.S. Empire State manufacturing survey, the Atlanta Fed business inflation expectations report, the U.S. EIA petroleum status report and the U.S. beige book 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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