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Ford announces European restructuring; VW-Ford to reveal tie-up at Detroit show

TOP NEWS

* Ford Motor Co. said it will cut thousands of jobs, exit unprofitable markets and discontinue loss-making vehicle lines, including exiting multivan segment, as part of its turnaround plan for European operations. Ford said it will stop manufacturing automatic transmissions in Bordeaux in August, review its operations in Russia, and combine the headquarters of Ford U.K. and Ford Credit to a site in Dunton, Essex. Ford's announcement on layoffs come as U.K.'s Jaguar Land Rover, a unit of India's Tata Motors Ltd., is also set to announce thousands of job cuts, Autonews reported, citing sources.

* Volkswagen AG and Ford Motor are set to announce a deeper alliance Jan. 15 at the Detroit auto show that may include a deal to share autonomous and electric-car technologies, Reuters reported Jan. 10, citing two people familiar with the plan. The carmakers announced in June 2018 that they will establish a new partnership to develop a range of commercial vehicles. The talks reportedly have since expanded to include other areas including autonomous cars and cooperation to pare down manufacturing costs, the people told the news outlet.

CARMAKERS

* Japan's Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission has filed yet another case against former Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. Chairman Carlos Ghosn, which could lead to a further extension of his detention, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. The court is likely to indict the ousted Nissan executive, along with the carmaker and former representative director Greg Kelly, on Jan. 11 for underreporting income for three years through 2018, according to the report. Ghosn reportedly faces an additional charge of aggravated breach of trust. Separately, Ghosn was struck with a high fever and will be unable to attend his interrogation regarding numerous accusations of financial misconduct, the Nikkei reported, citing Ghosn's lawyers.

* Volkswagen appointed former Apple executive Alexander Hitzinger as a member of the brand board of management for technical development at Volkswagen commercial vehicles, effective immediately. Hitzinger will manage the Centre for autonomous driving and Mobility-as-a-Service. The carmaker added that the current head of technical development, Axel Anders, will take on other assignments in Volkswagen.

* Volkswagen-owned Audi AG's Chinese unit hired Lu Yi as president, effective immediately, Gasgoo reported. Lu was formerly president and managing director of the Chinese arm of Nissan's luxury brand Infiniti.

ELECTRIC AND AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES

* Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the next generation Tesla Roadster will be able to hover over the ground as the company will use SpaceX cold gas thruster system in place of the two rear seats. Separately, Tesla will discontinue its 75kWh battery pack in Model S and X vehicles from the week of Jan. 14, Musk tweeted, giving consumers until Sunday night to order the current versions. The move is part of Tesla's attempts to improve the models' range and performance, Musk confirmed in a separate tweet.

* Volkswagen plans to build a fast-charging station network for electric vehicles in China within the first half of 2019, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The network will be built in partnership with China FAW Group Corp. and two other Chinese companies. VW and FAW will initially invest 1 billion Chinese yuan together, and each will hold 30% while their other partners will hold the remaining stake.

* General Motors Co. announced a collaboration with electric-vehicle charging networks EVgo, ChargePoint Inc. and Greenlots to help owners of GM's Chevrolet Bolt EV in finding a charging station by using GM's myChevrolet mobile app. The Detroit carmaker plans to collect dynamic charging information from the three companies, which together have over 31,000 charging ports in the U.S., to include real-time data on whether a charging station is working, available and compatible with a Bolt EV, among others, on its app.

POLICY, REGULATIONS AND SAFETY

* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV could pay more than $650 million to settle lawsuits from the U.S. Justice Department and diesel car owners over the automaker's alleged manipulation of emission tests, the Associated Press reported Jan. 10, citing a person with knowledge of the settlement. As part of the deal, Fiat Chrysler reportedly will pay $311 million in penalties to the federal government and California regulators, as well as $72 million to settle litigation brought by other states. The company will also pay vehicle owners about $2,800 each, or a total of about $280 million in compensation, the source told the news agency.

* The Italian Competition Authority imposed a fine of €178.9 million on FCA Bank SpA, a joint venture between Crédit Agricole unit CA Consumer Finance SA and Fiat Chrysler's FCA Italy SpA, as part of an investigation into alleged breaches of competition rules by several banks and car manufacturers, Crédit Agricole Group said.

* Toyota Motor Corp. recalled 1.3 million additional vehicles in the U.S. as part of the ongoing recall of its vehicles having faulty Takata airbag inflators. Toyota said the recall is in accordance with an agreement between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Takata to fix the faulty airbag inflators, which have been reportedly linked to a few cases of death and several injuries across the world.

* Toyota Motor, Nissan and Honda Motor Co. Ltd. asked Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to restate the importance of an orderly Brexit to his British counterpart Theresa May, the Financial Times (London) reported. The Japanese carmakers' operations could be seriously disrupted without a deal as they rely heavily on trading arrangements with the European Union. The report added that Toyota had warned a potential closure in its Derby plant in Britain and that Honda had begun stockpiling components. Nissan has delayed pay talks until Brexit terms become clearer, the report said.

* Bayerische Motoren Werke AG's Rolls-Royce brand urged the U.K. government to avoid a no-deal Brexit, Reuters reported, citing CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes. Despite the carmaker's stockpiling, warehouse expansions and supplier training efforts, it is impossible to predict what would happen without a managed transition, Mueller-Oetvoes said. Sales rose 22% to 4,107 cars in 2018, boosted by an over 40% rise in demand from China. Mueller-Oetvoes also said tax cuts made by U.S. President Donald Trump helped the business. "This was really fuel for our business last year in the United States," he said.

AUTO PARTS AND EQUIPMENT

* Hyundai Motor Co.-parent Hyundai Motor Group and auto parts maker Lear Corp. teamed up to test and develop Lear's EXO high accuracy vehicle positioning technology. The proprietary Global Navigation Satellite System technology plans to boost self-driving mobility efforts by providing "centimeter-level accuracy" globally.

AUTOMOTIVE RETAIL

* Volkswagen Group's namesake brand sold 540,600 vehicles worldwide in December 2018, down 9% from the same month a year ago. VW sold 6,244,900 automobiles during the year, up 0.2% from 2017. VW unit Audi sold 154,550 vehicles in December, down 14.3% year over year. Its 2018 sales also fell 3.5% to 1,812,500 automobiles sold. Meanwhile, sales of Porsche-branded vehicles for 2018 grew 4% to 256,255 vehicles sold worldwide.

* BMW sold over 140,000 electrified automobiles in 2018, up 38.4% from 2017. Over half its sales came from Europe, where it holds a 16% market share.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng increased 0.22% to 26,521.43, while the Nikkei 225 fell 1.29% to 20,163.80.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 fell 0.11% to 6,899.04 and the Euronext 100 was down 0.54% to 930.56.

On the macro front

The EIA natural gas report, Fed balance sheet and jobless claims consensus 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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