* Ride-hailing company Lyft Inc. said it plans to offer 30,770,000 shares of its class A common stock at a range between $62 and $68 per share as it launched the roadshow for its proposed IPO. The price range values the company between $21 billion and $23 billion. Separately, a group of investors is calling on Lyft to scrap its proposed dual-class share structure, saying the plan imposes "unnecessary and uncompensated investment risk on potential shareholders," the Financial Times (London) reported. Lyft's proposed dual-class structure of shares will concentrate voting power with company founders Logan Green and John Zimmer, limiting investors' ability "to influence the outcome of important transactions, including a change in control," the group reportedly said.
* President Donald Trump tweeted March 17 that he told General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra that he is "not happy" that the company has closed its Lordstown, Ohio, plant and that he has asked her to either sell the plant or "do something quickly" to keep the plant open. The tweet came hours after Trump's tweets that he wants "fast" action on the plant and that "other much better car companies are coming into the U.S. in droves." He also asked UAW President David Green to "get his act together." General Motors said in a statement to Reuters that it and UAW will decide the future of the plant. "We remain open to talking with all affected stakeholders, but our main focus remains on our employees and offering them jobs in our plants where we have growth opportunities," it said.
* Ford Motor Co. plans to cut more than 5,000 jobs in Germany as the company looks to restructure its operations in Europe. The Michigan-based automaker is reorganizing its workspace in Europe as it looks to increase profitability, Ford said in an emailed statement to S&P Global Market Intelligence. The number of job cuts in the U.K. is yet to be determined. The layoffs in Germany also includes temporary workers.
* Bayerische Motoren Werke AG will reorganize its business divisions, effective April 1, ahead of the departure of board member Peter Schwarzenbauer in order to create a "leaner, future-oriented structure." The BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce brands will operate under a new central sales division led by Pieter Nota, who will continue to hold responsibilities for sales and brand for the BMW marque and aftersales for the wider BMW group. The BMW Motorrad brand will become part of the development division, which will continue to be led by Klaus Fröhlich. Both Nota and Fröhlich are members of the company's management board. From April 1 until October, Schwarzenbauer will promote the company's plan to focus on e-mobility, remaining part of BMW's management board.
* Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.'s governance reform committee is expected to publish a list of proposals on March 27 that includes a recommendation to keep the company's chairman seat vacant, the Nikkei Asian Review reported, without disclosing where it obtained the information. The committee, which is led by lawyer Seiichiro Nishioka and former Toray Industries President Sadayuki Sakakibara, will also propose removing the chairman's power to lead board meetings and to instead assign the role to an outside director, the report said.
* Volkswagen AG's board condemned its CEO Herbert Diess' remarks that alluded to a Nazi Germany slogan, Reuters reported, citing a company statement. The board said it considered the slogan "inappropriate and difficult to comprehend," but noted that Diess has since apologized, Reuters reported.
* Audi AG and European energy company E.ON will team up to build a solar energy park on the roofs of two of Audi's Hungarian plants. Construction for two 80,000-square-meter sites will begin in August, with energy generation starting in 2020. Each site will generate more than 9.5 GWh of electricity per year, matching the annual energy requirements of 5,000 households and cutting about 6,000 tons of carbon dioxide from its emissions levels.
ELECTRIC AND AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES
* BMW, battery maker Varta and four other German companies requested state funding for projects to develop electric car battery cells, Reuters reported, citing people close to the matter. A BMW spokesman reportedly confirmed the move but said the funding did not guarantee the carmaker's participation in a consortium. Varta plans to cooperate with European partners to hike production up to over 60 million battery cells annually, the report said. In November 2018, Germany pledged €1 billion through 2021 to ramp up domestic production of lithium-ion battery cells.
* Tesla Inc. will extend its all-stock offer for battery-maker Maxwell Technologies Inc. until April 2, two weeks later than the original March 19 deadline. As of market close March 14, Tesla subsidiary Cambria Acquisition Corp. has acquired about 3,094,515 shares.
* Tesla will discontinue the mid-range battery pack for its Model 3 sedan. The mid-range pack has a 260-mile range and was introduced in October 2018 along with a $45,000 version of its Model 3. In February, Tesla unveiled a $35,000 Model 3 with a standard battery pack with a 220-mile range.
* Chinese electric-scooter maker Niu Technologies reported a net loss of 10.60 Chinese yuan per share for 2018, compared with a per-share loss of 1.54 yuan in 2017. The company posted a net loss of 377.4 million yuan for the fourth quarter, up from a 48.7 million-yuan loss in the prior-year period and beating the S&P Global Market Intelligence mean consensus estimate of a 90 million yuan loss. In 2018, Niu sold 93,611 e-scooters, up 77.9% year over year.
POLICY, REGULATIONS AND SAFETY
* BMW and Daimler AG-owned Mercedes-Benz will cut their prices in China after the government announced that it is reducing the country's value-added tax, Reuters reported, citing the German car brands' posts on Chinese social media. BMW will reduce prices for both imported models and those manufactured locally, including the China-made BMW 3 series and BMW 5 series and the imported BMW X5 and BMW 7 models, according to the report. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz will implement price cuts of 10,000 yuan to 40,000 yuan on select models, Reuters said.
* Beijing Benz Automotive Co. Ltd. plans to recall 95,694 vehicles over defective steering racks, Xinhua News reported, citing China's State Administration for Market Regulation, or SAMR. The faulty equipment could make steering difficult and pose safety risks. Beijing Benz, the joint venture between Mercedez Benz parent Daimler and BAIC Motor Corp. Ltd., said it will replace the parts free of charge.
* BMW Brilliance and BMW's China Automobile Trading Co. Ltd. will recall 29,871 vehicles. BMW Brilliance will recall 29,863 BMW 118i, 120i, 125i and X1 vehicles as an excess of cooling lubricant could cause the tail lights to fall away from the vehicle. Meanwhile, BMW China will recall eight imported X5 vehicles as faulty seat belt bolts pose safety hazards.
* Volkswagen Group sold 724,000 vehicles worldwide in February, down 1.8% year over year. Sales in the Asia-Pacific fell 7.3% to 257,100 units sold. Europe deliveries increased 1.1% year over year at 334,400 vehicles, while North American deliveries fell 5.8% from the prior-year period to 65,200 automobiles. Volkswagen's namesake brand and its Audi unit sold 398,100 and 119,800 deliveries, respectively. The figures mark a 2.2% decrease for the Volkswagen brand and an 8.5% decrease for Audi.
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a mixed opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, Hang Seng rose 1.37% to 29,409.01, while the Nikkei 225 gained 0.62% to 21,584.50.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 increased 0.59% to 7,271.06, and the Euronext 100 lifted 0.10% to 1,048.25.
On the macro front
The Housing Market Index is 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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