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Nissan to shutter Datsun brand; Continental to take €2.5B hit, spin off Vitesco

TOP NEWS

* Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. may shut down its Datsun brand, discontinue loss-making vehicle models and reduce production capacities in all markets except China as part of a "performance recovery plan" that aims to roll back some of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn's aggressive strategies, Reuters reported, citing sources. The Japanese carmaker will reportedly reveal more details within a month.

* Continental AG will spin off its Vitesco Technologies powertrain division fully in 2020 and cancel its plan for a partial IPO of the business. The German auto-parts manufacturer said it will book about €2.5 billion of noncash impairments in the third quarter, largely due to lower expectations for the automotive market in the coming years, but said that performance in the quarter was in line with expectations and on track to meet its full-year guidance. Continental reported sales for the three months to Sept. 30 rose 2.9% to about €11.1 billion, beating S&P Global Market Intelligence mean consensus estimate of €10.91 billion.

CARMAKERS

* French automaker Peugeot SA said revenue rose 1% to €15.58 billion in the third quarter, with pricing and product mix helping offset a drop in unit sales and adverse foreign exchange fluctuations. Growth in the automotive division, which contributed €11.82 billion to the revenue, remained largely flat. Worldwide vehicle sales totaled 674,000 in the quarter, down 4% from 702,000 a year prior.

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

* Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp. is set to roll out a compact battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, in collaboration with Suzuki Motor Corp. in India, The Times of India reported, citing Toyota's executive vice president Shigeki Terash.

* Tesla Inc. is trialing production at its Gigafactory in Shanghai, with the first electric vehicles to be sold to employees, Reuters reported, citing sources. The electric-vehicle maker told Chinese media it still needs a certification to sell locally made vehicles in the country and that it is unsure whether the country will grant sales clearance.

* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will initially invest about €50 million to build a new battery assembly hub at its Mirafiori plant in the Italian city of Turin. The company said preparations for the new battery hub is scheduled to begin in early 2020, with plans to potentially expand the hub for future projects. The facility will produce batteries for new generations of full-electric Fiat Chrysler vehicles.

* Struggling electric-vehicle startup Faraday&Future Inc. plans to raise $850 million to fund its IPO, which "cannot be in the too far future," Bloomberg News reported, citing the company's new CEO Carsten Breitfeld. The announcement comes two weeks after Faraday's previous CEO, Jia Yueting, filed for bankruptcy.

* Lexus will launch an all-electric vehicle in 2020 as it plans to have its electrified and hybrid vehicles outpace its gasoline-powered models by 2025, Reuters reported, citing CEO Yoshihiro Sawa. The Toyota-owned luxury-car maker said it will initially roll out the vehicles in China and North America, "where demand for 'pure' EVs is high."

AUTONOMOUS AND CONNECTED VEHICLES

* Chinese carmaker BAIC Motor Corp. Ltd. will develop smart cars under its newly formed Beijing brand, Reuters reported, citing Chairman Xu Heyi. BAIC will invest 20 billion yuan in the Beijing brand and hopes to ink an agreement with partner Daimler AG to cooperate on smart connected car technology.

* South Korea's Hyundai Mobis said it will invest $50 million in Velodyne Lidar, which develops software and sensors for self-driving cars, The Investor reported. Hyundai Motor Group, which owns Hyundai Mobis, Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp., said Mobis will also take a stake in Velodyne as part of plans to roll out Level 3 autonomous vehicles by 2021.

* Chinese telecom giant Huawei plans to develop a sensor ecosystem for intelligent and self-driving cars using its Lidar, 5G and photoelectric technology, Gasgoo reported, citing rotating chairman Xu Zhijun.

MOBILITY SERVICES

* Volkswagen AG will decide in early 2020 whether it will launch its new ride-hailing business, dubbed Move, in Ghana, where the automaker is set to start assembling cars soon, Reuters reported, citing the company's African division head, Thomas Schaefer.

* Lyft Inc. shares surged more than 10% after its CEO said the ride-hailing company will be profitable on an adjusted EBITDA basis by the fourth quarter of 2021. "We've never laid out our path to profitability, and we know that's a question on a lot of investors' minds," Lyft co-founder and CEO Logan Green said during an Oct. 22 fireside chat hosted by The Wall Street Journal. "We're going to be profitable on an adjusted EBITDA basis a year before analysts expect us to. We're going to hit this target in Q4 2021."

* Uber Technologies Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the ride-hailing app's growth over the next decade will come from "markets like India, Africa, the Middle East more so than the developed markets such as the U.S. and Europe," Reuters reported, citing the executive's comments to reporters. "Sometimes car ownership is a trap to prevent innovation. ... India does not need to be trapped by these establishments," Khosrowshahi said.

POLICY, REGULATIONS AND SAFETY

* U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler said 2019 vehicle emission standards could be stricter than the Obama-era's standards after it eliminates certain loopholes, Reuters reported. The Trump administration, which is still locked in battle with a group of states led by California, said it still plans to relax fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards for vehicles but is eliminating "off ramps" that make it easier for carmakers to comply with standards. Wheeler added that the EPA could add regulations to curb smog and nitrogen oxide emissions in 2020.

* Former United Auto Workers co-director Jeffrey Pietrzyk pleaded guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, Reuters reported, citing court documents. Pietrzyk, who handled the UAW-General Motors Co. Center for Human Resources, used funds from the center to buy UAW-logo jackets and watches and received kickbacks from the vendors of the goods.

* The family of a Florida man blamed futuristic door handles in Tesla's Model S for his death, according to the wrongful death lawsuit filed in Broward County, Fla. Omar Awan was locked in his leased Model S after it burst into flames after a crash, with police unable to open the doors and rescue Awan as the handles only emerge when a key fob is nearby, Bloomberg News reported. The complaint, which alleged the fire started from the battery, added that flames reignited several times even after towing.

AUTOMOTIVE RETAIL

* U.S.-based auto retailer and service company Asbury Automotive Group Inc. said adjusted diluted EPS rose 5.4% year over year to $2.33, narrowly beating the S&P Global Market Intelligence estimate of $2.32. Net income for the period rose to $45 million. Revenue increased 5% to $1.84 billion, with a 10% rise in revenue from used vehicles and parts and service being partially offset by a decline in the sale of non-luxury new vehicles category.

* The European Commission approved TDR Capital's £1.91 billion takeover offer for used-vehicle exchange platform operator BCA Marketplace PLC.

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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 shed 0.82% to 26,566.73, and the Nikkei 225 rose 0.34% to 22,625.38.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 increased 0.08% to 7,217.66, and the Euronext 100 fell 0.66% to 1,085.66.

On the macro front

The Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price Index and the U.S. Energy Information Administration Petroleum Status 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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