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GM to unveil 1st driverless car; Tesla denies 'unintended acceleration' claims

TOP NEWS

* General Motors Co.'s self-driving unit, Cruise, will unveil a vehicle designed without a driver's seat on Jan. 21 at a San Francisco event, Bloomberg News reported, citing sources. The electric, self-driving vehicle will also lack pedals and a steering wheel, a project proposed by GM in March 2019. A Cruise spokesman said the vehicle to be unveiled "is definitely not a car."

* Tesla Inc. denounced the petition claiming there is unintended acceleration in Tesla vehicles as "completely false," adding that it was brought by a Tesla short-seller. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it will review the petition, which is seeking a probe into 500,000 Tesla vehicles over an alleged problem that may cause sudden unintended acceleration.

CARMAKERS

* Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. is losing interest in buying a stake in Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings PLC, putting Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll in the lead to invest in the carmaker, Bloomberg News reported. The latter's shares fell more than 9% since Jan. 17.

* Toyota Motor Corp. plans to increase sales in Europe by 30% to 1.4 million vehicles by 2025, Automotive News reported, citing a forecast by the Japanese automaker. Toyota will launch 40 electric and hybrid vehicle models as part of the plan, including a small SUV, the report said.

* Toyota Motor's Indiana arm invested $700 million more into its SUV-production facilities and added 150 jobs to upgrade its facilities for its Highlander model. The investment will create another 550 jobs and is part of Toyota's plans to invest $13 billion in its U.S. operations through 2021.

* China's Great Wall Motor Co. Ltd. said it agreed to acquire General Motors' manufacturing plant in Talegaon, India. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but Reuters, citing sources, reported that Great Wall will likely pay about $250 million to $300 million for the factory.

* Ford Motor Co. will invest €42 million in its Spanish manufacturing plant in the city of Valencia to support its electrification efforts in Europe. The U.S. carmaker said the investment will go toward constructing two new battery assembly lines, which are scheduled to begin operations in September.

* Mitsubishi Motors Corp. named Eric Wepierre as president and CEO of Mitsubishi Motors Europe, or MME, effective Feb. 1.

ELECTRIC AND AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES

* Tesla agreed to buy a 300-hectare property in the eastern German state of Brandenburg for its first European factory, Reuters reported, citing local authorities and confirmation from a Tesla spokeswoman.

* Sono Motors GmbH said it will continue operations after raising €53 million in a crowdfunding campaign for its restructuring initiatives. The German solar electric-car maker said over 75% of the funds raised were reservations for its solar-electric vehicle, the Sion.

* Peugeot SA said it plans to electrify its entire passenger car and light-commercial vehicle lineups by 2025.

* Chinese battery-maker Guoxuan High-tech Co. Ltd. confirmed that it is in talks with German carmaker Volkswagen for potential strategic cooperation in technology, product and capital, but added that the parties have not yet finalized specific terms. The battery-maker's shares jumped more than 20% over two trading days in Shenzhen after Reuters reported Jan. 17 that Volkswagen is close to acquiring a 20% stake in the company.

* Subaru Corp. aims to sell only electrified vehicles by the first half of the 2030s in a bid to promote emissions-free driving, Reuters reported. Subaru plans for battery-electric cars and hybrids to comprise at least 40% of vehicles it sells globally by 2030, according to the report.

* U.K.-based taxi-maker London Electric Vehicle, formerly London Taxi, unveiled a plug-in hybrid version of its TX taxi in Tokyo, Automotive News reported, citing the company's parent Zhejiang Geely. Orders for the London Electric Vehicle's first electric model will open in February.

* Tesla chose Chinese internet company Baidu to provide navigation services for its China-made vehicles, Electrek reported, citing a representative and Tesla's post on its Weibo social media account.

MOBILITY SERVICES

* Uber Technologies Inc. sold its food delivery business in India to rival Zomato in an all-stock deal, confirming earlier reports that the ride-hailing company was holding discussions about a possible sale of Uber Eats India. Under the deal, Uber will own 9.99% of Zomato in exchange for the transfer of its food business in the country to privately held Zomato, which also operates a restaurant search and discovery website.

* Zoomcar India Pvt. Ltd., which operates as a car rental service, said it raised about $30 million in a funding round led by Sony Corp.'s venture capital unit, VCCircle reported. Zoomcar, which is trying to raise $100 million, plans to use the funds to fuel expansion plans and upgrade its digital capabilities. Local carmaker Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. previously took a 16% stake in Zoomcar for about $27.6 million, the report added.

POLICY, REGULATION AND SAFETY

* The U.K. government is "confident" it will reach a deal with the EU that will ensure that carmakers will not face tariffs and will be able to maintain just-in-time supply chains, Bloomberg News reported, citing Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi. The move comes after Chancellor Sajid Javid said in an interview with the Financial Times that there would not be alignment with EU roles after the U.K. left the bloc.

* Bayerische Motoren Werke AG will recall a combined 356,920 vehicles sold in the U.S. with potentially deadly Takata Corp. airbags, according to separate notices from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The German carmaker's U.S. arm, BMW of North America LLC, will conduct three series of recalls, beginning March 6, covering a range of models from the years 2000-2015.

AUTOMOTIVE RETAIL

* China's Industry Minister Miao Wei said it expects auto sales at about 25 million vehicles in 2020, flat or slightly lower compared to 2019 figures, Reuters reported, citing Miao's comments at a news conference. Miao reportedly also said the ministry is studying postponing the reduction of subsidies for new energy vehicles.

* Chinese SUV-maker Great Wall Motors sold 106,008 vehicles worldwide in December 2019, bringing 2019 sales to 1.06 million vehicles, up 0.69% from 2018.

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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 decreased 2.81% to 27,985.33, while the Nikkei 225 declined 0.91% to 23,864.56.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 1.00% to 7,574.58, and the Euronext 100 was up 0.03% to 1,159.19.

On the macro front

No reports 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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