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FCA settles with 'Star Trek' actor's kin; Ford, Mahindra to co-develop EV, SUVs

TOP NEWS

* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV settled a wrongful death lawsuit with the family of "Star Trek" actor Anton Yelchin, who was killed in a roll-away incident involving his Jeep Grand Cherokee in 2016, Reuters reported. The lawsuit filed by Yelchin's parents is believed to be the first wrongful death complaint filed over Fiat Chrysler’s April 2016 recall of more than 1.1 million vehicles due to a roll-away risk. Terms of the settlement, which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, were not disclosed.

* Car makers Ford Motor Co. and India's Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. signed five nonbinding memorandums of understanding to boost their strategic alliance and accelerate product development in India and emerging markets. The companies have agreed to jointly develop new SUVs as well as a small electric vehicle, among other initiatives. Mahindra will also supply powertrains to boost Ford's product range, and the partners will develop connected car solutions for consumers.

CAR MAKERS

* Volkswagen AG said it will launch at least 12 SUVs for the Chinese market by 2020, Autocar reported. The plan was confirmed at the launch of the new Touareg SUV in Beijing. Three new China-only SUVs were also revealed, including two developed purely in China.

* Chinese car maker BAIC Motor Corp. Ltd. missed market expectations as it recorded a 64.6% decrease in the net profit attributable to equity holders of the company to 2.25 billion Chinese yuan in 2017 from 6.37 billion yuan in 2016. Diluted earnings per share fell to 30 Chinese fen, lower than the mean consensus EPS estimate of 40 fen compiled by S&P Capital IQ.

* BAIC combined its Changhe and Weiwang brands into a new entity called Big Changhe, which will soon be launched with a new brand and logo, Gasgoo reported. The new entity will be BAIC's southern production base in China as well as a development base for new energy and other energy-saving vehicles, the company reportedly said.

ELECTRIC AND AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES

* Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. said it intends to develop eight new pure electric vehicles as it seeks to achieve sales of 1 million electrified vehicles a year by fiscal year 2022. As part of its midterm strategy, the Japanese car maker will pursue advances in autonomous driving systems and vehicle connectivity. It also includes an electric-car offensive in China. Nissan Chief Planning Officer Philippe Klein said the plan aims to boost annualized revenue by 30% to 16.5 trillion yen by the end of fiscal year 2022.

* Chinese tech giant Baidu Inc. started testing its autonomous cars on Beijing roads after receiving a green light from Beijing authorities. Baidu received a permit to test its self-driving cars on 33 roads spanning 105 km in the city's less-populated suburbs, the company said in a news release.

REGULATIONS AND SAFETY

* John Bozzella, president and CEO of Washington-based Association of Global Automakers, said "a trade war will hurt American producers and consumers," adding that "there are better ways" to resolve the issues raised by President Donald Trump, Bloomberg News reported. While Trump's proposed tariffs on at least $50 billion in Chinese goods are not directly targeted at the automotive industry, the U.S. has a $1.5 billion auto trade deficit, including auto parts, with China, according to the report.

* Three former employees of Takata Corp., who provided evidence in the Japanese auto parts maker's faulty airbags case, agreed to end their blockade of a $255 compensation fund for automakers, The Wall Street Journal reported. In return, they reportedly will be considered among the creditors liable to receive payouts in Takata's U.S. bankruptcy case.

AUTO PARTS AND EQUIPMENT

* GKN PLC said turnaround firm Melrose Industries PLC's deal with GKN pensioners, part of Melrose's hostile bid for the British engineering firm, is "economically inefficient" as Melrose does not offer any "meaningful actions to reduce short-term liabilities" of the pension fund. Melrose's £1 billion cash contribution would create "potential value leakage" of over £300 million to the pension program as well as affect Melrose's free cash flow and its ability to pay dividends or make future business investments, GKN said.

AUTOMOTIVE RETAIL

* Lawmakers in Connecticut urged auto dealers and Tesla Inc. to strike a deal over the sale of electric cars in the state, CT Post reported. Under franchise laws, Tesla is prohibited from direct sales in the state, but the company’s business model does not use typical dealerships. Dealers argue direct sales would cost jobs, according to the report. The state general assembly’s transportation committee will send to the House a bill to allow Tesla to sell directly to customers but said it would not pass unless there was an agreement between the car maker and dealers.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng decreased 2.45% to 30,309.29, and the Nikkei 225 declined 4.51% to 20,617.86.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.56% to 6,913.57, and the Euronext 100 was down 1.37% to 995.91.

On the macro front

The durable goods orders report, the new home sales report and the Baker-Hughes Rig Count report are due out today.

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