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FCA in talks with Foxconn for EV venture; VW to buy 20% of Chinese battery-maker


* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV is planning to set up a 50/50 joint venture with Apple supplier Hon Hai Precision, also known as Foxconn, to develop and produce electric vehicles and connected vehicle business. Confirming the talks, the Italian-America carmaker said the proposed partnership will initially be focused on the Chinese market.

* Volkswagen AG "mostly finalized" a deal to acquire 20% of Chinese battery-maker Guoxuan High-tech Co. Ltd. as part of its electrification push into the market, Reuters reported, citing sources. Guoxuan has a market cap of $3.10 billion, with a 20% stake worth about $620.98 million. Guoxuan saw shares surge 10% to $2.73 on the news.


* Chinese SUV-maker Great Wall Motor Co. Ltd. will buy General Motors Co.'s plant in Maharashtra, India, to expand into the country as GM prepares to exit it, Reuters reported, citing sources. Great Wall Motor will pay between $250 million and $300 million for the site in a deal that could be announced as soon as Jan. 17, the report said.

* General Motors said it will invest $40 million in its global propulsion systems plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., to increase the site's production capacity. The carmaker will also invest $6.7 million in its engine plant in Tonawanda, N.Y., to upgrade production systems.

* General Motors named Dane Parker chief sustainability officer, effective Feb. 1. Parker is vice president of sustainable workplaces and will oversee sustainability strategies and progress toward GM's zero-emission goals.


* Shares of Tesla Inc. dropped Jan. 16 after Morgan Stanley downgraded the electric car company to underweight from equal-weight based on its valuation, unfavorable risk-reward and risks to Tesla's long-term business in China. Analyst Adam Jonas wrote in a research note that while near-term momentum and sentiment around the stock was very strong, he questions "the sustainability of the momentum."

* Volkswagen-owned Audi said it will invest €100 million to install more than 4,500 electric-vehicle charging stations across its facilities in Germany, electrifying one in 10 parking spaces by mid-2022.

* Mercedes-Benz unveiled Mercedes me, a subscription service that allows users to search for and navigate to nearby electric-vehicle charging stations. The Daimler AG-owned carmaker also unveiled Mercedes me Charge, an added feature allowing users of EQC or plug-in hybrid models to pay via a specialized Charge card, the Mercedes me smartphone app or the in-vehicle dashboard.

* Chung Euisun, Hyundai Motor Group heir apparent and executive vice chairman, told the Hydrogen Council that the carmaker is willing to take the lead in providing affordable fuel-cell electric vehicles and invest in the hydrogen supply chain, The Korea Herald reported. Chung, who is the co-chair of the council, said the South Korean auto group aims to produce 700,000 hydrogen fuel-cell-powered vehicles annually by 2030. The Hydrogen Council is a global initiative of leading energy and transport companies to develop and commercialize fuel-cell technology.

* Tesla CEO Elon Musk is proposing the establishment of a design and research center in China in order to create vehicles that are tailor-made for the Chinese market, Reuters reported, citing the electric carmaker's recruitment notice on its official WeChat account.


* Volkswagen AG CEO Herbert Diess told management that the carmaker needs "a radical overhaul" to survive in the changing industry and "the time of traditional car manufacturers is over," Bloomberg News reported. Diess said VW must prioritize new technologies and digitize its operations or risk being pushed aside.

* Tesla's self-driving system Autopilot recorded more crashes in the fourth quarter of 2019 at one accident for every 3.07 million miles driven, Electrek reported, citing the electric-car maker's safety report. Tesla, which reported one accident for every 4.34 million miles driven in the prior quarter, is facing multiple investigations into fatal crashes that had Autopilot engaged.


* Ride-hailing service Dida Chuxing plans to raise between $250 million and $300 million before its planned Hong Kong IPO, Bloomberg News reported, citing sources. China-based Dida, which is reportedly trying to rival local competitor Didi Chuxing Technology Co. Ltd., said it raised $100 million from China Renaissance Capital Investment.

* Subaru Corp. will use TomTom NV's maps and navigation software for 2020 Subaru Outback and Legacy models.


* The Chinese government is developing industry standards for a nationwide battery-swapping system, which would allow drivers to swap empty batteries for full ones instead of charging their vehicles for hours, Bloomberg News reported, citing sources. China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is considering using tax schemes to enforce the system.


* Michelin SCA and insurance company HDI Global said they will team up to develop a "connected box that collects driving data" from vehicles, including unsafe driving behavior. The boxes will be installed in the vehicles of Michelin's fleet clients.


* Renault SA's global sales dropped 3.4% in 2019 to 3.8 million vehicles, after recording a 17.2% drop in China sales at 179,571 vehicles. The French carmaker posted the strongest growth in Europe at 1,945,821 vehicles, up 1.3%, but saw sales in Africa, Middle East, India and the Pacific region plunge 19.3% to 453,223 automobiles.

* Fiat Chrysler saw Europe sales jump 13.8% year over year to 69,400 automobiles in December 2019. The region's 2019 sales came in at 946,600 vehicles, the Italian-American carmaker said.

* Tesla sold 6,643 vehicles in China in December 2019, bringing its 2019 China sales total to 42,715 automobiles, up 161.1% from 16,360 sold in 2018, Bloomberg News reported, citing China Automotive Information Net.

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The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng rose 0.60% to 29,056.42, and the Nikkei 225 rose 0.45% to 24,041.26.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.92% to 7,679.82, and the Euronext 100 was up 0.76% to 1,168.04.

On the macro front

The housing starts report, the industrial production report, the consumer sentiment report, the JOLTS report and the Baker-Hughes Rig Count 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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