* Heidi King, the head of U.S. road safety watchdog National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will step down at the end of August and will be replaced by James Owens, the department's deputy general counsel, Reuters reported, citing a statement from the U.S. Transportation Department. King is the acting administrator of the NHTSA and has been a key player in efforts by President Donald Trump's administration to roll back the vehicle fuel efficiency requirements.
* The NHTSA opened an investigation into Japanese carmaker Subaru Corp.'s estimated 553,692 Forester special utility vehicles of model years 2016-2018 over concerns that the vehicles' front passenger airbags may malfunction, causing it to not operate as intended. The probe was launched following 51 complaints and additional early warning report data, alleging that the front passenger seats' occupant detection system fails to operate properly when the front passenger seat is occupied by a full-sized passenger.
* Hedge funds are taking record short positions in debt and equity of luxury-car maker Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings PLC, which has seen 73% decline in its share price since going public in October 2018, and are willing to pay high amount of fees to take a position against the carmaker, the Financial Times (London) reported. The level of borrowing in Aston Martin's $400 million bond maturing 2022 is at the highest level on record at 10.3%, according to IHS Markit, while the level of £285 million bonds on loan is near its high of about 12%.
* Alexey Tretyakov, who was driving Tesla Inc.'s Model 3 near Moscow when the vehicle exploded after crashing into a tow truck, confirmed that Autopilot was activated during the crash but said the self-driving software applied the brakes before the accident, Electrek reported. Tretyakov said he and his children sustained minor injuries and that he was not paying attention in the moments leading up to the crash.
* North Carolina's public electric-vehicle charging stations will begin pricing their services by the kilowatt-hour instead of per minute after Gov. Roy Cooper signed bipartisan legislation House Bill 329, Renewable Energy Amendments, Electrek reported. North Carolina is the 30th state to change its pricing scheme for electric-vehicle charging, the report added.
* Colombia's Superintendency of Industry and Commerce said it fined Uber Technologies Inc. over $629,000 after the ride-hailing app allegedly urged its employees to avoid giving information to regulators and block external access to company computers, Reuters reported. The Colombian regulator, which also fined three Uber staffers between $1,469 and $7,344 individually, said Uber is not legally licensed to operate in the country and it will suspend Uber drivers' licenses for 25 years if they get caught driving for the platform.
AUTO PARTS AND EQUIPMENT
* Austrian sensor solutions company AMS AG submitted an all-cash bid to acquire OSRAM Licht AG for €38.50 per share. The bid, which values OSRAM at an enterprise value of €4.3 billion, rivals a €35-per-share buyout offer from Bain Capital and Carlyle Group that OSRAM had accepted in July.
* Bosch's India-listed unit, Bosch Ltd., said it is restructuring parts of its business amid a slowdown in the country's automotive industry as automotive sales dived 17.5% in the second quarter, Reuters reported, citing the company's managing director, Soumitra Bhattacharya. Bosch has set aside 820 million rupees for the restructuring.
* Bayerische Motoren Werke AG sold 183,487 vehicles worldwide in July, up 1.3% year over year on a successful rollout of new models. The BMW brand saw sales increase 1.6% year over year to 157,062 vehicles, as sales of its electric vehicles surged 12.6% to 2,691. The group sales jumped 26.5% in Germany and 15.6% in China, partially offset by a 1.7% drop in the U.S.
* Indian vehicles sales plummeted 31% year over year to 200,790 passenger vehicles sold in July, the Financial Times (London) reported, citing data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. July marks the fourth consecutive month of declines over 20%, the industry body said.
* Tata Motors Ltd. saw July sales plunge 14% year over year to 78,600 vehicles. Sales of its Jaguar Land Rover brand came in at 41,783 vehicles, the Indian automaker said.
* Germany-based e-commerce company Scout24 AG's CEO Tobias Hartmann said it could sell or spin off its auto marketplace, Reuters reported.
* Daimler AG's North American truck arm, Daimler Trucks North America, said it began deliveries for its electric Freightliner eCascadias.
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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 dropped 2.10% to 25,281.30, while the Nikkei 225 shed 1.11% to 20,455.44.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 fell 0.41% to 7,196.72, and the Euronext 100 dropped 0.54% to 1,029.18.
On the macro front
The consumer price index and the Redbook Index for retail sales 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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