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VW launches diesel exchange program; Ford extends partnership with Mahindra

TOP NEWS

* Volkswagen AG launched an incentivization program for customers to swap older diesel models for modern VW cars as part of the automaker's efforts to help the German government phase out older diesel vehicles and reduce pollution. VW is offering an incentive of between €1,500 and €8,000 to owners of Euro 1 to Euro 4 diesel cars and an additional exchange premium of €500 to €7,000 for Euro 4 or Euro 5 vehicles located in or nearby 14 of the most polluted cities in Germany. VW's premium unit Audi said it is offering exchange incentives between €3,000 and €10,000 per older car, and up to €9,000 in exchange premium for owners in the 14 German cities.

* Ford Motor Co. and Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. agreed to expand their partnership to powertrain sharing and connected car solutions, which will see the deployment of new technology for both companies' lineup of vehicles. Under the latest partnership, Mahindra will develop and supply a low-displacement petrol engine to Ford's Indian arm, which will be integrated into Ford's present and future vehicles, starting 2020. The two companies will also jointly develop a telematics control unit.

CARMAKERS

* State-run Korea Development Bank, or KDB, the second-largest shareholder in General Motors Co.'s South Korean unit, said it will "prudently consider taking legal action" against a proposal by GM Korea to spin off its research and development division, Yonhap News Agency reported. The bank issued the statement after a local court reportedly rejected KDB's injunction against a GM Korea shareholders' meeting Oct. 19 to vote on the proposed R&D site.

* Ford Motor Co. sold 119,000 vehicles in Europe during September, a decrease of 8.2% year over year, hurt by a 14.7% year-over-year drop in passenger car sales to 77,500.

ELECTRIC AND AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES

* One of Tesla Inc.'s top manufacturing executives has left the electric-car company, according to a Business Insider report. Gilbert Passin, who was Tesla's vice president of manufacturing for almost nine years, is no longer with the company, Business Insider reported, citing a source familiar with the situation. Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment from S&P Global Market Intelligence, but Passin recently changed his LinkedIn profile to say he worked at the company from January 2010 to September 2018.

* Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk plans to invest a further $20 million in the electric-car maker's stock, according to an SEC filing. The $20 million stock purchase is equal to the fine the SEC imposed on the company over Musk's claim via Twitter in August that he planned to privatize the company, a statement that resulted in the regulator suing Musk.

* Great Britain would need to invest £6 billion for as many as 3 million commercial and industrial charging points by 2040, by which time the number of electric vehicles is projected to rise to 17 million units, according to a report by Aurora Energy Research Ltd. Likewise, Germany would be required to spend €8 billion by 2040 to support up to 4 million charging points in the country, the report said.

POLICY, REGULATIONS AND SAFETY

* German states are lobbying the federal government to let carmakers subtract CO2 emissions from their car fleets' output, based on the usage of synthetic fuels, such as hydrogen and gasoline, that are produced with renewable energy, German business newspaper Handelsblatt tweeted.

* The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board have been in talks with AB Volvo "over the last few weeks" to help mitigate a problem with a nitrogen oxide-limiting device on an unknown number of Volvo trucks, mostly across North America and Europe, Bloomberg News reported, quoting an EPA spokeswoman. Volvo has warned that fixing the issue could have a material impact on its finances.

* Executives from Kia Motors Corp. and parent company Hyundai Motor Co. have been asked to testify at a U.S. Senate committee hearing in November about fire risk in the carmakers' vehicles, the Associated Press reported. The move comes after nonprofit group Center for Auto Safety called on the companies to recall about 2.9 million Hyundai and Kia cars in the U.S. following complaints that the vehicles can catch fire without being involved in an accident. In response, a Hyundai spokesman told Yonhap News Agency that the management is "currently reviewing" the request.

AUTO PARTS AND EQUIPMENT

* Daimler AG's financial and mobility services arm, Daimler Financial Services, said it made a strategic investment into New Zealand-based artificial intelligence firm Soul Machines Ltd., which has developed an emotionally responsive digital avatar called Sarah. In contrast to present voice-based assistance technology, Sarah will be programmed to detect non-verbal behavior in real-time, using face recognition, which could help in car financing, leasing and insurance and car-sharing or ride-hailing services. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

* Alphabet Inc.-owned Google Maps announced that users can now search for electric vehicle charging stations to see the nearest power-up spots. Google Maps will also offer information about the types of charging ports at the location, number of ports and charging speeds, according to a news release.

* Continental AG and Germany's TU Darmstadt University have developed a machine learning-based City Assistant System, which can help drivers when taking left turns, entering roundabouts and at right-before-left intersections. The system adapts to the user's style of driving and assesses the driver's level of attention before giving appropriate recommendations, the auto parts-maker said.

* Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the electric-car maker's in-house maps and navigation systems will "improve dramatically over next several months," with nearly all Tesla models getting the over-the-air upgrades for free.

AUTOMOTIVE RETAIL

* The Philippine Competition Commission fined GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. Ltd. and Uber Technologies Inc. a total of 16 million Philippine pesos for violating certain provisions during the watchdog's merger review period of Grab's deal to buy Uber's Southeast Asian operations. The Commission cited a failure by both parties to keep their businesses separate during the review period, including a move by Uber to assume a board position at Grab, as primary causes for the fines. Nevertheless, the Philippines already approved the deal, with Vietnam reported to be the last remaining country left to review it.

* Uber Technologies Inc. unveiled Powerloop, a trailer rental business affiliated with the company's Uber Freight division. Uber Freight is an app developed by the ride-sharing firm to match carriers with shippers. Through Powerloop, eligible Uber Freight carriers will be able to participate in a new trailer pool model that lets carriers pick up and drop off trailers at shipper facilities.

* U.S. transport services company Penske Automotive Group Inc. said it will increase its cash dividend to 37 cents per share for the third quarter of 2018. The dividend is payable Dec. 4 to shareholders of record as of Nov. 12.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 was down 0.80% 22,658.16, while the Hang Seng fell 0.03% to 25,454.55.

In Europe, as of midday, the FTSE 100 fell 0.10% to 7,047.51, and Euronext 100 rose 0.33% to 1,004.38.

On the macro front

The jobless claims report, the Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook survey, the leading indicators report, the Energy Information Administration natural gas report, the Fed balance sheet and the money supply 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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