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Renault gives €1B boost to French EV production; Ford China sales drop 29%

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Renault gives €1B boost to French EV production; Ford China sales drop 29%


* Renault SA said it will invest over €1 billion to increase electric-vehicle production capacity in France and add new models. The company plans to double capacity at its Flins facility to produce its battery-powered Zoe subcompact car while upgrading its Douai factory to an electric-vehicle production site, which will focus on a new electric-vehicle platform for the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance. It also plans to triple electric-motor production capacity at Cleon and invest in Maubeuge to make an electric version of the commercial vehicle, Kangoo.

* Ford Motor Co. continued its decline in China as its sales tanked 29% year over year in May, with total sales of 61,744 vehicles. The year-to-date sales of the company in China totaled more than 338,000 vehicles, a 22% fall. Its premium car unit Lincoln saw sales of 3,700 vehicles, down 3%. To transform its business in the country, Peter Fleet, president of Ford Asia Pacific and chairman and CEO of Ford China, said the company planned to introduce a series of new products, including an all-new Ford Focus, as well as a joint venture with Zotye Auto to provide all-electric vehicles to ride-hailing fleet operators and drivers.


* Volkswagen AG could face additional fines in Munich and Stuttgart in addition to the $1.2 billion it was asked to pay by Braunschweig prosecutors, Reuters reported. Prosecutors in Munich said they were considering imposing a similar penalty on VW's luxury car unit, Audi, while Stuttgart prosecutors have launched a probe against former and current employees at the company's sports car unit, Porsche, as well as rival Daimler AG and vehicle supplier Bosch.


* Volvo Cars' tech fund bought an undisclosed stake in Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup Luminar, a developer of autonomous car sensing technology LiDAR. As part of the partnership, the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. Ltd. unit will become the second known carmaker, after Toyota Motor Corp., to partner with Luminar, which in April announced plans to scale its sensing platform capability to equip all self-driving test vehicles globally by 2018-end.

* Volkswagen's Electrify America said it is investing over $44 million in Sacramento, Calif., as part of a "Green City" plan, which includes the launch of two zero-emission car share services, an electric bus service between UC Davis and Sacramento, an on-demand shuttle service to be operated by Sacramento Regional Transit, and a vehicle-charging infrastructure.

* Honda Motor Co. Ltd. is joining Chinese tech giant Baidu-led autonomous driving consortium Apollo, which includes carmakers Ford Motors, Daimler AG, BAIC Motor Corp. Ltd and several auto parts companies, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. Road tests for commercial vehicles under the state-funded Apollo project are expected to start in 2018, while passenger vehicles will start testing in 2019, according to the report.

* Rental car company Enterprise has teamed up with Voyage to manage the service and maintenance of the autonomous vehicle startup's fleet. Under the partnership, Voyage said it will lease vehicles from Enterprise and retrofit them with hardware and software to turn them into autonomous vehicles, allowing the startup to scale its offering.


* Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said talks with the U.S. and Mexico on the North American Free Trade Agreement will continue, but the two countries did not set specific dates for the next round of discussions, Reuters reported.

* White House officials will hold meetings with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers — which represents General Motors Co., Volkswagen AG, Toyota Motor, other major companies and the California Air Resources Board — on June 19 before making public a proposal to reverse Obama-era rules aimed at increasing fuel efficiency, Reuters reported, citing participants.


* European Automobile Manufacturers Association reported a slight 0.8% year-over-year rise in passenger car registration numbers in the European Union in May, with nearly 1.4 million new cars registered. Demand saw new car registrations grow 7.2% in Spain and 3.4% in the U.K., while the Germany and Italy saw a decline of 5.8% and 2.8%, respectively.

* Volkswagen AG said its group sales totaled 953,400 vehicles worldwide in May, up 6.1% from the same month in 2017, driven by a strong showing by all key brands, except premium car unit Audi. Volkswagen passenger car sales grew 5.1% to 539,700 cars, while Skoda, Seat, its commercial vehicles unit and MAN trucks all saw double-digit growths. Audi's sales remained flat year over year at 160,600 vehicles, up 0.7% from May 2017.

* Jaguar Land Rover has launched a car subscription service, Carpe, in the U.K., at a starting price of £910 per month for Jaguar E-Pace compact SUV, CNET reported. The Tata Motors Ltd.-owned British luxury carmaker will offer Range Rover Evoque at £980 per month, Jaguar XE at £1,200, Range Rover Velar at £1,255, Land Rover Discovery at £1,550 and the Range Rover Sport HSE — being its most expensive offering — at £2,200 a month. The prices do not include value-added tax, but they do include service, maintenance, insurance, roadside assistance and delivery.


* Volkswagen Truck & Bus appointed mergers and acquisitions specialist Christian Schulz as its new CFO, replacing Matthias Gründler, who left the Volkswagen AG unit in May.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng was down 0.43% to 30,309.49, and the Nikkei 225 was up 0.50% to 22,851.75.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 slipped 0.75% to 7,707.44, and the Euronext 100 rose 0.15% to 1,076.62.

On the macro front

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey, the industrial production report, the consumer sentiment report, the Baker-Hughes Rig Count and the Treasury International Capital report are due out today.

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