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* The United Auto Workers union said it will dissolve its Region 5, the 17-state region where executives used over $1 million in union funds for personal use, effective Feb. 28, 2020, The Detroit News reported. Region 5, which has about 37,000 members, will be absorbed by regions 4 and 8, which "have been prudently managed," UAW President Rory Gamble said.
* The European Commission approved the proposal to grant about €3.2 billion through 2031 to fund research and innovation initiatives for developing batteries. The battery alliance will involve 17 companies, including Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, and is expected to attract a further €5 billion of private investment.
* Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. sold 143,234 vehicles worldwide in November, up 1% from the prior-year period. The carmaker sold 14,135 new-energy vehicles during the month.
* Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings PLC opened its manufacturing plant at St. Athan, Wales. The site will build the carmaker's DBX SUV and employ 750 people when it reaches full production capacity in the second quarter of 2020.
* Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer said the carmaker is "certainly not actively soliciting any other participation," in response to reports that Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll is considering taking a major stake in the company, Reuters reported. Palmer added that its major shareholders "look to the long term."
* Volkswagen AG's German plants have to become as efficient as its overseas sites if the company is to reach its target of €2 billion of savings by 2023, Reuters reported, citing production chief Andreas Tostmann's comments to Automobilwoche. Tostmann said the carmaker's local production needs "15% less space, 60% fewer logistics vehicles and … to move 20% more product."
* Volvo Group invested an undisclosed amount in Autotech Ventures, a venture capital fund for transport-based startups.
* Volkswagen is looking for a partner for its Sitech seating business to help it lower development costs and lend its expertise in developing products, Automotive News reported, citing the carmaker's components head Thomas Schmall.
* Porsche will launch its Porsche Drive rental service in Tokyo later in December, marking the first Asian location for the service. Porsche Drive allows users to rent vehicles for between four hours and three days.
* Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC sold 46,542 vehicles worldwide in November, down 3.4% year over year. The Tata Motors Ltd.-owned carmaker's sales increased 29% in China and 4.9% in North America but fell 16.8% in Europe.
* Russian carmaker OAO Avtovaz said it will buy out General Motors Co.'s stake in their 50/50 joint venture GM Avotaz for an undisclosed amount. Avtovaz will continue to produce Niva vehicles under the Chevrolet brand for a period before switching the cars to the Lada brand.
* Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk was found not liable for defamation in the lawsuit brought against him by cave explorer Vernon Unsworth, CNBC reported. The executive, who called Unsworth a "pedo guy" on Twitter, was sued for $190 million in damages. Musk's attorney, Alex Spiro, said the tweets were intended as insults rather than statements of fact.
* Tesla launched a subscription program for its premium connectivity features, which include traffic visualization, video and music streaming, karaoke and internet browsing, for $9.99 a month, Electrek reported, citing an email Tesla sent to owners. The electric-car maker gave owners a free 30-day trial of the service but added that customers who bought select vehicles on or before June 30, 2018, will receive premium connectivity for free.
POLICY, REGULATION AND SAFETY
* Japan's markets watchdog is likely to soon recommend a fine of about ¥2.4 billion, or $22 million, for Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. for false financial reporting, Reuters reported, citing public broadcaster NHK. In June, Reuters reported that Nissan could receive something smaller than a potential fine of ¥4 billion if the company submitted documents to Japan's Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission before the start of a formal investigation.
* Ford Motor Co. is recalling 261,617 Super Duty pickup trucks in the U.S. and Canada over tailgates that might open unintentionally when water enters the electrical wiring system.
* U.S. President Donald Trump said he will finalize his fuel-economy plan by 2020, adding that freezing fuel standards at the Obama-era levels will save customers about $3,500, The Detroit News reported. The White House is locked in a legal battle with a group of states and carmakers, led by California, that are pushing for stricter standards, said the group is fighting over "a tiny amount of fuel — of which we have plenty."
* Indian carmaker Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. will recall 63,493 Ciaz, Ertiga and XL6 vehicles over a potential defect in the motor-generator unit.
* Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. named Roel De Vries the head of sales and marketing for Europe, effective Dec. 16.
AUTO PARTS AND EQUIPMENT
* Austrian sensor-maker AMS AG said it succeeded in its €4.6 billion takeover bid for German lighting company OSRAM Licht AG after the necessary acceptance rate was reduced to 55%. On Sept. 27, AMS revised its all-cash bid to acquire Osram Licht to €41 per share from €38.50 apiece but failed to achieve the 62.5% threshold by Oct. 1 deadline.
* Denso Corp. agreed to pay C$25.2 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that accused it of violating Canadian competition law.
* Vehicle sales in China dropped 4.2% year over year to 1.97 million in November, marking the 17th month of decline in the past 18 months, Bloomberg News reported, citing preliminary data from the China Passenger Car Association. Yao Jie, the vice secretary-general of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, expects China's vehicle sales to drop 10% in 2019.
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