* Tesla Inc.'s troubles continued May 22 as Consumer Reports thumbed down its autonomous system Autopilot saying it is "unsafe" and "far less competent than a human" as its automatic lane-change feature endangered drivers, "[cutting] off cars without leaving enough space and even passed other cars in ways that violate state laws." Tesla Inc. stock fell $12.35, or nearly 6%, to a new record low of $192.73 per share, down 40% year-to-date as Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas told investors that the company is no longer seen as a growth story, but is seen as "a distressed credit and restructuring story" as it continues to burn cash and fails to generate interest in its Model Y SUV, Bloomberg News reported.
* Toyota Motor Corp. said vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells will cost the same as hybrid vehicles within the next 10 years, Cars U.K. reported. The Japanese carmaker is currently looking into hydrogen fuel cell tech with Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and Beijing Automotive Group Co. Ltd. and unveiled its SimpleFuel machine, which can create, store and supply hydrogen, to its Motomachi Plant in Japan.
* Daimler AG shareholders approved a hive-down restructuring plan that involves spinning off its car and van business under Mercedes-Benz AG and its truck and bus business under Daimler Truck AG. The restructuring, called Project Future, will take effect from Nov. 1 and will see the companies become independently operated, co-determined German stock corporations with registered offices in Stuttgart. Additionally, Daimler Financial Services, which already operates independently, will be renamed to Daimler Mobility from July 24. Daimler AG will operate as the units' publicly listed parent and will provide group-wide services. The Mercedes-Benz parent said the restructuring aims to promote more operating flexibility and faster decision-making.
* French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said that Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.'s current dynamic cannot stand any longer and is "weakening" the alliance, Reuters reported. "The status quo is not possible, the status quo is weakening the overall group, we have to push forward, make progress and consolidate this alliance," Le Maire told reporters. Nissan retained CEO Hiroto Saikawa boosted its board size to 11 members with seven independent directors in a bid to improve governance following the arrest and ouster of Carlos Ghosn as chairman. It is reportedly rejecting merger offers from France-backed Renault.
* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV raised its planned investment in Latin America to 16 billion reais from the initial 14 billion reais, as it plans to add new models and boost production in the region, Bloomberg News reported, citing CEO Mike Manley's statement to reporters. The announcement comes almost a year after it was reported that Fiat Chrysler plans to ramp up investment in Latin America, mainly in Brazil, in a bid to roll out 25 new models and leverage its Fiat, Jeep and Ram brands in the region.
ELECTRIC AND AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES
* Audi said it will release 20 fully electric models by 2025 and use Audi on Demand as its umbrella brand for CO2-neutral mobility services. The Volkswagen AG unit plans to cut its C02 footprint by 30% by 2025 and have its electrified range take up 40% of its sales by 2025. The carmaker will ramp up its expansion plans for Audi on Demand, an Audi rental service currently deployed across different markets in Europe.
* Ford Motor Co. teamed up with Agility Robotics to explore doorstep package delivery from autonomous vehicles through robots. A two-legged robot designed by Agility Robotics, named Digit, can grab a package from a Ford self-driving car and deliver it at the doorstep, said Ken Washington, Ford's chief technology officer. The robot can walk through obstacles, climb stairs and carry packages that weigh up to 40 pounds.
* India could electrify all three-wheelers by April 2023, and all two-wheelers with engine capacity up to 150 cubic centimeters by April 2025, The Times of India reported, citing sources.
* Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing Technology Co. Ltd. said it launched an intercity car-pooling service in Chengdu in the Sichuan province, Gasgoo reported. The long-distance carpool service runs along two routes and was recently relaunched after Didi suspended the service after a Didi driver murdered a passenger.
POLICY, REGULATIONS AND SAFETY
* Several U.S. industry groups, car dealers and insurers criticized General Motors Co.'s petition to introduce about 2,500 self-driving cars without steering wheels, gear shifts and brake pedals on public roads, Reuters reported. The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety criticized the danger of the petition and said the public roads needed to be safer and suggested that GM retain other safety features like high-beam headlights and seat belts. However, other groups including Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the National Federation of the Blind, the Telecommunications Industry Association and American Trucking Associations backed GM, saying self-driving vehicles could help reduce car crashes.
* Honda Motor Co. Ltd. announced two recalls in the U.S., involving a total of 137,598 vehicles with airbags that may either not inflate properly or that may suddenly deploy even without a crash. The Japanese carmaker said it will recall 118,598 model-year 2019 Honda CR-V SUVs due to risks that metal burrs on the interior surface of the steering wheel could ultimately cause unprompted deployment of the driver front airbag.
* Volkswagen workers at its Chattanooga plant in Tennessee filed again for a union election after a go-ahead from the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB had previously accepted Volkswagen's request to delay a vote based on a United Auto Workers petition filed April 9. NLRB on May 22 directed the board's regional office to dismiss the UAW's April 9 petition but ruled that the union could "immediately file a new petition." The ruling comes a day after three U.S. senators urged Volkswagen to "to immediately drop any efforts to oppose or postpone" the vote.
AUTO PARTS AND EQUIPMENT
* German prosecutors fined Bosch €90 million for lapses in supervisory duties that enabled European carmakers including VW to cheat emissions tests, Reuters reported. The auto parts maker, which sold about 17 million engine management devices that carmakers manipulated to alter test results, accepted the ruling and agreed to pay the fine.
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The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, Hang Seng fell 1.58% to 27,267.13, while the Nikkei 225 was down 0.62% to 21,151.14.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 1.35% to 7,235.19, and the Euronext 100 decreased 1.45% to 1,033.16.
On the macro front
The jobless claims report, the PMI Composite FLASH index, the new home sales report, the EIA natural gas report, the Kansas City Fed Manufacturing index, 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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