Nissan suspended local production for about three weeks after it revealed uncertified workers carried out final vehicle inspection checks for decades. On November 7, the company resumed production at all six of its domestic assembly plants.
The saga is the latest in a string of misconduct cases involving Japanese manufacturers, including a data falsification scandal at Kobe Steel.
In 2016, Mitsubishi Motors admitted that it had falsified fuel efficiency tests on some models.
While costs related to safety scandal are expected to hit Nissan’s annual profit, other headwinds weighed on its quarterly earnings.
Operating profit fell to 128.5 billion yen for the three months to September, down from 163.9 billion a year earlier.
The result, which missed market expectations, came as sales fell 2.2% in the increasingly competitive US market.
On November 7, Toyota – Japan’s largest auto maker – said its sales in North America hit their lowest level in nearly three years.
However, Nissan fared better closer to home. Sales rose 8% in China, the world’s biggest car market, and jumped 25.6% in Japan over the quarter.
Investors have been concerned that Ford is not moving quickly enough in markets such as China and in sectors such as automated cars to fend off competitors, including new ones emerging from Silicon Valley.
Jim Hackett said Ford needs to automate and simplify its production processes and invest $7 billion in its successful products, such as SUVs and light trucks, which have driven US sales this year.
Ford is also planning to make its vehicles more tech-savvy, with 90% of its vehicles sold around the world “built with connectivity” by 2020.
Executives said those features – such as easy compatibility with phones and other devices – would help attract customers to the brand.
They said they also opened opportunities for new lines of business, such as medical transport, ride-hailing and goods delivery.
Ford already operates a shuttle bus service called Chariot in four US cities and is set to expand it further by the end of the year. It said it has signed agreements to work with cities such as Mumbai on transport.
Jim Hackett said Ford had been slow to shift to electrification because of the costs. But it is working on partnerships with companies such as Zotye in China, where the government has called for quotas related to electric car sales.
Volkswagen will provide a two year guarantee for the cars in Europe fitted with emissions cheating devices which it agreed to modify.
According to the auto maker, the two year guarantee will cover exhaust and emissions control parts.
The European Commission has been putting pressure on VW to compensate customers over its emissions scandal, but the company has refused.
And European class action lawsuits are picking up steam.
The guarantee has conditions attached -it will only cover certain car parts in vehicles that have been driven for under 250,000km (about 155,000 miles), and will depend on the service history of the car and the age of the affected parts.
In September 2015, VW admitted to US regulators that it had cheated on emissions tests there using software installed in as many as 11 million diesel vehicles sold worldwide – the majority of them in Europe.
In the aftermath of the diesel emissions scandal, VW agreed to modify millions of vehicles in Europe which were equipped with the software capable of undermining the emissions testing process.
However, income from those sales was slightly down at 27.6 trillion yen.
Toyota has been struggling in the US, its biggest market. Sales fell in North America as the company battled to meet demand for bigger cars such as SUV’s, which have become more affordable to drive thanks to lower petrol prices.
Tata Motors, which is India’s largest automaker and owns Jaguar Land Rover, is also hoping to claw back domestic market share.
VW and Tata have signed a memorandum of understanding on a partnership they hope will potentially lead to Tata Motors launching new vehicles by 2019.
Tata Motors CEO Guenter Butschek has put in place a restructuring program to help build up the company’s lost sales for passenger and commercial vehicles by improving efficiencies, cutting production delays and building economies of scale.
Guenter Butschek said: “We strongly believe that both the companies, by working together, can leverage from each other’s strengths to create synergies and develop smart innovative solutions for the Indian and overseas market.”
VW is investing in self-drive vehicles and greener technology such as electric cars and would like greater familiarity with the Indian market.
Volkswagen AG CEO Matthias Müller said: “By offering the appropriate products, we intend to achieve sustainable and profitable growth in very different parts of the world.”
A previous attempt by VW to expand into emerging markets through an alliance with Suzuki Motor Corp ended in 2015, following bitter disagreements.
Automakers are attempting to win a greater share of expanding emerging markets through the sale of budget cars, which in turn increase familiarity of their brand.
Renault has reported record annual revenues after a revamp of its range boosted sales.
The French automaker’s revenues rose 13.1% to 51.2 billion euros in 2016, slightly ahead of expectations, while net income jumped by nearly 20% to 3.54 billion euros.
Earlier this week, Renault said it had sold 3.2 million vehicles in 2016, a 13.4% rise on 2015, with market share rising in all regions.
Renault sales have now overtaken French rival Peugeot Citroen.
The company’s financial director Clotilde Delbos said 2016 had been “a very good year” for the automaker, and the company had hit all of its targets.
She told a news conference: “These objectives, in particular that of exceeding 50 billion euros in sales, have been achieved by 2016.”
Clotilde Delbos added that the results had been achieved despite markets such as Brazil and Russia that “count a lot for us and which were strong in the past” but were still at “lower levels than in the past”.
Renault said it expected the global car market to grow by between 1.5% and 2% in 2018, with sales in Europe and France up 2%.
The automaker forecasts the markets in Brazil and Russia will be “stable”, but expects 5% growth in China and the Indian market to expand by 8%.
Last month, French authorities said they would investigate Renault over suspected “cheating” in diesel emissions tests.
Paris prosecutors are to conduct a probe into “cheating on key parts” of vehicles and into the quality of the tests.
The move comes in response to concerns raised in 2016 by the French consumer protection agency, which carried out an investigation into several carmakers in the wake of VW scandal.
Many people who conduct business in cities struggle to find the right vehicle. They will want a car that looks professional and portrays the right look, but you will also want good fuel economy so that the car is affordable to run. This also enables you to zip around the city with ease. Unfortunately, city cars often do not have the best MPG despite being smaller than most automobiles.
Any business person looking for a smart city car with high MPG should consider the following vehicles.
Mini Hatchback 3dr
This fantastic new hatchback from Mini is a superb choice for those looking for a stylish yet practical city business car. It has an impressive official figure of 80.7 MPG which makes it affordable to run and means you do not have to worry about finding a petrol station in the city often.
The Sandero is known for being an extremely affordable car, which sometimes deters motorists. However, it is an impressive city car which is both great to drive and portrays the right look. It boasts real life fuel economy of 61.7 MPG, so it is both affordable to buy and to run. Although it is not the most exciting vehicle, it does have a certain charm to it and it will fulfil the needs of anyone using it for business.
Image source Wikipedia
The Fiat Panda has a great look; it is full of character and it is terrific for town driving. Fiat is well-known for creating excellent city cars and this model is no exception as it is fun to drive and has real-life fuel economy of 61 MPG. It also features a button which lightens the steering, enabling you to easily navigate tight gaps and park with ease around the city.
The Hyundai i20 has been receiving rave reviews and is a great choice for business use in the city. It is attractive, spacious, affordable to buy and cheap to run. The 1.4-litre diesel engine has a true MPG of 59.4 MPG. This all ensures that it is sophisticated, practical and enjoyable to drive in town environments.
This superb all-electric car is superb for city use as it has agile handling, low running costs and it is extremely lightweight thanks to state-of-the-art construction techniques. Typical of BMW, it is also very sleek and sophisticated. It offers an impressive range of around 124 miles, but you can also invest in a range extender version. This features a two-cylinder petrol engine and adds another 80 miles of range. You will struggle to find a better city car for business use than the BMW i3.
Ford has announced it will start mass-production for a fully autonomous self-driving car without a steering wheel by 2021.
The company’s president, Mark Fields, made the announcement at an event in Palo Alto, California.
The auto maker said it would double its investment in its research center in Palo Alto, as well as making sizable investments in technology companies in the autonomy industry.
Ford said the car would be in use by customers by 2021.
It said this was most likely as part of an Uber-like ride-sharing service – but one that doesn’t require a human driver.
The announcement, described as “transformational” by Mark Fields, signaled an era when Ford sees itself, particularly in cities, as a company that provides an ad-hoc service rather than focusing solely on selling the cars to the general public.
In recent years Ford has described itself as a technology company rather than simply a car maker, and on Tuesday it genuinely started to sound like one.
In partnership with Chinese firm Baidu, Ford has made a joint investment of $150 million in Velodyne – a company that works on light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology. LiDAR is the system used for accurately detecting objects around the car.
Ford was also part of an investment round that raised $6.6 million for Civil Maps – a digital mapping company – as well as money put towards neuroscience research.
However, there was no mention of Google or Apple in Ford’s announcement – a suggestion it has opted to compete against the Silicon Valley giants rather than try and work with them as some had originally anticipated.
Google still leads the way in self-driving technology – its cars have been out on public roads clocking up miles for several years now. It too is developing a car without a steering wheel – but regulations so far prevent that car from venturing beyond private land.
Like Google, Ford said it would be focusing on “Level 4” autonomy in reference to the standards put in place by the US-based Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).
The levels represent the sophistication of self-driving technology. At Level four – “high automation” – the car is able to operate, unmonitored, in a particular use case. For Ford, the use case would be a city area. Level 5 would mean full autonomy in any driving condition.
Ford said it was not interested in offering Level 2 or 3 driving. Level 2 means some level of automation that requires the driver to monitor the car at all times.
Nissan has announced it will acquire a 34% stake in rival Mitsubishi Motors, in the wake of the latter’s recent scandal over fuel efficiency.
According to the Japanese auto giant, the all-share deal is valued at 237 billion yen ($2.2 billion).
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has called the deal “a breakthrough transaction and a win-win” for both companies.
The tie-up is subject to regulatory approval as well as the backing of Mitsubishi shareholders.
If it is approved, the deal is expected to close by the end of 2016 and make Nissan the largest shareholder in Mitsubishi Motors.
The strategic alliance will extend an existing partnership between Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors forged over the past five years.
Both will co-operate in areas including purchasing, technology and sharing platforms.
Carlos Ghosn said: “We will support Mitsubishi Motors as they address their challenges and welcome them as the newest member of our enlarged alliance family.”
Nissan’s Alliance family is built around a 17-year cross shareholding agreement with French auto maker Renault. Nissan has also previously acquired stakes or signed partnerships with other carmakers including Daimler.
Mitsubishi Motors CEO Osamu Masuko said he hoped the deal with Nissan would restore confidence in the company: “It is not an easy task to regain trust, so through the alliance with Nissan, we will be starting a path towards tackling this difficult task.”
The tie-up was announced as Nissan reported a 14.5% rise in net profit to 523.8 billion yen ($4.4 billion) for the 12 months to March.
Nissan said rising demand in North America and China helped to offset unfavorable currency movements and weakness in emerging markets.
For the financial year to March 2017, Nissan is estimating flat profit growth and an 11% fall in operating profit due to the strengthening yen.
Carlos Ghosn said: “Encouraging demand for new models, combined with continued cost efficiency, helped us withstand currency headwinds and volatile trading conditions in several emerging markets.”
Nissan’s recently launched models including the Maxima, Altima and Titan pick-up trucks were expected to contribute to global sales growth in the coming year.
Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors shares have fallen more than 15% after it said an unspecified number of its cars had failed fuel tests.
Mitsubishi will hold a news conference in Tokyo at 5pm local time about the issue.
The company’s president, Tetsuro Aikawa, will attend the briefing.
Mitsubishi shares closed down 131 yen at 733 yen in Tokyo – their biggest one-day fall in nearly 12 years.
NHK said the faulty tests could affect about 600,000 Mitsubishi-produced cars, including some vehicles it makes for rival Nissan.
Mitsubishi sold more than one million vehicles in 2015.
“One of our models was found to have failed part of a fuel economy test,” a company spokesman said.
In 2014 South Korean auto makers Hyundai and its affiliate, Kia, agreed to pay $350 million in US penalties for overstating their vehicles’ fuel economy ratings. They also resolved claims from car owners.
The Mitsubishi revelation follows last year’s emissions scandal at Volkswagen in which the German automaker was found to have installed devices in some models that fooled tests.
Toyota has reported a 4.7% year-on-year rise in net income for Q4 of 2015, to 627.9 billion yen ($5.37 billion), due in part to stronger sales in the US.
The Japanese company, the world’s biggest automaker, also raised its North America sales forecast for the full year to March, because of the higher US demand.
However, operating profit for the quarter fell by 5.3%, missing forecasts.
The car industry has been hurt by a global slowdown, particularly in China.
Toyota said net income for the year to March was still likely to come in at 2.27 trillion yen.
“Our latest forecast remains unchanged from the previous forecast, having reflected both positive factors – such as progress in cost reduction and the weaker-than-expected yen so far,” managing officer Tetsuya Otake said.
In the nine months to December, Toyota said consolidated vehicle sales came in at 6,492,784 vehicles – a decrease of 246,374 compared with the same period last a year earlier.
It said sales in North America had increased by 33,032 vehicles to 2,140,655 because of strong demand from the US.
In Asia, however, vehicle sales fell by 112,478 vehicles to 1,016,235 over the nine months.
In the face of slowing global growth, Toyota has been trying to cut costs and improve productivity at its factories. It has also faced a string of recalls in recent months.
Earlier this week, Toyota announced a recall of 320,000 trucks and SUVs over problems with airbags, saying they could inflate without a collision.
In November 2015, Toyota recalled 1.6 million vehicles equipped with faulty airbags. In October 2015, Toyota recalled 6.5 million vehicles over a faulty window switch.
The company has recalled about 15 million vehicles fitted with the bags since 2013.
On February 5, Toyota also announced a share buyback of about 150 billion yen worth of outstanding shares.
Despite the recall worries, Toyota won back the crown of the world’s largest automaker by sales in the first nine months 2015 from Germany’s Volkswagen.
Ford has announced it is cutting jobs and save $200 million a year in Europe.
The US car giant said it was launching a voluntary redundancy program and improving manufacturing efficiencies.
The company also said it would focus on its most profitable models, such as sports utility vehicles (SUVs).
Ford Europe returned to profit for the first time in four years in 2015, as the parent group recorded record profits of $10.8 billion.
This represented a “good first step”, said Ford Europe executive vice-president Jim Farley.
“We are absolutely committed to accelerating our transformation, taking the necessary actions to create a vibrant business that is solidly profitable in both good times and down cycles.”
The jobs are likely to go at Ford’s main European centers in the UK and Germany.
Ford also said it would be launching seven new or redesigned vehicles this year, including a Focus RS and new Kuga and Edge SUVs.
Ford Europe has closed a number of plants as it struggles to turn around heavy losses. Last year, the company made an operating profit of $259 million in Europe, compared with a loss of $598 million in 2014.
European auto sales rose 9.2% in 2015 reaching 14.2 million vehicles.
However, it still remained below levels prior to the economic crisis.
The 9.2% increase was driven in large part by incentive schemes, according to the Brussels-based trade body, the Association of European Carmakers.
Several auto makers achieved double digit growth, including Daimler (17.7%) and Fiat-Chrysler (13.6%).
Amid the emissions scandal, VW’s sales climbed only 6.2% and the group’s market share slid from 25.5% to 24.8%.
The annual figures were boosted by a strong December when sales jumped 15.9% to nearly 1.16 million, marking the 28th consecutive month of growth.
The figures include all EU members except Malta, and the three European Free Trade Association countries, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.
Sales grew strongly in Spain (20.9%) and Italy (15.8%) in 2015, helped by government incentive schemes to encourage buyers. Sales also rose in the other major markets of France (6.8%), the UK (6.3%) and Germany (5.6%).
Car sales in the EU and the wider EFTA free trade area reached a peak of nearly 16 million in 2007. They subsequently fell to a low of just over 12.3 million in 2013 before rising again in 2014.
The association said the trend in 2015 was “positive, but in absolute terms, volumes remain low”.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), VW cars with bigger diesel engines also contained software devices designed to cheat in emissions tests.
Porsche, Audi and VW cars are all included in this new investigation, which affects at least 10,000 vehicles.
The EPA said that cars with 3.0 liter engines from the years 2014 to 2016 were affected.
However, VW denies the vehicles have software designed to cheat tests.
Instead the automaker says that cars with the 3.0 liter diesel V6 engines “had a software function which had not been adequately described in the application process”.
VW said it was cooperating with the EPA to “clarify the matter”.
“Volkswagen AG wishes to emphasize that no software has been installed in the 3-liter V6 diesel power units to alter emissions characteristics in a forbidden manner,” the company said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Porsche said it was “surprised” by the EPA’s allegations.
“Until this notice, all of our information was that the Porsche Cayenne diesel is fully compliant,” it said in a statement.
The EPA says the investigation is ongoing.
“VW has once again failed its obligation to comply with the law that protects clean air for all Americans,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator at the EPA’s enforcement unit.
The EPA identified these diesel models as containing software aimed at cheating tests: 2014 VW Touareg; 2015 Porsche Cayenne; 2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L and Q5.
In early September, VW admitted to the EPA that cars from the model years 2009 to 2015 contained software designed to cheat emissions tests.
It said that 11 million cars were affected.
That prompted US regulators to run further tests designed to detect such defeat devices and led to today’s announcement from the EPA.
“These tests have raised serious concerns about the presence of defeat devices on additional VW, Audi and Porsche vehicles. Today we are requiring VW Group to address these issues. This is a very serious public health matter,” Cynthia Giles said.
Regulators all over the world are now looking at VW’s diesel cars and the company is also facing criminal investigations.
State and federal prosecutors in the US have announced criminal investigations and German prosecutors are looking into the scandal.
VW CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned in late September as the scale of the scandal emerged.
At the time Martin Winterkorn said he was “not aware of any wrongdoing on my part” but was acting in the interest of the company.
Last month Volkswagen reported its first quarterly loss for at least 15 years after taking a big charge to cover the costs of the scandal.
VW said it had set aside €6.7 billion ($7.4 billion) to cover costs related to emissions cheating, which left it with a €2.52 billion pre-tax loss for the third quarter of the year.
Many analysts expect that VW will have to set aside more money to cover the recall of cars, penalties and lawsuits.
Tesla has unveiled its long-awaited Model X with a “bio-weapon defense” system and Falcon Wing doors.
The Model X is the third vehicle produced by the electric car-maker, and was unveiled nearly two years later than originally planned.
Tesla – which has yet to make a profit – said about 25,000 people had pre-ordered the all-electric SUV.
Analysts say the Model X should be a success because it will be seen as a status symbol.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said at the car launch in Fremont, California: “I think we got a little carried away with the X.
“There is far more there than is really necessary to sell a car.
“And some of the things are so difficult, they make the car better but the difficulty of engineering those parts is so high.”
Analysts say the model filled a gap in the market.
The sports utility vehicle (SUV) can fit seven people at a time.
The Model X’s Falcon Wing doors open upwards and use sensors to help them clear obstacles, such as garage ceilings. Tesla suggests this will make it easier to put young children in car seats without hitting their heads on the roof.
The biohazard button activates the air filtration system, which fills the cabin with “medical-grade air”.
The Model X also features a panoramic windshield that extends overhead, which Elon Musk said was the largest single piece of glass ever used in a car.
Tesla says the car, which has two electric motors, can travel about 250 miles on a single charge and features automatic functions that bring it “ever closer to autonomous operation”.
It will be continuously improved, Tesla says, via software transmitted “over the air”.
An update expected within the next month should enable an auto-pilot function, allowing the cars to be driven hands-free on motorways.
The Model X is priced as high as $144,000 and Tesla expects the pre-orders will take between 8 months and a year to fulfill.
Tesla has not disclosed pricing for the base model, but Elon Musk said that in the future there would be a “lower-cost” version.
The Model X is the third vehicle unveiled by Tesla. Its first was the Roadster sports car – which is no longer in production, and its second the Model S saloon.
Tesla has pledged to make its next vehicle – the Model 3 – lower cost. It is due to be revealed in 2017.
The company hopes to disrupt the car market by demonstrating that vehicles with electric motors do not need to compromise on speed or handling.
Tesla has yet to make a profit and its costs are mounting.
The company’s spending on fixed assets totaled $831.2 million over the first half of the year due to its investment in the Model X and Model 3 as well as a new battery factory in Nevada.
The Model X, Elon Musk said, “gives us a cash flow stream we can use to develop and facilitate” production and development.
In August 2015, Elon Musk said Tesla would make between 50,000 and 55,000 Model S and Model X vehicles this year, and would have the capacity to roll 1,600 to 1,800 vehicles off its production lines per week in 2016.
Volkswagen will “support” the German transport ministry’s investigation into the automaker’s emissions scandal, CEO Martin Winterkorn has said.
VW shares plunged more than 18% on September 21 after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that some of its cars could manipulate official emissions tests.
The EPA found that software in several diesel cars could deceive regulators.
VW was ordered to recall half a million cars in the US on September 18.
In addition to paying for the recall, VW faces fines that could add up to billions of dollars. There may also be criminal charges for VW executives.
The White House in Washington also reportedly said it was “quite concerned” about VW’s conduct.
Martin Winterkorn apologized after the scandal emerged.
“I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public,” he said.
He has launched an investigation into the software that allowed VW cars to emit less during tests than they would while driving normally.
The EPA found the “defeat device” in diesel cars including the Audi A3 and the VW Jetta, Beetle, Golf and Passat models.
VW has stopped selling the relevant diesel models in the US, where diesel cars account for about a quarter of sales.
The EPA said that the fine for each vehicle that did not comply with federal clean air rules would be up to $37,500. With 482,000 cars sold since 2008 involved in the allegations, it means the fines could reach $18 billion.
Volkswagen has ordered an external investigation, although it has not revealed who will be conducting it.
“We do not and will not tolerate violations of any kind of our internal rules or of the law,” Martin Winterkorn said.
The scandal comes five months after former VW chairman Ferdinand Piech left the company following disagreements with Martin Winterkorn.
“This disaster is beyond all expectations,” Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, head of the Centre of Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen, said.
The VW board is due to meet on September 25 to decide whether to renew Martin Winterkorn’s contract until 2018, and some analysts speculated he may be on his way out.
VW had been promoting its diesel cars in the US as being better for the environment.
Class action law firm Hagens Berman is launching a suit against VW on behalf of people who bought the relevant cars.
“While Volkswagen tells consumers that its diesel cars meet California emissions standards, vehicle owners are duped into paying for vehicles that do not meet this standard and unknowingly pay more for quality they never receive,” Hagens Berman alleged.
Volkswagen has been ordered by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to recall half a million cars because of a device that disguises pollution levels.
The “defeat device” allows cars to pass lab testing even though they actually emit 40 times the emissions standard.
The EPA has been taking a more aggressive stance on car pollution and violations of the Clean Air Act.
The recall could cost Volkswagen up to $18 billion.
It affects 2009-2014 Jettas, Beetles, Audi A3s and Golfs and 2014-2015 Passats.
“Using a defeat device in cars to evade clean air standards is illegal and a threat to public health,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.
The illegal system allowed cars to detect when they were undergoing smog emission test and lowered the rate of pollution. Those emission controls were then turned off during ordinary use.
The state of California which assisted in the investigation has also issued a notice of violation to Volkswagen.
In 2014 the EPA fined Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors $300 million for misrepresenting the fuel economy in 1.2 million of their cars. That settlement is the highest to date.
Suzuki has bought back a nearly 20% stake held by Volkswagen for 460 billion yen ($3.8 billion).
The Japanese carmaker bought almost 120 million shares at 3,842.50 yen each in after-hours trading on September 17, ending a partnership between the carmakers.
The deal between Suzuki and Volkswagen soured soon after it was formed in 2009.
Last month, an international arbitration court ordered the German carmaker to sell its holding.
The tie up, which resulted in Volkswagen becoming Suzuki’s biggest shareholder, included co-operation on technology and expansion in emerging markets like India, where the Japanese carmaker had a leading position.
However, Suzuki filed for arbitration in November 2011 after the partnership failed.
The carmakers had agreed to work together on fuel-efficient cars, but Suzuki accused Volkswagen of withholding information it had promised to share.
Volkswagen, meanwhile, had objected to a deal Suzuki made to buy diesel engines from Italian carmaker Fiat.
In a statement, Suzuki said that it did not see a need to change its earnings forecasts for the business year ending in March 2016 in light of the share purchase.
Shares of Suzuki, Japan’s fourth largest carmaker, jumped as much as nearly 5% in Tokyo after the announcement.
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