Volkswagen’s (VW) main Wolfsburg plant in Germany has restarted vehicle production after a period of shutdown due to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. David Leggett, automotive analyst at GlobalData, said the move is a “welcome sign of a corner being turned in Germany,” but that the low level of production is indicative of the difficulties facing the sector in emerging from shutdowns.
Porsche is the latest vehicle manufacturer to announce that it is to stop producing diesel cars. It follows a 2015 scandal in which its parent company, Volkswagen, admitted it had cheated emissions tests for diesel engines. The Porsche chief executive said the company was “not demonising diesel”.
The latest NFDA Dealer Attitude Survey has revealed that the relationship between car manufacturers and franchised dealers has deteriorated. The NFDA surveyed 29 franchised networks and received 1,893 responses from dealers, equating to a 47 per cent response rate, the highest since the inception of the survey in 1989.
Bartec Auto ID is currently an example of a company and brand more famous outside its domestic market than within it, though a recent behind-the-scenes event at the tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) and automotive diagnostic equipment manufacturer’s headquarters near Barnsley, South Yorkshire showed how managing director Colin Webb and his team plan to raise the profile of this British manufacturing success story. In the TPMS sector, growing globally with the support of legislation, Bartec claims a market share of more than 80 per cent of car plant installations in Europe and North America, achieved since its first installation for Renault in 1998, and a similar proportion of aftermarket TPMS tools coverage, with 95,000 TPMS devices in North America – including 96 of the 100 largest tyre retail chains – and 28,000 in Europe. The company supplies OEM tools to marques such as Mercedes, Ford and Volkswagen, while manufacturing tools for aftermarket brands like Snap On (TPMS2), Mac Tools (TPR), Schrader (Exp’Air and Activ’air), and Bosch (TPA200).
The ecological car firm Riversimple Movement employs 23 at an R&D centre in Llandrindod Wells, mid Wales and is currently crowd funding for their Rasa (Latin for clean slate) to match a €2m EU grant. The striking, gull-wing vehicle is capable of travelling 300 miles on a single tank of hydrogen, with 20 prototypes taking to the UK roads on a 12 month public trial in 2017 before the full production vehicle arrives late 2018. The Rasa is capable of 0-60mph in 10 seconds with a top speed of 60mph, and refuels in only three minutes.
Renault, the French car maker, may stop offering diesel engines in most of its cars sold in Europe. The proposed move is a reaction to the cost of ensuring that diesel engines comply with tighter emissions regulations and the crackdown follows last year’s diesel emissions scandal involving German car maker Volkswagen.
Australia is suing the local arm of Volkswagen for allegedly misleading customers by selling modified vehicles that covered up emissions fraud, with its consumer watchdog claiming Volkswagen intentionally sold more than 57,000 such vehicles over a five-year period. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is seeking a public declaration of misconduct, financial penalties and corrective advertising. Volkswagen Australia said it is reviewing the ACCC claims.
Japanese carmaker Mazda has said it is recalling 2.2 million cars worldwide because of a defect in their tailgates. The recall affects about 400,000 cars in Japan and 1.8 million sold on export markets.
The UK may have voted to leave Europe, but for the time being we are still subject to European regulations. The EU says that tougher CO2 standards for cars and vans will be introduced to help cut transport emissions and improve air quality in Europe. They form part of a package of measures announced by the European Commission, which for the first time will also include fuel efficiency targets for trucks.
New figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) confirm the growing strength and vitality of the UK automotive industry and its ascendancy as a major global player. SMMT’s 16th annual Sustainability Report confirms the sector is breaking new records, with turnover hitting an all-time high of £69.5 billion in 2014. Manufacturing output, vehicle sales, jobs and export values also grew, while the environmental impact from vehicle production has been reduced dramatically.
Latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveal a steady growth in UK car manufacturing in May, with 119,338 cars built – a rise of 2.3 per cent. The strong domestic market once again played a significant part with a 13.3 per cent increase outweighing a small dip (-0.2 per cent) in production for export.
Kia Motors has announced that it expects to reach the 15 millionth cumulative export (from South Korea factories) milestone later this month. This landmark achievement comes 40 years after its very first export shipment of ten units of the Brisa pickup truck to Qatar in 1975.
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association’s (ACEA) new Pocket Guide highlights the impact the automotive industry has on the European economy. “This year’s Pocket Guide highlights the continuing importance of the automotive industry to the European economy,” said Erik Jonnaert, secretary general of ACEA. “Its statistics show an industry that continues to provide employment and mobility, generate tax and trade revenue, and lead the world in terms of innovation.”
Trend Tracker, formed in 2003 to provide accurate and informed automotive industry research, calculates the retail service, maintenance and repair market’s worth has risen by almost £1 billion since the 2008 recession. This is inevitably resulting in greater interest in the segment, which is increasing the desire of vehicle manufacturers (VMs) to compete for this business. AMOnline has recently reported on the efforts of some car manufacturers to take a bigger slice of that market, giving a synopsis of what measures various VMs are taking.