Fiat Chrysler plants in Mexico may close if Trump enacts import taxation, CEO tells

Sergio Marchionne said at the Detroit auto show that the president-elects tariff threats could construct manufacturing in Mexico uneconomical

The chief executive of automobile giant Fiat Chrysler has warned that the company would have to consider closing its Mexican mills if Donald Trump decides to impose his threat of tough new tariffs on imports from Mexico.

Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, said on Monday that the entire industry was dogged by uncertainty since Trumps election and added that if the president-elect followed through on threats to tax Mexican car imports, he would have to consider shutting factories.

Its possible that if the economic tariffs that are imposed by the US administration on anything that comes into the United States, if they are sufficiently large, it will construct the production of anything in Mexico uneconomical and therefore we will have to move on. It is quite possible, Marchionne told addressing reporters at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Repurposing the Mexican factory would be costly and uncertain. Asked if he would consider investments in Mexico if he was offered substantial incentives by the Mexican government, Marchionne said it would be incredibly imprudent on our side to try and make commitments to that country.

A Mexican-US trade war over vehicles would have relatively limited impact on the US but would be terrible for Mexico. If its a rejection of international trade in a wider sense, the implications are much more severe, he said.

Scaling back by US car firms is already reaching Mexico. Julian Eaves, managing director of Preferred Compounding de Mxico, a US-owned maker of rubber compounds operating in central Mexico, told the Guardian that the economic cost could run into the hundreds of millions or billions of dollars over the next five years, if manufacturing, contracting and indirect chores fall short of current plans.

Marchionnes commentaries arrived shortly after Trump had praised Fiat Chrysler and Ford for announcing new investments in the US. Trump constructed US auto production a key part of his campaign and won in part with the backing of voters in countries with the largest percentage of autoworkers.

Last week Ford abandoned plans to build a $1.6 bn plant in Mexico and said it would invest $700 m in a Michigan plant. On Sunday, Fiat Chrysler announced a$ 1bn investment in plants in Ohio and Michigan to construct new SUVs and pickup trucks that will add 2,000 jobs.

Its ultimately happening Fiat Chrysler merely announced plans to invest$ 1BILLION in Michigan and Ohio plants, adding 2000 jobs. This after Ford said last week that it will expand in Michigan and U.S. instead of building a BILLION dollar plant in Mexico. Thank you Ford& Fiat C! Trump positioned on Twitter.

Marchionne said he had not spoken to Trump or his advisers and that the decision has been in the works for a long time. Fiat Chrysler whose brands include Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep and Maserati makes about 17% of its vehicles in Mexico, according to analysts.

He said it was difficult for the industry to manage under the current political surrounding. Trump has threatened to scrap the Northa American Free Trade Agreement( Nafta) between the US, Mexico and Canada, but so far the most detail he has given has been on Twitter.

I dont know if its a new political speech, but if it is well adjust to that too, said Marchionne.

On Sunday Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors and a Trump adviser, told GM would not be changing its sourcing decisions because of Trump. This is a long-lead business with highly capital-intensive investments decisions that were attained two, three and four years ago, Barra told reporters in Detroit.

The company also exposed it is planning to build a freshly unveiled vehicle, GMC Terrain, a crossover SUV, in San Luis Potos, Mexico.

Barras comments came after the Trump threatened the company with a big perimeter taxation for importing some of GMs Chevrolet Cruze compact cars from a plant in Mexico. The imported models account for some 5% of the Cruze automobiles sold in the US. The remainder are fabricated at its Ohio factory.

On Monday Barra touted GMs creation of US undertakings. We have more than 40 manufacturing facilities in the US and over the last two years alone, we have investment more than $11 bn generating thousands of new jobs in the US, as well as recruiting technological talent, Barra said unveiling new vehicles at the Detroit auto show.

Michelle Krebs, senior analyst with Autotrader, said the US car firms were reeling from the uncertainty Trump has created. It takes four years to develop a vehicle, longer still to build a plant, she told. This is an industry that needs clarity.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

We contribute billions to American economy, Toyota politely tells Trump

After familiar outburst against plans for mill in Mexico, Japanese company calmly explains it applies more than 136,000 people in America

Japanese officials have defended Toyotas contribution to the American economy after Donald Trump threatened to impose a big border taxation on the carmaker if it ran ahead with plans to open a new plant in Mexico.

Trumps tweet was followed by Toyota shares dropping more than 3% in morning trading in Tokyo on Friday. Shares in Nissan and Honda also fell as malaise in Japan grows over the effects Trumps America first economic policy could have on cross-Pacific trade.

Japans chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, defended the role Japanese manufacturers and other firms play in the US economy. Toyota has been aiming to be a good corporate citizen for the United States he said.

The automaker did not directly address Trumps reference to the Mexico plant, but pointed to its contribution to the health of the US economy. With more than $21.9 bn direct investment in the US, 10 manufacturing facilities, 1,500 dealerships and 136,000 employees, Toyota looks forward to collaborating with the Trump administration to serve in the best interests of consumers and the automotive industry, Toyota said in a statement.

The economy, trade and industry pastor, Hiroshige Seko, said the carmaker had contributed to the creation of American jobs.

Japanese automakers are inducing significant contributions in terms of jobs in the United States, he told reporters. It is important that their efforts and results are widely accepted. This is an issue involving a private company but the government is ready to support it.

Japanese firms hire more than 800,000 people in the US and contributed $78 bn to US exports in 2014, according to the US embassy in Tokyo.

Weeks after Trump dismayed Japans “ministers “, Shinzo Abe, with a pledge to rip up the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement as soon as he is inaugurated on 20 January, Trump tweeted that Toyota would face high tariffs if it builds its Corolla cars at a new$ 1bn plant in the Mexican state of Guanajuato.

Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla vehicles for US. NO WAY! Build plant in US or pay big perimeter tax.

Donald J. Trump (@ realDonaldTrump)

Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla autoes for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax.

January 5, 2017

The president-elect appeared to confuse Toyotas existing plant in Baja California with the new mill in Guanajuato, building on which began in late 2016. The Guanajuato plant will construct Corollas and have an annual capability of 200, 000 when it begins production in 2019.

Trumps outburst arrived hours after Toyotas president, Akio Toyoda, said the firm was not planning to reconsider its investment in Mexico.

Speaking just before Trumps tweet appeared, Toyoda said of the incoming US administration: I would like to make it an opportunity for us.

I dont know yet exactly how, but, irrespective of who is president, our business is about being good corporate citizens, he told a assemble of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association in Tokyo.

And by becoming good corporate citizens we are facing the same aim of making America strong. And so we will continue to do our best.

Toyota is one of several Japanese carmakers that have been tempted by Mexicos low labour costs and proximity to the North American market.

Nissan selected Mexico decades ago as the site for its first assembly plant outside Asia, and last year produced 830,000 cars at its two factories there. Honda has two assembly and engine plants in Mexico that together make 263,000 vehicles a year.

Nissans chief executive, Carlos Ghosn, said he was comfy with Trumps America first credo. Im hearing We in the US have a very large market, and we want our fair share of the benefits both in terms of trade and jobs, Bloomberg quoted Ghosn as saying Thursday at the CES 2017 trade show in Las Vegas. Im not hearing close the border.

Other carmakers appear to have been affected by Trumps attempts to browbeat them into building vehicles in the US.

Ford Motor this week scrapped plans to build a $1.6 bn plant in San Luis Potos, Mexico, after Trump called on the company to create jobs at home.

Trump has repeatedly threatened to impose a 35% tax on small automobiles attained in Mexico and the coming week criticised General Motor for importing Chevy Cruze vehicles from Mexico.

Analysts said import taxes would have little effect on Toyotas business in the region. We suppose the impact on business performance is restriction, told Akira Kishimoto at JP Morgan. A cool judgement is needed.

Kishimoto noted that Toyotas exposure to Mexico was restriction, adding that even an extreme case tariff of 20% would hit the carmakers operating profit by about 6 %.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Kobe Steel chief admits scandal has hit trust as car checks spread

General Motors joins auto, train and aircraft manufacturers investigating whether they have used substandard products

The chief executive of Kobe Steel has said a deepening scandal over false inspections data may have spread beyond Japan, and conceded that his company now had “zero credibility”.

US carmaker General Motors is the latest manufacturer to check whether its cars contain falsely certified parts or components sourced from the the firm, Japan’s third-biggest steelmaker.

“General Motors is aware of the reports of material deviation in Kobe Steel copper and aluminium products,” the company’s spokesman Nick Richards said. “We are investigating any potential impact and do not have any additional comments at this time.”

The scandal has forced some of Japan’s best-known manufacturers to confirm the safety of products sourced from Kobe Steel.

Toyota and Nissan are among about 200 affected companies, and Hitachi said it had used Kobe Steel parts in trains built for the UK market.

“Products used met safety standards, but they did not meet the specifications that were agreed between us and Kobe Steel,” a Hitachi spokesman said.

Pressure is mounting on Kobe after it admitted last weekend that it had falsified figures about the strength and durability of its aluminium and copper products, which are used in cars, aircraft, space rockets and defence equipment.

Its chief executive, Hiroya Kawasaki, apologised on Thursday and promised that the firm would report to the trade ministry on the results of urgent safety inspections within a fortnight. He also said the cause of the falsified data would be explained within a month.

“The credibility of Kobe Steel has plunged to zero. We will make efforts to regain trust as soon as possible,” Kawasaki told reporters after meeting government officials.

Hitachi
Hitachi also said it had used the Kobe Steel parts in trains built for the UK market. Photograph: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

The scandal is one of several to have embroiled Japanese manufacturers in recent years, and has called the country’s reputation for quality control into question.

The car parts maker Takata has paid $1bn (£756m) in penalties in connection with defective airbags that have been blamed for at least 16 deaths worldwide.

Earlier this month, Nissan recalled all 1.2m new cars it sold in Japan over the past three years after discovering that final vehicle inspections had not been performed by authorised technicians.

Nissan used Kobe Steel aluminium in the hoods and doors of some of its vehicles. “As hoods are related to pedestrian safety, we are working to quickly assess any potential impact on vehicle functionality,” it said.

Toyota also confirmed that the material has been used in hoods and rear doors of some of its vehicles.

The aircraft maker Boeing said it was inspecting Kobe Steel products, but that it had no reason to believe safety had been put at risk.

Kobe Steel also supplies materials to the carmakers Ford, Honda, Mazda and Subaru as well as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Yoshihiko Katsukawa, a managing executive officer at Kobe Steel, said the scandal could widen depending on the results of an investigation by an outside law firm into cases of data falsification stretching back a decade.

“We can’t rule out the possibility that the external investigation will find other cases,” Katsukawa said. No Kobe Steel customers had raised safety concerns or cancelled contracts with the firm, he added.

Shares in the company stabilised on Thursday after about $1.6bn was wiped off its market value in two days.

Wire agencies contributed to this report.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

VW and Shell try to block EU push for electric cars

Industry giants call for biofuels over electric and fuel efficient vehicles puts Europes carbon emissions targets at risk, say experts

VW and Shell have unified to try to block Europes push for electric cars and more efficient cars, saying biofuels should be at heart of efforts to green the industry instead.

The EU is scheming two new fuel efficiency targets for 2025 and 2030 to help meet promises made at the Paris climate summit last December.

But executives from the two industrial giants launched a study on Wednesday night proposing greater use of biofuels, CO2 car labelling, and the EUs emissions trading system( ETS) instead.

In reality, such a package would involve the end of meaningful new regulatory action on automobile emissions for more than a decade, EU sources say.

Ulrich Eichhorn, VWs new head of research and growth, used to say plug-in hybrids and more efficient vehicles were building block for the future, but that higher shares for biofuels would be needed in the meantime.

He told a session in Brussels: Modern diesel and natural gas engines will absolutely be required to deliver CO2 targets until 2020 and they will also contribute to further reductions going on from there.

In gratifying the Paris aims, societal expenses need to be minimised to keep our industrial strength and competitiveness, he said.

The Auto Fuels Coalition study, written by Roland Berger, makes a series of highly pessimistic assumptions about the costs of fuel efficiency improvements, and equally optimistic ones about greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels. A recent EU study observed the dirtiest biofuels three times more polluting than diesel.

An EU source told: these two industries have realised they have a shared interest. When you saw who was paying for the study, you knew what the answer would be.

Campaigners point out that signs of an electric vehicles take-off this spring have included 400, 000 pre-orders for the new Teslas Model 3, as well as a bid by the Dutch parliament to prohibition petrol and diesel engines by 2025. On Thursday Germany promised a 1bn subsidy boost for electric cars.

Yet the industry study presumes a lack of public appetite for electric cars over the next decade continuing until 5m urban recharging centres have been installed and renewable electricity costs fall from current rates.

Dr Christoph Wolff, the managing director of the European Climate Foundation, told the Protector: Electrification is taking off rapidly in markets such as China, Norway and the Netherlands. EU policymakers need to agree stringent measures, which will push the automobile sector towards developing products that are fit to compete in this fast-evolving marketplace.

Saudi Arabias recent declaration that it would detach itself from petroleum dependency by 2030 was heralded by campaigners as such a development. The increasing cost-competitivenessof renewables has been another.

But Shells vice-president for downstream strategy, Colin Crooks, told: Liquid gasolines will remain essential during the[ low-carbon] transition as internal combustion engines are expected to still continue powering most transport for many years to come.

The Dutch oil giant has invested heavily in Brazilian ethanol and Crooks should be pointed out that biofuels would play a key role into the future, albeit one require policy incentives.

New gasolines will require financial support from governments to support technology development and reduce investment risk, he said.

Road transport currently stimulates up about a fifth of Europes greenhouse gas emissions. The EU has defined an objective of a 60% reduction in transport emissions by 2050 as measured against 1990 levels. Emission levels are currently 20% above that rate, although they have begun to fall.

By 2021 , no new cars will be allowed to emit more than 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre, but electrification and widescale renewable energy will be needed to approach zero emissions levels.

Carlos Calvo Ambel, an analyst for the Transport and Environment thinktank, used to say Europe would miss its greenhouse gas targets altogether if it followed the Auto Fuels Coalition papers advice.

Carmakers, petroleum companies and biofuels producers are making a desperate bid to dissuade Europe from undertaking fuel efficiency the criteria for cars, vans and trucks, a push for electric vehicles and many of the other badly required actions in the transport sector, he said.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Look ma, no hands: what will it mean when all cars can drive themselves?

Autonomous vehicles are the focus of attention from Silicon Valley to the Treasury. Once they catch on, our roads and our workplaces will be transformed

The chancellor may have been keen to talk about the autonomous future in his budget, but the money that talked loudest last week came from Uber’s billion-pound deal with Swedish carmaker Volvo.

The scale of the order suggests driverless cars could indeed be just around the corner: 24,000 Volvos are to be kitted out with the ride-hailing company’s self-driving technology between 2019 and 2021. Assuming a robot driver can do three times as many shifts as a human, those cars alone could replace, for example, every non-Uber taxi or minicab in London.

How Uber deploys its new driverless SUVs remains to be seen: but the news underlines how the technology could rapidly change the face of transport, manufacturing and work. So who will win and lose in the driverless future?

Winners

Technology companies
The race has been led by Google’s self-driving division, now spun off as Waymo, which has just started trials of a driverless taxi service in Phoenix, Arizona. Even before its first lift has been hailed by a member of the public – and without having made a car of its own, as it currently buys in Chrysler minivans – Waymo has been valued at $70bn (£52bn) by Morgan Stanley.

Mobileye, an Israeli maker of chips and cameras for self-driving vehicles with revenues of only $300m a year, was bought by Intel for $15.3bn in March. Uber is rushing to develop its own robo-taxi tech to scale up profits on its enormous global customer base.

Richard Cuerden, academy director at the British transport research centre TRL, says of the future: “It’s very unlikely that we will buy cars as we do now for personal ownership. Firms will make money through things like data sharing and advertising.”

Passengers
The utopian vision of a driverless future is that just about everyone would benefit from shorter, safer and more productive journeys. If driverlessness means shared ownership, as many hope and believe, as well as more efficient use of road space through intelligent and connected vehicles, there is the scope to massively reduce congestion. If the model also reduces the costs of door-to-door transport, cars could go a long way to ensuring more independent mobility for the elderly and disabled.

Online media and retailers
Fewer young people are buying cars, and not just because they are strapped for cash: smartphones and tablets mean journeys by bus or train are more enjoyable. Today’s stressed driver can hope for a similar future, Cuerden says: “You needn’t face forward any more, you’ll be doing a million different things. The holy grail is to free up that time.” Watching Netflix, Instagramming the motorway, internet shopping: a whole new segment of the population will be online and available.

Logistics firms
The unveiling by Elon Musk of Tesla’s Semi electric truck, with its autopilot features, will have caught the attention of haulage firms. Around one-third of costs in the $7bn US trucking industry is drivers’ wages.

In the UK, salaries have risen due to a lack of drivers: the Freight Transport Association last year said there was a shortfall of almost 35,000 drivers compared with available HGVs. Firms whose delivery routes and schedules are minutely plotted to save time, fuel and money, will probably hope that trials of “platooned” lorries – linked vehicles travelling in convoy with perhaps just one driver in the lead cab – are just the first step to a driverless future.

Lithium miners
As chancellor Philip Hammond said while announcing a £400m fund for charging networks, the road to autonomy starts with electric cars. And those batteries need minerals: the global lithium-ion battery market is expected to more than double in value in the next seven years to around $75bn, according to Transparency Market Research, as electric car sales grow. Elements such as cobalt will be in increasing demand, and mining firms such as Glencore have already struck deals with carmakers who want to lock in supplies.

Losers

Traditional car manufacturers
Many expect the number of vehicles in private household ownership to fall. Car manufacturers have been hiring directors from software and tech firms as the market has tilted – witness Tesla’s valuation surpassing Ford and GM’s this year.

Partnerships between Ford and Uber’s rival Lyft, as well as Volvo’s Uber deal, could point to how sales evolve. Philippa Oldham, head of transport at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, says: “Traditional sales have already been going down year-on-year as people go to a leasing model.

“Ford and BMW have car-share businesses, while BMW is diversifying into repurposing batteries as energy storage solutions in homes. The challenge is where they develop their business models.”

Insurance firms
The majority of car accidents involve some element of human error, and predictions in studies of the potential drop in fatalities from self-driving cars have ranged from 80 to 95%. KPMG found insurance premiums could be expected to drop by 50% in a decade.

On the other hand, some expect an increase in crashes – and more wrangles for insurers’ legal departments – during the transition period while humans and machines share the roads.

Other issues remain, as Martyn Thomas, professor of IT at Gresham College, warns: “How they will price the risk of hacking is a complete mystery: a cybersecurity vulnerability that could be exploited by criminals could affect thousands of cars in a single day and put insurers out of business.”

But, says Nick Reed, head of mobility research at component maker Bosch, motor insurance has to survive, even if it is passed to manufacturers and fleets once owner-drivers become passengers: “The business model will change. But consumers always need to have the confidence that, in the event of an incident, there is compensation.”

Service stations and hotels
Goodbye, Moto? The appeal of a picnic on the M6 may diminish substantially when humans are no longer prompted by driver fatigue to pull in, and are instead engrossed in season 54 of The Simpsons. Electric charging networks may well not operate like petrol stations, where a vehicle has to pull in to refuel. However, should full autonomy allow all occupants to drink en route, more frequent stops could become a human necessity.

While few UK journeys might require an overnight commute, a vehicle comfortable enough to sleep in could make hotels a less necessary option for business travellers – while longer US trips might be continued without the need for a roadside motel.

Professional drivers
Around a million people in the UK who drive for a living could have to retrain, the chancellor said, acknowledging that “for some people, this will be very challenging”.

Cuerden is not convinced that so many jobs would be lost: “We’re leading the HGV platooning trials, which see trucks operating more effectively – but all would need drivers for now. Long term, they might have time on their hands, but perform new tasks.”

By 2030, he believes, the bulk of journeys will be covered autonomously, but a human backup could remain. Meanwhile, many taxi firms still value “the customer interface, the human touch,” Cuerden says. “So drivers might become stewards.”

Government coffers
The £46bn that the UK government claims to have forsaken by freezing fuel duty may be only a warm-up for the gaping hole that an all-electric fleet would mean. Tens of millions in revenue for traffic offences could also be jeopardised by law-abiding robots.

British councils also made a £750m profit on parking in 2016. Some have predicted that the UK parking industry, worth £1.5bn in 2015, would effectively disappear in a world of fewer cars.

However, the British Parking Association remains defiantly upbeat: “The number of cars entering, exiting and navigating a parking facility will likely be very much the same as it is now. Just without people.”

Visions of the future? Five self-driving cars

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A Westfield POD autonomous vehicle in Greenwich. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA

Westfield POD
The most futuristic way to get around Greenwich – at least down the towpath from the O2 Arena.
The electric pods, which are built in the Midlands and souped up with driverless gadgetry from Oxbotica, are currently in public trials in south London to test how the public interacts with the technology.

Navya’s
Navya’s Autonom Cab. Photograph: Eric Piermont/AFP/Getty Images

Navya Autonom Cab
The French manufacturer’s latest vehicle looks more or less like a sleek, people-carrier-style taxi. It just has no driver’s seat, steering wheel, or pedals: its six passenger seats all face inwards. The Autonom Cab should be in production next year, capable of speeds of 55mph – although, as it is designed for city centres, it probably will not be seen anywhere where it is allowed to go that fast. Starts at around £230,000.

Volvo
Uber has bought 24,000 Volvo SUVs for its mooted self-driving service.

Uber’s Volvo XC90
London’s transport authorities will be praying that Uber doesn’t want to traverse its narrow streets with these chunky Volvo XC90 SUVs. The ride-hailing app
ordered 24,000 of the £50,000 vehicles last week, for which Uber will provide the yet-to-be-built self-driving system. The cars are already available with semi-autonomous capabilities, including some automatic braking – but Uber’s self-driving version isn’t expected until 2021.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Uber riders to be able to hail self-driving autoes for first time

Ride-sharing firm to trial autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh as it also announces tie up with Volvo to develop driverless cars

Uber passengers in Pittsburgh will be able to hail self-driving autoes for the first time within the next few weeks as the taxi firm tests its future vision of transportation in the city.

The company said on Thursday that an unspecified number of autonomous Ford Fusions will be available to pick up passengers as with normal Uber vehicles. The automobiles wont precisely be driverless they will have human drivers as backup but they are the next step towards a fully automated fleet.

Passengers will be able to opted in if they want a self-driving auto, and rides will be free to those willing to do it, a spokesman said.

Uber, which has a self-driving research lab in Pittsburgh and has been testing the cars around the city in recent months, has no immediate plans to deploy self-driving cars beyond the Pittsburgh experiment.

Its CEO, Travis Kalanick, has said the ride-sharing companys future and indeed the future of all transportation is driverless.

When theres no other dude in the car, the costs of taking an Uber anywhere becomes cheaper than owning a vehicle. You basically bring the cost below the costs of ownership for everybody, and then car ownership goes away, Kalanick said at the Code Conference in 2014, shortly after Google unveiled its self-driving automobile prototype.

The Silicon Valley company also announced on Thursday that it is working together with Swedish carmaker Volvo on self-driving autoes, signing a $300 m( 230 m) deal.

The agreement will allow the two firms to pool resources, and initially expand the autonomous capabilities of Volvos XC9 0 SUV, which is already one of the most advanced road autoes available with various autonomous safety systems is and due to begin self-driving trials in London in 2017.

Vehicle producers across the world are racing to make systems capable of driving themselves in among regular traffic. Volvo, owned by Chinas Geely, has been experimenting with self-driving systems for years, with motorway road trains, robot mining trucks and lorries.

At the same time, taxi services, including Uber, assure autonomous vehicles as a style to cut the cost of operating by removing the human driver from the equation, but require help with development and the costs of producing such complex vehicles.

Silicon Valley firms are posing a potential threat to traditional car manufacturers, with the likes of Tesla launching its own autoes under the technology model, while Google and others develop their own autoes without being forced to rely on companies such as Ford or Volvo.

How the success of a taxi service such as Uber with automated autoes would impact traditional automotive manufacturers remains to be seen. Volvos chief executive, Hkan Samuelsson, is certain that high-end automobile purchasers will flock to buy self-driving vehicles, while Ubers vast on-demand automobile fleet could potentially bringing the technology to ordinary people more quickly.

Toyota has said it is investing an undisclosed sum in Uber, while German rival Volkswagen has said it will back Gett, a ride-hailing company. General Motor has already acquired a $500 m stake in Ubers rival, Lyft. Ford recently said it would look to build a high volume of driverless autoes for ride-sharing services.

Uber will buy Volvos for its development of driverless control systems. Volvo will operate the same vehicles, developing a system designed to be owned and used by a driver, partly under the guise of safety. This reflects the companys ambitious plan to ensure no one is either seriously injured or killed in one of its vehicles from 2020, which it tells is only possible by integrating automated technology.

Autonomous driving is key. For this you need software to develop and be safe, Volvos chief executive, Hakan Samuelsson, told Reuters.

Bought by Geely from Ford in 2010, Volvo has long been a innovator in auto security having invented the three-point seat belt and stimulating it standard equipment in 1959.

Volvo is a leader in vehicle developing and best-in-class when it comes to security, said Travis Kalanick, Ubers chief executive.

The joint interment will provide funds for sensor and hardware research, as well as the software required to place obstacles and drive the car. But the deal will not stop either party from striking further deals with other companies, with faculty retained by their respective companies.

Uber also recently acquired a self-driving startup created by several former Google autonomous vehicle researchers called Otto that has developed technology allowing big rigs to drive themselves. Otto co-founder Anthony Levandowski, one of the founding fathers of Googles autonomous technology, will join Uber instantly infusing self-driving expertise into the companys efforts and accelerating its development of autonomous systems.

Expensive car owneds will rush to buy self-driving automobiles, says Volvo chief
Volvo to test self-driving autoes on Londons roads next year
Uber, Google and others form self-driving automobile foyer to shape US policy

Sparks fly on Wall Street over Tesla’s current valuation

The electric carmaker overtook GM in market capitalisation last week. Is this just a bubble or is battery tech the future?

Tesla, the electric carmaker, briefly became Americas most valued auto manufacturer last week when a surge in its share price saw it roar past General Motors. When the stock market closed last Monday, the market value of Tesla (which sold about 76,000 vehicles in 2016) hit a whopping $50.9bn $64m more than GM (which sold nearly 9.6m vehicles). It had already overtaken Ford earlier in the month.

The punchy valuation for a loss-making manufacturer has divided the investment community and sparked some head-scratching among car-sector stalwarts. Teslas elevated profile with investors has brought both acclaim and a new level of scrutiny.

Despite the soaring share price, a group of investors last week questioned the independence of Teslas board, warning it was too close to charismatic co-founder and chief executive Elon Musk. In a letter, they said the board was largely unchanged since the company floated and was at risk of groupthink.

The shareholders include the California State Teachers Retirement System, Hermes Equity Ownership Services and CtW Investment Group, among others, collectively managing assets worth $721bn (575bn).

In a letter to Teslas lead independent director Antonio Gracias, they called for it to re-elect members annually and to add two new independent directors to the board. The investors want Tesla to review its governance before launching its Model 3 saloon later this year its first vehicle aimed at the mass market, costing around $35,000.

The letter said: While meeting the technical definition of independence, five of the six current non-executive directors have professional or personal ties to Mr Musk that could put at risk their ability to exercise independent judgment.

Tesla said it was already engaged in a search for independent directors. However, the tensions between the company and some of its investors were revealed in a tweet by Musk. This investor group should buy Ford stock. Their governance is amazing  he tweeted to his 8 million followers.

For now, Musk and his team have built up enough investor goodwill to buy him time to follow through his vision. Tesla narrowly missed its target of delivering 80,000 vehicles last year and has only reported two profitable quarters in its brief history. Nonetheless, its rapid rise could see it accelerate past Honda and move into the top five most valuable carmakers in the world.

This comes as the finances of Ford and GM are in rude health. GM is expected to earn more than $9bn this year and Ford to rake in profits of $6.3bn; Tesla is expected to lose more than $950m.

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A Tesla home battery installed in Cardiff. Photograph: Gareth Phillips for the Guardian

Analysts note that most investors are valuing Tesla as a technology growth stock rather than as a manufacturer.

David Whiston, analyst at Morningstar, said: The market cares more about the potential new market value of the other businesses Tesla is in than about real profits and cash flow. Right now there is nothing to slow Teslas momentum. They could pass Honda too.

Teslas shiny technology has rattled traditional carmakers. GM has responded by stealing a march on the California firms mass-market Model 3 with the launch of its all-electric Bolt, which is in the same price bracket. Once the Model 3 starts to roll off the production lines, Musk expects to ramp up the carmaking operation from 80,000 to 500,000 a year by 2018.

It is also developing the Super Cruise system, a semi-autonomous driving feature, for launch in Cadillacs 2018 CT6 saloon. GM bills it as the industrys first true hands-free driving technology a clear rebuke to Teslas Autopilot system.

But Musk has been adept at promoting Tesla as more than a car company. As well as developing green vehicles and driverless technology, the Tesla boffins are designing batteries capable of storing power from rooftop solar panels. The prospect that all homes may soon be able to produce and store their own energy is a potential game-changer for the energy market. It is this work in the Tesla laboratory that has seduced Wall Street.

Jeffrey Gundlach, who oversees more than $105bn in assets at DoubleLine Capital in Los Angeles, said: As a car company alone, Tesla is a crazy high valuation. As a battery company one that expands and innovates substantially maybe the valuation can work.

Others take a more cynical view and believe Tesla is a classic bubble stock that defies all investment logic.

Michael Farr, president of US investment firm Farr, Miller & Washington, told the Washington Post: Investors were asked to employ a creative valuation methodology. I think that means that when the numbers dont make any sense, one should ignore them and focus on other things. Its like being told to ignore the flames coming out of that airplane, Im sure your trip will be fine.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Jaguar reveals the new all-electric I-PACE SUV

Jaguar has finally fully revealed the official I-PACE all-electric SUV, a vehicle with just under 240 miles of range and a 0 to 60 mph time of under five seconds. The car can also charge to 80 percent from empty in 40 minutes using special quick charger hardware, and a 15-minute top-up is good for around 62 miles of additional range.

The I-PACE looks like Jaguar’s best attempt to do a Tesla impression in more ways than the electric powertrain, however: The automaker is also promising over-the-air updates for the car, and connected controls that tie in to a mobile app for your phone, including charging status information. OTA is a first for Jaguar with this new EV offering.

In the cabin, there are touchscreens for infotainment readout, along with standard physical controls for additional cabin control options. The vehicle has the silhouette and physical footprint of a crossover or compact SUV, but it’s also designed to make the most of its interior and luggage space, with fold-flat rear seats and nearly 400 gallons of total interior volume with that configuration.

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The car’s battery is located centrally in the base of the car, which provides a 50/50 weight distribution split between the back and front of the vehicle according to Jaguar. Those batteries power front and back axle motors, which means it’s also an all-wheel drive vehicle, and of course emits zero emissions.

Pre-orders for the car start today, and the SUV will begin being delivered to buyers in the second half of 2018. We’ll find out about U.S. pricing, and get a closer look at the car, next week at the Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland.

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Sparks fly on Wall street over Tesla’s current valuation

The electric carmaker overtook GM in marketplace capitalisation last week. Is this just a bubble or is battery tech the future?

Tesla, the electric carmaker, briefly became Americas most valued auto manufacturer last week when a surge in its share price saw it roar past General Motor. When the stock market closed last Monday, the market value of Tesla( which sold about 76,000 vehicles in 2016) reached a whopping $50.9 bn $64 m more than GM( which sold virtually 9.6 m vehicles ). It had already overtaken Ford earlier in the month.

The punchy valuation for a loss-making producer has divided the investment community and triggered some head-scratching among car-sector stalwarts. Teslas elevated profile with investors has brought both acclaim and a new level of scrutiny.

Despite the soaring share cost, a group of investors last week questioned the independence of Teslas board, advising it was too close to charismatic co-founder and chief executive Elon Musk. In a letter, they said the board was largely unchanged since the company floated and was at risk of groupthink.

The shareholders include the California State Teachers Retirement System, Hermes Equity Ownership Services and CtW Investment Group, among others, collectively managing assets worth $721 bn( 575 bn ).

In a letter to Teslas lead independent director Antonio Gracias, they called for it to re-elect members annually and to add two new independent directors to the board. The investors want Tesla to review its governance before launching its Model 3 saloon later this year its first vehicle is targeted at the mass market, costing around $35,000.

The letter told: While fulfilling the technological definition of independence, five of the six current non-executive directors have professional or personal ties to Mr Musk that could put at risk their ability to workout independent judgment.

Tesla said it was already engaged in a search for independent directors. However, the tensions between the company and some of its investors were revealed in a tweet by Musk. This investor group should buy Ford stock. Their governance is amazing he tweeted to his 8 million followers.

For now, Musk and his squad have built up enough investor goodwill to buy him time to follow through his vision. Tesla narrowly missed its target of delivering 80,000 vehicles last year and has only reported two profitable quarters in its brief history. Nonetheless, its rapid rise could see it accelerate past Honda and move into the top five most valuable carmakers in the world.

This comes as the finances of Ford and GM are in rude health. GM is expected to earn more than$ 9bn this year and Ford to rake in earnings of $6.3 bn; Tesla is expected to lose more than $950 m.

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A Tesla home battery installed in Cardiff. Photo: Gareth Phillips for the Guardian

Analysts note that most investors are valuing Tesla as a technology growth stock rather than as a manufacturer.

David Whiston, analyst at Morningstar, told: The marketplace cares more about the health risks new market value of the other businesses Tesla is in than about real gains and cash flow. Right now there is nothing to slow Teslas momentum. They could pass Honda too.

Teslas shiny technology has rattled traditional carmakers. GM has responded by stealing a march on the California firms mass-market Model 3 with the launch of its all-electric Bolt, which is in the same price bracket. Once the Model 3 begin to roll off the production lines, Musk expects to ramp up the carmaking operation from 80,000 to 500,000 a year by 2018.

It is also developing the Super Cruise system, a semi-autonomous driving feature, for launching in Cadillacs 2018 CT6 saloon. GM bills it as the industrys first true hands-free driving technology a clear rebuke to Teslas Autopilot system.

But Musk has been adept at promoting Tesla as more than a vehicle company. As well as developing green vehicles and driverless technology, the Tesla boffins are designing batteries capable of storing power from rooftop solar panel. The prospect that all homes may soon be able to produce and store their own energy is a potential game-changer for the energy marketplace. It is this work in the Tesla laboratory that has seduced Wall Street.

Jeffrey Gundlach, who oversees more than $105 bn in assets at DoubleLine Capital in Los Angeles, said: As a auto company alone, Tesla is a crazy high valuation. As a battery company one that expands and innovates substantially perhaps the valuation can work.

Others take a more cynical view and believe Tesla is a classic bubble stock that eludes all investment logic.

Michael Farr, chairwoman of US investment firm Farr, Miller& Washington, told the Washington Post : Investors were asked to employ a creative valuation methodology. I think that means that when the numbers dont make any sense, one should ignore them and focus on other things. Its like being told to ignore the flames coming out of that airplane, Im sure your trip will be fine.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

General Motors expends $500 m in ride-hailing company Lyft

The Uber rival and the automaker plan to open a network of US hubs where Lyft drivers can rent GM vehicles, giving non-car-owners a way to earn money

General Motors and ride-hailing company Lyft are forming an unprecedented partnership that could help them beat their rivals to the self-driving future.

Lyft said Monday that GM invested $500m in the company as part of a $1bn round of fund-raising.

GM gets a seat on Lyfts board and access to the three-year-old companys software, which matches riders with drivers and automates payments. It also becomes a preferred vehicle provider, with the chance to get many more people behind the wheel of a Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac.

San Francisco-based Lyft gets the expertise of a 108-year-old automaker with decades of experience in making connected and autonomous vehicles. Detroit-based GM also has an enviable global reach; it sells almost 10m cars each year in more than 100 countries. Lyft operates in 190 US cities, and it recently formed partnerships with ride-sharing services in China and India.

Together, the companies plan to open a network of US hubs where Lyft drivers can rent GM vehicles. That could expand Lyfts business by giving people who dont own cars a way to drive and earn money through Lyft. It will also give GM a leg up on competitors like Daimler AG and Ford Motor Co, who are developing their own ride-sharing services.

In the longer term, GM and Lyft will work together to develop a fleet of autonomous vehicles that city dwellers can summon using Lyfts mobile app. Partnering with GM could give Lyft a boost over its arch-rival, Uber Technologies Inc, which is working on its own driverless cars.

Lyft co-Founder and president John Zimmer and GM president Dan Ammann say the two companies began serious discussions about three months ago. Both see big changes coming in the traditional model of car ownership, and they had similar ideas about how to address it. It felt very natural very quickly, Zimmer said.

Ammann said the resulting partnership is unlike any other in the auto and tech industries.

Do we want to deploy the resources and people to do everything ourselves, or get there faster by working in partnership? Ammann said. We see a really compelling, complimentary set of capabilities.

Following its latest round of fundraising, which also included a $100m investment from Saudi Arabias Kingdom Holding Co, privately-held Lyft set its value at $5.5bn. The company expects revenue of around $1bn this year. By comparison, GM is valued at $53bn and earned $153bn in revenue in 2014.

But neither company can afford to rest. Ubers value could soon surpass GMs, and newcomers like Apple and Google are also eager to disrupt the traditional auto industry.

We see the world of mobility changing more in the next five years than it has in the last 50, Ammann said.

Read more: www.theguardian.com