Audio

All posts tagged Audio

Hyundai Motor sales surpass W100tr ($90 bn)for first time in 2019 #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 23, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

https://www.nationthailand.com/auto/30380927?utm_source=category&utm_medium=internal_referral

Hyundai Motor sales surpass W100tr ($90 bn)for first time in 2019

Jan 22. 2020
Hyundai Motor Group

Hyundai Motor Group
By The Korea Herald/ANN

Automaker sees boost from higher-end models; firm to maintain year-end dividend at the 3,000 won level.

Hyundai Motor Group said Wednesday that its sales last year hit a record high of 105 trillion won ($90 billion), surpassing the 100 trillion won mark for the first time, and its operating profit grew more than 52 percent.

The conglomerate is the third to join the so-called “100 trillion won club,” after Samsung Electronics in 2008 and SK in 2018.

Hyundai Motor’s sales exceeded 90 trillion won in 2015.

According to Hyundai Motor’s 2019 financial statements, its annual sales rose by 9.3 percent on-year to 105.79 trillion won.

The company said its operating profit was 3.68 trillion won in 2019, up 52.2 percent from the previous year, with its operating profit rate reaching 3.5 percent, up 1 percentage point from the previous year. Its net profit recorded 3.26 trillion won, an increase of 98.5 percent over the same period.

The automaker attributed last year’s performance to increased sales of its Genesis luxury brand and profitable sport utility vehicles such as the Palisade.

The weakened Korean won also played a role in the company’s increased profitability, industry sources said.

“We will continue the sales momentum with the latest launch of GV80 as well as other main models including Avante and Tucson that are soon to be launched,” said a Hyundai Motor official.

“Although business uncertainties lie ahead of us, we will do our best to achieve an operating profit rate of 5 percent this year through an optimized strategy for profitability, improved cost effectiveness and the expansion of new models and sales of SUVs,” an official added.

The company also vowed to enhance the profitability of eco-friendly cars this year, accelerate its push to become a smart mobility solution provider and actively expand investment in setting up a new mobility ecosystem based on automotive driving and mobility service.

A total of 4.42 million vehicles were delivered last year. The number had inched down by 3.6 percent, mainly due to the global trends toward reduced automotive demand and increased use of car-sharing services.

According to Hyundai Motor, its goal is to sell 4.57 million cars globally this year, including around 732,000 in Korea and about 3.84 million abroad.

Meanwhile, the company said it had decided to maintain the same 3,000 won level for its 2019 year-end dividend.

Total dividends amounted to 790.4 billion won, in line with a 2.4 percent market price dividend rate for common stock and 3.7 percent for preferred stock.

By Kim Da-sol (ddd@heraldcorp.com)

Registration of electric vehicles rose by 380 per cent #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 21, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

https://www.nationthailand.com/auto/30380873?utm_source=category&utm_medium=internal_referral

Registration of electric vehicles rose by 380 per cent

Jan 21. 2020
By The Nation

There has been a sharp increase in the number of electric vehicles registered in 2019, according to the Electric Vehicle Association of Thailand (EVAT).

According to the statistics of the Department of Land Transport, as of December 31, 2019 there were 2,854 electric vehicles (EV) registrations, including 1,572 new cars, up 380 per cent over 2018 when only 325 vehicles were registered.

Meanwhile, hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) reached a total of 153,184 vehicles.

“The growth rate of PHEV and EV is up more than 51 per cent from a year earlier,” Yossapong Laoonual, EVAT president, said. “The increase in electric vehicle registration will have an effect shortly as the need for charging stations will increase as well. Therefore, this year may see full model commercial charging stations, with the private sector playing an increasingly important role.”

The EVAT has the policy to promote and support the exchange of academic knowledge about technology and innovation for all types of electric vehicles including regulatory, standards and operations consultation in the development of electric vehicle technology in Thailand. There are more than 200 members from the private sector, educational institutions, state enterprises and individuals.

Waymo’s long-term commitment to safety drivers in autonomous cars #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 19, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

https://www.nationthailand.com/auto/30380769?utm_source=category&utm_medium=internal_referral

Waymo’s long-term commitment to safety drivers in autonomous cars

Jan 19. 2020
A Waymo Chrysler Pacifica autonomous vehicle in Chandler, Ariz., on July 30, 2018. MUSTS CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Caitlin O'Hara.

A Waymo Chrysler Pacifica autonomous vehicle in Chandler, Ariz., on July 30, 2018. MUSTS CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Caitlin O’Hara.
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Ira Boudway, Joshua Brustein 

Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo took a big step forward last fall when it began ferrying riders around the Phoenix area in robotaxis without human safety drivers. Humans have been behind the wheel for almost all of the 20 million miles of testing the company says it’s completed on public roads.

The driverless rides in Arizona don’t mean the end for Waymo’s human operators. Last summer, the company quietly finalized a multiyear contract with Transdev North America, which provides bus drivers, streetcar conductors and other transportation workers to airports and cities. The partnership is an acknowledgement that Waymo will be relying on test drivers for many years to come.

“For the foreseeable future, as we expand and are driving in some of these new areas, it’s critical that we have vehicle operators,” said Rocky Garff, Waymo’s head of operations. “They’re part of the equation that gets us to fully self-driving.”

Rather than supply Waymo with contractors for its driving operations, the deal provides test-driving as a service-a subtle but key distinction. Transdev replaces a handful of staffing companies that have subcontracted drivers to Waymo. Under those previous arrangements, drivers could work for only two years at a time with six-month breaks between stints-a rule meant to shield Waymo from claims that it was their employer.

The partnership puts more legal space between the drivers and Waymo, allowing them to stay on indefinitely, as employees of Transdev. The value of the deal in its first year is in the tens of millions of dollars, and could eventually reach nine figures, according to someone with direct knowledge who asked not to be named discussing private business details.

For the new contract, Waymo required bidders to guarantee they’d hire drivers as full-time employees and to articulate a strategy for career development, according to a person familiar with the process. “We’re working on having a much clearer career path for these operators,” Garff said.

Before Transdev, the goal for many safety drivers was to get hired as a Waymo employee, also known as a “white badge,” before the clock ran out. “Everyone’s dream is to become a full-time employee through Waymo,” said Morgan, a 26-year-old driver who was provided by the company for an interview and who asked to be identified by only his first name. Morgan started driving for Waymo in the summer of 2018 through Adecco USA, a staffing company that supplies about 70,000 temporary workers to hospitals, warehouses, factories and call centers. Until the Transdev deal, Adecco served as Waymo’s chief source of drivers.

Morgan said he’s glad for the change to Transdev. As he approached his one-year anniversary, he’d begun looking for other work. “I was definitely excited because I was kind of getting to that not-quite-panic point,” he said. He also said that Adecco oversold the possibility of getting hired by Waymo. “I remember in my interview, they were like, ‘Three people just got hired on full time,’ but they didn’t mention the size of the fleet, the positions they got hired for and what kind of experience they had.” Adecco, in an emailed statement, said this does not square with its policies and procedures. “We are very clear that our roles at Waymo are temporary, not temp-to-hire positions,” the statement said.

Two former drivers who worked under Adecco told Bloomberg they’d also held out hope of direct employment at Waymo. (The drivers spoke under condition of anonymity for fear of hurting future job prospects.) But staff positions were scarce and the competition fierce. The promotion process, according to the former drivers, was opaque. Adecco managers were formally in charge of performance reviews but were rarely around. “I don’t think I even went to an Adecco office ever, except to turn in my badge and equipment,” said one of the drivers. “It was all Waymo all the time.”

“Feedback from our associate base has been largely positive, and our employee care teams are entirely dedicated to addressing their questions, input or concerns,” Adecco said in its statement.

Transdev’s record as an employer isn’t without its own controversies. It’s faced multiple strikes in recent years from unions representing workers in public transportation services it operates in the U.S., including a weeklong strike in Phoenix in 2015, where talks stalled over salary, the company’s approach to benefits and its bathroom break policy. Transdev also faces several open National Labor Relations Board complaints about working conditions.

In a statement provided by Waymo, Transdev North America Chief Executive Officer Yann Leriche said the partnership would create a “high functioning operating environment focused on safety, quality, employee engagement and a positive customer experience.” A Transdev spokesperson declined to answer additional questions.

Veena Dubal, a law professor at the University of California at Hastings who specializes in gig work and the tech industry, said technology companies want to directly employ as few people as possible in part to avoid liability, a consideration that’s particularly germane in a field such as autonomous vehicles, where there’s inherent physical risk. If a self-driving car with a test pilot is involved in an accident, Dubal said, Waymo could argue it hired Transdev specifically for its expertise in test-driving. “They could just employ everyone, protect them and say, ‘This is the cost of doing business in the autonomous-driving world,’ ” she said. Waymo declined to comment on whether liability concerns were a factor in retaining Transdev.

Despite their complaints about Adecco, the drivers who were interviewed said Waymo test-pilot gigs aren’t bad. “Not only do I get to drive around in a cool car all day,” said Morgan, “I’m doing something that I think is going to change the future. And it’s going to hopefully make roads safer for not only myself, but hopefully for my kids and for everybody else’s kids.”

Under Adecco, pay started at about $20 per hour. Most time was spent as a passenger, being driven around the sunny Phoenix suburbs. “I was telling my friends it was the greatest scam I had ever uncovered,” said one former driver. “It was an awful lot of money for an awful little bit of work.”

The greatest difficulty of the job, according to multiple former drivers, is staying alert through the dull, repetitive hours of cruising. One took breaks to do jumping jacks, rolled down the windows and turned up the radio to combat drowsiness. “You really go into podcasts,” said another. Still, the driver said, not everyone stayed alert all the time. “We even had people eat full meals behind the wheel, which is not safe.”

Drivers are keenly aware of the contradiction at the heart of their jobs. “The whole goal is to work to eliminate your own position, which is a really weird thing to come in every day thinking,” said one former driver.

Withholding the white badge is one of many ways Waymo reminds its drivers that it’s looking forward to the day when they’re no longer around. Both drivers and riders are instructed to keep interactions minimal. “It was a very awkward experience,” said a former driver. “They’re instructed not to talk to you. They’re supposed to treat it like it’s a completely unmanned vehicle.”

“You could say hi,” said another. “And then you would be quiet to try to simulate an actual self-driving car.”

Toyota pumps another $700 million into American SUV expansion #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 18, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

https://www.nationthailand.com/auto/30380746?utm_source=category&utm_medium=internal_referral

Toyota pumps another $700 million into American SUV expansion

Jan 18. 2020
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Chester Dawson 

Toyota Motor Corp. has poured more money into yet another North American plant to boost production of the SUVs and trucks U.S. customers increasingly seek instead of sedans.

The Japanese automaker said Friday it has spent $700 million and hired 150 new workers at its plant in Princeton, Indiana, mostly to increase production of its Highlander sport utility vehicle.

The outlay is part of a $1.3 billion injection into the factory and a broader pledge by Toyota to invest $13 billion at its U.S. facilities through next year, about half of which the company will detail into next year. The spending – which has helped Toyota fend off tariff threats made by President Donald Trump – is designed to align production with demand for more SUVs and trucks.

As sales of once-dominant sedans including the Corolla and Camry have dropped, Toyota has had a hard time maintaining enough stock of its best-selling RAV4 crossover and growing range of hybrids. The shift in demand has already prompted the company to revamp factories in Kentucky, Texas and Ontario in just the last year and shift more SUV assembly to the U.S. market.

“Part of Toyota’s tremendous success in North America is building vehicles where we sell them,” Christopher Reynolds, Toyota’s chief administration officer in North America, said in a statement.

The investment in Princeton boosts the plant’s annual capacity by almost 10% to 420,000 vehicles and focuses production on the conventional mid-size Highlander and a gas-electric hybrid version. Toyota said it will shift output of the full-size Sequoia SUV from Indiana to a truck factory in Texas in 2022.

That should allow the company to improve productivity in Princeton, which made about 362,000 vehicles last year but was capable of manufacturing 383,000. The Highlander accounted for 73% of the total, trailed by Sienna’s 24% and Sequoia’s 2.5%.

To make room for the Sequoia alongside the full-size Tundra truck at its San Antonio plant, Toyota will stop producing the mid-size Tacoma there next year and move all manufacturing of that popular pickup to two factories in Mexico that already assemble the model.

Capacity in San Antonio will remain at 208,000 vehicles a year and no jobs will be cut, the company said.

It’s not clear what will make up for the slack left by the Tacoma. About 40% of the more than 275,000 Tacomas produced last year were built in San Antonio, where Toyota said it is spending $391 million on “multi-vehicle production capabilities” for unspecified models.

Tesla faces federal review of complaints its cars accelerate without warning #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 18, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

https://www.nationthailand.com/auto/30380742?utm_source=category&utm_medium=internal_referral

Tesla faces federal review of complaints its cars accelerate without warning

Jan 18. 2020
File Photo of Tesla cars

File Photo of Tesla cars
By The Washington Post · Ian Duncan, Faiz Siddiqui

WASHINGTON – The federal auto safety regulator said Friday that it has begun a review of complaints that Tesla cars have suddenly accelerated, crashing into a palm tree in one instance, and walls, a fire hydrant, and parked cars in others.

A photo included in the agency’s complaint records shows a Tesla Model S that smashed through a wall in a person’s home after they tried to park in their garage.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received 127 similar complaints about sudden acceleration resulting in 52 injuries. Their inquiry into the incidents could involve as many as half a million vehicles, according to the agency’s summary of the review.

While many of the complaints involve allegations that the driver was parking when their car suddenly sped away, a few of the complaints involve high-speed incidents recorded by law enforcement.

A witness to a 10-vehicle crash on a Oregon highway in August told police that it appeared a speeding Tesla Model 3 that careened through traffic “was not controllable and that it seemed like she was watching a movie.”

NHTSA said it launched the review after receiving what’s known as a defect petition, a type of complaint that members of the public can use to compel the agency to act. The review involves Model S and 3 sedans and Model X SUVs in model years 2012 through 2019.

“As is the agency’s standard practice in such matters, NHTSA will carefully review the petition and relevant data,” the agency said in a statement.

Tesla, which makes electric vehicles only, did not respond to a request for comment.

The review is the second that NHTSA has launched involving Tesla in recent months: In November, it said it would review complaints about battery defects.

Automakers have faced complaints about their vehicles suddenly accelerating before, but it has proved difficult to determine whether a defective design or the driver was at fault. Jason Levine, the director of the Center for Auto Safety, said the amount of data Tesla collects on its vehicles could lead to greater clarity, and he hoped NHTSA would force them to turn over the information.

A McLean, Virginia, woman’s husband filed a complaint with the agency after her Model 3 crashed in her parking garage at work last April. The woman said she was trying to roll forward into a parking space when, “I felt like someone had taken control from me.”

The car smashed into a pole and was totaled, said the woman, who asked that her name not be used to protect her privacy. Her husband said Tesla investigated and told them the accelerator was pushed all the way down, a conclusion they reject.

The woman’s experience was typical, according to a review of the Tesla complaints in NHTSA’s records. People reported vehicles approaching parking spaces or garage doors – or otherwise traveling at a low speed – when they violently lurched forward despite an apparent lack of accelerator input from the driver.

In some of the complaints, people reported that Tesla refused to turn over computer reports on the force of the pedal or the incident logs from the episodes and blamed driver error.

Details of the Oregon crash were submitted to NHTSA by police, who told the federal agency that witness accounts “appear to verify” the driver and passenger’s account that the car experienced unintended acceleration.

The complainants themselves insisted they hadn’t depressed the accelerator pedal. One couple, a 42-year-old pilot and 37-year-old physician, said they both experienced instances of sudden unintended acceleration in the span of about two weeks.

Several of the drivers suspected Tesla’s advanced driver-assistance suite, Autopilot, was a potential culprit. In one instance, a driver in Olympia, Washington, said they were attempting to park their Tesla Model S at a Costco when “the car bolted.”

“It felt like it was in Autopilot mode without me engaging it manually,” the complaint said. “I can still drive the car and feel fairly safe as I believe the computer accidentally engaged the Autopilot and now the Autopilot isn’t operational. However, I no longer trust this car.”

Renault-Nissan alliance being rebuilt after Carlos Ghosn era #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 17, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

https://www.nationthailand.com/auto/30380701?utm_source=category&utm_medium=internal_referral

Renault-Nissan alliance being rebuilt after Carlos Ghosn era

Jan 17. 2020
Jean-Dominique Senard, chairman of Renault, in Paris on Oct. 11, 2019. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Christophe Morin.

Jean-Dominique Senard, chairman of Renault, in Paris on Oct. 11, 2019. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Christophe Morin.
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Tara Patel

Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard said the two-decade automotive partnership with Nissan has moved on from the Carlos Ghosn era, dismissing reports it’s in danger of collapse and signaling the “anguish” of last year is over.

The governing board is working “very satisfactorily,” made up of responsible members who back the alliance and want to make it a success, Senard, 66, told reporters in Paris on Thursday. Nissan’s governance has also been revolutionized and now has a properly functioning board and executives who favor the partnership, he added.

A next step will be the naming of a new chief executive officer for Renault, which is expected relatively soon, the chairman said.

The future of the partnership was thrown into turmoil over the past year after the arrest of Ghosn, who led both carmakers and headed the alliance that also includes Mitsubishi Motors Corp. Detained in Tokyo in November 2018 and charged with financial misconduct, Ghosn fled Japan at the end of last month to escape trial. He has denied the charges.

In a wide-ranging 1 1/2-hour discussion, Senard said he was “surprised and shocked” by a report in the Financial Times this week that Nissan, since Ghosn’s escape, had accelerated secret contingency planning for a potential split with its French partner.

“It’s fake news, malicious and goes totally against the reality,” said Senard, who added that the partnership is being rebuilt with new top management at both companies.

The board of the alliance will decide on new, common projects at a meeting this month, and the partnership is moving toward greater convergence of platforms and technology in the face of the massive investment needed to develop new cars, said Senard.

While he declined to comment on Ghosn’s escape or his subsequent attacks on the performance of the alliance at a press conference last week, he didn’t hold back on criticism, describing a “toxic” atmosphere that long reigned between Renault and Nissan stemming from a lack of decision making.

Senard also had strong words for RNBV, the entity that led the alliance, which he said was supposed to be the nerve center of the partnership but was instead an expensive and totally inefficient operation.

Bloomberg reported Monday that since last year Nissan has been exploring the pros and cons of sustaining the alliance, particularly when it comes to engineering and technology sharing, according to a person familiar with the matter. It’s unclear how feasible any separation would be given that Renault is Nissan’s biggest shareholder and has been pushing to repair ties.

Nissan and Renault both denied that the alliance would be dissolved.

Ghosn held the partnership together for years despite a lopsided shareholding relationship favoring Renault that was put in place when Nissan was financially ailing. The French carmaker owns 43% of Nissan, with full voting rights, while the Japanese company holds only a 15% stake in Renault and lacks the ability to vote its shares. Yet Renault’s power within Nissan is crimped by a shareholder agreement known as Rama.

“I’ve never seen a structure like this, with one group having 43% of the other but in reality having no legal power,” Senard said. “It’s baroque and completely extraordinary.”

While changing the shareholding structure “isn’t the priority,” he said it could evolve in the future and also take in new partners.

“The alliance is 20 years old and really needed a serious overhaul,” he said, adding that the “anguish” he felt last year is over and he hopes to be able to show in 2020 that the partners are doing better.

Detroit braces for year of slower sales by idling auto plants #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 17, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

https://www.nationthailand.com/auto/30380682?utm_source=category&utm_medium=internal_referral

Detroit braces for year of slower sales by idling auto plants

Jan 17. 2020
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Gabrielle Coppola 

Fiat Chrysler is sending workers home at four factories. Ford has two operating on fewer shifts and two others no longer building discontinued products. And General Motors Co. may dial back output despite being just a couple months removed from enduring its longest strike in almost half a century.

Detroit’s three automakers are bracing for a slower year of U.S. sales by tapping the brakes on production. And they’re not alone: Researcher LMC Automotive projects that five of the six largest North American manufacturers will assemble fewer vehicles this quarter than a year ago.

Arguably the biggest concern the auto industry has going into 2020 is how much longer the good times will last after years of strong demand and rich pricing. While companies just sold over 17 million vehicles for a fifth consecutive year, more of their volume went to rental companies and other fleet purchasers. American consumers, who have been buying fewer new cars and trucks for several years, are finding them less affordable as the average window sticker approaches $35,000.

“It’s hard to argue why consumers would buy more vehicles this year, given these higher price points, given we’re so long in the tooth in this economic recovery period,” Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox Automotive, said during a presentation in Detroit this week.

Fiat Chrysler’s expected cutbacks are the least surprising. The Italian-American automaker built up a stock of as many as 70,000 unassigned vehicles in December, rankling sales staff who were forced to work overtime coaxing dealers to place orders. The pileup contributed to discounts the company billed as its most aggressive since 2008.

The carmaker is idling plants making minivans in Ontario and Jeep Cherokee sport utility vehicles in Illinois this week and next. It’s also pausing production for a few days in January at two Mexico factories that assemble key models including Ram trucks and Jeep Compass SUVs, according to a spokeswoman. LMC estimates the company will reduce North American production by about 5% from a year ago.

“We always balance our inventories with our dealers,” Jim Morrison, the head of Jeep for North America, said in a Jan. 13 interview. “We want to make sure there’s a good balance.”

LMC’s expectation for a small decline in GM production is a bit more confounding. United Auto Workers union members walked off assembly lines for 40 days last fall, costing the carmaker about $2.9 billion. Still, the company is expected to trim output by almost 2%.

Ford, which is projected to pare back by about 5%, has plants in Kentucky and Michigan each running one fewer shift than a year ago. A factory in Mexico is down while preparing to make the Mustang Mach-E electric crossover, while an Ontario facility stopped building the discontinued Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT models.

Honda Motor Co. is expected to make the most significant cut at 11%, while Toyota Motor Corp. is the only one of the top six producers LMC sees manufacturing more vehicles than a year ago. Industrywide, output may be little changed.

Most automakers anticipate weaker demand in 2020 and are trying to trim inventory accordingly, said Sam Fiorani, vice president at AutoForecast Solutions in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania.

“Further slowing of production – either less overtime or week-long closures – is expected in the first and second quarters to keep inventories from getting out of control,” he said.

VW CEO urges ‘radical overhaul’ to tackle technology shift #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 17, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

https://www.nationthailand.com/auto/30380676?utm_source=category&utm_medium=internal_referral

VW CEO urges ‘radical overhaul’ to tackle technology shift

Jan 17. 2020
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Christoph Rauwald

Volkswagen Chief Executive Officer Herbert Diess told top managers that the world’s largest automaker needs to undergo a “radical overhaul” in the face of industry change or risk being pushed aside.

“The time of traditional car manufacturers is over,” Diess said in prepared remarks at an internal meeting on Thursday. The company must boost software operations to harness data from future cars, he said, citing a recent surge in electric-car rival Tesla’s share price as evidence of a changing competitive landscape.

Diess has called for deep changes at the industrial giant before, but his latest comments add a sense of urgency and risk reigniting tension with labor unions because he raises the possibility of additional cost cuts. It may be necessary to “slaughter holy cows” for VW to reach its full potential, he said.

His remarks echoed comments by former Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking a decade ago during his bold attempt to take over control of much-larger Volkswagen. The comment sparked fierce clashes with VW’s workforce. Wiedeking succeeded in acquiring a majority stake in VW but ran out of funds when the financial crisis erupted. The sportscar maker was folded into VW and Wiedeking left.

If VW fails to keep up with data and software, it could end up like Nokia, which overlooked the threat posed by Apple’s iPhone, Diess warned, calling for a stronger focus on profits and cash.

So far, VW has been relatively resilient to industry headwinds, eking out a small sales gain last year and record deliveries. Global demand for new vehicles declined in 2019 as sales in China, VW’s largest market, contracted and trade disputes stoked uncertainty across regions.

VW executives must recognize “the magnitude of our task and the brevity of time” the company has left to react, Diess said. “It gives us exactly one single try.”

VW, Nissan chase African market where car loans are rare #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 13, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

https://www.nationthailand.com/auto/30380459?utm_source=category&utm_medium=internal_referral

VW, Nissan chase African market where car loans are rare

Jan 13. 2020
Heavy automobile traffic passes by Makola market in Accra, Ghana, on March 15, 2018. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Nicholas Seun Adatsi.

Heavy automobile traffic passes by Makola market in Accra, Ghana, on March 15, 2018. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Nicholas Seun Adatsi.
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Yinka Ibukun

Volkswagen and Nissan are among automakers planning new plants in Ghana to target West Africa’s 382 million people. Their challenge: Finding banks that will offer loans to make new cars affordable.

In a country where about 70% of imports are second-hand, new car ownership is rare, said Believe Alorbu, who sells older models shipped from the U.S. at half the price of a new one.

“People will sometimes leave the plastic wrapping on their seats” when they buy new cars, she said at her dealership in the capital, Accra. “Even if the government increases tariffs on used cars, people will still not be able to afford new ones if they don’t get access to financing.”

Less than 5% of new car sales are financed by banks, according to the Ghana Automobile Dealers Association. In some cases, lenders demand employers agree to redirect part of the purchaser’s salary toward the debt, or that the owner take out insurance to cover a default. Interest rates of 22%-30% also make loans “largely” unaffordable, said Koketso Tsoai, an auto-industry analyst at Fitch Solutions.

Once their facilities are running, VW, Toyota, Nissan, and possibly Renault will need to contend with second-hand cars like those sold by Alorbu. Ghana’s government is trying to make it more attractive with planned import duties on second-hand cars of 35%, from 5%-20%, and tax breaks that improve as the companies move from assembly to local production. It has also pledged to promote regional exports.

“We don’t look at it only for today,” Nissan Africa Chairman Mike Whitfield said by phone from Cairo. “We continue to see Africa as the last frontier left in the automotive market, West Africa being a key part of it.”

About 10% of West Africa’s population are able to spend more than $11 a day, according to data compiled by World Data Lab. It is this group that the industry is targeting on a continent that adds some 10 million new consumers annually. By 2030, Africa’s middle- and upper-income class is expected to exceed 300 million of the world’s 4-billion consumer market, the data shows.

Standard Bank Group Ltd., Africa’s largest lender, is also preparing for future growth by replicating its South African car-financing business in other parts of the continent, including Ghana.

About three quarters of auto loans still go to companies, Patrick Koduah, head of vehicle and asset finance at the company’s Stanbic Ghana unit, said in an interview. “There’s a huge opportunity to grow personal demand.”

About 30,000 passenger vehicles were imported into Ghana in 2018, according to estimates from Fitch Solutions. Ghana had 7,073 new vehicle registrations in 2018, of which 4,268 were passenger cars, according to the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers.

While the government has said its auto-incentives program would include the creation of an asset-based vehicle financing component, a trade ministry spokesman couldn’t provide details on how it would work.

Pan-African lender Ecobank Transnational Inc. said in an email that the average car loan in Ghana amounts to $30,000. Banks typically demand a high down payment and limit loans to no longer than five years if they do grant credit, while dealers sometimes allow buyers to spread repayments over six months.

More than 90% of new vehicle sales in South Africa, the continent’s biggest market, are probably financed, Thomas Schaefer, the head of Volkswagen’s local unit, estimated. The country had a penetration rate of 132 passenger cars per 1,000 people in 2019, compared with 22 per 1,000 people in Ghana, according to Fitch Solutions.

“If I would take out the financing options in South Africa, our market would disappear,” Schaefer said.

The Wolfsburg-based carmaker plans to start a ride-hailing service in Accra, modeled after a similar one in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, to ensure its output is absorbed.

“The assumption is that in Africa, out of the more than 1 billion people, there are only about 100 million people who can afford a new car, but you may have a couple 100 million people who need to go from A to B and a bit of money in their pocket,” said Schaefer. “You need to tap into this market.”

Nissan sees its assembly plant starting by the end of the year, depending on when Ghana’s auto-policy is signed into law. Volkswagen plans to start by April. Toyota, which described Ghana as “an extremely important market in West Africa,” declined to share details about its strategy.

Ghana won’t be the first country to position itself as a gateway to West Africa. Nigeria announced a very similar policy in 2013. However, after a change in government and years in the legislative system, President Muhammadu Buhari rejected the bill in July last year. Automakers have also signed agreements with Ivory Coast’s government.

“Ivory Coast has already taken some steps in the right direction, which aim to limit the import of used vehicles,” said Leonce Yace, managing director of Ivorian lender NSIA Banque. The company, one of the key players in vehicle finance in the country saw a 41% year-on-year increase in auto loans in 2019.

“It is not about who should be the hub, it’s about who offers the best deal,” said Chris Ndala, managing director of CICA Motors Liberia, a subsidiary of the French group CFAO SA.

The car companies are beginning small in Ghana, with 5,000 units a year or less, and are expected to partner with local firms.

“We’ll all go as the business and the market goes,” Nissan’s Whitfield said. “The critical thing is that it’s starting.”

Alorbu, the second-hand dealer, doesn’t see the used-car business getting displaced anytime soon.

“They make it sound like used-car dealers are the enemy, but we are helping the consumer,” she said. “If the government is not ready or willing to provide financing, selling new cars will be a problem.”

Teslas go much farther on a single charge than their competitors. But the strategy carries risks. #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 11, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

https://www.nationthailand.com/auto/30380391?utm_source=category&utm_medium=internal_referral

Teslas go much farther on a single charge than their competitors. But the strategy carries risks.

Jan 11. 2020
File Photo: Tesla car

File Photo: Tesla car
By The Washington Post · Faiz Siddiqui 

Tesla’s long-range Model S promises to drive roughly 370 miles without stopping for a charge – about the distance from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Its closest electric car competitors on range, from companies such as Chevrolet, Jaguar and Nissan, can only make it about 240 miles – or a little farther than a drive from Washington, D.C., to New York City, though some individual models top out around 260. Most others are behind, barely topping 200 miles.

Tesla is leading the electric vehicle race because it has more high-powered battery tech – and it takes more risks. For more than a decade, Tesla has been designing battery-powered vehicles from the ground up and using software to make the batteries more efficient. It has scrapped many weighty, traditional luxury features in favor of aerodynamics, taken measures such as ditching multi-gear transmissions in favor of dual motors programmed to send varying power ratios to the front and rear wheels.

But car industry experts also say the company has taken more risks than traditional automakers, making its batteries ever-denser and out of different materials than competitors. Some point to a handful of spontaneous battery fires under investigation by federal regulators as potential fallout. And it’s too soon to know – as with any new vehicle – what kind of durability the vehicles may offer in the long run. Even the oldest Tesla sedans have been on the road for less than eight years.

Battery range has helped Tesla maintain its grip on the electric vehicle market at nearly 60 percent of new sales in the first nine months of 2019, according to data from the website InsideEVs, as new electric vehicle models from at least four major car companies have hit the U.S. market over the past year or so, and the company gears up to face its first real challenge.

“My belief is that Tesla is more willing to risk their battery not lasting 8 to 10 years and just dealing with the consequences on the back-end,” said Michael Ramsey, a senior director and analyst specializing in the evolution of the auto industry with Gartner’s CIO Research Group. “Part of their success is related to their willingness to go way past what the industry would normally would do,” he said.

Tesla did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Tesla isn’t the only electric vehicle company under scrutiny for its batteries. Nissan had to change its battery chemistry on its early Leaf model because of significant battery degradation over a short time period, particularly in warmer climates. And Audi recalled its e-tron SUV last year because of the potential for moisture to seep into battery packs and create a fire risk, Bloomberg News reported. Audi said it was because of a wiring harness glitch.

Federal regulators have also investigated General Motors for battery fire risks in cars including its plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt in 2011, which GM agreed to fix.

Nissan declined to comment on its early Leaf battery issues. General Motors did not respond to requests for comment. Audi spokesman Mark Dahncke said the issue has been fully resolved.

Tesla was the company that brought the electric car to the masses, first with the launch of its sporty Roadster in 2008 when traditional car manufacturers were still largely focused on hybrids. In 2012, it launched its flagship Model S, followed in 2017 by its more affordable Model 3. The company’s market capitalization recently reached $87 billion, exceeding the combined value of Ford and General Motors. And it’s expanding in the all-important market of China, where CEO Elon Musk performed a revelatory dance that went viral this week.

People buy Teslas not just for their battery range. It has features like Autopilot, which steers the car on highways and executes lane changes. The cars are also less visually jarring than many competitors, some of which eschewed traditional designs while working on aerodynamics.

But in a key development, it helped eliminate range anxiety by helping reduce the possibility that its vehicles wouldn’t run out of juice in the middle of a road trip. The batteries are tucked under the floor of the main body of the car.

The Palo Alto, California-based company has made substantial investments in battery technology and research. Last year, Tesla announced it would buy Maxwell Technologies, a firm focused on energy density and breakthrough storage technology that Musk has championed. In 2015, the company entered into an agreement with Canada-based Dalhousie University professor Jeff Dahn, a world-renowned battery researcher, to make lower-cost lithium-ion batteries that last longer and have higher energy densities.

Tesla’s improvements have added up to industry-leading energy densities, referring to the amount of energy that is stored in a particular battery unit, said Logan Goldie-Scot, head of clean power research at BloombergNEF.

Tesla also opened its Sparks, Nevada, Gigafactory in 2016, a dedicated large-scale battery plant that it says became the world’s highest-volume battery plant in 2018. Panasonic produces the battery cells, which Tesla assembles into packs and modules for its vehicles.

Most other major EV makers contract battery production with companies like South Korea-based LG Chem, which in December announced a joint venture with General Motors to build a battery-production plant in northeast Ohio.

Rich Benoit, who runs Electrified Garage, an independent Tesla repair shop in New Hampshire, said incremental improvements over time have led to a sizable advantage for Tesla. One example is Tesla’s decision to opt for dual-motors for its front and back wheels over using multispeed transmissions to increase power.

He said Tesla has learned how to gain efficiencies in the interaction of those two motors – what the power ratio should be between the front and back wheels for the best control, acceleration, power and range, for example. Its Internet-connected cars have gathered data to fuel those improvements.

“They’ve had absolutely the longest lead time of anyone else – any other manufacturer out there,” said Benoit, who has taken apart dozens of Teslas to see how they work for his YouTube channel “Rich Rebuilds.” “When Porsche was still making Caymans and Boxsters, the Tesla Roadster came out,” referring to Tesla’s debut 2008 sports car – “they’ve had years of [research] and development and sourcing different vendors to kind of perfect their technology.”

In electric vehicles, a higher energy density means more potential range from a smaller package, saving weight and improving efficiency, according to analysts and battery researchers.

Tesla’s Model 3 carries roughly 24 percent higher pack energy density as compared with a 2018 Nissan Leaf, according to data compiled by BloombergNEF research. That resulted in about 90 miles more range, though weight considerations and Nissan’s smaller battery size also factor in.

Tesla also uses a different battery chemistry – aluminum, in addition to the standard nickel and cobalt – than other major automakers. The battery researchers said that choice has led to maximum range because of a higher-capacity battery chemistry, though downsides included a higher fire risk and shorter cycle life, or life span over hundreds of charges.

Other automakers have opted for manganese instead of aluminum, with lower storage capacity, portending less range but potentially longer life cycles, those researchers said.

The tradeoff for Tesla: higher energy densities and higher-capacity materials tend to put out more heat, requiring more advanced cooling systems and temperature management systems to preserve the battery, the researchers and analysts said.

Will Chueh, a Stanford University’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering professor who focuses on lithium-ion batteries, said Tesla’s choice of battery material also represents another bet: more range means less charging, offsetting some concerns about cycle life. Consumers won’t have to charge their cars as much if they have 300 miles of available range, so Tesla can afford to use a battery with a shorter cycle life, in addition to taking proactive measures such as active cooling to preserve the life of the battery. “The larger the battery is the fewer times you have to cycle it,” he added.

As the batteries age, however, they become less potent, which can affect the driving experience. “As the battery degrades, you won’t be able to do the 2.5 seconds-fast acceleration because the battery can’t deliver as much power in that time as it did before,” he said. The range decreases and charging time goes up and available power lessens – which can translate to the driving experience, he said.

And some Tesla owners are already reporting battery issues as their cars age.

Harpreet Singh bought a Tesla certified pre-owned 2013 Model S with around 34,000 miles on it a year ago for nearly $46,000. The 32-year-old IT engineer says that his battery range has fallen as his charge times have gone up.

The car originally had 265 miles of range, he said. But in April Tesla pushed a software update aimed at protecting the battery from an unspecified issue and to improve its overall life. Singh said the updates took away about 40 miles of range.

“They have full control of how the car will behave,” he said. “I purchased the iPhone and Apple did the same,” he said, referring to Apple’s throttling of older phones.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed in the fall it is investigating Tesla Model S sedans and Model X SUVs after Tesla owners brought a petition alleging battery faults to the agency’s Office of Defects Investigation. The NHTSA petition alleged the updates reduce the driving range of affected vehicles.

An attorney representing those owners also filed a class action against Tesla regarding the 2019 software changes. The NHTSA petition alleged that the software tweak was in response to “a potential defect that could result in non-crash fires in the affected battery packs” that should have resulted in a safety recall, citing an “alarming number of car fires” in 2012 through 2019 model-year vehicles.

Most of those blazes appeared to be spontaneous – several of them high-profile and documented on social media. In one instance, a parked Tesla Model S exploded in a Shanghai garage. In another, a Model S burst into flames while driving in Los Angeles, according to news reports.

Vehicles have also caught fire upon impact. For example, in South Florida a Tesla driver was killed after the vehicle swerved through traffic and struck a median and trees, before catching on fire. Another wreck in South Florida led a family to sue the company alleging the battery pack was defective. That firm representing them alleged there were at least a dozen cases of Model S batteries catching fire either after a collision or while parked.

Tesla said at the time its cars were 10 times less likely to catch fire than gas-powered cars, though the fires can be harder to fight because of the concentrated build up of heat.

After the deadly South Florida crashes, Tesla told media outlets that the vehicles are engineered to be the safest in the world and, in the second, that no car could have withstood such a high-speed crash. Tesla has also previously said it has investigated spontaneous battery fires. In one case, Tesla told CNN the fire was “an extraordinarily unusual occurrence” and that the cabin was protected from the fire due to the battery’s design

The Environmental Protection Agency made waves in December when it announced that Porsche’s highly anticipated all-electric Taycan Turbo sports car would carry a range of only 201 miles-with a $150,000 price tag. Porsche’s range estimates were initially set around 280 miles. Porsche did not respond to a request for comment.

“This will give you range anxiety in a hurry,” tweeted Tesla investor Ross Gerber, a vocal Tesla booster on social media. “Taycan is DOA.”

Many traditional competitors have been launching electric SUVs, banking on appealing to consumer demand for bigger, greener vehicles. Because they’re larger and heavier, they face greater challenges on range, according to experts. Still, the base-model Tesla Model X SUV, with a smaller battery pack than competitors, delivers an EPA-rated range of 238 miles. Tesla’s Model Y crossover, set to arrive later this year, is expected to carry a 280 to 300-mile range, though the automaker has also promised a cheaper standard-range version at 230 miles.

The Model Y’s closest competitor, Ford’s upcoming Mustang Mach-E crossover, is targeting ranges in the same ballpark at the Model Y – representing the top end of what the Tesla competitors can produce – for late 2020. Ford did not have immediate comment.

BMW-owned MINI, which plans to soon introduce its electric MINI Cooper SE in the United States, revealed last year its range would be just 110 miles. BMW did not respond to a request for comment.

Jaguar’s I-Pace SUV is among the closest, with a range of about 240 miles. Jaguar spokesman Taylor Hoel said the company opted to use a different battery cell type in an effort to ensure the cars could be driven hard for longer periods of time, citing what he said were temperature management advantages. (Hyundai’s Kona EV has an EPA-rated range of 258 miles, but has only been available in limited, electric-friendly markets.)

Explaining the e-tron’s SUV’s 204-mile range, Dahncke, the Audi spokesman, said the company focused on maximizing battery longevity rather than range, illustrated by the preference for the less energy dense manganese battery chemistry. Audi also limited how much of the battery was usable to 88 percent to better preserve it, and sacrificed some aerodynamics to maintain a traditional SUV shape familiar to buyers.

Goldie-Scot, the analyst at BloombergNEF, says he expects the range gap to narrow in coming years as traditional rivals catch up and Tesla’s innovations inevitably slow down.

“Tesla clearly has had a large number of years to build up core competencies around the battery, the electric motor, that is resulting in it generally scoring at the top end on range,” he said. “As you look at technology advancements over the coming years – you start seeing a more blurred line between them.”

Still, EV shoppers like Dali Dimovski of Macomb, Michigan, say Tesla’s superior range makes it the only option. He has been considering an electric vehicle for his 65-mile one-way commutes to the Ann Arbor area, where the 41 year-old is an automotive designer focused on interiors.

“One of the things about living in the Midwest is you’re always traveling to other parts of the Midwest,” he said. “That 300 [miles] is a magic number for a lot of us.”

%d bloggers like this: