Automotive News Europe blogs

No steering wheel? Not so fast, ZF CEO says

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Oct. 11
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Sommer: “If you would ask me to drive in Paris traffic, passing the Place de la Concorde in a car without a steering wheel, I would feel rather uncomfortable.”
DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC :  If you’re not ready to trust a computer-driven vehicle that has no steering wheel you’re not alone. Stefan Sommer, CEO of self-driving technology maker ZF Friedrichshafen, is also reluctant -- in certain situations. “If you would ask me to drive in Paris traffic, passing the Place de la Concorde in a car without a steering wheel, I would feel rather uncomfortable,” Sommer ...
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How Mercedes turned a 'crazy' idea into gold

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Oct. 6
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Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe's Germany correspondent.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  A little more than 20 years ago, the Mercedes-Benz W163, dubbed "Job1," rolled off the assembly line at the company's U.S. plant in Vance, Alabama, launching the M class. It was a risky experiment for what was known then as Daimler-Benz: its first manufacturing plant outside Germany, building an entirely new product and its first wholly manufactured SUV. Mercedes production boss Markus Schaefer ...
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Why Renault predicts big profits from EVs

Posted 6:38 am U.S. ET, Oct. 6
blogs Luca Ciferri is associate publisher and editor of Automotive News Europe.
 
Renault’s investment in electric vehicles is already paying dividends and the automaker said today that its profits from EVs will rise significantly in the next five years, which is in big contrast to rivals. Renault EV boss Gilles Normand today showed a slide that detailed the company’s progress toward EV profitability (see below). Since starting its Drive the Change plan in 2011, th ...
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Why Marchionne thinks EVs threaten the planet

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Oct. 3
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Marchionne says that most EVs are no better than gasoline-powered cars when it comes to environment impact because two-thirds of electricity is produced using fossil fuels today.
ANDREA MALAN:  Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne believes that a widespread move to electric vehicles could be catastrophic because it has the potential to increase CO2 emissions and worsen global warming. “A forced introduction of BEVs [battery-electric vehicles] on a global scale, without solving the problem of how to get clean energy, would endanger our planet's existence," the longtime E ...
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Industry shifts blame, again, for diesel woes

Posted 4:37 am U.S. ET, Oct. 3
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Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe's Germany correspondent.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  What does the German auto industry do if it has skirted the spirit of emission laws for years only to see this ethically questionable – and in Volkswagen Group’s case outright criminal – behavior come back to haunt them? Shift the debate. The ongoing legal fight over whether to ban diesels from entering cities on polluted days is a direct result of manufacturers building cars th ...
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Renault Alaskan shows how Europe's pickup segment is going upscale

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Sept. 29
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The Alaskan pickup will go on sale in Europe this fall.
PETER SIGAL:  In many parts of Europe, you're as likely to see a high-end sports car like a Porsche Carrera as a pickup truck. Now, Renault and a few other automakers are aiming to change that by offering pickups with creature comforts that Americans have long taken for granted. A test drive here in the Slovenian Alps of one new offering, the Renault Alaskan, shows that automakers offering pickups in Europe ar ...
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Opel's loss of key executives makes turnaround much harder

Posted 11:02 am U.S. ET, Sept. 25
blogs
Mueller was considered a bright spot in Opel's management.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  Opel faces a tough task replacing the automaker's award-winning marketing chief, Tina Mueller, who is joining German cosmetics retailer Douglas as CEO on Nov. 1. Mueller's departure comes soon after former CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann quit Opel following General Motors decision to sell the German automaker and its Vauxhall sister brand to PSA Group. The loss of Opel’s "dream team" is a severe b ...
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Labor gain and strain loom from EV shift

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Sept. 24
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It takes 50% more time to make a hybrid powertrain compared with a conventional engine while EVs take 40% less time. (Source: AlixPartners)
ANDREA MALAN:  When a staunch EV skeptic such as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne becomes a believer in electrification it leaves little doubt that battery-powered cars will play a significant role in the industry's future sooner rather than later. "Electrification is here," Marchionne told analysts in late July. He said the switch to 48-volt mild hybrids, full hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and batte ...
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Why Volvo picked XC40 to launch VIP service

Posted 5:30 am U.S. ET, Sept. 21
blogs Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.
 
Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson knew long ago that he wanted to do something special with the XC40, which is the first expansion of the Swedish automaker’s portfolio since the arrival of the XC60 in 2008. “His vision was clear,” Volvo marketing expert Thomas Andersson told me when discussing Samuelsson's vision. “You enjoy the vehicle. We will take care of the rest.” To ...
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Volvo designer achieves rare feat with XC40

Posted 7:30 am U.S. ET, Sept. 21
blogs
Kettle says his XC40 drawing succeeded because he didn't create a scaled-down version of Volvo's bigger SUVs.
DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC :  With the XC40 Volvo achieved a rare feat because the SUV's look is the same as the day it was first drawn. “We were convinced we had something in our hands with this car,” Volvo Chief Design Officer Thomas Ingenlath said of the day four years ago he saw that early image of the car. “We took it from a tiny sketch to this,” he added at a press event ahead of the compact SUV ...
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Zetsche strikes a humble tone for German automakers

Posted 3:00 am U.S. ET, Sept. 19
blogs Peter Sigal is a France-based correspondent with Automotive News Europe.
 
FRANKFURT -- These have not been the happiest of times for the German auto industry. Fallout from the VW Group emissions scandal continues to weigh on consumer confidence, and has placed executives in the uncomfortable position of defendants. Antitrust regulators are investigating accusations that automakers secretly discussed parts, suppliers and standards and even Chancellor Angela Merkel, a s ...
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How Ghosn will push alliance to 14 million sales

Posted 8:49 am U.S. ET, Sept. 15
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Ghosn said that most of the alliance's growth will come from emerging economies. (Reuters)
PETER SIGAL:  PARIS -- Carlos Ghosn has always been careful to say that the success of the Renault-Nissan alliance should be measured in synergies among the partners, not sales growth. Even so, Ghosn said last Friday that the alliance that he chairs, which now includes Mitsubishi, would be selling 14 million vehicles annually by 2022, a 33 percent increase over this year. The alliance was the world's No. 1 aut ...
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Ex-BMW design wunderkind Bangle resurfaces and riffs on 'banality'

Posted 1:01 pm U.S. ET, Sept. 13
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Chris Bangle at a presentation of the lalest BMW 7 Series in Moscow's Red Square in July 2008. (BMW)
RICHARD JOHNSON :  FRANKFURT -- Chris Bangle is back! Back at the Frankfurt auto show. Back in the car business. Back in the groove. The famed former BMW boy wonder who talks really, really fast, but perhaps not as fast as he thinks, pointedly avoided automotive clients at Chris Bangle Associates, the consultancy he formed in 2009 after 17 years as BMW Group's chief of design. Operating in a small town in Italy, ...
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What's really juicing the latest 'armada' of EVs?

Posted 5:49 pm U.S. ET, Sept. 12
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BMW's Z4 electric concept at the Frankfurt auto show on Tuesday. (BLOOMBERG)
RICHARD JOHNSON :  FRANKFURT -- After the electric parade that was the 2009 Frankfurt auto show (where the term "electrification" became a household word, believe it or not ) the EV dream flickered and appeared to die. With its legion of battery electric and plug-in hybrid concepts, this show eight years ago was a sign of things not to come. So what happened around mid-2016 that got automakers around the world rec ...
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Daimler reveals the dark secret behind EVs

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Sept. 12
blogs
Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe's Germany correspondent.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  Daimler has revealed the dark secret that explains exactly why the German auto industry has been so loath to embrace electric cars until now, years after Elon Musk founded Tesla and Carlos Ghosn pushed electrification at Nissan and Renault. The German automaker on Monday acknowledged that a roll out of EVs, even those with its iconic three-pointed star on the hood, will cannibalize sales from the ...
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Carlos and Dieter show takes a break

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Sept. 11
blogs
Zetsche, left, and Ghosn will not have a joint press conference to discuss their alliance with reporters this year.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  The "Carlos and Dieter Show" will not take place this year at the Frankfurt auto show, which could be a sign of trouble. Hearing Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn and Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche update the progress of their strategic alliance has been a highlight of Europe's big autumn car show since 2011. Whether the show took place in Paris or Frankfurt, you could count on Ghosn and Zetsche's new ...
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Fast-changing Frankfurt

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Sept. 9
blogs Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.
 
How things have changed. At the 2015 Frankfurt auto show, Martin Winterkorn was the unchallenged CEO of Volkswagen Group and General Motors was boldly predicting that its chronic money-loser Opel was on the verge of finally being profitable. Neither Winterkorn nor GM will be in the Frankfurt spotlight this year. Today, Winterkorn’s name only comes up in relation to ongoing litigation relat ...
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Why Jaguar won't show the I-Pace at Frankfurt

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Sept. 9
blogs
The Jaguar I-Pace concept.
NICK GIBBS :  Jaguar Land Rover said on Thursday that it will offer electrified variants of all its new models starting 2020. Curiously, the company is not following up the announcement by unveiling the production version of Jaguar's first battery-powered vehicle, the I-Pace crossover, at the Frankfurt auto show. The car's absence looks like a missed opportunity. Jaguar will be the first of the premium Europe ...
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Zetsche first CEO to fulfill oft-broken F1 promise

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Sept. 9
blogs
The Mercedes Project One road car will have the same engine that Mercedes uses in its F1 racer.
LUCA CIFERRI :  Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche is the first CEO I know to fulfill his promise to transfer his company’s Formula One technology to a road-ready vehicle. It’s taken 60 years to see this happen, but the Mercedes-AMG Project One supercar, which will debut at the Frankfurt auto show, appears to be the closest thing to a F1 racecar that money can buy. Racing business insiders tell me the produ ...
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First impressions of Audi's self-driving system

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Sept. 9
blogs
Audi says its new A8 is the first production car with Level 3 autonomy.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  The Level 3 autonomous driving technology in the new Audi A8, which will be on display at the upcoming Frankfurt auto show, has some interesting highlights. That was my takeaway after getting an in-depth look at how Traffic Jam Pilot works. First of all, it only functions on two-lane highways separated from oncoming traffic by some physical barrier. When the car’s brain, the zFAS motherboar ...
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Future drivers may own just a steering wheel, Jaguar foresees

Posted 9:35 am U.S. ET, Sept. 7
blogs
The Future-Type electric concept has three seats that allow passengers to face each other.
NICK GIBBS :  Jaguar thinks future drivers may not own a car. Instead they will have a personal steering wheel that they attach to a self-driving vehicle from a car-sharing pool. Jaguar unveiled the steering wheel on Thursday in London in its Future-Type concept, which looks forward to 2040 when the automaker predicts cars will be ordered on demand rather than owned. The voice-activated, connected - and detac ...
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Why Volvo thinks you're a great driver, but still wants to help

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Sept. 6
blogs Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.
 
Volvo estimates that a person has a one in 54 million chance of causing an car accident. "People make few mistakes while driving, relatively speaking," said Mikael Ljung Aust, who is Volvo's expert in crash avoidance. "Therefore, it's hard to educate people to perform better." Volvo, however, says a recent assessment of data from drivers who allowed cameras to monitor them while on the road show ...
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Why it makes sense for Great Wall to buy Jeep

Posted 3:16 am U.S. ET, Aug. 25
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Yang Jian is managing editor of Automotive News China.
YANG JIAN :  Wang Fengying, president of Great Wall Motor Co. told Automotive News last week that Great Wall wants to buy Jeep and was "connecting with FCA" to begin negotiations. Fiat Chrysler subsequently denied that it had been contacted, but the Italian-American automaker should not give Wang the cold shoulder. A deal would make perfect sense not only for Great Wall, but also Fiat Chrysler. For Great Wal ...
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Tesla pulls up short in Germany test run

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Aug. 22
blogs
Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe's Germany correspondent.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  Proponents of battery-powered electric cars talk about range anxiety as if it is some conspiracy to marginalize the technology. Recently, however, one of Germany's strongest EV proponents decided to ditch his Tesla Model S for this very reason, according to information obtained via Germany's Freedom of Information Act. Earlier this year, Johannes Remmel, a member of the eco-friendly Green Party a ...
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A peek inside's VW's secret fortress

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Aug. 10
blogs
A VW researcher uses virtual reality to test the handover of control of a self-driving car in Chinese traffic.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  It takes about a half hour driving north from Wolfsburg along a lonely stretch of route A300 to reach Ehra-Lessien, Germany. It's a speck on the map. There's nothing around for miles. Well, almost nothing. After passing through a dense forest, a clearing opens to reveal Volkswagen's secretive proving grounds. Signs at the front gate tells visitors "radio transmissions are monitored" and warns abo ...
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