The latest issue of the Automotive News Europe monthly magazine goes live on Monday, March 6. The new edition looks at whether the European Commission's next wave of carbon emission targets will mark the beginning of the end for vehicles powered by traditional combustion engines in the world’s largest economic bloc.
One of the biggest losers is expected to be diesels as Paris, Madrid, Athens and Oslo prepare to ban them from city centers in the coming years to reduce smog. By the end of the next decade, European sales of models with full or partially electrified drivetrains are expected to surpass those of models with traditional combustion engines. Our cover story assess the potential effects of this changes.
PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares is not pleased about Paris’ plan to ban diesels. He also is concerned that the mayors of the world’s biggest cities -- especially those in Europe -- will have a powerful say in which powertrains will rule the roads. The mayors are gaining power in Europe because EU lawmakers have failed to set clear guidelines for future urban mobility at a pan-European level. Tavares supports making the air in cities cleaner, he just has a different idea on how to achieve the goal.
Tavares is a very busy man. Having successfully turned around PSA, at press time he was aggressively pursuing a game-changing tie-up with General Motors’ European brands, Opel and Vauxhall. PSA and GM have been working together successfully for years, the CEO said, pointing to the new Opel/Vauxhall Crossland X, which will spawn models for Peugeot and Citroen, as a prime example of what the companies could do if they merge. We look at the key events in Opel’s recent past that left it in position to part ways with GM after nearly a century together.
Daimler’s new r&d boss, Ola Kaellenius, believes the auto industry is at a major crossroads as megatrends such as connectivity, autonomous drive, shared services and electrification combine to shape the future market. The Swedish, who is considered a front-runner to succeed CEO Dieter Zetsche when his contract expires in 2019, shared his views on those key topics.
Since creating the iconic looks of the first Audi TT, Peter Schreyer has dreamed of designing a true sports car. He joined Kia in 2006 and six years later he was promoted to Hyundai Motor Group vice president and chief design officer. Although this put him in control of styling at all the company’s brands, Schreyer’s sports car remained in a drawer. Then an opportunity arose to put that passion into a completely different project. The result is the Kia Stinger. Schreyer discussed the sport sedan’s genesis.
Over the past two years, Renault has overtaken Ford and Opel to become the second-largest brand in Europe by unit sales, riding the momentum from a wave of stylish new models, especially in the hot crossover segment. But analysts say that success will be harder to maintain in 2017 as growth in the overall European market slows and the product pipeline empties out.
Hybrid and plug-in hybrid sales grew an impressive 30 percent to just over 400,000 in Europe last year, but the real impact in the midterm will be made by mild hybrids, analysts predict. By 2025 mild hybrids will capture 18 percent of the European market, IHS Automotive forecasts. That’s compared with 6 percent for plug-in hybrids, 3 percent for full hybrids and 3 percent for full-electric vehicles in the same time frame. We look at the Europe’s fast-changing hybrid sector.
Our Latest Launches section showcases two brands -- Mini and Nissan -- that are counting on their newest models to shake things up. The Mini Countryman has grown to become the BMW subsidiary’s biggest model to date and it is likely to remain the marque’s maximum-sized car. The Countryman is 200mm longer and 30mm wider than the first-generation model, which pushes it up into the compact class where it will take on models such as the Mercedes-Benz GLA and Audi Q3.
Nissan, meanwhile, wants to re-establish the Micra as one of the 10 top-sellers in Europe’s biggest and most competitive segment after its predecessor slipped to a disappointing No. 18. Nissan executives explained why they are confident the new Micra can achieve its target.
Switching to suppliers, Tata Steel has responded to rising steel imports from China by improving its higher-margin tailored blanks business. A recent 4-million pound (4.7-million euro) investment at the Indian-owned company’s UK plant has tripled production of tailored blanks, which are primarily used by premium automakers such as BMW Group. Tata Steel is looking to expand its business with volume automakers by showing them the weight-saving benefits of the technology.
SUVs and crossovers benefited most from Europe’s better-than-expected sales surge last year. Combined sales of models that included the Renault Captur, Nissan Qashqai, BMW X1 and Jaguar F-Pace increased 22 percent to nearly 3.8 million units, according to data from JATO Dynamics. That rise easily outpaced the overall market’s 6.5 percent increase to 15 million. Our exclusive annual by-segment analysis of the European market based on data from JATO Dynamics shows that SUVs and crossovers accounted for a quarter of the region’s total vehicle sales in 2015, up from 21 percent in 2015 and 20 percent in 2014.
Enjoy the issue!
Luca Ciferri, Associated Publisher and Editor