The latest issue of the Automotive News Europe monthly magazine goes live on Monday. The new edition examines why Europe is at risk of falling behind in the race to offer self-driving cars.
Every year 1.25 million people die and as many as 50 million are injured in road traffic accidents worldwide, according to United Nations statistics. Every year children, and elderly and physically challenged people have little or no access to individual mobility. Automakers are looking to change that with the introduction of vehicles that can drive themselves. In Europe, however, regulations prevent the use of driverless cars on public roads and legalizing their commercial operation is years away. Our cover story looks at what is being done to work around this problem, which has the potential to allow the U.S. and China to respond faster to technological advances.
General Motors set up a diesel development center in Turin after the collapse of its partnership with Fiat in 2005. Surprisingly, GM has decided to keep it even though selling Opel last year meant GM quit diesel’s global stronghold of Europe. Since 2009, the center has been run by Italian Pierpaolo Antonioli, the former director of Fiat-General Motors Powertrain. Antonioli told us why diesel is still important to GM’s global strategy.
Citroen CEO Linda Jackson laid out a road map for the reinvention of the French brand shortly after she was appointed in 2014. Four years later, the automaker’s core model strategy is on track, with five new vehicles, including successful global launches of the C3 Aircross and C5 Aircross, Citroen’s first true SUVs. Richard Meyer, as future product planning director, has been an integral part of Citroen’s effort to update its portfolio. He spoke about the Citroen’s next steps.
Jeep, Seat, Dacia and Volkswagen outperformed all other brands sold in Europe in the first half, as overall sales rose 2.8 percent to 8,461,963, according to industry association ACEA. The growth rate trailed 2017’s overall 3.3 percent rise, but it was higher than analysts’ and automakers’ expectations, as the European economy continued to show solid fundamentals. New and updated SUVs and crossovers continued to power growth at the brands that saw the largest first-half sales increases. We look at the first-half winners.
Two new emissions tests are shaking up the European auto market this year, disrupting production and sales, and weighing on automakers’ profits. The WLTP and RDE tests have put automakers into a race against time because they have to complete testing of existing models by Sept. 1. Many models have required new emissions equipment such as particulate filters -- because the WLTP generally produces higher pollution figures – and testing stations have been operating non-stop. However, it is not clear whether all models can be certified in time. We look at which automakers are at most risk.
The remaining volume automakers selling midsize models are staying in the segment despite forecasts showing customers in Europe will continue to move into SUVs. Peugeot and Toyota are the latest manufacturers to commit to new models in a segment which is expected to sink to less than 400,000 in Europe by 2021 from just below 540,000 cars in 2017. Analysts warn that the market will drop 10 percent this year after falling 12 percent in 2017.
One model that may buck the downward trend is the new Peugeot 508, which has been redesigned as a hatchback. By ditching the previous generation model’s sedan body style Peugeot is hoping to add versatility to the 508 in the hopes it can lure buyers back from SUVs and crossovers.
We continue our Supplier Talk from the Top series with two major players from Spain.
Gestamp has posted impressive growth in the last decade, multiplying sales to 8.2 billion euros last year from 2 billion euros in 2009. The group has developed a leading position in supplying metal components. It has grown both organically and through high-profile acquisitions, such as its takeover of ThyssenKrupp Metal Forming in 2011. Francisco Riberas, founder and executive chairman of the company, talked with us.
The ongoing technological revolution in the industry will affect the interior of the vehicle as much as its mechanical features and performance. Autonomous driving and connectivity will add sensors and instruments, freeing the driver and occupants to perform other activities. Spain’s Grupo Antolin plans to capitalize on this, said CEO Jesus Pascual.
Veteran Automotive News Editor Dave Guilford covered some of the industry’s biggest events and most powerful executives during his 19 years with our publication. He shared some of the highlights in our Final Word.
Enjoy the issue!
Luca Ciferri, Associated Publisher and Editor