December 4, 2017 News of the Day: FCA discussing Tech Partnership with Hyundai, China's GAC Motor Announces It Will Enter The U.S. Market By 2019

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【Summary】December 4, 2017 News of the Day

  Eric Walz  ·  Dec 04, 2017 3:29 PM PT
author: Eric Walz   

FCA Discussing Tech Partnership with Hyundai Motor Company

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) CEO Sergio Marchionne has long advocated that automakers work together to avoid wasting money developing the same technologies. Now, FCA is interested in forming a technical partnership with Hyundai.

"We already buy components from Hyundai, let's see if we can agree on other points, especially for the development of transmissions and hydrogen," Marchionne told reporters last week, reports Reuters. However, he said there was "nothing to announce for the moment."

It's unclear what a potential partnership will entail. Hyundai has a foothold in hydrogen technology and is preparing a next-generation fuel cell SUV, while FCA is behind the game in this area.

"We welcome the interest from other automakers in our advanced transmissions and hydrogen-powered technologies," Hyundai told Bloomberg.

FCA has already formed partnerships on other types of technologies. FCA is working with BMW, Intel, and Magna on a flexible platform for self-driving cars. The company also has a partnership with Waymo to provide Pacificas that the tech company can use to test its self-driving system.

A few years ago, Marchionne approached General Motors about the idea of a merger. Later, he said he expected to be approached by VW to discuss a potential link-up. This year, he said he's putting a merger on hold to focus on flushing out the company's debt, which would help make it more attractive to potential partners in the future. FCA hopes to become cash-positive by the end of 2018.

When asked whether the potential collaboration between FCA and Hyundai could result in a merger, Marchionne said, "I don't believe so."

In September, the South Korean press reported that the two manufacturers were holding discussions.The country's industry analysts at the time suggested that Hyundai and FCA were in talks regarding a possible merger. FCA declined to comment on the matter while Hyundai denied the reports.

China's GAC Motor Announces It Will Enter The US Market By 2019

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China's GAC Motor has announced the brand will be launched in the United States in the next two years.

In a statement, GAC Motor president Yu Jun said "We are building the first North America R&D Center in Silicon Valley this year and planning to enter the North American market by 2019." The executive went on to say the company has always had ambitions of being a "world-class Chinese brand" that is sold globally.

As part of the company's North American launch, the automaker will have a presence at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. GAC says we can expect a "blockbuster lineup" that includes an all-new concept car as well as the GA4, GA8, GM8, and GS8.

GAC Motor is owned by the GAC Group, which also owns the Trumpchi brand. Trumpchi had been eyeing a U.S. launch, however the company was considering changing its name due to the fact that it sounds like a tribute to President Trump.

At the time, GAC Group President Fend Xingya had commented: "At first I'd never thought of it, why change the name? It's the president Americans selected, it's similar to the president's name, this has to be good right? But in the United States the level of opposition [to Trump] is high."

The BBC recently noted executives were "taken aback" by the response they received at the 2017 North American International Auto Show and have been considering changing the name ever since.

Launching under the brand under the GAC Motor name will likely solve this problem, but it is not clear if the company is even exploring that option.

Volvo's Polestar Brand Plans to Have 4 Models for Sale by 2020

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After making a grand debut at the Shanghai auto show in October with the Polestar 1 plug-in hybrid sports coupe, Volvo's performance brand fleshed out its ambitious plans to Motor Trend at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

At the launch of the Polestar 1, we learned several more vehicles are already in development. Now, we've learned they'll be on the road sooner than expected. Polestar says it's aiming to launch the Polestar 1 by the end of next year, with the first deliveries taking place in early 2019. By the end of 2019, a second model, the all-electric Polestar 2 midsize luxury sedan, will launch aimed at the Tesla Model 3.

The all-electric Polestar 3 crossover will quickly follow in 2020, followed by the Polestar 4 by the end of that year. The fourth model's body style hasn't been revealed, but we understand a convertible has been mocked up. Polestar told Motor Trend us all four cars have been modeled and are awaiting the final design freeze.

Enabling Polestar to build so many vehicles so quickly is their shared SPA and compact modular platforms borrowed from Volvo. Using just two common architectures that are already fully engineered for EV powertrains allows Polestar to focus on the body that goes on top and the powertrain that plugs in underneath. In fact, Polestar says it's developing its modular EV powertrain semi-independently of the vehicles it'll go into so that the absolute latest battery and motor technology can be dropped into each model as late as possible in the development cycle.

Meanwhile, Polestar will still be working on Volvos. Polestar performance parts will be available right from the factory going forward rather than being dealer-installed like they are now. Polestar likened the new strategy to BMW's M Sport line of performance add-ons. Polestar will also occasionally engineer a full Polestar edition high-performance Volvo such as the S60 Polestar and V60 Polestar.

Polestar also shed more light on its subscription ownership plans. Similar to the just-announced Care by Volvo, all Polestar brand vehicles will be sold online, where the owner will sign up for either a two or three-year subscription plan.

Similar to a lease, the subscription will include maintenance, insurance, tires, repairs, and concierge services such as free car washes all for a flat monthly fee with no down payment. Unlike Volvo, Polestar plans to offer different subscription tiers.

The first level will be similar to Care with a few extra perks. Higher tiers are still being discussed but could include the ability to swap to a different Polestar vehicle at any time or to have a Polestar vehicle of your choice waiting for you at your destination, for example, when you go on vacation. Polestar is considering more traditional sales plans in the event subscription model does not catch on.

VW Takes on Uber and Lyft with Ride-Hailing EV Minibus

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BERLIN — Volkswagen has unveiled an all-electric minibus to target urban customers who prefer to pay for use rather than own a vehicle, furthering the German company's push into new forms of online-controlled personal transport services.

VW's new MOIA "mobility services" division on Monday announced plans for a fully electric international ride-pooling service that aims to remove 1 million cars from European and U.S. cities by 2025.

MOIA will next year launch 200 of the six passenger buses in Hamburg, Germany's second most-populous city, offering passengers fast internet access and USB ports to charge phones and tablet computers, MOIA Chief Executive Ole Harms said at a technology conference.

Berlin-based MOIA will expand its Hamburg-based electric-bus fleet to 1,000 units within three years and target other cities from 2019, Harms said, declining to give further details.

"We will return the cities to the people," Harms said, adding the ride-pooling plans will help to significantly reduce urban congestion at prices which are cheaper than taxi rides.

Harms declined to comment on prices and the economics of the plans, though he said the Hamburg project would initially be running at a loss.

But the growth of ride-hailing services and the prospect of driverless vehicles will encourage people to switch to paying for individual journeys rather than buying their own cars, he predicted. "The market is unlimited," Harms said.

Struggling to draw a line under its 2015 diesel emissions test-cheating scandal, VW created MOIA a year ago with a view to it generating a substantial share of group revenues by 2025 as it invests billions of euros in electrification, ride-hailing and self-driving cars.

MOIA will draw on VW's modular platforms to build the new electric bus which can run for about 300 kilometres (186 miles) on a single battery charge and needs about 30 minutes to recharge to 80 percent of full capacity, Harms said.

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