World’s Largest Automakers: Alliance still ahead, Volkswagen loses 2016 title

9 months into the year, the race for World’s Largest Automaker 2017 remains extremely tight. The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance still clings to its surprising lead, but Toyota and Volkswagen are only rounding errors behind.  Meanwhile, it turns out that Volkswagen wrongly claimed the top spot in 2016. The judges decided it was Toyota.

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China NEV Weekly, episode 1: EVs with Chinese characteristics

Welcome to the China NEV Weekly, where we look at the latest New Energy Vehicles from China. NEV is an official government classification that includes three kinds of vehicles: EVs, PHEV, and hydrogen cars.

NEVs are subsidized by the central and local government to a maximum of about 90,000 yuan ( $13,570). On top of that, many cities offer extra perks including free license plates and free parking lots.

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Good-bye Google: EU-Japanese dynamic mapping partnership emerges

Edzard Overbeek of HERE with Isao Iguchi and Shoji Tanaka of Mitsubishi Electric (c) Bertel Schmitt

Rumors of Germany’s digital mapping giant HERE seeking an intimate relationship with Japan’s Dynamic Map Platform Co.  have been thick for about a year. Today, the romancing couple did not quite go all the way, but it definitely went to second base. Meanwhile, Google’s importance in the automotive space shrinks to wallflower format.

In a small meeting room at Tokyo’s Daiba Hilton, Edzard Overbeek, CEO of HERE, and Isao Iguchi, Senior Vice President of Mitsubishi Electric, shook hands for the cameramen, and announced their “intention to link their technologies for autonomous vehicles into a powerful integrated offering for automakers.” Mitsubishi Electric is a prominent DMP shareholder. [Continue Reading]

Success of EVs threatened by cobalt-crisis, and China

Children in a mine in Katanga, picture courtesy France24.com

The drive to electric driving could be driven off a cliff by two unsettling trends: An impending shortage of rare minerals needed to make the batteries, and a more than obvious attempt by the Chinese government to rig, and eventually corner the nascent EV market. [Continue Reading]

Model S September’s top-selling BEV in Western Europe. That’s the good news

Model S in Norway. Picture by Matthias Schmidt

AID, the must-have newsletter for people in need of unvarnished automobile sales data, has an explosive mix of good-news / bad-news for Tesla friends and foes alike. Tesla is racking up impressive sales gains in the world’s second-largest battery-electric EV market. That’s the good news. The not-so-good news is that if Elon Musk won’t act fast, the sudden gains are liable to evaporate, writes AID publisher Matthias Schmidt. [Continue Reading]

I have seen the taxi of the future, and it is indigo blue

Ribbon-cutting ceremony for the JPN Taxi (c) Bertel Schmitt

Yesterday, I was given an early glimpse of the taxi of the future. It looks a little bit like the offspring of a mésalliance between a London taxi and an Escalade. It will be piloted by a legacy human driver, it won’t have Wifi, it will be powered by propane gas, and its color will be deep blue, if Toyota gets its wish.

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Volkswagen boss rips Elon Musk as destroyer of jobs and money

Matthias Müller (Picture: Volkswagen)

Car companies used to refrain from commenting on the competition, but the veil of propriety seems to develop more rips than the jeans of a grunge rocker. Last night, Volkswagen’s CEO Matthias Müller tore Elon Musk a big one, blasting the head of Californian carmaker Tesla as deficient of both social responsibility, and profits.

At an evening talk show in Passau, Germany, the moderator mentioned that Tesla “fascinates customers with its electric cars.” This triggered Müller to deliver a forceful statement he audibly had wanted to make for quite some time. Here is the video, along with a translation from Müller’s heavily Bavarian-tinged German:

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The Nissan brouhaha: Premature inspectors cause shutdown

Saikawa, today in Yokohama (c) Bertel Schmitt

What the 2011 tsunami couldn’t accomplish, bureaucrats did: Nissan’s Japanese production will be closed until further notice. 

At a hastily thrown-together press conference, called at an unusual time (the sun had long slipped behind Mt. Fuji) Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa announced that Nissan’s six factories all over Japan would stop making and shipping cars for the Japanese market, pending the resolution of an inspection scandal that taxes the comprehension of anyone outside of Japan. A customary deep bow of shame accompanied the statement.

But why?

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