Audi continues to use dieselgate defeat devices. 127,000 cars affected

“Unbelievable!” exclaims Germany’s  BILD tabloid: More than two years after the dieselgate scandal became public, Volkswagen Group’s premium brand Audi still “produces and sells diesel cars with the illegal software.”  

According to the paper [German, paywall], Germany’s regulator KBA has found “illegal defeat devices” in V6 TDI diesel engines used in Audi A4, A5, A6, A7, A8, Q5, SQ 5, SQ 5 plus and Q 7.  127 000 vehicles are affected, the paper writes.

Even more unbelievable: The illegal engines were launched end of 2015, AFTER the scandal became public. [Continue Reading]

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance most likely world’s largest automaker, Volkswagen to be 2nd

We interrupt our self-imposed Christmas holiday with the news that in all likelihood, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance will end the year as the world’s largest automaker group. Volkswagen Group most likely will come in second. [Continue Reading]

Toyota rolls out “BEVs in earnest.”

BEVs in earnest. Picture (c) Bertel Schmitt

The common narrative among the disruption-demographic is that large “legacy” automakers are asleep at their four wheels. The not-so-common version is: Step aside when they wake up. The step-aside moment was today, when world’s largest automaker Toyota laid out its electrification plans.

In a press conference at Toyota’s Megaweb in Tokyo, EVP Shigeki Terashi started out complaining to reporters that some of his limelight was stolen during Akio Toyoda’s announcement of a battery joint venture with Panasonic. Then he revealed that: [Continue Reading]

That’s going to hurt Elon Musk: Battery-partner Panasonic romantically involved with Toyota

The happy couple meets the press. Picture (c) Bertel Schmitt

Tesla-chief Elon Musk should need a few extra Ambiens tonight after he hears the news from Tokyo. His Gigafactory battery partner Panasonic today announced some sort of engagement with the world’s largest automaker Toyota, with the goal of developing the best batteries for EVs, the type of batteries that definitely are not on the table in the domestic partnership between Tesla and Panasonic. Will it lead to a giga-divorce?

Officially, Toyota and Panasonic today announced a rather innocuous-sounding “agreement to begin studying the feasibility of a joint automotive prismatic battery business,” and Tesla’s propaganda arms undoubtedly will assure the faithful that nothing is to be feared from it, and that, should it unexpectedly lead to something, “Elon will have it first.”

If you went to today’s press conference on the matter, you went home thereafter with a totally different impression.  The presser was called with only four hours of notice, always a sign that something important is afoot. We were invited not to come to Toyota’s usual basement-bunker meeting room, but to the grand ballroom at Tokyo’s swank Conrad. Despite the tight timing, every seat was taken.  So enormous was the occasion, that Toyota even laid on a feature-length YouTube video.

[Continue Reading]

Some go to production hell. I went to production heaven.

Stampings are checked at Volvo car factory in Luqiao, China. Picture Kalinda Zhang.

The world’s most talked-about car factory sits in California. It is sued for being “a hotbed for racist behavior,” and for targeting pro-union employees in mass firings. Working conditions at the plant are labeled as “grueling.” Submitted to “aggressive production goals,” workers receive “life-changing injuries,” reports say. The quality at this plant is described as so bad that quality checks “routinely revealed defects in more than 90 percent” of the cars , wrote Reuters. The shop floor at the factory is characterized as “messy, it hiccups, modules are repaired on the line, stockpiles of parts lie around in “semi-organized” fashion. The current situation at the factory is “production hell” said its CEO. Now that’s an interesting car plant, especially because the company that owns this both loathsome and lonesome plant, Tesla, is valued close to General Motors, a company with more than 100 plants all over the world.

Normally, a hot-blooded journalist would just love to get into such a scandalous plant, but for some reason, journalists are not invited.

I had to make do with the world’s second-most interesting car plant. I went there to experience the opposite of production hell – that would be what, production heaven?

[Continue Reading]

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi maintains the lead in final stretch of world’s largest automaker race

Come-from-behind Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance continues to amaze. Only a major disaster can keep it from ending the as World’s Largest Automaker. Not even a small disaster in Japan could sufficiently dent the Alliance’s chances. Volkswagen and Toyota will fight neck-and-neck until the last minutes of the year.

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50 years and 6 million units later, the Toyota Hiace still gets no respect

Not much of a birthday party. (c) Bertel Schmitt

Life isn’t fair. Tesla built a little over 80,000 units last year, end everybody is going gaga. Then there is a vehicle that is built more than 200,000 times each year, and it gets no respect. Tesla built some 250,000 cars since inception. That other vehicle was built more than 6 million times. In the last 48 hours, 10% of the 3,100 stories scanned by the DailyKanban Newsbot were about Tesla. None were about the Toyota Hiace. This morning, the Hiace celebrated its 50th birthday, and 12 hours later, even that festive occasion won’t rate a single headline. Meanwhile, the mediocre Tesla smartphone battery gets 845,000 hits on Google.

[Continue Reading]

Inspection scandal crimps chances for top spot

Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa and CCO Yasuhiro Yamauchi in Yokohama (c) Bertel Schmitt

A quality inspection scandal that taxes the comprehension of anyone outside of Japan throws a monkey wrench into Carlos Ghosn’s aspirations to make the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance the world’s largest automaker. [Continue Reading]