World’s Largest Automakers May 2018: VW extending its lead – slightly

The battle for World’s Largest Automaker 2018 turns more and more into a bitter fight between Volkswagen Group and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. Five months into the year, VW managed to extend its lead ever so slightly, with only 45,000 units separating the Germans from the French-Japanese nipping at their heels.

Former ichi ban Toyota apparently has decided to sit back and relax. Toyota Group’s worldwide production basically is the same it was January to May 2017. [Continue Reading]

Automotive Grade Linux is hitting the road

Ken-ichi Murata of Toyota, and Daimler’s Thomas Wurdig at the AGL Summit in Tokyo (c)Bertel Schmitt

More than 1,000 nerds, geeks, and hackers are convening in Tokyo this week to decide on the future of the automobile. Word got around that the car’s future is digital, and the conventioneers, meeting at the Tokyo Conference Center Ariake, are involved in writing your car’s operating system, called Automotive Grade Linux, or AGL.

Linux is what powers the website you are reading, Linux makes your phone work if you are using an Android device. A remote cousin of Linux drives your iPhone. If it is up to the conventioneers, Linux will be the standard operating system of future cars. [Continue Reading]

World’s Largest Automakers April 2018: VW back in the lead

The race for World’s Largest Automaker 2018 is getting more exciting than F1. Four months into the year Volkswagen Group edged-out last month’s front-runner Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, and it took the first place with a razor-thin 22,000 unit lead.

Buoyed by a nearly 13% growth in its largest country-market China, Volkswagen shows no signs of a post-dieselgate traumatic disorder predicted in a few corners of the media. Among the Top 3, Volkswagen leads with an impressive 8.1% growth for the year.

[Continue Reading]

Toyota prepares for the worst

Akio Toyoda, and some samurai – (c) Bertel Schmitt

If you read the press reports of Toyota’s annual results conference today, you will think all is peachy. After all, “Toyota Motor Corp. reported Wednesday that its quarterly profit rose 21 percent,” wrote the Detroit News. On top of that, Toyota submitted an “upbeat profit forecast,” said Bloomberg. The Toyota share was up strong at the news. I, however, walked out of the Tokyo meeting room given the impression that Toyota fears the sky might fall.

[Continue Reading]

Trading places: Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance leads World’s Largest Automakers in Q1/18

Did I mention that World’s Largest Automakers 2018 will be a tight race? The first quarter ended with the  Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance in the lead, followed by Volkswagen, and Toyota. Last month had Toyota in the top spot, now it is in place 3. Expect the trading of places to continue throughout the year – the distances between the world’s top 3 automakers are extremely tight.

[Continue Reading]

Your car will eat shit. And that’s a good thing

This is where shit happens: Part of the sewage-to-hydrogen plant (c) Bertel Schmitt

Want to turn a staunch supporter of electric vehicles into a fire and invective belching monster? Easy. All you have to do is mention a certain kind of EV, namely the one powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. You’ll be immediately subjected to long tirades of how “wildly impractical, horrendously wasteful, and ridiculously expensive” the thing is.  Rest assured that in the course of the discussion, the diety of electric cars, who called the technology “fool cells,” will be invoked at least three times. Meanwhile in Japan, the biggest proponent of said fuel cells, Toyota, is unperturbed, and it works towards a “hydrogen society” with the same tenacity Toyota showed way back when it was pushing its hybrid technology against all odds. Now, the industry switches to hybrid in wholesale fashion.

Today, Toyota played its trump card: Fuel cell vehicles can be powered with something that is absolutely renewable, and available in endless quantities all around the world: Human excrement. [Continue Reading]

Tesla too late as Volkswagen and Toyota join their truck forces

Shimo and Renschler – (c) Bertel Schmitt

Should you be among the people highly excited about Tesla’s prospects with heavy trucks, count yourself lucky that you weren’t in the ballroom of Tokyo’s Grand Prince Hotel this afternoon. Would you have been, you went home with all hopes abandoned.  In said ballroom, two global players in the heavy truck business announced that they would join hands, because doing it alone is fraught with dangers.  Unsaid, but quickly evident: Newcomers, don’t even try.  Also, the allied bus and truck makers, will not bet on either battery electric or fuel cell. They will do both. [Continue Reading]

Sunseeker, take cover: Lexus enters the big boat market

The 65footer by Lexus

Today in Yokohama, Toyota’s head-turning Lexus speedboat was awarded the “Boat of the Year” title. That’s probably the last we hear of the boat, because it won’t be built. Instead, Lexus will enter the boat market with a 65foot sports yacht, Toyota Marine boss Shigeki Tomoyama said today.

[Continue Reading]