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Another Alfa Romeo Comeback Story May Be Ending

After a brief surge, Alfa Romeo's comeback plan looks to have stalled, outsold in Europe by Lancia.

Has yet another Alfa Romeo comeback story fizzled out before it ever really got going?

It’s hard to see it any other way, with the fabled Italian sports and premium brand outsold in Europe for the first half of the year by its ignored, underfunded Fiat Chrysler Automobiles stablemate, Lancia.

Alfa Romeo has five models on its books, including the 4C sports car, the dated MiTo three-door hatch, the just-facelifted Giulietta five-door hatch and the expensively developed Giulia sedan and Stelvio crossover.

Lancia, on the other hand, sells just one car – the eight-year-old Ypsilon five-door hatch. It might be a legendary name, with some of the most desirable cars ever built on its books and with multiple World Rally Championships to its name, but its reputation for quality is so bad in Europe that it has retreated to just one market: Italy.

FCA analyst Fiat Group World pointed out that Alfa Romeo sales fell to 29,187 in the first half of 2019, while the Ypsilon, based on the budget Fiat Panda, managed 34,691 sales in Italy alone.

Alfa’s sales fell 42 percent year-on-year in Europe, while Lancia’s rose 29 percent with an ancient product that wasn’t terribly good to begin with.

It has been an across-the-board pummeling for Alfa, with its business sales dropping from 33,400 last year to 19,200 this year, while its private sales fell 40 percent.

It was hammered in France, where its sales fell 61 percent, but the biggest concern will be its collapse in its home market of Italy, where it dropped 47 percent to only 14,700 registrations.

The clunky, one-market Ypsilon is single-handedly embarrassing Alfa Romeo.

The clunky, one-market Ypsilon is single-handedly embarrassing Alfa Romeo.

In a frightening buyer revolt, only 5000 Alfas were privately registered in Italy in the first half of the year.

Even the newest Alfa model, the Stelvio, saw its European sales drop by 18 percent this year to just 13,800 registrations as it was overtaken by updates to rivals like the BMW X4.

The heavily publicized Giulia sedan, which shares its expensively developed rear-drive architecture with the Stelvio, saw its sales fall 44 percent to 5767 registrations across Europe.

There was more bad news in the US, where it sold 9037 cars in the first half; down on the 12,265 it sold in 2018.

Alfa is twinned with Maserati within the company and the Modena-based brand at least has plans to pull its product lineup into the next decade with a range of plug-in hybrids, a Porsche Macan-testing crossover and an all-electric sports car.

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I have been testing cars and writing about the car business for more than 25 years. My career began in daily newspapers and developed into editorship of two automotive magazines. I’ve been based in Italy as a freelancer for more than a decade, covering the European car business, with a focus on product testing and product development for readers around the world.

 

Source: Another Alfa Romeo Comeback Story May Be Ending

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Elon Musk And The Mirage Of Tesla In India

Elon Musk smiles while speaking to members of the media outside federal court in New York, U.S., on April 4, 2019. (Natan Dvir/Bloomberg)

Elon Musk smiles while speaking to members of the media outside federal court in New York, U.S., on April 4, 2019. (Natan Dvir/Bloomberg)

© 2019 Bloomberg Finance LP

Will Tesla chief Elon Musk finally bring his much sought after electric cars to India within a year?

That’s what he said while speaking with a team of students from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, who were competing in the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition 2019. Suyash Singh, who was taking part in the hyperloop competition with a team called Avishkar, confirmed the comments by Musk through email.

But Musk has said this before, as recently as March this year.

In response to a question on Twitter on when he would bring Tesla to India, he wrote, “Would love to be there this year. If not, definitely next! [heart] India.”

The dangling started in April 2016 when Musk tweeted that India was being added to list of countries where Tesla’s relatively affordable Model 3 would be available. Although its price tag of $35,000 made it out of the reach of most Indians, that didn’t tamp any of the excitement around the idea. At the time Musk also said the company would also bring a “India-wide Supercharger network.” Tesla owners in the U.S. can juice up the depleted batteries of their cars in 75 minutes on a supercharger.

But that soon hit a road bump of prohibitive Indian rules. “Maybe I’m misinformed,” Musk tweeted, “but I was told that 30% of parts must be locally sourced and the supply doesn’t yet exist in India to support that.”

Last year he wrote: “Would love to be in India. Some challenging government regulations, unfortunately. Deepak Ahuja, our CFO, is from India. Tesla will be there as soon as he believes we should.” But then the company announced in January that Ahuja would be resigning from his role.

While it’s anyone’s guess on when Tesla will actually be available for sale in India, if ever, the country’s electric vehicle market is slowly picking up steam. New Delhi has a target that 30% of vehicles sold across all segments will be electric by 2030.

For financial year ending March, India saw sales of 3,600 electric cars, 126,000 two-wheelers, 500 buses and 700 three-wheelers also known as autorickshaws, according to CRISIL, an S&P Global company.

The nascent industry got a boost last week when ride hailing giant Uber announced it intends to launch electric autorickshaws in several cities in the coming months for which it has partnered with battery maker SUN Mobility, a joint venture between solar power company SUN New Energy System and electric mobility company Virya Mobility 5.0.

New Delhi has laid out $1.4 billion in subsidies over three years for electric buses, three-wheelers, four-wheelers that are registered as commercial vehicles as well as private motorbikes and scooters. The majority of Indians still travel by those modes rather than personal cars. It also plans to order Uber and its homegrown competitor Ola to convert 40% of their respective fleets to electric by 2026.

CRISIL Research expects a gradual pick-up in EV adoption in India to be led by three-wheelers and two-wheelers over the next five years.

However, for a real pick up in the sector, the country needs to beef up its charging infrastructure, says Hetal Gandhi, Director, CRISIL Research. India had only 352 publicly accessible chargers in 2018 in comparison to the 275,000 chargers in China, according to International Energy Agency. “Greater availability of charging infrastructure would aid in electrification of buses and taxis,” said Gandhi.

That apart, local manufacturing and assembly of battery packs for the EVs would also go a long way in reducing the cost of these vehicles, she added.

Should those actually kick in, it might make the market attractive enough for Musk to actually make good on those tweets.

I write about business and development in the Subcontinent. In the past I’ve worked at AFP, The Wall Street Journal, Mint, Forbes Magazine and Reuters. You can find me on Twitter: @mbahree or contact me on email: Megha.Bahree@gmail.com.

Source: Elon Musk And The Mirage Of Tesla In India

Hybrid Pioneer Toyota Finally Unveils Its First EV, The C-HR

The C-HR is Toyota's first-ever EV.

The C-HR is Toyota’s first-ever EV.

Some automotive analysts have recently suggested that Toyota missed the boat when it comes to electric vehicles. That could not be farther from the truth.

While not the first to mass-market an EV — that honor went to the Nissan Leaf in 2010 — Toyota has been methodically electrifying its lineup since it pioneered that world’s first hybrid—the Prius—back in 1997. In fact, of the 60 odd models (in Japan) in its range, well over half boast some form of electrification. We should of course note that by electrification, we are referring to vehicles powered by either a pure electric powertrain or a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or hydrogen fuel cell setup.

And electrification is the operative word here. Because while Toyota may not yet have a pure EV on the market, its hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell cars like the Mirai all have electric motors, battery packs and power control units that EVs employ. The technology is there. It’s just that the hybrid powertrains contain a gasoline engine component, which depending on the vehicle, either powers the drive wheels or merely acts as a generator to charge the batteries. Indeed, the Mirai is an electric car with hydrogen as its fuel.

I spoke with a Toyota executive recently who said that, “We might not have an EV in our lineup at this moment, but we have the necessary technology to release one almost immediately when the time is right.” He added that the company has been gauging market reaction to EVs, while it progressively electrified its entire lineup, a task that will be completed by 2025. That’s right. By 2025, every Toyota and Lexus vehicle will be propelled by some form of electric powertrain.

As far as Toyota’s “when the time is right” comment goes, it would seem as though the time to launch a pure electric car is now. At April’s Shanghai Motor Show, Japan’s No 1 carmaker unveiled their first-ever EV in China, the C-HR and Izoa battery-electric crossover concepts. Technically the same car, they are manufactured by different joint ventures. The reason why the same car has two names is because Toyota operates multiple joint ventures in China with GAC calling it C-HR and FAW referring to it as the Izoa.

While the company was not offering up any range details or specifications on its powertrain, we did learn that the concept sits on the same Toyota New Global Architecture that underpins the popular Camry and Corolla. Another thing we can infer from the C-HR is that if Toyota can mount an electric powertrain in this small crossover then there is a fair chance that other models like the RAV4 or Corolla, which also employ the TNGA platform, can also be made into EVs.

What we’re seeing here is just the start of a wave of EVs that Toyota says will number at least ten by 2025.

In a career that spans 30 years, I have written about automobiles, innovation, games, luxury lifestyles, travel and food.

Source: Hybrid Pioneer Toyota Finally Unveils Its First EV, The C-HR

Toyota’s new car subscription company Kinto is gamifying driving behavior — TechCrunch

Toyota has officially launched Kinto, a company first revealed late last year that will manage a car subscription program and other mobility services in Japan, including the sale and purchase of used vehicles as well as automotive repair and inspection. Kinto is jointly funded by Toyota Financial Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Toyota, and Sumitomo Mitsui…

via Toyota’s new car subscription company Kinto is gamifying driving behavior — TechCrunch

Tesla Says Plant Worker Injuries Stayed Flat In 2018 Amid Production ‘Hell’

Tesla’s push to more than double production of its electric vehicles last year wasn’t pretty; in fact CEO Elon Musk said it would be “hell.” In 2018 the injury rate at its main assembly plant stayed flat as the company expanded safety procedures and contended with news stories that highlighted worker injuries and questioned the thoroughness of its injury reporting practices……….

Source: Tesla Says Plant Worker Injuries Stayed Flat In 2018 Amid Production ‘Hell’

2 Reasons To Sell Tesla: $920M And $26,250

A little more than two months from now, Tesla — in which I have no financial interest — could have a considerably lower cash balance. How so? The terms of a $920 million convertible bond make me think that come March 1, Tesla will have to part with at least a third of its remaining cash. Is Tesla stock overvalued? On January 18, Tesla traded at 22% below its June 2018 all-time high and it lost 13% of its value in the wake of CEO Elon Musk’s decision to cut 7% of its employees……..

Source: 2 Reasons To Sell Tesla: $920M And $26,250

Tesla breaks ground on Shanghai factory which will product Model 3 EVs for China — TechCrunch

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has confirmed that the company’s first overseas factory in Shanghai will focus on producing Model 3 vehicles for the Chinese market only. Musk is currently in China to break ground on the new factory today, which is being developed in partnership with the Shanghai government — an ally that is likely to…

via Tesla breaks ground on Shanghai factory which will product Model 3 EVs for China — TechCrunch

Volvo’s Plans To Grow Trucking Industry Involves Better Fridges, Autonomous Tech – Sebastian Blanco

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Turns out, a better refrigerator and autonomous driving technology have something in common. They are both features that could help increase the number of semi truck drivers on the roads in the U.S. Because people like Malcolm Bryant don’t come around that often. I recently visited the Volvo Trucks Customer Service Center in Dublin, Virginia the day that Bryant (not pictured above) was honored by Volvo Trucks and Southeastern Freight Lines for a career that has lasted more than 50 years – and his spotless safety record with zero accidents during that time………….

 

 

 

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Tesla Just Outsold Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Acura, Infiniti In America, About To Crush BMW, Lexus In Q4 – Jean Baptiste Su

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After Tesla’s “historic” quarter – Q3 2018 – where it posted its first profits in 2 years – the American automaker had just 2 profitable quarters in its history, the last one being in 2016 – and outsold Mercedes-Benz (66,542), Audi (59,478), Acura (41,830) and Infiniti (33,079) in America with close to 70,000 vehicles sold, our current sales estimate indicates that Tesla is on track to surpass Lexus (78,622) and BMW (71,679) in the final quarter of this year……..

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeanbaptiste/2018/10/27/tesla-just-outsold-mercedes-benz-audi-acura-infinity-in-america-about-to-crush-bmw-lexus-in-q4/#2d17d76117d1

 

 

 

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Elon’s Enablers: Tesla’s Submissive Board May Be As Big A Risk As An Erratic CEO – Alan Ohnsman

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With Tesla closer to transitioning from niche electric-car company to high-volume manufacturer than it’s ever been, discipline and focus have never been needed more. And with its ever-expanding need for funds and with billions of dollars of shareholder equity on the line, you’d think the turmoil sparked by CEO Elon Musk’s erratic public comments would have set off an ear-splitting alarm for its board.You’d be wrong……

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alanohnsman/2018/09/13/elons-enablers-teslas-submissive-board-may-be-as-big-a-risk-as-an-erratic-ceo/#74de98a8f56e

 

 

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