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Ford’s China expansion strategy

Ford has outlined the next phase of its China expansion strategy which revolves around SUVs, electric and connected vehicles and a new business model.

Photo shows (left to right): Jason Luo, Chairman and CEO, Ford China, Jim Hackett, CEO, Ford Motor Company, Bill Ford, Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company, Peter Fleet, Group Vice President and President, Ford Asia Pacific.

Executive Chairman Bill Ford and CEO Jim Hackett shared the vision yesterday while in China this week to meet with employees, customers, dealers and government officials.

“China is not only the largest car market in the world, it’s also at the heart of electric vehicle and SUV growth and the mobility movement,” said Bill Ford. “The progress we have achieved in China is just the start. We now have a chance to expand our presence in China and deliver even more for customers, our partners and society.”

Ford plans to expand its product portfolio by introducing more than 50 new vehicles by 2025. The fleet will include 8 all-new SUVs and at least 15 electrified vehicles from Ford and Lincoln. And a new Zotye-Ford JV venture will deliver a separate range of affordable all-electric vehicles under a new brand.

“From luxury Lincolns, to Ford cars and SUVs, to an all-new electric vehicle brand, we will meet the growing desire and need in China for great new energy vehicles,” said Jason Luo, chairman and CEO, Ford China. “Each of them will be safe, efficient, fun to drive and backed by an ecosystem that makes charging, sharing and servicing easy,” said Hackett.

Jim Hackett, President and CEO, Ford Motor Company, outlines his plans for Ford to become the world’s most trusted mobility company.

It was also announced that by the end of 2019, 100 percent of new Ford and Lincoln-badged vehicles in China will be connected through either embedded modems or plug-in devices. Company leaders also are working on broader infrastructure opportunities to improve future mobility experiences.

“We are responding to the rapid pace of change by delivering increased connectivity and working to improve and simplify mobility for everyone,” Hackett said. “This builds on our commitment to deliver smart vehicles for a smart world, helping people around the world move more safely, confidently and freely.”

“All of the actions outlined today reflect an unprecedented commitment to focus on the needs of consumers in China through a more fit and streamlined Ford,” he added. “They are proof of our dedication to grow our business in China.”

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Mitsubishi Motors tests their best

MMNZ’s top service technician Javan Huxtable from Houston Mitsubishi Nelson at last year’s competition.

The twelve finalists competed across three categories at Mitsubishi’s state-of-the-art training workshop in Porirua, battling it out to be named top in their field within the company’s network.

That it was such a close call between the finalists to name a winner demonstrates the strength in depth enjoyed across the country, said aftersales general manager, Noel Comerford.

“It was highly satisfying that all of our finalists performed at an exceptionally high level. Javan, John and Sean just shaded it with an all-round performance that showcased their outstanding skills, efficiency and professionalism in a workshop environment,” he said.

“We want every customer to know that, if they need to take their vehicle in for service, our teams can quickly and correctly diagnose and remedy any issue there may be.”

Best Service Technician: Javan Huxtable, Houston Mitsubishi (Nelson)

Best Service Advisor: Sean Freeman, McVerry Crawford (Feilding)

Best Parts Advisor: John Baker, Mexted Mitsubishi (Tawa)

The Parts Advisor category was added to this year’s competition, as the company continues to expand its focus on aftersales service standards.

“We’re the only company in the global Mitsubishi Motors network to include a Parts Advisor category in our skills competition,” said Mr Comerford. “We believe we’re also the first automotive brand in New Zealand to do so.

“We wanted to recognise the important role our parts advisors play in aftersales service. By challenging our people to test themselves and better themselves in competition against their colleagues, we aim to drive motivation and performance across the board. Ultimately it’s a win-win for our team and our customers.”

Technical Service Skills Competition puts the spotlight on technical know-how and service savvy.

Each of the finalists was required to complete a theory examination in the morning, before demonstrating their skills in a practical challenge. Parts Advisor winner John Baker says that it was fantastic to be involved in the competition.

He credits his success to the high standards set at Mexted Mitsubishi, which also produced last year’s Service Advisor winner.

“We’re expected to always go the extra mile to ensure the customer is satisfied. When you get to a competition like this, it’s just about doing what you do in your normal day. I’ve also been working with Mitsubishi parts for more than 13 years, so I know them really well.”

Service Technician winner Javan Huxtable says that he was happy to successfully defend the title he won last year, as the level of competition was even higher.

“I was the only finalist to make it back from last year’s competition and I thought the quality of the contestants was even better than before. Competitions like this give people an incentive to improve their skills and I think that’s why it was a lot harder,” he says.

Sean Freeman, who won the Service Advisor category, said “it was a really enjoyable competition. I’ve been involved with other manufacturer’s competitions and they weren’t as hands-on, so I really enjoyed that aspect,” he says. “It was also great to get the chance to talk with other Service Advisors and find out how they do things. I was able to pick up a couple of tricks to take back to our workshop!”

All three winners will enjoy a trip to Japan in February, where they will witness the country’s own Technical Skills Competition and take a tour of its state-of-the-art manufacturing plant.

2017 MMNZ Technical Service Skills Competition finalists

Service Advisors

  • Michael Strudwick, Mexted Motors (Tawa)
  • Rachel Delaney, Delaney Mitsubishi (Paraparaumu)
  • Matt Gay, Wayne Kirk Hastings (Hastings)

Service Technicians

  • Ben Lambert, Malcolm Lovett (Ashburton)
  • Robert Greig, Wayne Kirk Napier (Napier)
  • Andy Young, Wellington Mitsubishi (Wellington)

Parts Advisors

  • Richard Schraven, Wayne Kirk Napier (Napier)
  • Jolene Evans, Archibald Motors (Wellington)
  • Mark Wright, McVerry Crawford (Palmerston North)
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New Electric Charging Partnership

ChargeNet New Zealand and Aurora Energy are partnering together to extend a charging network for electric vehicles in Dunedin, Central Otago and Queenstown lakes.

Aurora Energy is New Zealand’s seventh largest electricity network by customer connections, supplying electricity to more than 88,000 homes, farms and businesses in Dunedin, Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes.

ChargeNet NZ is the only organisation installing a nationwide network of rapid charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. It is also the largest privately owned and operated DC fast charger network in the Southern Hemisphere. The partnership will mean faster growth in the Southern region.

“The Otago region is one of the most active regions in the country in terms of embracing electric vehicles, and we are keen to support electric vehicle owners through this partnership with Aurora Energy,” said Nick Smith, Chief Operating Officer of ChargeNet NZ.

The agreement between the two organisations means an upgrade to the existing charger in Filleul St, Dunedin, to a Tritium charger supplied by ChargeNet. Other sites around the Dunedin CBD are also being considered for new installations.

“Extending the Dunedin and surrounding offerings is an important step in bolstering our ever-growing nationwide network of fast chargers and will be a game changer for both local and visiting electric vehicle owners.”

“The sites will complement the existing infrastructure in the Aurora Energy network, including Wanaka and Alexandra, and other installations underway in Queenstown and Roxburgh.”

“With most electric vehicles taking between six to eight hours to charge via a domestic power point, one of the challenges has been the ability to charge them when away from home, but the fast charge network which we are putting in place will allow electric vehicle owners to charge a vehicle in less than 25 minutes,” he says.

Aurora Energy is also delighted in the partnership as it will allow vehicle owners in Dunedin and wider Otago region greater confidence to make the move to driving electric said Grady Cameron, Chief Executive of Aurora Energy.

“We expect the new partnership will support further electric vehicle uptake across our network area and encourage even more people to make the switch to electric vehicles.

“Since Aurora Energy installed the South Island’s first public fast charging station in February 2016, the number of electric vehicles in Otago has increased from 50 to 225. Nationwide, the growth in electric vehicles has been exponential with 5,400 now registered in New Zealand, up from just 500 three years ago.

“Electric vehicles are an increasingly attractive option for New Zealand drivers and are cheaper, cleaner and quieter to run than traditional petrol and diesel-fuelled vehicles,” added Mr Cameron.

There are 57 chargers connected to ChargeNet’s network nationwide, at 30 November 2017 and they aim to have over 105 stations by the end of 2018.

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Optimus Group announces IPO

The company plans to offer a total of 1,611,200 common shares.

Optimus Group Co Ltd announces initial public offering (IPO) on the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) on December 26, 2017.

The stock will begin trading on the TSE under the symbol “9268.”

In its initial public offering, the company plans to offer a total of 1,611,200 common shares, of that 270,600 will be newly issued shares and 1,340,600 will be privately held.

The company says the nominal offering price as of filing date of Registration Statement is 1,710 yen per share with total offering amount to be 2.76 billion yen, and the fixed offering price to be announced at a later date.

If the offering price is achieved and the allocation fully subscribed, the group will realise approximately 35 million NZ dollars.

Nomura Securities Co Ltd will be underwriting this offer.

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GM to launch autonomous ride-share vehicles

General Motors, GM has announced they are set to launch commercial autonomous ride-share vehicles at scale within two years.

This is all down to GM wanting to reduce the costs of self-driving technologies and move into service-based operations such as ride sharing.

The automaker expects to deploy the fleets in “dense urban areas” by 2019, GM President Dan Ammann said during an investor event Thursday in San Francisco.

Revenue from the fleets, he said, is forecast to be in the billions soon after launch.

The comments during the investor event are the first public confirmations that GM plans to enter ride-sharing against Uber and Lyft, which the automaker invested $500 million in last year.

GM did not specify where the fleets will launch.

The company is currently testing a third-generation of self-driving vehicles in several states in the United States and has plans to begin testing in New York City next year.

Ammann said GM expects to the cost-per-mile of its autonomous ride-sharing vehicles under $1 by 2025 — a key, he said, to achieving profitable scale. 

“We see a pretty clear path on how we can do that,” he told investors, citing GM’s plans for “Rideshare 2.0” with autonomous vehicles that don’t require paying drivers a majority of their revenue.

 

 
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BMW reveal 453-hp M3 CS

Following the decades-long tradition of successful M special editions, BMW presents their new limited-run M3 CS. With its accentuated sporting presence, the four-door high-performance sedan serves up a perfect blend of dynamism and everyday practicality.

The new BMW M3 CS is fitted with the same six-cylinder inline engine with M TwinPower Turbo technology that has proved well in the existing BMW M3 models. It channels the engine’s power through the seven-speed M Double Clutch Transmission (M DCT) as standard. 


The output of the new BMW M3 CS has been raised to 338 kW/460 hp, 10 hp more than the BMW M3 with Competition Package, and its peak torque to 600 Nm / 442 lb-ft.

State of the art M TwinPower Turbo technology propels the M3 CS from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.9 seconds and the top speed of the new special edition is electronically limited to 280 km/h. 

The bonnet, roof, front splitter, Gurney and rear diffuser on the new BMW M3 CS are made from carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP). The weight saving over the standard BMW M3 is 50 kilograms. 

The new BMW M3 CS comes as standard with M compound brakes featuring four-piston callipers at the front and two-piston callipers at the rear. The new special-edition model rides on DTM-design light-alloy wheels in Orbit Grey.

Orders for the new BMW M3 CS can be placed from January 2018. The special-edition model – which will be limited to a run of approximately 1,200 units due to production factors – will be built from March 2018. 

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Nissan resumes production in Japan

Nissan plans to continue production of vehicles for its home market at five of its domestic factories after Japan’s transport ministry approved changes to the inadequate final-inspection procedures that prompted a major vehicle recall.

The company had suspended domestic production of all passenger cars earlier in October after noticing that uncertified technicians had been signing off on final inspections for decades.

This initiated a recall of around 1 million vehicles for investigation, including all light vehicles it produced for sale in Japan over the past three years.

Nissan said on Monday that its plants in Fukuoka, Kanagawa and Tochigi would resume production for the domestic market, along with plants operated by affiliate Nissan Shatai in Fukuoka and Kanagawa.

Nissan said it had corrected inconsistencies and that it was taking measures to improve training and testing processes for inspectors.

Japan’s transport ministry now requires certified inspectors to sign off on vehicle checks for cars sold in Japan. This is however not a step that is required for vehicles exported overseas.

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New light commercial imports shine

 With a total of 29,960 passenger and light commercial vehicle imports for the month of October, the pipeline continues to be strong across all sectors.

Imports of used cars increased by 20.7 per cent compared with the same month last year with 14,866 cars crossing the border last month.

Used light commercial vehicles were down by 5.4 per cent, with 712 units entering NZ, the only glitch in an otherwise strong month for imports. 

New cars were up slightly with 10,473 imports, up 3.5 per cent on the 10,115 that entered in October 2016.

The stand out though were the 3,909 new light commercial vehicles that came in, this was the best month of 2017 and year to date, there have been more vehicles in this segment imported than the whole of 2016. For the full year 2016 there were 29,852 new light commercial’s imported and year to date 2017 this figure sits at 31,259 and is shaping up to be a bumper year for this category.

Year to date, 143,866 used cars and 95,326 new cars have entered the country up 16,832 units and 13.2 per cent for used, and 5,270 units and 5.2 per cent for new passenger vehicles.

In the used car market Japan increased 24.2 per cent on the same month last year, increasing their monthly market share to 94.68 per cent, last month 11,256 were sourced from that country.

Australia, Singapore and the UK were all down on October 2016 with 24.4, 16.5 and 14.1 per cent drops respectively.

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Confidence returns to used car market

Confidence has returned to the used car market after September’s pre-election slow down.

There were 14,118 registrations of used imported passenger vehicles in October – up 11.1 per cent compared to the same month last year and an increase of 473 sales on September’s total of 13,645.

During the past 12 months, sales of used cars have totaled 162,571 – up 9.9 per cent on the previous 12 months.

Toyota continues to top the sales’ table with 3,509 sales for the month – up 5.6 per cent from the same time last year. Nissan was the second marque with 2,762 registrations – up 17.3 per cent on October 2016, and Mazda rounded out the top three on 2,296 units – up 18.2 per cent.

Year to date, Toyota has sold 34,290 units for a market share of 25.1 per cent, Nissan on 25,387 and 18.6 per cent and Mazda with 20,903 units and 15.3 per cent of market share.

The battle for top model continues to be close with the Mazda Axela, Nissan Tiida and Suzuki Swift making up the top three respectively. There were 657 Axela sold – 21.7 per cent on the same month last year, 613 Tiida – a fall of 9.5 per cent, and 579 Swift – up 21.6 per cent on October 2016.

The three cars hold 4.5 per cent, 4.3 per cent and 4.2 per cent of the year-to-date market share.

When looking at the individual regions, sales for October increased almost throughout New Zealand.

Registrations of used cars increased by a massive 91.1 per cent in Gisborne, with 86 units compared to 45 during October last year. Rotorua dealerships also had a great month with sales up 53.4 per cent on 204 registrations compared to 133 and Wanganui was close behind up 49.4 per cent on 115 units for October.

Invercargill was the top sales region in the South Island with sales up 34 per cent on 205 units compared to 153 in October 2016.

Auckland sales were up a modest 4.5 per cent with 6,618 sales in October compared to 6,335 in the same month last year.

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Tesla posts a record quarterly loss

Tesla posted a NZ$895.9m loss in the third quarter as it spent heavily to make up for production bottlenecks to bring in its more affordable Model 3 sedan to market.

Tesla said the bottlenecks in the production of the Model 3 sedan stemmed from its battery module assembly line at its Nevada Gigafactory, where Tesla had to redesign part of the production process.

This has caused a loss of US$3.70 per share, a far bigger decline than what Wall Street had predicted. Analysts polled by FactSet forecasted a loss of US$2.85 per share.

The affordable US$35,000 Model 3 would move Tesla from a luxury automaker into the mainstream. 

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk promised that the Model 3, which has a waitlist of 500,000 potential buyers, would be simpler to make than Tesla’s previous vehicles. However the company produced only 220 Model 3s in the third quarter, far fewer than the 1,500 Musk promised.

And while some customers may be annoyed by the delays, they’re not necessarily losing faith in Tesla.

“It is disappointing, but I would rather that Tesla make the car correctly and to an optimal finish than rush and turn out a disappointing product,” said Lisa Gingerich, who reserved a Model 3 within minutes.

 

Tesla had other major expenses in the quarter. The company opened 18 stores and service stations worldwide and set up 126 Supercharger stations in preparation for the increase in demand for Model 3 vehicles.

Sales of Tesla’s two other vehicles, the Model S sedan and Model X SUV, increased by 4.5 per cent to 25,915. Tesla said net orders for those vehicles hit a record level in the third quarter, setting the stage for record deliveries in the fourth quarter.

The company says it’s on track to deliver 100,000 Model S and Model X vehicles in 2017, up 30 per cent from 2016.

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Tesla job cuts

Job cuts have been made by Tesla company-wide, according to a statement on Saturday by the electric vehicle manufacturer.

The Palo Alto-based company confirmed the cuts but did not disclose how many of its 33,000 workers would be affected.

According to reports, it is estimated by former employees that as many as 400 to 700 employees may have been fired from a range of roles including administration, sales and manufacturing.

Meanwhile, an unspecified number of workers received bonuses and promotions following their reviews, according to the company.

The company said earlier in the month that “production bottlenecks” had left Tesla behind its planned ramp-up for the new Model 3 mass-market sedan.

The company delivered 220 Model 3 sedans and produced 260 during the third quarter. In July, it began production of the Model 3, which begins at (US)$35,000.

However, targets were missed for producing vehicles to a waiting list of more than 450,000 customers.

According to a statement from the company, the decision was made in order to boost morale, as high-performing employees have been rewarded.

Despite the mass firings, Tesla plans to hire hundreds more workers in the near future.

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