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150 million Nissans to date

The Nissan Motor Company has produced its 150 millionth vehicle.

Established in 1933, Nissan is based in Yokohama Japan and sells vehicles world-wide. The US, China, Mexico and the UK lead Nissan’s sales, and Australia has contributed to producing over 1.6 million of these vehicles, including 806,432 of the 50 million cars sold since the start of 2005.

Nissan held about 6 per cent market share of passenger and commercial new vehicle sales in New Zealand in 2016, selling 11,219 that year.

The Nissan Motor Company has its origins in the pre-war Japanese Empire, being one of the members of the “zaubatsu”, a group of business that dominated the Japanese economy from the late 1800s to the end of World War Two.

In 1914, the company produced its first car. Named DAT, the car’s name was an an acronym of the first letter of each of its investor’s surnames. The DAT was followed by the smaller DATSON (son of DAT) Type 11.

The 1933 Datsun 12 Phaeton.

Nissan were the first manufacturer to produce cars in New Zealand, when they sold under the Datsun brand.

They built cars in Mount Wellington from March 1963, and until the company built its own permanent plant in South Auckland in the late 1970s, Nissans were assembled all over New Zealand.

Nissans were manufactured by NZ Motor Bodies in Mt Wellington, Campbell Industries in Thames, Motor Holdings, Waitara and Todd Motors Porirua. Nissan also owned a plant in Mt Roskill, Auckland and commercial vehicle plants in Glen Innes and Mangere.

Nissan closed its last plant in New Zealand in 1998, but retains plants in North America and Mexico, Europe, Asia, Oceania, Latin America & Caribbean, the Middle East and Gulf States, and Africa.

Today, Nissan is a global full-line vehicle manufacturer that sells more than 60 models under the Nissan, Infiniti and Datsun brands.

Nissan produces the all electric Leaf, which has become a best-selling electric vehicle both globally and in New Zealand. The Leaf’s ancestry can be traced all the way back to 1947, when the Japanese government encouraged auto makers to produce electric powered cars, due to oil shortages caused by World War Two.

The 1947 Tama Electric Car and the 2017 Nissan Leaf.

This resulted in the Tama Electric Car, which went on to succeeded in bettering its catalog specifications in government performance tests, with a cruising range of 96.3km, and a top speed of 35.2kmh. It was widely used as a taxi and a cargo vehicle.

Nissan is currently operating in six regions: ASEAN & Oceania; Africa, Middle East & India; China; Europe; Latin America and North America, and has a global workforce of 247,500.

In fiscal year 2015, the company sold more than 5.4 million vehicles globally, and generated revenue of ¥12.19 trillion, about $160 million NZD.

The company has been partnered with French manufacturer Renault under the Renault-Nissan Alliance since March 1999.

The 1980 Nissan Violet, four time winner of the infamous Safari Rally.





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Ford-Mahindra alliance announced

Ford Motor Co announced on Monday they would launch a strategic alliance with Indian car manufacturer Mahindra that the pair say will help to counter challenges posed by rapid technological developments and global competition, Reuters reports.

As increasing numbers of policy makers throughout the world signal that they will transition to entirely electric vehicles, manufacturers of traditional combustion engine vehicles come under pressure to find ways to remain profitable.

One potential benefit to Ford of a partnership with Mahindra is access to lower cost electric vehicle designs and local suppliers it needs to compete in markets such as India.

Ford has less than a 3 per cent market share in India, although its exports from India are expanding. Mahindra could help Ford lower its distribution costs or send production work to Ford’s Indian plants.

Mahindra’s EV concept at the 2017 Geneva motor show.

Mahindra plan on increasing productions from the current 200 vehicles per month to 5000 in the next two years. Mahindra believe that the future of passenger vehicle travel is in electric vehicles, for their environmental, economic and costs saving benefits.

Mahindra’s managing director stated in May that the company plans to increase production  from the current 200 vehicles per month to 5000 in the next two years.

“We plan to expand our range of electric vehicles in the country beyond the four products that we currently have in our line-up,”…”“As the pioneers of electric vehicles in the country, the Group is committed towards making electric vehicles more accessible in order to build a clean and green tomorrow,” he said.

Ford has also made moves to enter the Chinese market recently, and has shifted the production of the Ford Focus (for the US market) to China, rather than Mexico as initially planned.

Following the announcement of the agreement between the two companies, Ford shares rose 0.9 per cent.

Ford president of global markets, Jim Farley, and Ford’s head of Asia Pacific operations, Peter Fleet, told Reuters on Monday that teams from the companies will start meeting next week to discuss ways to benefit in the short and medium term.

“We are focused on the now and near with this initiative. We want to work on the opportunities that are right in front of us,” Farley said.

In the shorter term, Ford and Mahindra suggested they could benefit from collaborating on distribution of vehicles in India, pooling purchasing and collaborating on forays into ride services.

Longer-term projects could include sharing technology or development efforts for electric vehicles, the companies said.

Ford, like global rivals, faces a challenge because electric vehicles engineered for the United States or Europe are too expensive for Indian or Chinese customers. Policymakers in China and India, as well as some European countries, have signaled they want the industry to phase out diesel and gasoline vehicles over the next two to three decades.




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Renault-Nissan dismisses ‘peak car’ notion

The chief executive officer of the Renault-Nissan alliance has dismissed the notion that the era of personal ownership of cars is ending, predicting in Paris yesterday that his alliance will sell more than 14 million cars a year by 2022, Forbes reports.

Carlos Ghosn says that this number is more or less inevitable.

“Fourteen million is not a target, it is not an objective,” Ghosn says. “What I am telling you is what our assumptions are. Our forecast is that by the end of 2022, we should reach 14 million cars. We estimate that the total market by the end of 2022 will be between 108 and 110 million cars.”

This would be significantly up from a worldwide volume of 95 million units in 2016. In this sense Ghosn seems to dismiss the notion that ride sharing and autonomous vehicles will eat into the personal car market.

“When you take a look at the total revenues from selling cars and the expected revenues of mobility services, even six years down the road it will be totally imbalanced,” Ghosn says.  “I don’t think that mobility services will represent a big portion of revenues, compared to selling cars, parts, accessories, servicing of cars etc.”

With Avtovaz, the Alliance has Russia’s largest carmaker. In India, Renault outsells all European and American OEMs. The Alliance’s Mitsubishi is also strong in South East Asia.

Renault and Nissan are invested in the EV market, having recently announced a joint venture with a Chinese company to produce EVs in the PRC. There are some 1.4 million EVs on the world’s roads, and more than half a million of those have been made by Alliance partners.


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Samsung follows Intel into auto drive tech

South Korean electronics giant Samsung is looking to enter the autonomous vehicles market, Reuters reports.

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd is building on its recent USD$8 billion acquisition of audio and auto parts supplier Harman.

Samsung announced on Thursday at the Frankfurt Motor Show that is has set up a new business unit to research and develop autonomous driving technologies. It has also created a USD$300 million fund to invest in automotive start-ups and technology.

Samsung’s competitors have also moved to enter the autonomous vehicles market. Intel announced plans to purchase Israeli technology company Mobileye in March.

“It’s time to communicate our intent to enter the autonomous driving market,” Young Sohn, the company’s president and chief strategy officer, told Reuters. “Samsung has been incubating this business for quite a while.”

Sohn says that Samsung’s hugely diverse electronics business, and its recent acquisition of Harman, provides the company with the technical expertise and experience it needs to succeed in the autonomous vehicle market.

Samsung’s two biggest rivals have also moved into the connected car market over the past year, at greater cost: Intel Corp paid $15.3 billion last month to acquire Mobileye, the current market leader in collision-detection ADAS software, while Qualcomm Inc is seeking regulatory approval for its USD$47 billion deal to buy NXP Semiconductors NV, the world’s biggest maker of automotive-grade chips.

Sohn said the Autonomous/ADAS business unit will absorb hundreds of engineers Samsung already has working on autonomous driving technologies.

The new unit will sit within the connected car business of Harman, an independent subsidiary of Samsung, a spokesman added.

In recent months, Samsung has secured licenses for autonomous driving pilot projects in South Korea and California.

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Scotland to end sales of diesel, petrol cars by 2032

Scotland has announced they will phase out sales of diesel and petrol vehicles by 2032.

Scotland now follows a growing list of counties that have outlined intentions to move away from the internal combustion engine.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, outlined plans to “massively expand” charging points and set up pilot projects to encourage uptake of electric vehicles.

If Scotland meets its target, it will do so eight years ahead of the UK as a whole.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, outlined the plans.

“Our aim is for new petrol and diesel cars and vans to be phased out in Scotland by 2032,” Ms Sturgeon said.

The Government said the commitment was necessary due to the avoidable impact poor air quality was having on people’s health.

Jesse Norman, the parliamentary under-secretary at the Department for Transport, confirmed the Government’s plans.

“The Government has a manifesto commitment for almost all cars and vans on our roads to be zero emission by 2050. We believe this would necessitate all new cars and van being zero emission vehicles by 2040,” Mr Norman said in a written answer to the Commons.

The UK government said earlier this year that in the interests of meeting targets under the Paris climate accord and to reduce emissions to zero by 2050, they would end the production of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040.

France has an even stricter target, announcing they would ban sales of the internal combustion engine the same year as the UK plans to have them phased out.

Earlier this week China also announced it would phase out the combustion engine, and focus on the production of electric vehicles.

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VW to recall 4.86 million cars in China

Volkswagen AG will recall 4.86 million vehicles due to issues with air bags supplied by bankrupt auto parts maker Takata Corp, China’s quality watchdog has said today.

Reuters reports that Volkswagen and its Chinese joint venture FAW-Volkswagen and SAIC Volkswagen delivered 3.98 million vehicles in China last year.

The recall comes after the watchdog asked the German automaker, General Motors Co (GM.N) and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz earlier this year to recall vehicles equipped with Takata air bags.

Over 20 million cars in China had air bags made by Takata, the watch dog has estimated.

The airbags which have been linked to at least 16 deaths and 180 injuries globally, and have the potential to explode with too much force and spray shrapnel.

China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said across all of VW’s Chinese operations, it would be required to recall over 5 million vehicles.

The watchdog said the recall would begin in March next year and continue into 2019.

Volkswagen officials did not provide immediate comment when contacted by Reuters.

Of 37 vehicle manufacturers affected by the faulty air bag issue in China, 24 had recalled 10.59 million cars as at the end of June. A further five had made plans to recall 1.26 million vehicles.

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EV completes 12,000k trip across Europe

A Scottish husband and wife team have become the first entrants to complete the Mongol Rally in an electric vehicle, after travelling over 12,800 kms through 13 countries in a Nissan Leaf.

Chris and Julie Ramsey, dubbed Plug In Adventures, crossed the Mongol Rally finish line in Ulan-Ude on Saturday, after charging the Leaf 111 times and claiming to have spent about $182 in electricity costs.

Team Plug In Adventures at the finish line.

 The modified 2016 Nissan LEAF, labelled the AT-EV (All-Terrain Electric Vehicle), faced its critics, Chris said.

“There were a number of detractors who told me an electric car isn’t capable of long distance journeys,” he said.

“After thousands of miles and almost zero problems, I can tell you that is not the case.”

Throughout Europe, Chris and Julie had the use of an extensive rapid charger network that can provide an 80 per cent battery charge in just 30 minutes.

However, once they got into Bulgaria and beyond, they faced far less rapid charge options. They charged the EV at bars, cafes, hotels, hostels, a barbershop, a post office, garages, car dealerships, a tractor showroom, a police station, and three fire stations in Russia.

They even had their LEAF plugged directly into an electricity pylon in the middle of the woods in Siberia, by a local who (Nissan is keen to stress) was a trained electrician.

“In terms of vehicle reliability, the car’s been brilliant. We’ve had one puncture, one damaged alloy wheel, a mud flap came off and someone stole one of our stickers,”Chris said.

The longest stretch the couple did on a single charge with their fully loaded vehicle was 115 miles, pulling in to charge with 6 per cent capacity left.

The Plug In Adventures’ car was a standard 2016 30kWh Nissan LEAF Acenta, which offers a range of up to 250 km on a single charge, though with a number of modifications for better off-road performance.

Nissan has announced the 2018 Leaf will go on sale in Japan October 2.

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Flying cars on the horizon

A flying car start up that hopes to bring “urban air taxis” to market has attracted over $100 million USD worth of investment, and has just finished its second round of funding. And it’s not the only flying car manufacturer that is attracting interest.

The German company, Lilium Aviation said Tuesday the investment will be used for the development of its five-seat Lilium Jet and for the development of its current team.

In December 2016, the company said it had completed a Series A funding round worth more than $10.7 million.

A US company, XTI Aircraft Company has resumed its equity crowdfunding campaign for its TriFan 600, having secured $20 million USD from New York investment bank Primary Capital last September.

Image courtesy of XTI Aircraft Corp.

In April at Uber’s Elevate Summit, finance executives announced their intention to increase investment in vertical landing and take-off technologies, with one financier announcing they would create a new company specifically to fund the technologies.

Lilium’s two-seat Eagle Lilium Jet prototype took its maiden flight in April. The company’s CEO Robert LaBelle said XTI plans to have a one-third mockup of its six-seat TriFan 600 ready by October.

“We’re expecting to book orders and make announcements,” he said.

Lilium said its Series B funding group consists of Tencent; LGT, the international private banking and asset management group; Atomico, a Series A backer founded by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström; and Obvious Ventures, whose co-founder Ev Williams is Twitter’s co-founder and former CEO.

The jet would be able to travel at about 300kph for one hour on a single charge.

Google, Uber, Airbus are also among those developing flying car technologies.

Uber has hired a long-serving Nasa researcher to develop flying car technologies.


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China set to end sales of combustion engine

China will join France and the UK in setting a timeline to phase out the sale of internal combustion engine cars.

Bloomberg reports that Xin Guobin, the vice minister of industry and information technology, said the government is working with other regulators on a timetable to end production and sales.

Cars driving on an overpass in Beijing amid heavy smog.

The move will have a profound impact on the environment and growth of China’s auto industry, Xin said at an auto forum in Tianjin on Saturday.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance and Ford have both announced in the past month joint ventures that will see them collaborate with Chinese EV producers to manufacture electric vehicles, for the Chinese market.

Honda Motor Co. will launch an electric car for the China market in 2018, the companies China chief operating Officer said at the same forum in Tianjin. The Japanese carmaker is developing the vehicle with Chinese joint ventures of Guangqi Honda Automobile Co. and Dongfeng Honda Automobile Co. and will create a new brand with them, he said.

Volkwagen AG is also working with the state-owned Anjui Jianghuai Automobile Group to bring an electric SUV to the Chinese market next year.

China, seeking to meet its promise to cap its carbon emissions by 2030, is the latest country to unveil plans to phase out vehicles running on fossil fuels.

The U.K. said in July it will ban sales of diesel- and gasoline-fueled cars by 2040, two weeks after France announced a similar plan.

In 2016 the New Zealand government announced it would seek to increase the number of EVs in the country to 64,000 by the end of 2021.

In a policy document released last week, the Labour Party stated that if elected, they would require state-owned enterprises and other government organisations to actively pursue low-carbon technologies.

“All future purchases of all Government vehicle fleets to be electric vehicles unless there is an exceptional reason otherwise” the document said.

As of August there are 4,541 EVs on New Zealand roads, including Hybrid plug in cars.



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Concept X7 iPerformance a new take on luxury- BMW.

The BMW Concept X7 iPerformance will be unveiled at the IAA Cars 2017 show in Frankfurt, in a move that see’s the company attempt to introduce a new take on luxury for the brand.

The Concept will have a BMW TwinPower Turbo petrol engine, creating a plug-in hybrid powertrain that will run with zero local emissions.

The company has focused on how the car looks over performance though, emphasising the heightened luxury of this model.

“The expansive exterior of the BMW Concept X7 iPerformance projects the exclusive experience available inside the car confidently to the outside world. Clear, vertical proportions with significant ground clearance identify the Concept as an X model without the need to look twice,” the company has said in a press release.

BMW says the Concept X7 iPerformance’s 6 person interior is pared down to the essentials, displaying elementary forms, top grade materials and a state-of- the-art infotainment system brimming with connectivity.

The new BMW 8 Series, new BMW X7, BMW i8 and new BMW i8 Roadster will join the BMW 7 Series in the brand’s significantly expanded luxury segment line- up.

The identity shared by BMW’s top line models are echoed in a newly designed logo, which combines a black-and-white version of the manufacturer’s logo first used 100 years ago with the company name “Bayerische Motoren Werke” written out in full.

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All cars to be electrified from 2020 – Jaguar Land Rover

Jaguar Land Rover is using the inaugural iteration of their new event, Tech Fest, to announce that from 2020, all vehicles it produces will be electrically powered to some extent.

Dr Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover chief executive officer, said today, “[Jaguar Land Rover] will introduce a portfolio of electrified products across our model range, embracing fully electric, plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid vehicles.”

The companies first fully electric vehicle, the Jaguar I-Pace, will go on sale next year.

The Jaguar I-Pace.

Jaguar Land Rover will also use the event to reveal an electric-powered Jaguar E-type at the Jaguar Land Rover Tech Fest, which opens tomorrow in London. The E-type Zero, has been restored and converted at Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works in Coventry, not far from where the E-type was originally designed.

Jaguar Land rover says it drives, handles, rides and brakes just like an original E-type.

Tim Hannig, the director of Jaguar Land Rover Classic says that the companies aim with the electric E-type is to future proof classic car ownership.

Tech Fest’s headliners.

An electric powertrain developing 220kW has been specially designed for the E-type Zero. Its lithium-ion battery pack has the same dimensions, and similar weight, to the XK six-cylinder engine used in the original E-type. The cars total weight is 46kg lower than the original E-type.

The E-type, launched in 1961, has regularly been voted the best-looking car of all time. Enzo Ferrari called it “the most beautiful car ever made”.

The companies concept for a digital assistant, a steering wheel that uses autonomous technologies will also debut.

Jaguar Land Rover will be providing clean, safe, renewable solar-powered lamps to families in Kenya, giving up to four hours of additional light every evening. Visitors to Tech Fest will see the ‘Night Time Sun’ installation, a collaboration between several artists, using solar lamps from the project to harness the sun’s power to transform lives.

The festival takes place at the Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London and is open to the public.



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