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Shares down for Harley Davidson

Harley Davidson’s shares have decreased to more than a one-year low after cuts were made to its shipments.

The manufacturers shares were down by nine per cent at $47.17 on Tuesday morning and for the full year, the company expects to ship between 241,000 and 246,000 motorcycles in comparison to 262,221 in the previous year.

Due to decreased popularity, the motorcycle maker is also planning on cutting production in the second half of this year.

According to David Beckel, an analyst from Bernstein Research, the decrease in sales is related to a lack of interest in motorcycles is waning for the new group of consumers born between 1980 and 1990.

“We are downgrading Harley-Davidson to ‘market-perform’ based on increased conviction that motorcycle demand in the United States is in the throes of secular erosion,” Beckel said.

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Porsche may discontinue diesels

According to an announcement by Porsche chief executive Oliver Blume, Porsche could discontinue diesel-fuelled cars in the near future.

Blume said in an interview at the Nuerburgring motorsports complex in Western Germany, that the company was looking into the issue and had not made a firm decision either way yet.

He said that the car manufacturer would offer a mix of combustion, plug-in hybrid and purely battery-powered cars.

Diesel-powered vehicles still make up approximately 15 per cent of global sales for Porsche, while they make up 35 per cent of sales for BMW vehicles.

Meanwhile, Porsche is spending $(US)1.2 billion in overhauling its main Stuttgart plant in order to build its first battery-only vehicle. The four-door Mission E saloon is due to be released in 2019. This will contribute to a projected plan for battery-only vehicles to account for a quarter of Porsche’s sales by 2025, according to Blume.

Porsche sales rose six per cent to a record 238,000 cars in 2016 and the company may deliver another zero-emission model off the Mission E platform, at its Zuffenhausen factory in the near future. Blume told Reuters an electrified version of the top-selling Macan SUV was also possible.

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Falling petrol prices help stabilise CPI

There was no change in the consumer price index (CPI) in the June quarter, and was down 0.1 percent after seasonal adjustment, according to Statistics New Zealand.

The annual inflation rate was 1.7 per cent, down from 2.2 per cent in the year ending March 2017.

“Household basics like rent, food, and electricity all hit consumers’ pockets harder this quarter,” prices senior manager Jason Attewell said.

“Offsetting these price rises were falls in domestic airfares and petrol prices – which fell on average by 4 cents a litre.”

Transport prices fell 1.3 per cent, spurred on by a fall in domestic airfares (down 14.5 per cent) and petrol (down 1.9 per cent). Car rentals also saw seasonally lower prices for the quarter.

The purchase of vehicles was static, down 0.1 per cent compared to the previous quarter, but up 1.4 per cent when compared to June 2017.

The average price of a litre of 91 octane petrol was measure at $1.86 in the June 2017 quarter, down from $1.90 in March, but up from $1.78 in June 2016.

Falling transport prices offset an increase in food, which rose 0.7 per cent in the June quarter, and housing, which increased 0.8 per cent.

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Tesla driver says Autopilot didn’t cause crash

The driver of a Tesla vehicle involved in a crash in the US over the weekend said it was not due to the Autopilot system, according to an email released by Tesla on Monday.

A local Minnesota Sheriff’s Department said on Sunday that the driver of the 2016 Tesla told authorities when he engaged the Autopilot system, it caused the vehicle to suddenly accelerate and roll over, which resulted in minor injuries for himself and four passengers.

Shares in the car maker fell on Monday at the news, but the driver wrote in an email he believed he had disengaged the Autopilot system at the time of the crash.

“I did not intend to put the blame Tesla or the auto pilot system as I am aware that I need to be in control of the vehicle regardless if the auto pilot system is engaged or not,” Clark wrote.

In a statement, Tesla said the company had no reason to suspect the system was at fault.

“Every time a driver engages Autopilot, they are reminded of their responsibility to remain engaged and to be prepared to take immediate action at all times, and drivers must acknowledge their responsibility to do so before Autopilot is enabled,” the car maker added.

It’s not the first time Tesla’s Autopilot function has been involved in an on-road incident. Last year, Joshua Brown was killed in Florida when his Model S collided with a truck while engaged in Autopilot mode.

In January, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it found no evidence of defects with the Autopilot system.

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Europe to go electric by 2035

ING Bank has predicted that all new vehicle sales in Europe will be electric as soon as 2035.

The Dutch bank said that pure electric cars would “become the rational choice for motorists in Europe” between 2017 and 2024, due to falling prices, an increase in vehicles on offer, and growing charging infrastructure.

The report follows a pledge made earlier this month from France’s ecology minister, Nicolas Hulot, that the sale of petrol and diesel cars would be banned in France by 2040. It also follows Volvo’s announcement that all cars manufactured from 2019 onwards would contain an electric motor.

Analysts forecasted that in Germany, the cost of owning an EV would be on par with a conventional petrol vehicle by 2024, and ‘range anxiety’ will dissipate as more EVs are able to travel beyond 500km on a single charge.

However, ING warned that European car makers could lose their market share to manufacturers in the US and Asia who are aggressively developing and releasing EVs and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

“Europe’s competitive advantage in internal combustion engine powertrains disappears with the shift to battery electric vehicles,” the report said.

The report matches research undertaken by Tony Seba at Stanford University and reported by The Guardia. Seba claimed that, worldwide, “essentially all vehicle miles travelled will be electric by 2040.”  

“The car industry faces an imminent technology disruption by AEVs in the early 2020s. Even without autonomous technology, the internal combustion engine car industry will have been long decimated by 2040,” Seba added.

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Tasman Tempest claims total $61.7M

Aucklanders were also affected by the flood.

The storm called the ‘Tasman Tempest’ by meteorologists has resulted in $61.7 million worth of insurance claims, the Insurance Council said.

The large storm, which saw a month’s worth of rain fall in 24 hours, hit the North Island between March 7 to 12.

Suburbs across Auckland flooded as well as many towns in the Coromandel. The township of Whangamata was battered particularly hard by the wild weather.

354 motor vehicle claims related to the weather event totalled $3.12 million, an average of $8.813.56 per car.

The final number of insurance claims stood at 7,774, for a total of $61.7 million. Domestic insurance claims had the highest number of claimants, at 6,449, worth $37.03 million.

“The weather bombs we’ve had in recent months highlights the importance insurance plays when disaster strikes,” said Insurance Council chief executive Tim Grafton.

So far this year, natural hazards have cost $174.7 million in insurance claims.

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Holden launches Aussie ride-sharing trial

General Motors has announced over the weekend that it will test its car-sharing operation, Maven, in Australia in conjunction with Uber.

“We are testing the adoption of one Maven product – Maven Gig – in Australia through a pilot program in Sydney renting Holden cars to Uber drivers,” communications director at GM Holden, Sean Poppitt, said in a statement.

In March, GM began an in-house car-sharing scheme in Melbourne for employees who needed to use a vehicle for a short period of time, or who wanted to test different models in the Holden line-up.

Maven Gig is a GM programme which allows drivers to rent vehicles on demand for one-off jobs such as deliveries and ride-sharing.

In the US, drivers can borrow a Chevy Bolt for $311 per week. It’s not known which Holden model is being used in the Sydney pilot.

Currently, the firm operates in San Diego, and in May, GM said it would launch Maven in San Francisco and Los Angeles later this year.

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Honda debuts Accord in Detroit

Honda debuted their tenth-generation Accord in Detroit on Friday in a bid to revitalise the slumping family sedan market in the US.

The car maker promised a suite of cutting-edge technologies, and the new Accord comes with two different powertrain options. The range opens with a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine, as currently seen in the Civic hatch, which generates 143kW of power and 260Nm of torque matched to a front-wheel drive CVT automatic transmission.

The next-level Accord contains a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine reminiscent of the just-released Civic Type R, producing 188kW of power and 370Nm of torque. This engine is matched to a world-first driving configuration of a ten-speed automatic with front-wheel drive.

A longer wheelbase and lower profile means an extra 7 centimetres of leg room in the cabin, Honda says. Inside the car, a 7.0-inch TFT screen and an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen offers Bluetooth connectivity, smartphone mirroring and a Wi-Fi hotspot and wireless charging.

Honda says the new Accord will also be available as a hybrid, with details of the motor to be announced.

Within the US, all models will contain Honda’s suite of driving assistance features, which include autonomous emergency braking, forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition.

The Accord is due to launch in the US in several months. No announcements have yet been made regarding an international release, but company director of Honda Australia, Stephen Collins, told Drive magazine the team are working to bring the Accord down under in 2018.

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Jaguar’s new SUV packed full of tech

The new E-PACE SUV has been unveiled by Jaguar, with a New Zealand launch date of April.

The E-PACE debut follows the F-PACE performance SUV and the I-PACE electric concept, and Jaguar promises it will be one of the most connected vehicles in its class, featuring a next-generation touchscreen infotainment system with app functionality, four 12-volt charging points, five USB connections and a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot.

Five different powertrains feature across the range with both petrol and diesel options. The four-cylinder 2.0-litre diesel line-up comes with the choice of 110kW and 380Nm, 132kW and 430Nm and 180kW and 500Nm engines, while the 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine comes either with 183kW and 365Nm or 220kW and 400Nm, which is electronically limited to speed of 243km/h.

All engines come with the latest-generation nine-speed automatic transmission as standard, and the 110kW and 132kW diesel options are also available with a six-speed manual transmission.

Various driving assistance system utilise a stereo camera, including the Emergency Braking system, with pedestrian detection, lane-keep assist, traffic-sign recognition, adaptive speed limited, driver condition monitor features and front and rear parting aids.

The camera also assists the E-PACE’s blind-spot assist function for multi-lane roads, and a new forward-traffic detection system will warn drivers of approaching vehicles in times of restricted visibility.

Four driving modes which alter vehicle specifications according to conditions and preference are available – Normal, Dynamic, ECO, and Rain Ice and Snow.

The E-PACE is also the first vehicle from Jaguar to be built outside its home market. The compact SUV will be manufactured in Austria and China, with the three British Jaguar Land Rover plants either at or near manufacturing capacity.

New Zealanders can expect an arrival in April, with prices to be confirmed.

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Mercedes-Benz under investigation

A German newspaper has reported that Mercedes-Benz is under investigation for possibly selling over a million cars with excess emissions in Europe and the US.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung, citing a search warrant issued by a court in Stuttgart, Germanny, says prosecutors were examining the possible use of illegal software to manipulate emissions test results in Mercedes-Benz vehicles between 2008 and 2016.

Both the prosecutor and Daimer, Mercedes’ parent company, declined to comment to Reuters regarding the report, but Daimler said the firm was fully cooperating with authorities and did not believe cars will lose certification.

“We take comfort from the fact that this is a European issue, not a US investigation. We also do not believe these Merc cars will lose their certification,” analysts from Bernstein Research told Reuters. “Our judgement is that Merc will be asked to recall these cars for a ‘software fix.’”

Bernstein estimated that if Daimler faced penalties at a similar per-car level to Volkswagen, the total fine would amount to $275 million to $400 million.

Stuttgart prosecutors conducted raids on 11 different sites in Germany as part of a wider probe into possible excess diesel emission from Daimler, and two employees are under investigation.

Mercedes-Benz has dropped plans to seek US approval to sell its 2017 diesel models, and investigations from the US Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are ongoing.

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Car makers urge rethink on China’s EV policy

Car markers around the world have urged China to delay their planned quotas for electric and hybrid cars, saying it is impossible to meet current proposals and it would cause a huge disruption to their businesses, according to Reuters.

The policy includes a goal for hybrid and electric cars to make up at least a fifth of Chinese vehicle sales by 2025, with escalating quotas beginning in 2018. Chinese government officials have pledged to increase the buying of new-energy vehicles to 2 million units by 2020.

A report published last month, based on data from the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers, forecasted that new car sales in China would reach 29.7 million by 2020 and account for 30 per cent of the global car market.

A letter seen by Reuters and dated June 18 was addressed to China’s minister of industry and information technology, Miao Wei.

“The proposed rules’ ambitious enforcement date is not possible to meet, and if unchanged would lead to a widespread disruption of the product portfolio of most automakers operating in China,” the letter states.

“At a minimum, the mandate needs to be delayed a year and include additional flexibilities.” 

The letter is sighed by the American Automotive Policy Council (AAPC), the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) and the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA).

Last year, 870,000 electric vehicles were produced worldwide, with 43 per cent manufactured in China, 23 per cent in Germany and 17 per cent in the US.

As well as a delay in implementing the quotas, and a reconsideration of the harsh policies for not meeting them (which include a ban on importing and producing combustion-powered vehicles in China), car makers have called for equal treatment of Chinese and foreign manufacturers.

Currently, foreign car makers are secluded from government subsidies for batteries and new-energy vehicles (NEVs), which they claim “undermines the environmental goals of the regulation, puts imports at a competitive disadvantage, and risks opening China up to international trade disputes.”

In response to China’s quotas, car makers are trying to ramp up local production of EVs and negotiate around high tariffs on imported vehicles.

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