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Ford and Alibaba’s new partnership

While it is unconfirmed, there are talks that Ford Motor Co. will be selling cars to consumers in China through Alibaba’s online retail arm, Tmall.

Representatives of Ford and Alibaba, including Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford and Ford CEO Jim Hackett, are expected to sign a letter of intent that outlines the scope of the partnership.

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

According to an unnamed source, the deal is intended to position Ford in the emerging Chinese marketplace where more cars will be sold online.

The partnership would be in line with the next phase of their China expansion strategy which was announced earlier this week, where Hackett shared his vision of a bigger presence in China.

Ford global chief spokesman Mark Truby said the company is expected to make an announcement on Thursday in Hangzhou, which is where Alibaba is based, but has declined to make a formal comment.

There is also talk about Ford utilising Tmall’s new retail concept called the “Automotive Vending Machine,” which entails a multi-story parking garage that partly resembles a giant vending machine, to sell directly consumers.

Those cars could come directly from Ford or from its dealers but the details are still to be worked out, the source added.

According to Alibaba, consumers can use their phones to browse through the cars stored in the vending machine and choose to either immediately buy one or test drive it. The vehicle would be delivered to them on the ground floor.

Ford believes dealers would likely agree to this direct retailing model because they still get to service cars sold through Tmall, the Ford source said.

The move could be potentially problematic for dealers, as the danger will be that they could lose out, not only on a lot of car sales, but also the lucrative auto financing aspect of their traditional business.

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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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EV sales hit record high

Electric vehicle, EV, sales jumped to a record high in the third quarter of 2017 due to China’s increased demand.

Electric vehicle sales hit record high in Q3

Sales of EVs and plug-in hybrids exceeded 287,000 units in the three months ended in September, a huge 63 per cent higher than the same quarter last year, according to a report released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, BNEF.

China is the top market for EVs, making up roughly half of global sales in this quarter. Europe and North America were the second and third biggest markets, respectively.

It’s no surprise that China’s number one due to their current incentives to help increase the number of low-emission cars on the road.

BNEF forecasts that international electric vehicle sales to exceed one million units in 2017.

The market for electrified transport is starting to increase as charging infrastructure becomes more accessible.

“The Chinese government is very focused on pushing up EV sales,” advanced transport analyst at BNEF, Aleksandra O’Donovan said.

“One reason for that is the local pollution levels in the cities, and a second is for China to build domestic heroes to compete internationally in this market,” O’Donovan added.

“The national subsidies can make EVs up to 40 percent cheaper than regular internal combustion cars,” O’Donovan noted.

Automakers including Volkswagen Group, Daimler, Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo have recently announced plans to expand their line-ups to include EV models to meet growing demand.

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Volkswagen to spend big to meet EV quota

Yesterday the Volkswagen Group announced that it plans to spend 10 billion euros by 2025 in order to develop and build all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles as it seeks to comply with upcoming stringent rules in China.

The group, which includes Volkswagen AG and Audi AG, intends to launch 15 of the new energy vehicles (NEV) models over the next two to three years, with an additional 25 after 2025.

China’s NEV production and sales quotas, which must be met by 2019, have prompted an increase in electric car partnerships and deals as automakers in China race to ensure they do not fall short.

China chief, Jochem Heizmann, speaking ahead of the Guangzhou auto show, added that the group is aiming to sell 400,000 new energy vehicles per year in China by 2020 and 1.5 million per year by 2025.

The Volkswagen Group is also confident that its group companies and their local China joint venture partners will be able to generate enough NEV sales volume to account for NEV quotas by 2019, Heizmann said, adding that there will be no need to buy credits.

The Guangzhou auto show starts on Friday.

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Wellington e-buses are on the horizon

Leaders in innovation, TDG (The Digital Group) and Foton Motor Group, are building and developing e-buses in Wellington.

Foton Motor Group is China’s largest group of commercial vehicles. TDG is the top supplier specialized in designing and building world smart cities, and leader in developing innovative solutions to smart cities.

This comes after US President, Donald Trump took a delegation of nearly thirty CEOs from major American companies to make three-day state visit to China earlier this month. During this time, the US and China had in-depth talks about deepening economic and trade ties between the two parties.

On November 8, President Gong Yueqiong of Foton Motor Group and President & CEO Paul Doherty of TDG signed a MOU of Smart Cities Public Transportation Solutions in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross witnessed the signing ceremony.

Foton Motor Group President, Gong Yueqiong and TDG President & CEO, Paul Doherty

It was agreed that both parties will push forward solutions of smart cities public transportation and application of intelligent transport facilitate development.

According to the MOU, Foton Motor Group and TDG, using their advantages in technologies and resources, will get in profound partnership to build and develop global leading smart cities, intelligent transport and intelligent buses such as driverless buses and green e-buses.

The e-bus destined for Wellington is two meters long and more units can be linked according to the number of passengers. At the same time, the futuristic bus will drive according to the route set by GPS. Camera lenses will be installed to detect obstacles so that the bus can drive and park automatically.

The 2 metre intelligent e-bus 

The e-bus provides the futuristic intelligent solutions to transport, featuring zero accident, congestion and pollution.

As plans of the two parties, TDG will focus on environmental facilities and providing solutions to energy, dynamic wireless charging technology, data analysis, LED light, visible light telecom, dynamic ads/brand communications, crossing public stops and safety. Foton Motor will provide advanced bus products and services while providing support in Internet of Vehicles and automatic driving development.

The total order amount will exceed over a billion USD.

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GM’s electric car sales will meet quotas by 2019

General Motors China announces that they will be able to generate enough new energy vehicle (NEV) units to meet the NEV production quotas set by the Chinese government.  

China is wanting to meet its promise to cap its carbon emissions by 2030.

China has set stringent production quotas for NEVs which automakers must meet by 2019, a move that is prompting an increase of electric car deals and launches of electric battery and plug-in hybrid car models.

General Motors produces vehicles in China through a joint venture with SAIC, the country’s largest automaker.

Matthew Tsien, president and chief executive of GM China, said both SAIC-GM Corp are working to meet, if not exceed, those credit mandate requirements, without having to purchase new electric vehicle credits from other automakers.

China officially unveiled NEV requirements for automakers back in September. When the green car quotas take effect in 2019, automakers will need to accumulate enough credits by producing and selling enough NEVs to hit a threshold equivalent of ten per cent of annual sales.

In October, GM sold a total of 1,724 E100s, with cumulative volume hitting nearly 4,000 units since July. 

“Sales so far have largely met our expectations, perhaps even slightly above our expectations,” Tsien said. The car is one of the three electric battery car models GM already has available in China.

GM plans to launch at least seven more NEVs in China by 2020.

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China to reach one million units

Production of Electric Vehicles (EVs) in China could reach one million units by next year and three million by 2020.

Chairman of carmaker BAIC group, Xu Heyi said the production is likely to exceed a target set by the Chinese government.

“Rather than the time when gasoline-fuelled cars are withdrawn, it is more important to consider the extent to which new energy vehicles are popularized, or their market share,” Xu told reporters at the Communist Party Congress.

Wang Chuanfu, chairman of leading EV producer BYD, said in September that all of China’s vehicles could be “electrified” by as early as 2030.

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Polestar could rival Tesla

Polestar 1 white exterior, rear

Volvo Cars pledges to invest five billion yuan into its Polestar 1 high performance electric car in a bid to gear up for the ‘green car’ revolution.

The four-seater hybrid coupe is part of a push to improve the electric and hybrid vehicle range available. This comes after the Chinese government announced that electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will need to make up at least a fifth of Chinese vehicle sales by 2025.

Chief executive officer of Polestar, Thomas Ingenlath, said; “Polestar 1 is the first car to carry the Polestar on the bonnet. A beautiful GT with amazing technology packed into it – a great start for our new Polestar brand. All future cars from Polestar will feature a fully electric drivetrain, delivering on our brand vision of being the new standalone electric performance brand”.

Polestar 1 white exterior, top

The Polestar 1 – with a nominal price-tag of between 130,000 and 150,000 euros (NZ$213,000 and 246,000), will go into production in the western Chinese city of Chengdu in mid-2019. This will be alongside the fully electric Polestar 2, which will compete with the Tesla 3 and an SUV Polestar 3.

The Polestar 1 will form a halo for the future Polestar brand. The Polestar 1 is a two-door, 2+2 seat Grand Tourer Coupé with an ‘Electric Performance Hybrid’ drivetrain. An electric car supported by an internal combustion engine, it has a range of 150kms on pure electric power alone – the longest full electric range of any hybrid car on the market. Its output of 600hp and 1000Nm of torque places the car firmly in the performance car segment.

Polestar 1 white exterior, 7/8 rear

Volvo’s chief executive Hakan Samuelsson said that all its car models launched after 2019 will be electric or hybrids, making it the first major traditional carmaker to set a date for phasing out combustion engine powered vehicles.

The order books for the new Polestar 1 open on 17 October 2017, with Polestar able to take expressions of interest from prospective customers immediately.

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Honda to close Japanese plants as focus shifts to EVs

Honda is taking the rare step of closing one of its Japanese plants, as the car maker shifts its focus toward EVs.

Reuters reports that the company will end production at its Sayama plant by 2022. The move will cut domestic capacity by around 24 per cent.

The automaker has seen stagnant domestic sales and said on Wednesday it was streamlining its Japanese operations as it takes a nimbler approach to development and manufacturing in the face of fierce competition from carmakers and technology companies to make EVs and self-driving cars.

“As we focus more on adopting electrification and other new technologies, we want to hone our vehicle manufacturing expertise in Japan and expand it globally,” CEO Takahiro Hachigo told a press conference.

Honda’s CEO at a press conference on Wednesday. Source: Reuters

Honda said it would end production at the ageing plant north of Tokyo, consolidating output at its Yorii plant in the same area by the end of the 2022 financial year. Most workers currently at Sayama would be transferred to the Yorii facility.

“Domestic sales haven’t increased as much as we were expecting and it has become difficult to boost exports,” Hachigo said.

The move would cut overall domestic annual production capacity to around 810,000 units, the same as Honda’s current output levels, which are around 76 per cent of its current production capacity of 1.06 million vehicles.

Following the closure, Honda said the Yorii plant will produce EVs and serve as a major center for developing manufacturing technology for electric cars.

While the car maker makes cuts in Japan, it plans to open a new plant by 2019 in China, where it has seen massive growth. Overall, global annual production would remain largely unchanged at around 5.06 million units, Honda said.

Honda is complying with a request from Japan’s transport ministry for inspection records after Nissan said on Monday it would recall 1.2 million vehicles due failing audits of their final inspection processes.

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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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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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