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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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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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Mazda recalls 680,642 cars in China

China’s FAW Car Co Ltd, a partner of Mazda Motor Corp, from Japan, will recall 680,642 Mazda cars due to faulty air bags supplied by Takata.

The recall includes domestic Mazda 6 vehicles manufactured between September 2008 and January 2016 in China, the country’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (GAQSIQ) said in a statement on Friday.

The issue was found in the front passenger airbag, which the GAQSIQ called a “safety risk.”

The Chinese safety watchdog also requested on Friday that car makers General Motors, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen fulfil their recall obligations in China and replace cars affected by faulty Takata airbags.

The airbags have been linked to at least 16 deaths and 180 injuries worldwide, with over 100 million vehicles recalled.

Takata filed for bankruptcy in June, and was purchased by US-based Key Safety Systems for $2.2 billion. Takata’s legal liabilities, which include a $1.2 billion settlement with major global car makers, will be left behind in a separate company.

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Chinese car sales to hit 29.7 million by 2020

Changan is China’s top-selling domestic car maker

A report forecasts that new passenger car sales in China will reach 29.7 million units by 2020. The forecast by economists at ReportLinker is based on data gathered from the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers.

New car sales in China totalled 24.4 million in 2016, compared to just 6.9 million in the United States. Comparatively, 4.1 million new passenger vehicles were sold in Japan last year.

While the majority of new Chinese vehicles are manufactured domestically, foreign brands top the sales table. The top-selling car maker last year in China was Volkswagen, with three million sales, followed by Buick, with 1.3 million, Honda, with 1.2 million vehicles, and Changan, with 1.5 million sales.

This prediction means that between 2017 and 2020, new car sales in China will maintain an annualised growth rate of 7.06 per cent. If these sales are met, China is predicted to account for 30 per cent of new market share in 2020.

The continued growth of vehicle uptake in China is due to the rising average income of Chinese households, allowing for more car ownership, and the increasing urbanisation of the population as more Chinese citizens are drawn to larger cities.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, along with other government agencies, also pledged to increase the buying of new energy vehicles, such as EVs and PHEVs, to two million units by 2020.

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