British labour body, Unite, says proposals by GKN to shutter its plant in the UK Midlands city of Birmingham with the potential loss of 519 jobs, has left the workforce “shocked and angry.” The union has also raised concerns surrounding the possible loss of skilled production from Britain at the site, which produces drivelines for GKN, but the supplier insists the factory is no longer viable in an increasingly competitive global market. “Unite is at the moment highly concerned highly skilled manufacturing jobs could be lost from the UK and transferred to factories in Europe,” a Unite spokesman told just-auto.

GAC Group said it had achieved a breakthrough in graphene-based fast-charging battery technology and that its vehicle model Aion V will be equipped with the new battery, which is to start production in September. GAC says that in recent years, graphene, a new material with excellent electrical conductivity, has been the key to breakthroughs in battery technology. Aion V, the first vehicle to be equipped with the new battery, is undergoing winter testing and is initially scheduled for mass production in September this year. At the “2020 GAC Tech Day” held in July, GAC Group demonstrated its 3DG (three-dimensional graphene) production technology with independent intellectual property rights, solving the issue of high costs of graphene, it is claimed. It says the simple, stable, and efficient production method reduces costs to only one-10th of the conventional method. We’ve some GlobalData analysis on this development, too.

Tata Motors’ Jaguar Land Rover boosted pre-tax third quarter profit to GBP439m, up GBP374m quarter on quarter and GBP121m year on year.
The automaker said “improved profits reflect revenue of GBP6bn, up GBP1.6bn from Q2 while still lower than pre-COVID levels a year ago, with favourable sales mix, cost performance and partial reversal of prior-period reserves”.

Faraday Future, a California-based electric vehicle (EV) start-up, said it plans to list on the US Nasdaq stock market later this year. An IPO and listing is set to take place after the company completes its merger with Property Solutions Acquisition Corporation which is expected at the end of the second quarter of 2021. The proposed merger values the company at US$3.4bn and the subsequent IPO is expected to generate gross proceeds of US$1bn which will be invested to launch production of the company’s first model, the FF91 crossover EV. Faraday Future has a manufacturing plant in Hanford, California, and the company has also been in talks with potential contract manufacturing partners in Asia.

Volkswagen said that, following presales of the launch edition ID.4 1ST SUV which have already taken place, presales of additional ID.4 models will now also start by mid-February in 30 European countries, including Germany, as well as in the US. Deliveries will begin in March in Europe and China and, from the middle of the year, in the US. “The ID.4 plays an important role. With this model, Volkswagen is expanding its range to include an electric vehicle in the world’s largest growth segment, the compact SUV class. The market launch of our world car is therefore an important strategic milestone for the brand,” said VW Passenger Cars CEO, Ralf Brandstaetter. In 2020 the company tripled deliveries of BEVs and, thanks to its ID. family, is now already a market leader in a number of countries.

Daimler announced it plans separation into two “pure-play” companies and a majority listing of Daimler Truck to “accelerate into a zero- emissions and software-driven future”. The supervisory and management boards agreed to “evaluate” a spin-off of the Truck and Bus business and begin preparations for a separate listing of Daimler Truck with a “significant majority stake” in Truck distributed to Daimler shareholders. The Truck business will have fully independent management, stand-alone corporate governance including an independent supervisory board chairman and is targeted to qualify as a DAX company. The transaction and the listing on the Frankfurt stock exchange is slated before year-end 2021.

With the exception of the low volume Karry brand, each of Chery Auto’s divisions had a great 2020, Chery itself becoming China’s 12th most popular make, a y-o-y gain of five places. Nine consecutive months of expansion for the market, plus a wave of fresh vehicles has powered that progress.
There’s a lot more to come for not only the company’s namesake make but for Cowin, Jetour and Exeed too, although there’s a question mark over the future of the Cos brand.

Hyundai Motor Group, Coventry City Council and the UK government have partnered with Urban Air Port to launch what is described as the world’s first site – Air One – to demonstrate the potential of urban air mobility for the UK and worldwide. The Urban Air Mobility Division of Hyundai Motor Group has chosen Urban Air Port as its priority infrastructure partner to support global growth of this new sector. The South Korean company plans to create its own e-VTOL aircraft and support the broader urban air mobility eco-system. HMG is supporting the development of Air-One as part of its plan to commercialise its aircraft by 2028.

Tesla plans to expand annual production capacity in China from 250,000 to 450,000 vehicles this year to meet growing demand, according to local reports citing a company statement. At the end of last year, the US electric vehicle manufacturer began production of the Model Y SUV at its Shanghai gigafactory, alongside the Model 3 which had been in production since late 2019. The company sold 137,459 vehicles in China last year, according to the China Passenger Vehicle Association, mostly locally-made Model 3s but also other models imported from the US.

In contrast, Ford has decided to terminate plans to launch electric vehicle joint ventures with China’s Zotye Auto. In a statement sent to just-auto, Ford said that it was now impossible to proceed with the Zotye JVs due to changes in the Chinese EV industry and ‘relevant policy’. The statement said: “Considering significant changes occurred in recent years in China’s pure electric vehicle industry and relevant policy which makes it impossible to implement the BEV JV and the Smart Mobility JV proposed to be jointly established by Ford and Zotye Motor, Ford China has decided to terminate the relevant JV contracts with Zotye Auto.”

Kia reportedly will sign a KRW4 trillion (US$3.59bn) deal with Apple to build electric vehicles. Reuters said South Korean online news outlet Donga.Com had reported Apple would invest $3.6bn in KIA as they collaborated to produce Apple electric vehicles in Kia’s Georgia plant, without citing any sources. The report said the deal would be signed on 17 February.

According to an analysis from car retail platform Auto Trader, the sale of new electric vehicles (EVs) could overtake petrol and diesel sales in Britain by as early as 2025, whilst alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFV) more broadly, could pass them even earlier, in 2024. The analysis suggests that by 2025, EVs will account for around 10% of the total British car parc, and AFVs around 18%; by the time the government’s ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars comes into effect in 2030, they’re likely to represent as much as 30% and 40% respectively.

Microvast has opened its new European headquarters in Ludwigsfelde near Berlin. While the team is partially constrained to working at home due to the current coronavirus-related regulations in the Federal State of Brandenburg, some of them are preparing for production start at the German plant.

Sales of new vehicles in southeast Asia’s six largest markets combined declined by just over 10% to 852,286 units in the fourth quarter of 2020 from 937,114 units in the same period of the previous year, according to data exclusively for just-auto from local industry sources including vehicle manufacturers, trade associations and government departments.

Have a nice weekend.

Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor,