Renault named a new chief for AvoVAZ this week

Renault named a new chief for AvoVAZ this week

News Avtovaz had named Yves Caracatzanis CEO, replacing Nicolas Maure from 1 June this year, rated highly with just-auto readers this week.

Caracatzanis is currently Renault Group's managing director for Romania where he heads all commercial and industrial activities and he is also president and CEO of Dacia, the largest private company in Romania. Before taking over operations in Romania, Yves Caracatzanis was industrial vice president for the Eurasia region and group supply chain grand fromage. He joined the French automaker in 1992.

There is obviously a lot of interest in what Volkswagen Group means by 'capital market readiness' in connection with its Truck and Bus unit. A float comes immediately to mind but word emanating from Wolfsburg so far, after last week's sudden change of chief, suggests the move is more likely to ensure capital, when needed, can be raised. But Andreas Renschler, head of the trucks business has made clear he has choices. "We want to achieve capital market readiness in the next 12 months. An IPO is just one of the options. You can also go to the capital market without (an IPO). You can refinance yourself by issuing a bond." To add to the intrigue, the unit's CFO had said, earlier, taking over US commercial truck partner Navistar International would eventually make sense. Global domination not ruled out then.

A rather less assured future for GM Korea as the latest in that saga occurred this week as South Korea's finance minister said public funds could only be used to support the ailing (nee Daewoo) automaker if it was clear that the business could survive on its own long term. Major shareholders and other parties involved need to swiftly come to an agreement on sharing the burden of improving the loss making operation. GM shocked South Korea in February with plans to close one local plant and leaving the fate of three others unclear. It is seeking government funding and incentives as well as wage concessions to save the unit, which just posted an annual net loss of US$1.1bn, its fourth straight year in the red. The government said last week it was aiming to complete a due diligence process on GM Korea by early May as it weighs up financial support for the ailing operations. That was followed by the Korean Development Bank showing slightly more enthusiasm to help and an offer by GM to relocate some of the workers from its doomed Gunsan plant. Tune in next week for the next gripping episode. Should it all go you-know-what, we produced this handy cut-out-and-keep guide to how the currently Korean made products will be affected. It's quite fascinating (hat tip: our Glenn Brooks) what they make and where it goes, not necessarily initially on wheels.

Tesla's Model 3 is another ongoing saga and this week its chief promised profitability this year and added investors won't need to prop the EV maker up. In typical (tweet) style, Elon Musk rubbished The Economist estimates Tesla would need US$2.5bn to $3bn this year in additional funding and said: "The Economist used to be boring, but smart with a wicked dry wit. Now it's just boring (sigh). Tesla will be profitable & cash flow+ in Q3 & Q4, so obv no need to raise money."

An unprecedented level of robots used in the Model 3's final assembly, in a break with automotive manufacturing norms, has added complexity and delays, which he acknowledged. "Excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake," Musk tweeted. "To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated." Next, he stunned many observers by temporarily suspending production of the Model 3 sedan for at least the second time in roughly two months, a pause that would last four to five days. Tesla had earlier idled output from 20-24 February saying, at the time, it planned periods of downtime at both its vehicle and battery factories to improve automation and address bottlenecks. Take holidays or unpaid downtime, workers were told (imagine what French or German unions would have said to that). Various observers said shutting off the tap while ramping up a critical new model was pretty much unheard of and suggested Musk's problems were more serious than he's let on; certainly there have been plenty of reports of poor build quality and various electronic gremlins in earlier Model 3s now in customer hands.

A day later, an internal email Musk sent to workers surfaced via a media outlet revealing a target to more than double production to 6,000 units per week across all production processes and suppliers in order to achieve 5,000 units per week in June after accounting for a margin of error. Last quarter's goal was 2,500 Model 3 units per week at the end of Q1, missed by under 500 units. In the email, Musk also said Tesla was focusing on quality as quantities increase and now also on profit, which he now expects - as he'd previously said - to hit in Q3 and Q4.

Another saga that ain't going away just yet: German prosecutors are investigating current and former employees of Porsche, including a management board member, as part of their enquiries into emissions manipulations. Around 10 premises in Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg were searched by around 160 officials, the prosecutor's office in Porsche's home town of Stuttgart said. "The three suspects include a member of the management board and a member of Porsche AG's higher management. The third suspect is no longer employed at Porsche AG." The searches form part of an investigation into employees suspected of fraud and fraudulent advertising tied to manipulated emissions control systems of diesel passenger cars.

Have a nice weekend.

Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor,