Funnily enough, the most-read article on just-auto this week was last week’s week. So, in case you missed it, here ’tis. Second most popular: our ongoing ‘good news’ article about auto industry recovery.
VinFast Production and Trading and ProLogium Technology Company (Taiwan) have signed a memorandum of understanding on strategic cooperation. Accordingly, VinFast is entitled to use ProLogium’s patents to manufacture solid-state batteries in Vietnam. Under the agreement, VinFast and ProLogium will establish a joint venture to manufacture solid-state batteries for electric cars in Vietnam. This joint venture will gain access to patents and be allowed to use ProLogium’s MAB (Multi-Axis Bipolar + Technology) solid state battery packaging technology to produce CIM solid-state battery packs. / CIP in Vietnam. This is a strategic step in VinFast’s autonomous battery technology for electric vehicles, a premise for the research and development of smart and advanced electric vehicles in the future.
VinFast Trading and Production, the subsidiary of Vietnamese conglomerate Vingroup, plans to open an automobile plant in the US after establishing a 50-person R&D office in San Francisco in preparation for California automobile sales in 2022, the company has said. “VinFast’s vision is to become a global smart electric car company and the US market is one of the first international markets that we will focus on,” Chief Executive Officer Thai Th? Thanh Hai said, according to vietnamnews.vn. “We initially will develop high end models for the US,” she added. Hai strongly believes VinFast can win US and other export market customers wary of buying an automobile from a Vietnamese firm they know little or nothing about by offering top-quality vehicles with high safety standards and advanced technology.
Toyota has confirmed that it will produce an A-segment city car based on its TNGA-B architecture for European buyers. It will be the third compact TNGA-B model after the B-segment Yaris launched in 2020 and similar Yaris Cross SUV due later in 2021. The new model could get a new name, but it will probably keep the Aygo nameplate that’s been on sale in Europe for two generations alongside the badge-engineered Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108. This commitment from Toyota is notable because the A-segment has been under pressure in Europe. GlobalData figures show A-segment vehicles accounted for 6.3% of production in Europe in 2012 but this had dropped to 4.5% by 2020. In comparison, SUV share of vehicle production grew from 16.7% to 33.5% over the same period. The predominant challenge for A-segment vehicles is profitability – they are typically the lowest priced models on sale with the smallest per-unit margin, so strong sales figures are needed for a meaningful return.
Ford reportedly has dismissed US International Trade Commission criticism over its decision to pursue battery contracts with SK Innovation. According to Reuters, the ITC said the automaker pursued new contracts even after evidence emerged the South Korean electric vehicle (EV) battery maker misappropriated trade secrets from domestic rival LG Chem. “Contrary to the ITC’s assumption, Ford was committed to three additional battery programs tied to SK Innovation before any misconduct had surfaced,” Ford said, adding “key facts would have emerged if the ITC “conducted a public interest hearing”.
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Supplier Magna has launched a connected PHEV drivetrain and a new generation of battery electric drive systems. The EtelligentEco, an intelligent, connected PHEV system claimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 38%, offers a claimed unique cloud connectivity feature allowing it to perform several new functions previously not possible. It accounts for local electricity sources when charging is required and recommends a greener power option to the driver. Additionally, the driver can employ smart cruise control and eco routing which includes topology and traffic status to help determine the most efficient path to a destination. The combination of these features with its specially-tuned operating software and controls, and its all-new dedicated hybrid transmission, enable the significant CO2 reductions.
Looks like Mitsubishi is not quitting Europe completely, as we thought. Starting in 2023, MMC will buy two models from Renault for sale in “selected markets” in Europe. Sadly, though, this does not include RHD markets such as the UK. This latest step in Alliance cooperation was announced on Wednesday by the French and Japanese automakers. “Mitsubishi Motors has decided to procure OEM-model vehicles from Renault, best-sellers on the European market which already meet regulatory requirements, for selected major markets in Europe,” MMC said in a joint statement. “Starting 2023, Mitsubishi Motors will thus sell two ‘sister models’ produced in Renault Group plants, which are based on the same platforms but with differentiations, reflecting the Mitsubishi brand’s DNA.”
The Volkswagen brand says it is accelerating its transformation into a software-driven mobility provider under a new strategy called ‘Accelerate’. Under the strategy the brand says it will systematically ‘prepare for the profound changes in the automotive industry in good time’. Volkswagen maintains that through the strategy it is addressing big issues of the future for the auto industry including the integration of software into the vehicle and the digital customer experience. In implementing data-based business models, the company says it is seeking to attract new groups of customers and tap additional sources of income. Volkswagen also will make autonomous driving available to many people before the end of the decade, it claims.
Stellantis-owned brand Vauxhall is planning to halt car production at its threatened Ellesmere Port plant for six shifts next week, according to a BBC report which said the temporary shutdown at the plant in northwest England, which employs more than 1,000 people and makes the current Astra model, will begin from Monday. The plant has been operating on a single shift basis in recent years. The company told the BBC that the shutdown has nothing to do with current talks over the plant’s uncertain future, but that the company adjusts production according to market trends.
Volkswagen says it is planning an electric car to be built in Wolfsburg from 2026 that will set new standards in terms of range, charging speed and digitization – and will be able to drive highly automated according to SAE Level 4. The project for the car is named Trinity and stands for three crucial themes: (1) a newly developed electronics platform, (2) the simplification of the supply structure, and (3) fully networked and intelligent production at the main plant in Wolfsburg. “Trinity is a sort of crystallization point for our ‘Accelerate’ strategy, a lighthouse project, our software dream car,” says Ralf Brandstätter, CEO of the Volkswagen brand. VW says the newly developed vehicle architecture will set standards in terms of range, charging speed (“charging as fast as refueling”) and digitalisation.
Hyundai Motor has agreed to share the cost of replacing the batteries on its recently recalled electric vehicles (EVs) with LG Energy Solution, according to local reports citing a source close to the matter. The agreement relates to last month’s recall of over 82,000 electric vehicles worldwide, mostly Kona EVs but also including the Ioniq range and Elec City battery powered buses, due to the risk of fire. A number of fires have been reported in these vehicles both in South Korea and abroad, with many occurring during recharging. A preliminary report by the South Korean Ministry of Transport’s Korea Automobile Testing & Research Institute (KATRI) blamed defects in the batteries’ high voltage cells. Last year Hyundai recalled these vehicles for a software upgrade but the ministry ruled this to be inadequate to protect consumers.
Have a nice weekend.
Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor, just-auto.com