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By William Maley
In a move that was expected to happen soon, the EPA announced that it plans to revise the fuel-efficiency regulations that were approved during the President Obama administration.
“The Obama EPA’s determination was wrong. Obama’s EPA cut the midterm evaluation process short with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality and set the standards too high,” said EPA chief Scott Pruitt in a statement today.
The statement goes on to say that the agency will begin working on new standards for cars for 2022-2025 with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The regulations that were finalized during Obama's tenure would require automakers to have fuel economy fleet average of over 50 mpg by 2025. Automakers have been pushing for the standards to be rolled back as it would cause vehicles to become more expensive, and consumers aren't buying fuel-efficient vehicles.
“This was the right decision. To ensure ongoing fuel economy improvement, the wisest course of action is to keep new vehicles affordable so more consumers can replace an older car with a new vehicle that uses much less fuel -- and offers more safety features," said Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers - a trade group that represents a dozen automakers including GM and Ford.
Unsurprisingly, this move has brought forth criticism from both consumer and environmental groups.
“EPA’s decision defies the robust record and years of review that show these targets are reasonable and appropriate,” said David Friedman, director of cars and products policy and analysis for Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports.
“Undermining these consumer protections will cost consumers more at the pump while fulfilling the wishes of the auto industry.”
The EPA also announced that it was considering revoking California's waiver that allows it to set its own emission rules that are tougher than the federal regulations. Aside from California, 12 other states have adopted these standards that together account for a third of car sales in the U.S. Since President Donald Trump entered the white house, the relationship between the EPA and California has become very strained. California officials have vowed to fight back if the EPA goes forward.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
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By William Maley
Ever since PSA Group announced that it would be making a return the U.S. as part of a 10-year plan, there has been a large amount of speculation as to which brand would be sold. Would it be Citroen, DS, Peugeot, or the recently acquired Opel/Vauxhall?
“We’ve chosen a brand, but it’s too early to talk about it,” said Larry Dominique, president and CEO of PSA North America to Car and Driver.
PSA Group is still in the first phase of its plan with the Free2Move mobility aggregation platform (shows various ways of getting around such as bikes and electric vehicles) in Seattle. Somewhat worrying is that the company has only “activated its marketing” in Seattle recently according to Dominique - Free2Move launched back in October.
Out of all of the brands under PSA Group, Car and Driver says there is a good chance that Opel could be the brand coming to the U.S. They point out a comment made by PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares saying after purchasing Opel/Vauxhall is that Opel engineers can “ensure the future products for this market will be fully U.S. compliant,” in terms of regulations and taste.
But there is a possible complication to PSA's plans. Yesterday, President Donald Trump's tariffs on imported steel and aluminum went into effect. There is also talk about a possibly matching up the tariff on imported vehicles - currently, the U.S. imposes a 2.5 percent tariff on imported European vehicles. Earlier this month, Tavares told Automotive News that he is watching the situation closely and that if a new vehicle tariff does come, it will make the company rethink their plans.
“If the overall framework of tariffs change, it may have an impact on our strategy. That’s clear, because if we don’t have a profitable business plan, then we don’t go,” said Tavares.
Dominique is a little bit more hopeful. Speaking at the J.D. Power Automotive Summit this week, Dominique said he doesn't believe an increase in the tariff will happen and expressed confidence that the various trade issues could be worked out.
Source: Car and Driver, Automotive News (Subscription Required), 2
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By William Maley
It seems any auto manufacturer that has built a diesel in recent years is getting hit with a lawsuit. The latest one to hit the courts involves Ford and their Super Duty pickups.
According to Bloomberg, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Ford and supplier Bosch for using emissions-cheating software on the 2011 to 2017 F-250 and F-350 Super Duty trucks. The suit alleges that Ford conspired with Bosch on developing software that would allow the company to alter engine parameters to help emission standards during EPA testing. In the real world, the engines would spew out as much as 50 times the legal limit for nitrogen oxide pollutants. The suit alleges 58 violations of state consumer law, false advertising and racketeering claims.
“The vehicle’s own on-board diagnostic software indicates emission control system to be operating as Ford intended, even though its real world performance grossly exceeds the standard,” said Steve Berman, a managing partner at Hagens Berman in the complaint.
“All Ford vehicles, including those with diesel engines, comply with all U.S. EPA and CARB emissions regulations. Ford vehicles do not have defeat devices. We will defend ourselves against these baseless claims,” said Daniel Barbosa, a spokesman for Ford to Bloomberg.
This comes only a day after Ford announced the specifications for the upcoming F-150 Power Stroke diesel.
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By Drew Dowdell
PSA Group is demanding a refund from General Motors of between $711 million and $948 million stemming from the purchase of Opel by PSA. PSA is claiming that GM misrepresented Opel's emissions reduction strategy during the due diligence negotiations.
EU Emissions regulations for 2021 set a target reduction of 130 g/km to 95 g/km. Regulators can fine manufacturers $113 per vehicle per gram over the limit. Any vehicle at the 130 g/km limit today would see fines of $3,955 per car sold.
PSA claims that GM's plan for reaching that target relied on unrealistically high sales of the Opel Ampera-E, the European model of the US built Chevrolet Bolt EV, and extra rosy forecasts of diesel sales. Opel loses $11,850 per Ampera-E sold. PSA has already cut sales of the Ampera-E in Norway and raised its price at least $6,700 for the rest of Europe. Adding to the trouble are falling diesel sales in Europe as consumers move to less efficient gasoline engines.
Even during the sale negotiations, PSA was was aware that GM was forecasting Opel to miss the 95 g/km target by 3.7 grams. Take the Ampera-E forecast of 20,000 vehicles out out of the picture and that number jumps to 6 g/km. Adjusting for falling diesel sales and Opel will miss its target by 10 grams. Such a large miss could result in fines approaching the entire purchase price of Opel ($1.54 billion).
PSA is now speeding into production electric or plug-in hybrid variants of Opel's mainstay cars, with the entire lineup being converted to PSA platform architecture by 2024.
PSA must now go through GM lawyers and arbitration to determine if they will get any refund from GM.
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By William Maley
Ever since PSA Group took ownership of Opel and Vauxhall back in spring, many were wondering what the French automaker had in store. Today at a press conference at Opel's headquarters, Opel CEO Michael Lohscheller unveiled the turnaround called PACE.
Here is a summary of PACE,
Return Opel and Vauxhall to profit by 2020 Lowering costs on each car built by €700 (about $813) Committed to keeping Vauxhall as a brand for Great Britain Entering 20 new markets by 2022, with Brazil and China topping the list Accelerating the transition from General Motors to PSA Group platforms (originally was planned to finish by 2027, now plan to finish by 2024). This will reduce the number of platforms Opel/Vauxhall use from nine to two. Powertrain families will also decrease from ten to four Nine new models by 2020. This begins with a new Combo van next year and Corsa subcompact in 2019 Launching four electrified models by 2020, with an electrified option being available for each model by 2024 According to Lohscheller, the existing product strategy would not meet the upcoming CO2 targets coming into effect. Thus the decision was made to move up plans for electrification Opel's technical center in Ruesselsheim will engineer all-new Opel/Vauxhall vehicles to have them stand out from their Citroen/DS/Peugeot brethren Ruesselheim will also become a global competence center for PSA, building up expertise in various areas such as autonomous driving and fuel cells Pledging to avoid closing down factories or forced layoffs "The necessary and sustainable reduction of labour costs shall be reached with thoughtful measures such as innovative working time concepts, voluntary programs or early retirement schemes,” the company said in a statement. “PACE! will unleash our full potential. This plan is paramount for the company, to protect our employees against headwinds and turn Opel/Vauxhall into a sustainable, profitable, electrified, and global company. Our future will be secured and we will contribute with German excellence to the Groupe PSA development. The implementation has already started with all teams eager to achieve the objectives,” said Lohscheller in a statement.
But will it be enough? As Reuters noted, shares in PSA Group dropped 2.2 percent to €19.68 (about $22.65) after Carlos Tavares said Opel's financial health has been getting worse as PACE! was being drawn up.
“The situation gets worse by the day,” Travares said, without going into detail.
Source: Autocar, Car, Reuters, Opel
Press Release is on Page 2
Opel/Vauxhall Go Profitable, Electric and Global with PACE!
Return to profitability by 2020: 2% automotive recurring operating margin, positive operational free cash flow Lower financial break-even point to 800,000 vehicles Electrification and CO2 leadership: All passenger carlines to be electrified by 2024 Improve efficiency towards benchmark levels for manufacturing and logistics cost as well as for wage cost/revenue-ratio Intention to maintain and modernise all plants and to refrain from forced redundancies R&D centre in Rüsselsheim to become a global competence centre for Groupe PSA Enlarge commercial scope: Leverage Opel brand for overseas export opportunities and foster growth of Opel/Vauxhall LCV business PACE! execution to immediately unleash Opel/Vauxhall performance and pave the way to a sustainable future Rüsselsheim. Michael Lohscheller, CEO of Opel Automobile GmbH, today announced the strategic plan PACE! to restore financial fundamentals and enhance sustainable competitiveness and growth. All PACE! initiatives will contribute to the goals of generating a positive operational free cash flow as well as a recurring operating margin for the auto division of 2% in a first phase by 2020 and of 6% by 2026. Combining strengths will unleash annual synergies on Groupe PSA level of €1.1 billion by 2020 and €1.7 billion by 2026. All actions will contribute to a lower financial break-even point for Opel/Vauxhall of 800,000 vehicles, creating a profitable business model whatever the headwinds may be.
Having full access to Groupe PSA technologies, Opel/Vauxhall will become a European CO2 leader. By 2024, all European passenger carlines will be electrified – offering a pure battery electric propulsion or plug-in hybrid version alongside efficient internal combustion engines. By 2020, Opel/Vauxhall will have four electrified carlines on the market, including the Grandland X PHEV and the next generation Corsa as a fully electric vehicle.
The company will enhance its competitiveness by 2020 e.g. by reducing costs by €700 per car. Efficiency of marketing expenses will be improved by more than 10%. Overall efficiencies will be increased by reducing complexity across all functions with a ratio G&A/revenue moving from 5.6% to 4.7% and an objective to bring the company towards industry benchmark in terms of wage cost/revenue ratio. Optimising R&D and CapEx at 7-8% of automotive revenue, manufacturing and administration processes by 2020 and releasing working capital of €1.2 billion by 2022 will also contribute to seizing synergies.
Improved competitiveness of the manufacturing plants will lead to new vehicle allocations that will provide a better utilisation rate for the next decade. The two Groupe PSA platforms CMP and EMP2 will be localised in all Opel/Vauxhall plants. To start with, an EMP2-based SUV is planned for Eisenach in 2019; and an EMP2-based D-segment vehicle is coming to Rüsselsheim. The allocation of new powertrains in Opel/Vauxhall manufacturing sites will accompany the shift from GM to Groupe PSA engines and transmissions.
“PACE! will unleash our full potential. This plan is paramount for the company, to protect our employees against headwinds and turn Opel/Vauxhall into a sustainable, profitable, electrified, and global company. Our future will be secured and we will contribute with German excellence to the Groupe PSA development. The implementation has already started with all teams eager to achieve the objectives,” said Opel CEO Michael Lohscheller.
The plan is designed with the clear intention to maintain all plants and refrain from forced redundancies in Europe. The necessary and sustainable reduction of labour costs shall be reached with thoughtful measures such as innovative working time concepts, voluntary programs or early retirement schemes.
All new Opel/Vauxhall vehicles will be engineered in Rüsselsheim, which will be transformed into a global competence centre for the whole Groupe PSA. First areas of expertise are identified, e.g. fuel cells, certain automated driving technologies and driver assistance developments. This will further guarantee German engineering quality and affordable innovations. Altogether, the number of platforms Opel/Vauxhall uses for its passenger cars will be reduced from currently 9 to 2 by 2024. Furthermore, the powertrain families will be optimised from currently 10 to 4. “Aligning architecture and powertrain families will substantially reduce development and production complexity, thus allowing scale effects and synergies, contributing to overall profitability,” said Lohscheller.
Opel/Vauxhall will switch to efficient and flexible Groupe PSA vehicle architectures faster than originally expected. From 2024 onwards, all Opel/Vauxhall passenger car models will be based on joint Groupe PSA architectures. Next to come are the Combo in 2018 and the next generation of the bestselling Corsa in 2019. This course will be steadily continued with one major launch per year. Counting every body style, Opel/Vauxhall will launch 9 new models by 2020. This line-up will enable to increase the pricing power of Opel/Vauxhall brands and reduce the gap against benchmark by four points.
Sales growth of the further profiled and strengthened Opel/Vauxhall brands will be supported by initiatives like the start of even more attractive financial offerings as well as full service leasing offers via the Financial Services of Opel and Vauxhall.
Furthermore, Opel will enter more than 20 new export markets by 2022. Beyond that, Opel will explore global midterm overseas profitable export opportunities.
To foster growth in the financially attractive light commercial vehicle (LCV) business, Opel/Vauxhall will launch new models and enter new markets with the clear goal to increase its LCV sales by 25% by 2020 against 2017.
“PACE! has been designed by Opel/Vauxhall for the benefit of our employees as an immediate performance booster,” said Lohscheller.
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