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Automotive News, February 2018

UK car manufacturing output held steady in January 2018, with just 72 fewer vehicles produced than in the same month last year. Export drove overall volumes, whereas the domestic demand declined, study has revealed.  According to a new SMMT report UK car industry output in the month fell by a negligible -0.05% year on year, as 147,481 cars rolled off production lines – effectively maintaining the nine-year high set in January 2017.

 

Exports drove overall volumes, with output for overseas customers rising by 1.5% to a record 119,252 units. This was in line with continued recovery across EU markets and followed the launch of several key global models throughout 2017.

 

According to the report, the growth offset a decline in production for the UK market, which fell for the sixth consecutive month, by -6.0% to 28,229, reflecting falling UK business and consumer confidence and confusion over government policies on diesel taxation and air quality plans.

 

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Chinese carmaker Geely has become the biggest investor in Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler, saying it hopes to cooperate with the German giant on electric cars. The Chinese carmaker already fully-owns Sweden’s Volvo and black cab maker London Taxi Company.

 

Daimler also announced a $1.9bn (£1.4bn) investment into a partnership with another Chinese auto firm, BAIC. The money will go into modernising a BAIC plant to build Mercedes cars including electric vehicles, the two companies said.

 

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Toyota has said it will build the next generation of its Auris hatchback at its Burnaston plant in Derbyshire. The Japanese carmaker also said its Deeside factory in North Wales would build most of its engines. Toyota said the move would secure more than 3.000 jobs across its Burnaston and Deeside plants.

 

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German cities will be allowed to ban older diesel vehicles from some areas following a landmark court ruling. The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig said the cities of Stuttgart and Dusseldorf could legally ban older, more polluting diesel cars from zones worst affected by pollution. The ruling sets a precedent for other cities and analysts said it could lead to similar action across Europe.

 

Of the 15 million diesel cars on Germany’s roads, only 2.7 million meet the latest Euro-6 standards, according to data from Germany’s automotive watchdog.

 

The market shares for diesel vehicles in Germany fell from 48% in 2015 to around 39%, last year.

 

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Aston Martin, sold just over 5,000 vehicles last year, allowing the firm to post its first annual profit since 2010. The British sports car producer made a pre-tax profit of £87m

last year, compared with a £163m loss in 2016. Its flagship DB11 coupe proved popular with buyers, helping drive its sales tally to a nine-year high.

 

Revenue jumped 48% to £876m.

 

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Electric cars will remain more expensive than petrol or diesel until the middle of the next decade, one of Nissan’s most senior executives has predicted. Daniele Schillaci, the executive vice president at the carmaker, said that the price of battery vehicles and traditional cars would draw level in 2025, ending the need for government subsidies that currently support the majority of sales.

 

“We think that 2025 will be the turning point where the cost of an EV car, the same EV and internal combustion engine, will be the same,” he said. Nissan, through its alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi, is the world’s largest electric car producer, selling more than 500,000 since launching the battery Leaf model in 2010.

 

Volkswagen has said it will sell 3m electric or hybrid cars a year by 2025, while Ford is to invest $11bn in the technology. Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi will launch 12 new electric models by 2022.

 

Yet electric cars account for less than 1% of global sales, with the cost of the vehicle a principal reason. Prices for the Leaf start at £22,000, against Nissan’s comparable petrol engine Micra which sells for £12,000. As batteries come more advanced, electric car costs will fall.  Analysts at UBS have forecast that the total cost of electric car ownership, including charging costs and maintenance, will fall below that of internal combustion cars as early as this year in Europe.