23 Jun, 2024

Volvo may hand Polestar stake to its parent Geely

Polestar would need to inject an additional $1 billion over the next 12 months to keep it afloat, analysts at Bernstein said in a note last week, advocating the nameplate should not be independently listed.

Polestar last week said it plans to cut about 450 jobs globally, or about 15 percent of its workforce, amid “challenging market conditions.”

It also said in November that it would try to reduce its reliance on external help, publishing a revised business plan, which included getting additional loans from Volvo and Geely.

The news could raise questions about the viability of Polestar, which aims to become cash flow break-even in 2025. Some analysts have said it could make more sense to fold Polestar into Geely.

Volvo’s battles

Volvo, which previously owned Polestar as a sporty sub-brand, has been fighting its own battles and last year started to cut 1,300 jobs, part of a drive to reduce costs across global operations.

The automaker is also dealing with software development issues that have delayed the brand’s new electric EX30 and EX90 models.

Volvo on Thursday reported a bigger than expected rise in fourth-quarter operating earnings, posting operating income excluding joint ventures and associates of 6.7 billion

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Birmingham Gets Crafty: The Art and Science of Creating Lab-Grown Diamonds

Birmingham, renowned for its rich history and industrial prowess, is now making waves in a different arena: the creation of lab-grown diamonds. This burgeoning industry is transforming the city’s economic landscape and positioning it as a hub for innovative gem production. As the demand for ethically sourced and environmentally friendly diamonds increases, lab grown diamonds Birmingham are becoming a significant part of this global trend, combining art and science in a fascinating synthesis.

Lab-grown diamonds, also known as synthetic diamonds, are created in highly controlled laboratory environments that replicate the natural conditions under which diamonds form. The process begins with a diamond seed, a small piece of a natural diamond, which is placed in a chamber designed to mimic the extreme pressure and temperature found deep within the Earth’s mantle. Over several weeks, carbon atoms bond to the seed, layer by layer, forming a new diamond. This process can be accomplished through two primary methods: High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).

In the HPHT method, a carbon source and a diamond seed are subjected to pressures of about 5-6 GPa and temperatures exceeding 1,300 degrees Celsius. This environment allows the carbon atoms to dissolve into a …

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VW to halt T-Roc output in Portugal

Volkswagen will pause production of the T-Roc small crossover, its top seller in Europe, after heavy floods disrupted engine parts supplies.

Output of other models across the automaker’s European factory network may also be hit after a supplier in Slovenia was impacted by flooding in the country.

VW will halt T-Roc output at its Autoeuropa plant in Setubal, Portugal between Sept. 11 and Nov. 12, the factory workers’ commission said on Thursday.

It said the company would temporarily lay off staff during this time, but that the situation as it stands now should not have a negative impact on workers’ income.

Floods have severely affected a Slovenian company that supplies engine parts for the T-Roc, according to an internal memo sent to the 5,000 employees at the plant near Lisbon.

The supplier affected by the flooding was only able to deliver an order to a limited extent, a VW spokesperson told the DPA German press agency

VW Group said it is “working with other suppliers to find alternatives to return to normal production in the affected plants as quickly as possible.”

VW did not name the supplier. Slovenian press reports say the company is KLS Ljubno, a gear rings manufacturer

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Italy’s DR Auto faces probe for allegedly misleading consumers

Italian automaker DR Automobiles is facing an antitrust investigation for allegedly misleading consumers over where its DR and EVO-branded vehicles are made, the Italian competition authority (AGCM) said on Thursday.

The company incorrectly represented, both on its corporate website and in advertising campaigns, information over the country where some of its models are manufactured, AGCM said.

Headquartered in the southern Italian region of Molise, DR assembles low-cost cars from the Chinese automakers Chery, JAC, BAIC, including full-electric ones, in Italy with components imported from those companies.

DR and EVO sold around 24,200 vehicles in Italy in the first nine months of 2023, up 48 percent from a year earlier, with a market share of 2 percent.

AGCM and Italian tax police officials carried out inspections at the headquarters of DR Automobiles and of its parent company Donington, the watchdog said in a statement.

“In some cases, they would omit relevant information on their (the vehicles’) origin, suggesting that they are entirely produced in Italy, while they seem to be vehicles of Chinese production,” AGCM said.

DR Automobile did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Volvo software issue stalls EX30 small SUV deliveries

Volvo has delayed deliveries of the EX30 due to an issue with the full-electric small SUV’s software.

It is the second Volvo EV stung by software trouble after the EX90.

“We confirm that Volvo is working tirelessly to resolve the problem,” the automaker said in a correspondence to its dealers seen by Automotive News Europe. “Important progress has been made but the software version 1.2 does not yet meet all the requirements necessary to be released.”

When asked about the delay, a Volvo spokesperson said in an email: “A limited number of customers have had to wait a few extra days for their cars to be delivered while we address some minor details, but with these now solved, we look forward to rapidly scaling up EX30 deliveries.”

The correspondence contradicates that assessment, as it mentions multiple delays that have lasted roughly two weeks.

The EX30s are registered and ready to be driven off dealers’ lots as soon as the software issue is fixed, a source close to the company said, adding that the issue is affecting deliveries of the small SUV in markets around the world.

The source said the update could not be performed over the air, it

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Continental CFO won’t extend contract

Continental’s CFO, Katja Garcia Vila, will not extend her contract and plans to leave the auto supplier she joined nearly three decades ago.

Garcia Vila, 51, became CFO in December 2021 and will stay on until a successor has been found, the company said Monday. Her contract expires in December.

Continental is going through a major revamp to improve returns at its struggling auto unit, including more than 7,000 job cuts and site closures.

Garcia Vila is leaving “because of her own career planning,” the supplier said in a news release.

She started her career at Continental in 1997 and held positions in information technology, marketing, sales, logistics, auditing and purchasing before becoming head of systems and standards in corporate finance in 2008. She was named head of group audit worldwide in 2013, and in 2018 moved to the ContiTech business area as head of finance, controlling and IT. Garcia Vila was named CFO in December 2021 and joined the executive board.

“Katja Garcia Vila played a key role in developing the company’s strategy for realignment and launching it over the past year, thus laying the foundation for our successful future” CEO Nikolai Setzer said in the release.

Continental late

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As used EV prices fall, automakers repay leasing firms

Fueled by generous subsidies and tax breaks, corporate cars are especially popular in Europe, with Volkswagen, Stellantis and BMW leading a market with nearly 13 million deliveries last year. Fully electric cars made up nearly 16 percent of sales then.

Carmakers need to comply with tightening fleet emission levels, or pay fines. In the European Union, the permissible level of carbon dioxide emissions will drop next year with Volkswagen still some way off, according to an analysis by market researcher Jato. In the UK, zero-emissions vehicles should make up 22 percent of sales this year, rising to 28 percent the year after.

But without stable pricing in the used-EV market, Europe’s target for phasing out sales of new combustion-engine cars by 2035 looks less likely. To recover the drop in second-hand values, EV leasing rates have started to go up to exceed those for combustion-engine cars, according to a study by the CAR Institute that focused on Germany.

“There will not be an EV transition without structured and liquid markets where EVs hold their second- and third-hand values,” Jefferies analyst Philippe Houchois said in a note. “In the end it is the difference between new and used price that is

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SUVs surge to new milestone helped by EVs

The SUV is now the dominant body type across Europe. Figures for 2023 reveal that combined volumes for models such as the Tesla Model Y and the Volkswagen T-Roc accounted for more than half of all sales in the region for the first time.

SUVs outpaced the market, with sales rising 19 percent last year to 6.63 million to take a 51 percent share of a European vehicle market that rose 14 percent overall, figures from market researcher Dataforce show.

The Model Y premium midsize SUV was Europe’s No. 1-seller overall.

Small, compact cars fall

SUVs have eclipsed Europe’s traditional hatchback and wagon body styles.

The small SUV segment was Europe’s largest last year with nearly 2.2 million sales followed by compact SUVs at more than 1.9 million, according to the Dataforce figures.

The biggest growth among SUVs last year came from the premium segment.

Sales of premium midsize SUVs increased 31 percent to 843,939, which made it Europe’s fifth-largest segment. The biggest contributors were the Model Y, which grew 85 percent to 254,822, and the Mercedes-Benz GLC’s 32 percent sales gain to 91,259.

Also seeing strong growth in the sixth spot was the premium compact SUV segment, which rose

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