Ford Expands Climate Change Goals

Ford Motor Company has announced its intention of achieving carbon neutrality globally by 2050, while setting interim targets to address climate change challenges quicker.

Carbon neutrality refers to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by balancing actual emissions with carbon removal. To achieve its goal, Ford said it will first focus on the three areas that account for around 95 per cent of its CO2 emissions: vehicle use, its supply base and the company’s facilities.

The company said it is fully aware of challenges including customer acceptance, government regulations, economic conditions and the availability of renewable carbon-neutral electricity and renewable fuels.

“We can develop and make great vehicles, sustain and grow a strong business and protect our planet at the same time; in fact, those ideals complement each other,” said Bob Holycross, Vice President Chief Sustainability, Environment and Safety Officer at Ford. “We don’t have all the answers yet but are determined to work with all of our global and local partners and stakeholders to get there.”

Ford said it is also working to develop goals approved and defined by the Science Based Targets initiative for its Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions. Scope 1 covers direct emissions from company-owned or controlled sources, while Scope 2 addresses indirect emissions from generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating, and cooling consumed by Ford. Scope 3 emissions are in-use emissions from vehicles that Ford sells, emissions from its supply base and others.

Ford To Launch Hands-Free Driving System

Ford Motor Company has announced that it is updating its Ford Co-Pilot360 technology to include hands-free driving on over 160,000 km of divided highways across the United States and Canada.

“The stress of long highway drives remains a huge issue for drivers around the world,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Chief Product Development and Purchasing Officer at Ford. “By introducing driver-assist technologies like active drive assist, Ford’s version of hands-free driving, we’re allowing our customers to feel more confident whenever they’re behind the wheel.”

While the technology allows drivers to remove their hands from the steering wheel, it is not considered fully autonomous. This means drivers will have to continue paying attention to the road and resume control over the vehicle if prompted.

Active drive assist will combine adaptive cruise control with lane centring to create the company’s first hands-free mode. Hands-free mode will allow drivers on certain sections of pre-mapped, divided highways to drive with their hands off the steering wheel, provided they continue paying attention to the road, to offer an additional level of comfort during long drives.

An advanced infrared driver-facing camera will track eye gaze and head position to ensure drivers are paying attention to the road while in hands-free mode and hands-on lane centring mode, which works on any road with lane lines. Drivers will be notified by visual prompts on the instrument cluster when they need to return their attention to the road or take control of the vehicle.

“Introducing active drive assist with a driver-facing camera makes perfect sense because the vehicle helps relieve the stress and burden of driving but still leaves you fully in control,” said Thai-Tang. “And if you lose focus on the road ahead, active drive assist will automatically warn and potentially slow the vehicle down until you’re ready to focus back up.”

The new driving system will launch in the third quarter of 2021 on select Ford vehicles in North America and will be available across the Mustang Mach-E line-up. The company didn’t comment on international availability.

Ford says those first to order a Mustang Mach-E will be able to purchase the Ford Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep package which will include active drive assist. The company also plans to give customers who purchase the package the ability to purchase the software and receive the feature at a Ford dealer, or via an over-the-air update which is also expected in the third quarter of 2021.

ANCAP Launches Frontline Responder App

ANCAP has launched the ANCAP RESCUE app, designed to help protect frontline emergency services personnel and provide faster post-crash care to vehicle occupants at the scene of an accident.

The company says the app will provide first responders with vehicle safety information, identify the location of in-vehicle hazards, and allow the extrication of vehicle occupants to be conducted safely.

“All Australian road users will benefit from this app, which is the first to bring together important vehicle safety information for emergency service personnel,” said Michael McCormack, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development. “If you’re involved in a crash, the information contained within the ANCAP RESCUE app will allow emergency service officers … to safely and more efficiently get to you and provide the help that is needed.”

ANCAP says the app provides a database of rescue sheets that display simple illustrations of individual vehicle models and highlights potentially hazardous elements such as fuel tanks, high-voltage batteries and airbag inflators.

“With the support of vehicle manufacturers, the ANCAP RESCUE app compiles the rescue sheets for more than 500 vehicle models into a central, digital resource,” said Rhianne Robson, ANCAP Director – Communications & Advocacy. “This is part of our broadening safety focus to minimise post-crash risks. “Providing our fire and rescue, police and ambulance officers, and in many cases SES volunteers, the tools to identify known hazards will improve response time and help reduce some of the risks they face on the job each day, and this will become increasingly important with the anticipated growth in hybrid, electric and alternative-powered vehicle models.”

“Having standardised vehicle rescue information available in a centralised and easily-accessible platform provides our officers with a better understanding of the vehicle they’re responding to, and how to ensure both their own safety and that of any crash casualties,” said Paul Baxter, Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW.

The ANCAP RESCUE app is available to all Australian and New Zealand emergency service agencies from the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Ford, VW Add EVs, AI, Commercial Vehicles To Global Alliance

Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen AG have signed agreements that expand their global alliance to meet the evolving needs of their respective customers. The two companies will use their complementary strengths in midsize pickup trucks, commercial and electric vehicles.

The companies said they expect continued growth in global industry demand for commercial vehicles and for high-performing EVs to add scale to their individual product portfolios.

Under the alliance, Ford will build and engineer a medium pickup truck that will become the Volkswagen Amarok from 2022 within the Volkswagen Commercial vehicle line-up. VW will develop and build a city delivery van based on the latest Caddy model as early as 2021 and Ford will later build a one-ton cargo van. Finally, Volkswagen will help Ford with an electric vehicle for Europe by 2023 which will be built on Volkswagen’s Modular Electric Drive (MEB) toolkit.

During the lifecycles of the products, the companies expect to produce up to eight million units of the medium pickup truck and both commercial vans.

“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on the global economy, more than ever it is vital to set up resilient alliances between strong companies,” said Dr Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen Group. “This collaboration will efficiently drive down development costs, allowing broader global distribution of electric and commercial vehicles, and enhance the positions of both companies.”

“This alliance comes at a time of tremendous enthusiasm about the intersection of increasingly intelligent, connected vehicles in an ever-smarter world,” said Jim Hackett, CEO of Ford. “This creates a huge opportunity to innovate and solve many of the world’s transportation challenges and deliver extraordinary benefits to customers, even as companies need to be selective about how they use their cash.”

“Commercial vehicles are fundamental to Ford today and an area where we will accelerate and grow, and working with Volkswagen on these platforms will provide both of us significant financial advantages in things like engineering and plants and tooling,” said Jim Farley, Ford Chief Operating Officer. “Separately, Ford will add battery electric versions of Transit and F-150 in the next 24 months for commercial customers who increasingly need zero emissions and the power of connectivity, data and artificial intelligence.”

“The collaboration with Ford is a key building block of our GRIP 2025+ strategy and part of the current transformation of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles,” said Thomas Sedran, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. “This long-term cooperation with Ford will strengthen our very good position in [the] area of light commercial vehicles, especially in our core European markets, and is proof that we are successfully implementing our plan step by step.”

Over several years starting in 2023, Ford said it can deliver 600,000 electric vehicles with the MEB architecture. Additionally, the companies will both work with Argo AI to form autonomous-vehicle businesses based on Argo AI’s self-driving technology.

Ford and VW said they plan to explore additional ways to cooperate on electric vehicles. The alliance does not include cross-ownership between the companies, which will remain competitors in the marketplace.

PPG Provides Protective Windscreen For Indycar Series

PPG has announced that its ballistic, canopy-like windscreen, a key component of the NTT Indycar Series’ Aeroscreen, will make its official debut in the Firestone Grand Prix in Florida on 15 March.

The Aeroscreen was developed by Red Bull Advanced Technologies and tested multiple times since its first on-track assessment in October 2019 and is Indycar’s latest safety innovation to reduce the risk of driver injury from flying debris or other objects striking the cockpit area.

“I don’t think any stone has been left unturned, but we will continue to fine-tune it,” said Jay Frye, Indycar president. “The Aeroscreen is an industry-changing, total driver safety solution.”

The Aeroscreen uses a PPG polycarbonate-laminated ballistic windscreen that is attached to a titanium frame, which is able to be entirely assembled and fitted on or removed from an NTT Indycar Series car in less than 15 minutes.

The windscreen includes an interior anti-reflective coating, an anti-fogging device and up to eight exterior tear-offs that can be removed during pit stops if the screen gets dirty. It weighs about 7.8 kg and can withstand an object at just under 1 kg striking it at over 350 km/h. The titanium frame weighs 12.6 kg and can withstand 15.4 tonnes of force.

“As an innovative industry leader in aerospace transparencies, PPG is proud to play an important role in ensuring cockpit protection for drivers throughout the NTT Indycar Series season,” said Brent Wright, PPG Global Director, Aerospace Transparencies.

2020 Geneva Motor Show Cancelled

The 2020 Geneva International Motor Show (GIMS) has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The 90th edition of GIMS was supposed to run from 5-15 March, but an injunction from the Switzerland Federal Council ruled that no events with over 1000 people can take place until 15 March. The decision falls three days before the opening of the exhibition to the media.

“We regret this situation, but the health of all participants is our and our exhibitors’ top priority,” said Maurice Turrettini, Chairman of the Foundation Board. “This is a case of force majeure and a tremendous loss for the manufacturers who have invested massively in their presence in Geneva. However, we are convinced that they will understand this decision. We would like to warmly thank all those involved in the organisation of the 2020 edition of GIMS.”

With only a few days to go before the event would have opened, organisers say the construction of the stands was almost complete and a week ago, during press conferences announcing the 2020 edition, there was nothing to suggest that cancellation was necessary. The situation changed with the appearance of the first confirmed coronavirus-caused diseases in Switzerland, and the cancellation was decided the same day.

The event will begin dismantling and financial consequences for all those involved will be assessed over the coming weeks. Tickets purchased for the event will be refunded and organisers will communicate as soon as possible via their website, which can be found here.

GM Shuts Holden In ANZ, Chevrolet In Thailand

GM announced today that it would wind down sales, design and engineering operations in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) and retire the Holden brand by 2021. The company will focus its strategies for the ANZ market on the GM specialty vehicle business. The company also announced that it had signed a binding term sheet with Great Wall Motors to purchase GM’s Rayong vehicle manufacturing facility in Thailand and would withdraw Chevrolet from there by the end of 2020.

“I’ve often said that we will do the right thing, even when it’s hard, and this is one of those times,” said Mary Barra, GM Chairman and CEO. “We are restructuring our international operations, focusing on markets where we have the right strategies to drive robust returns, and prioritising global investments that will drive growth in the future of mobility, especially in the areas of EVs and AVs. While these actions support our global strategy, we understand that they impact people who have contributed so much to our company. We will support our people, our customers and our partners, to ensure an orderly and respectful transition in the impacted markets.”

GM President Mark Reuss said the company explored a range of options to continue Holden operations, but none could overcome the challenges of the investments needed for the “highly fragmented right-hand-drive market”, the economics to support growing the brand, and delivering an appropriate return on investment.

“At the highest levels of our company we have the deepest respect for Holden’s heritage and contribution to our company and to the countries of Australia and New Zealand,” said Reuss. After considering many possible options – and putting aside our personal desires to accommodate the people and the market – we came to the conclusion that we could not prioritise further investment over all other considerations we have in a rapidly changing global industry. We do believe we have an opportunity to profitably grow the specialty vehicle business and plan to work with our partner to do that.”

GM said it also undertook a detailed analysis of the business case for future production at the Rayong manufacturing facility in Thailand. Low plant utilisation and forecast volumes have made continued GM production at the site unsustainable. Without domestic manufacturing, Chevrolet is unable to compete in Thailand’s new vehicle market.

Steve Kiefer, GM Senior Vice President and President at GM International, said these decisions built on the announcement in January that GM would sell its Talegaon manufacturing facility in India, significant restructuring actions implemented in Korea, and investment in and continued optimisation of South American operations.

“These are difficult decisions, but they are necessary to support our goal to have the GM International region on the pathway to growth and profitability,” said Kiefer. “GM is well positioned in our GM International core markets: South America, the Middle East and Korea.”

Julian Blissett, International Operations Senior Vice President at GM, said that as well as implementing plans in international core markets, GM was continuing to optimise partnerships in markets like Uzbekistan by transferring assets and building strong supply chains to reduce costs in growth markets.

“In markets where we don’t have significant scale, such as Japan, Russia and Europe, we are pursuing a niche presence by selling profitable, high-end imported vehicles – supported by a lean GM structure,” said Blissett. “We will continue to implement these critical business strategies, while delivering a dignified and respectful transition in impacted markets.”

In Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and related export markets, GM said that it will honour all warranties and continue to provide servicing and spare parts. Local operations will also continue to handle all recall and any safety-related issues, working with the appropriate governmental agencies.

As a result of these actions in Australia, New Zealand and Thailand, the company said it expects to incur net cash charges of approximately US$300 million, along with recording total cash and non-cash charges of US$1.1 billion. These charges will primarily be incurred in the first quarter and continuing through the fourth quarter of 2020, and will be considered special for EBIT-adjusted, EPS diluted-adjusted and adjusted automotive free cash flow purposes.

AkzoNobel Helps Style McLaren’s MCL35

McLaren Racing has unveiled its new 2020 Formula 1 MCL35 car ahead of the new season, with AkzoNobel supplying the coatings and paint through its Sikkens brand. AkzoNobel is the official paint and coatings partner of the McLaren Racing team, working together as partners since 2008.

The vehicle uses heat-shielding, with Intertherm 50 from the international product range applied to critical components surrounding the engine and exhaust to help handle temperatures reaching up to 540˚C. One coat of the product is 25 microns thick, which is around a third of the width of a human hair.

“We’re extremely proud of our long partnership with McLaren, which is built on collaboration, a shared passion for innovation and a commitment to performance,” said Patrick Bourguignon, Managing Director of AkzoNobel’s Automotive and Specialty Coatings business. “The car looks fantastic, both on top and underneath, and we’re especially looking forward to seeing it in action at Zandvoort when the F1 grand prix returns to the Netherlands this year.”

“Once again our new Formula 1 car, the MCL35, looks fantastic,” said Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren Racing. “We’ve pushed the technical boundaries this year with our livery, and we’re grateful that AkzoNobel, a trusted partner of ours for over 10 years, has collaborated with us. We thank them for their continued support.”

“Working with inspiring partners like McLaren enables us to broaden our expertise as we endeavour to deliver more cutting-edge innovation for our customers,” said Bourguignon. “We both have an interest in the ongoing pursuit of high performance, and this will remain a constant driving force as our collaboration continues to flourish.”

The first Grand Prix of the new season will take place 15 March in Melbourne, Australia.

Renault Appoints New CEO

Renault’s Board of Directors has appointed Luca de Meo as Chief Executive Officer of Renault SA and Chairman of Renault SAS from the beginning of July. Clotilde Delbos, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Renault SA, will continue in her role until that point.

“I am delighted with this new governance, which marks a decisive step for the Group and for the Alliance,” said Jean-Dominique Senard, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “Luca de Meo is a great strategist and visionary of a rapidly changing automotive world. His expertise but also his passion for cars make him a real asset for the Group.

“I also thank Clotilde Delbos who provides interim management of the Group in an exceptional manner. She has demonstrated day after day her commitment and determination in the service of Renault. Together, with the support of a renewed and strengthened executive committee, they will form a high-quality, multi-talented team equal to Renault’s ambitions.”

Renault Readies For New CEO Ahead Of Crucial Alliance Meeting

Renault may name a new CEO ahead of an important meeting in Japan this week to display that the deeply troubled alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors is moving past the Carlos Ghosn scandal, according to Bloomberg and Reuters.

The Renault board has approved Luca de Meo to become its new CEO, according to Le Parisien, but the newspaper did not say where it got the information and a spokesman for Renault declined to comment on the matter.

De Meo rose through the ranks at Volkswagen, ran its Spanish brand, SEAT, and has been considered to be the front-runner for months. The executive, who recently stepped down as chairman of SEAT, is “probably in talks with Renault,” said Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess. Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard has said an announcement could come within days, without confirming a name.

A year after Senard replaced Ghosn, who was arrested in 2018 in Tokyo on charges of financial misconduct, the Renault chairman is trying to draw a line under turmoil that nearly broke the alliance. Senard has said a series of measures will be unveiled at an alliance meeting at the end of the month to deepen operational ties between the manufacturers.

The board of the alliance will decide on new, common projects at a meeting this month, and the partnership is moving toward greater convergence of platforms and technology in the face of the massive investment needed to develop new cars, Senard said earlier this month.

Analysts say that in order to turn investor sentiment around, the firms need to achieve cost-saving joint engineering projects that have slowed since Ghosn’s departure.

“The alliance has taken a hit, but the alliance engineering team is still there,” said a source close to the alliance. “You cannot, from one day to the next, stop something that’s been embedded so deeply.”

Senard has said both sides are determined to make the partnership succeed, with the joint projects a major focus. One area of focus will be hybrid power systems, a field where the alliance has not effectively pooled its research and development efforts according to analysts. Each of the three members of the alliance has developed their own systems.

“That’s been among the sources of the friction,” said the source close to the alliance. “But now the three systems are there, we’ll need to use them in the most efficient way possible.”

Nissan will use the E-Tech hybrid system developed by Renault on the Juke SUV, Renault will use the e-Power series-hybrid system on its Kadjar model, specifically in Asia, while Mitsubishi is still using its own plug-in hybrid system on its Outlander, according to the same sources.

Renault owns 43 per cent of Nissan, with full voting rights, while Nissan holds a 15 per cent stake in Renault and lacks the ability to vote. Ghosn denied the Japanese charges and, at the end of last year, fled to Lebanon where he has mounted a media campaign to clear his name and criticise Renault and Nissan.