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.

Hongqi Readies Push Into EVs

Hongqi is planning to introduce 21 new models over the next five years, 18 of which will be electric, in efforts to evolve with the times and work toward an electrified future, according to Bloomberg.

Hongqi is targeting a doubling in sales this year to 200,000 cars and wants annual deliveries to reach 1 million by 2030. State-owned China FAW Group developed the first Hongqi in 1958 and the sedans have since been used by political leaders from Chairman Mao to President Xi Jinping. FAW kicked off a rejuvenation effort for the brand after Xu Liuping took over as chairman in 2017.

“The global automobile industry is going through a great reshuffle and the fully open Chinese car market is becoming the most competitive one in the world,” Liuping told Bloomberg. “The Hongqi brand is becoming a benchmark for China’s high-end automobile industry and a role model for local brands.”

FAW hired Giles Taylor, who helped create vehicles such as the Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII and the Cullinan SUV, in 2018 to oversee Hongqi’s design team. Hongqi is targeting the premium segment of China’s car market, with its current models priced at around US$21,000 to $66,000.

Jaguar Unveils Refreshed 2020 F-Type

Jaguar has revealed the updated F-Type convertible and coupe range which feature changes to the exterior and interior.

The front exterior sees the bumper receiving a revamp with a larger grille and side air vents with an integrated leaper motif. The LED headlights have daytime running lights with sweeping direction indicators and the bonnet has been updated into a vented clamshell design, giving the car a wider look.

The rear of the exterior sees a facelift in the form of a bumper with a new diffuser, license plate frame and array of exhaust tip layouts. Additionally, the taillights now have a rectangular dip over the older circular one.

The interior has a larger 12.3-inch touchscreen with a navigation system, integrated Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, over-the-air updates and integrated leaper motifs in the headrests, centre console, glovebox button and seatbelt guides.

The new F-Type range has three engines all paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission, with both a regular SportShift gear selector and steering wheel-mounted paddles available.

The base engine is a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged engine with 221 kW and 400 Nm, standing below the second engine which is a 3.0-litre V6 with 280 kW and 460 Nm. The range header, the F-Type R, is a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 that features 423 kW of power and 700 Nm of torque.

The F-Type R also has all-wheel drive and 20-inch alloy wheels as standard, and has seen recalibration and improved responsiveness to the adaptive dampers, transmission, springs, anti-roll bars and suspension.

An exclusive F-Type First Edition coupe model is available for only one model year based on the R-Dynamic, and has five-spoke 20-inch wheels in Gloss Technical Grey with contrast Diamond-Turned finish, performance leather seats with 12-way electric adjustment, a black roof and Flame Red monogram stitching.

California Won’t Buy Cars From GM, Toyota, Others Opposing Emissions Standards

California has announced that state agencies will no longer buy petrol-powered sedans, and from January 2020 the state will stop purchasing vehicles from car manufacturers that haven’t agreed to follow California’s clean car rules.

General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and multiple other manufacturers that sided with the Trump administration in the ongoing battle over tailpipe pollution rules will be affected by the change. According to data from the California Department of General Services, compiled by Cal Matters, California spent US$74 million on its fleet of passenger vehicles last year. The state’s decision could hit GM particularly hard – in 2018, California spent more than US$27 million on GM-owned Chevrolet vehicles while comparatively, it spent US$3.6 million on vehicles from Toyota and US$3 million on those from Fiat Chrysler.

The Trump administration has long proposed rolling back Obama-era standards curbing greenhouse gases and increasing fuel economy of passenger vehicles. Those rollbacks haven’t yet been finalised, but in September, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said they removed California’s authority to make its own greenhouse gas rules, which 13 other states and the District of Columbia follow.

As a result, California and 22 states sued the EPA, after suing the NHTSA in September, arguing the White House unlawfully removed the state’s waiver, which was granted under the Clean Air Act. To fend off the uncertainty of a long fight in court, Ford, Honda, BMW, and Volkswagen made deals with California – the state agreed to relax the Obama-era greenhouse gas targets somewhat, and the manufacturers agreed to follow the state’s rules.

WRC Rally Australia 2019 Cancelled Amid Bushfires

Kennards Hire Rally Australia and the final round of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship will be cancelled due to serious bushfires that continue to affect much of the northern part of the state of New South Wales (NSW).

The cancellation comes after extensive consultation with the NSW Government, the international motor sports governing body FIA, emergency services and the local community.

NSW is experiencing its worst ever bushfire conditions, which have resulted in the declaration of a State of Emergency, a state-wide total fire ban and conditions in some regions being described as “catastrophic”.

“Considering the best interests and safety of everyone involved in the rally, and of course the wider community, it is not appropriate to conduct the rally,” said Andrew Papadopoulos, Event Chairman.

Papadopoulos said the cancellation was the only course available, considering the safety of the more than 1000 people involved as officials, competitors and in support roles.

“Our thoughts are with the NSW community, especially the people who have lost loved ones, livelihoods and homes as a result of the fires in northern NSW, and we thank the Rally community for your support and understanding.”

Ticketholders, officials, volunteers and the community can contact Rally Australia for more information at 02 6648 4972 or [email protected].