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Ford, Daimler, BMW, VW ink agreement to build charging stations across Europe

Four main automakers have entered a Memorandum of Understanding to develop what may be Europe’s highest-powered charging network. The four main brands hope that this will signal the start of the move for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) to have a more mass-market appeal. This is because under the agreement, the brands will build a good number of charging stations to ensure that BEVs will have a longer travel range. The four companies are Ford Motor Company, Daimler AG, BMW Group, and the Volkswagen Group representing both the Audi and the Porsche.

With construction slated to being in 2017, the charging network is not only expected to offer a maximum of 350 kW in terms of power levels, but to also allow for faster charging. Though there will be 400 initial sites to be set-up across Europe, the group hopes that by 2020, BEV drivers will be able to recharge on a selection of thousands of charging stations. Another goal is to allow long-distance travel using open-network of charging stations placed on major roads and highways. At the present, this has not been seen to be feasible for many BEV drivers. The end goal is of course to make recharging as easy as refueling at standard gas stations.

The entire network will utilize the Combined Charging System standard technology with the infrastructure projected to eventually use the current AC and DC technical standards. Battery electric vehicles developed to allow for full charge at these stations will be able to recharge as well at brand-independent stations but at a faster rate. To ensure that BEV will have a strong acceptance in Europe, the group will make sure that the network will able to recharge all vehicles that are equipped with CCS.

Read the entire article Ford, Daimler, BMW, VW ink agreement to build charging stations across Europe

Audi, BMW and Daimler successfully conclude HERE acquisition

The three prominent German automakers have successfully concluded their acquisition of Nokia’s HERE mapping and location services. In this digital world, the future of agile mobility lies in the hands of real-time maps that are highly intelligent services that are location-based and that offer a highly-automated driving experience.

These rich experiences can be had through HERE products and services. HERE is committed to produce first-rate maps and a newly defined range of location-based services. HERE’s products and services have been benefiting customers in different fields.

BMW Group, AUDI AG and Daimler AG are the new HERE shareholders. These premium automobile manufacturers have, on 4th December, acquired Nokia’s HERE mapping and location services after the deal was approved by all the competent authorities.

Read the entire article Audi, BMW and Daimler successfully conclude HERE acquisition

Daimler and BMW collaborate to set up supplier network in Mexico

German carmakers Daimler and BMW are working together to establish a network of suppliers for new plants in Mexico, according to Klaus Zehender, divisional board member for procurement and supplier quality at Daimler's Mercedes-Benz unit. The collaboration is part of Mercedes’ bid to further widen its network of local suppliers at its sites in China, South Africa, the United States and Mexico.

BMW and Daimler earlier this year each disclosed plans to make $1 billion in investments to build a site in Mexico, aiming to benefit from the country's budding industrial base as well as tariff-free access to the US. Zehender said that a cooperation between Daimler and BMW in Mexico could result to savings of around 10 percent.

He noted that the two carmakers work together where they have common interests, like setting up technical competencies among suppliers in specific plants.

Read the entire article Daimler and BMW collaborate to set up supplier network in Mexico

Daimler allows Chinese officials to pop out vehicle hoods in bid to catch Audi, BMW

Daimler has been behind its major rivals in China, the largest vehicle market in the world. In fact, it sold just 228,000 cars in China in 2013, compared to Audi’s almost 492,000 and BMW’s over 362,000 deliveries. To catch up and even surpass them, Daimler is doing what was once regarded as unthinkable for the German carmaker – allowing access to new Mercedes-Benz models and suiting engines to Chinese regulations.

The carmaker’s continued lag in China has been attributed to it doubts over the sustainability of growth in the country. Likewise, German labor union has been putting up strong resistance to shifting output from Daimler's Sindelfingen plant.

Also, Daimler had been very wary of sharing technological know-how over concerns of piracy. But now Chinese authorities have taken significant steps to crack down on copyright violations, Daimler has become more lenient in popping the hoods of its vehicles for them.

Read the entire article Daimler allows Chinese officials to pop out vehicle hoods in bid to catch Audi, BMW

German carmakers Daimler, Volkswagen and BMW will return awards received from auto club ADAC following discovery of results manipulation for the "Yellow Angel" award by an external audit conducted by Deloitte. An audit of the award procedures was conducted by Deloitte after claims surfaced in January that ADAC's Motorwelt magazine had inflated readership votes.

ADAC – which stands for Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil Club -- had said that 34,299 motorists voted for the “Yellow Angel” award, which is given to the most popular car in Germany. According to Deloitte, it had found evidence of "willful manipulation" as well as technologically flawed processing of data. The audit discovered that the order of four of the first five places had been manipulated.

Deloitte said the former director of ADAC communications, Peter Ramstetter, had simulated different scenarios on his computer on how the number and order of the votes could be manipulated.  Ramstetter resigned after conceding that he manipulated the results of the coveted "Yellow Angel" award for Germany's favorite car, an accolade received by the Volkswagen Golf model.

Read the entire article Daimler, VW and BMW to return awards to ADAC

Daimler is open to new approaches to grow its business and has even discussed with Volkswagen, BMW and Fiat about developing a common small car platform, remarked chief executive Dieter Zetsche. "When we were planning the current generation of front-wheel drive vehicles we were entertaining a number of discussions with BMW, with Fiat, with VW to check whether it makes sense to do something together," Zetsche said.

He remarked that Daimler eventually concluded that it would not gain much from such cooperation, which would only be marginal. Zetsche indicated that he was open to considering broader strategic steps during the remainder of his term in office. 

"If we were to just continue to do our homework, and not develop more elements going forward, we definitely would fall back," Zetsche remarked. Zetche’s contract as Daimler CEO ends in 2016. He noted that he was currently satisfied with Daimler's existing operations.

Read the entire article Dieter Zetsche said Daimler rejected partnerships with BMW, Fiat and Volkswagen

Daimler will appoint Bernd Pischetsrieder to its supervisory board as it seeks to boost its managerial lineup with people having intimate knowledge of the auto industry, according to a report by Handelsblatt. Daimler will also name new Siemens chief executive Joe Kaeser and Bernd Bohr to the board in 2014, Handelsblatt said, citing sources close to the supervisory board.

The paper added that the carmaker will also name three well-known German managers to replace former Philips CEO Gerard Kleisterlee, former General Electric Vice Chairman Lloyd Trotter and former Dresdner Bank CEO Bernhard Walter. They are set to retire from the board next year. The paper said that Daimler will seek shareholder approval of the new appointments at its annual shareholders' meeting slated April 9. 

Pischetsrieder was BMW CEO from 1993 to 1999 and he later became the top honcho of the Volkswagen Group. He also became chief of VW's SEAT unit, and was a member of the VW Group management board responsible for quality management from 2000 to 2002. He became CEO of the VW Group in 2002, but left in 2006 following a row with chairman Ferdinand Piech.

Read the entire article Daimler to name former BMW CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder to supervisory board

The growing popularity of car-sharing programs in Europe is making German carmakers Daimler and BMW bullish about the future of this new scheme. According to Robert Henrich, managing director of Daimler Mobility Services, its car-sharing program Car2Go is already reaping profits at three major cities where it was launched in 2009 -- Hamburg, Germany; Vienna, Austria; and Vancouver, Canada.

Daimler's Car2Go is currently available in 21 cities, with a global fleet that is expected to grow to 10,000 cars in 2013 from 6,100 in 2012. Daimler's Car2Go fleet is currently comprised of Smart ForTwos, generating 10 million rentals from half a million customers. Henrich added that it usually takes three to four years for a city scheme to make money.

Tony Douglas, head of marketing and sales for mobility services at BMW, told Automotive News Europe, that the car-sharing market is “becoming mainstream." According to Douglas, a key to success in the car-sharing sector is making sure that "people can always find a car nearby.”

Read the entire article Daimler and BMW are bullish on car-sharing schemes

German carmakers like Volkswagen Group, BMW Group and Daimler AG are planning to spend over $25 billion by 2017 to expand production outside Europe and thereby protect their earnings from the effects of currency swings. BMW Group has disclosed that it will commence building the new X4 crossover at its South Carolina plant in the United States, in addition to the other three sports utility vehicles it currently produces in the location.

Daimler AG, meanwhile, is increasing the capacity of a Mercedes-Benz site in Alabama. Volkswagen’s Audi, on the other hand, is currently constructing a $1.3-billion plant in Mexico. The foreign investments made by German carmakers so far exceed those made by their European rivals like French manufacturers PSA/Peugeot-Citroen and Renault SA and Italian company Fiat SpA – all of which still focus on their home market. VW Group launched this year its 100th production plant -- a $550-million engine plant in Silao, Mexico – boosting its bid to become the world’s most global carmaker.

Consultancy Oliver Wyman estimates that around 77 percent of VW’s production capacity is situated outside Germany, much larger than General Motors Co.'s 76 percent and Toyota Motor Corp.'s 59 percent. German luxury carmakers BMW, Mercedes and Audi also have more diverse footprints than their rivals like Lexus, Volvo and Cadillac. Jonathan Browning, head of VW's US operations, told Bloomberg TV in an interview at the New York auto show in March that their approach is a global one. He noted that if a carmaker has a spread of geographic presence and a spread of brand segments across the marketplace, it could manage fluctuations much easier.

Read the entire article German carmakers to spend $25 billion to expand foreign production

Even as the European auto-market continues on a decline, German auto groups BMW and Daimler are not too worried as the sales growth it is experiencing in the U.S. and in China has led to the near-maximum pace of production. In the first two months of 2013, BMW delivered 6 percent more vehicles to over 250,000 units. BMW is aiming to achieve a third straight year of record sales.

At a press conference at the 2013 Geneva Auto Show last Tuesday, BMW chief executive Norbert Reithofer said that its plants are operating at full capacity. At a different briefing, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said that its Mercedes-Benz unit is adding shifts to cope with the demand for compact cars.

BMW and Daimler -- which are ranked No. 1 and no. 3 in global luxury sales, respectively -- are offering new models. Both German carmakers are attempting to attract more customers outside of Europe in order to make up for the recession in these markets.

Read the entire article China, U.S. pushes Bmw and Daimler luxury-car production to maximum rates

Daimler’s strategy to get a bigger share of Europe's emerging rent-by-the-minute urban auto market includes the installation of the largest fleet of its Car2go short-term rental service in Berlin last month. This means that Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz models now outnumber BMW's DriveNow products two-to-one.

Car2go's chief Robert Henrich said that what’s happening in Berlin is part of a bigger campaign to get the attention of urban consumers and increase sales from services as the appeal of being a car owner in the cities diminishes.

He believes that as the leader in this business, it’s to be expected that competition will show up. He said that this proves that it has the “correct” business idea. Because of the expanding customer base for rental cars, Daimler and BMW are improving their city-based services that enable drivers to rent by the minute.

Read the entire article Daimler flooding Berlin with Smart cars, wants to take on Bmw’s DriveNow

CEO Dieter Zetsche of Daimler is determined to surpass BMW in terms of luxury vehicle sales, armed with a range of new Mercedes-Benz models intended to reverse the automaker's decline in market share. At the company's annual meeting in Berlin, he told shareholders that the company is "is on the way to its best form, but is not there yet."

Zetsche further stated that they are "confident" that they can "do more, and that also applies to the share price." The annual meeting is the last chance for Zetsche, who also heads the Mercedes car division, to sell his strategy to shareholders before his contract is up for renewal. He is launching models like the entry-level Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatchback and new versions of the S-class flagship in an effort to get back the lead position in the luxury vehicle race that Daimler lost in 2005. 

The new models are intended to increase sales growth, which averaged 1.4% during the past decade, compared with 7.4% percent at Audi and 6% percent at BMW, according to IHS Automotive's data.

Read the entire article Daimler CEO vows to surpass BMW sales with new Mercedes-Benz lineup

There was a decline in the shares of BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen because of indications that the growth in the auto market in China, the world's biggest, could be slowing more than previously predicted, resulting to an increase in auto discounting. During a conference in Qingdao last Tuesday, Gu Xianghua, one of two deputies to the secretary general at CAAM, said that the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers predicted that total vehicle deliveries will grow by 8% but it failed to climb by even 5% due to the "difficult" economy.

Gu said that the demand for commercial automobiles would be among the worst affected.

As of 11:20 CET in Frankfurt trading, BMW shares had fallen by up to 3.89 euros, or 5.4%, to 67.95 euros. Daimler shares dropped by 5.1% to 44.71 euros and VW declined by 4.5% to 132.90 euros. Cheshi.com, which monitors prices at over 3,000 Chinese dealerships, said that Mercedes is offering record discounts of 25% on the S-class sedan in China.

Read the entire article Bmw, Daimler and Vw see a decline in shares as China sales slow

Daimler has fallen behind Audi and BMW when it comes to profitability but while it seeks to narrow the gap, it won’t resort to reducing its workforce, according to Daimler’s personnel chief Wilfried Porth. In an interview with Reuters, Porth said that there’s “no reason” to focus just on personnel in raising efficiency. He added that staff costs make up less than a fifth of group expenses.

In 2011, Daimler's Mercedes posted a 9% operating margin. The frontrunners, Audi and BMW, typically sell cars that are priced lower than those of Mercedes.

BMW and Audi haven’t released their full-year 2011 results yet. Daimler has about 271,000 employees around the world. Nearly 168,000 of this figure are based in Germany. But for 2012, Daimler wants to increase this number. Porth said that the increase this year will not be as drastic as in 2011 when it had 14,000 new workers. Daimler pledged to take back the top luxury-car position from BMW after falling in 2011 to third place behind Audi.

Read the entire article Daimler will not slash its workforce to close the gap with Bmw and Audi

In an attempt to outperform luxury market leaders BMW AG and Daimler AG, Audi intends to add vehicle models in the U.S. The automaker's CEO Rupert Stadler said that they are seeing opportunities in the sedan and SUV market. He revealed that in next week's Detroit auto show, Audi will launch a concept "Vail" version of the compact Q3 SUV for the U.S. market. The automaker also intends to manufacture a sedan variant of the A3 hatchback after the latest model comes to the market this year.

The growth in the U.S. is crucial to Audi's attempts to outperform BMW as the biggest luxury automaker in the world by 2015. Last year, Audi overtook Daimler's Mercedes-Benz. That year, Audi delivered around 80,000 more automobiles across the world versus Mercedes' 1.26 million units.

However, Mercedes and BMW currently sell more than twice as many vehicles as Audi in the U.S. market.In addition, Audi intends to revive the A2 compact vehicle, a model it dropped several years ago, Stadler said. The automaker will start producing vehicles in North America by 2015, manufacturing 150,000 units as a first step, he added.

Read the entire article Audi to add more vehicles in US lineup as bid to beat Daimler, BMW

When Daimler AG commemorated its 125-year anniversary last January, it was proud to announce that its market valuation was 17 billion euros ($23 billion) higher than that of BMW AG. However, this lead has significantly narrowed. Mercedes-Benz’s lead over BMW reached 39 billion euros in 2007 but it has now fallen to just 700 million euros.

The challenges that Daimler faces in widening the gap is the drop in demand for several older models as well as the price of launching new and more compact cars. Arndt Ellinghorst, a Credit Suisse analyst in London, said that due to Daimler’s size, it will take a considerable amount of time “to change course.”

He added that Daimler’s management may think that the “ship is impregnable, but it's clearly taking on water." Daimler and BMW have similar market valuations but BMW’s workforce is less than half Daimler's 270,000 staff and it reported 38% less revenue in 2010. This narrowing gap is indicative of Daimler’s decreasing dominance in Germany’s luxury car market.

Read the entire article Daimler’s losing value to Bmw: market valuation dwindled from €39 billion to €700 million

As German automakers BMW and Porsche anticipate record sales for this year, one of the challenges seen is the scarcity of the engineers to produce the vehicles.

The VDI (Verein Deutscher Ingenieure) German engineering association said that there was a shortfall of available engineers in Germany of as many as 77,000 last month due to a workforce that is aging as well as the drop in the number of enrollees in technical studies. Around 800 people are expected to be hired for work at Leipzig facility of BMW.

The hiring of new workers at Leipzig forms part of a plan valued at EUR400 million ($577 million) to expand the production of the BMW i3 electric city car and the BMW i8 hybrid super car, according to Autonews.

Read the entire article BMW, Daimler, VW expansion might be delayed due to shortage of engineers

Daimler AG was not able to keep up with rivals in the second quarter of this year, recording truck profits that trailed Volvo AB and forecasting slower sales growth than BMW AG. Specifically, the company increased its 2011 sales target by 50,000 units, which is lower than the BMW's growth of 100,000 cars.

The company’s profit margins for trucks unit lagged behind Volvo by 3.1 percentage points. Volvo is the second largest truck manufacturer in the world next to Daimler.

Currently, Daimler is constructing a plant in Hungary and expanding facilities in the U.S. and in China after it was beaten by Audi as the second biggest manufacturer of premium vehicles this year.

Read the entire article Daimler failed to keep pace with Bmw in the second quarter

German auto companies Daimler AG and BMW AG recorded combined sales in China of 102,497 cars during the first three months of 2011, a growth of 76 percent from last year. On the other hand, the industry has seen a slower growth to 8.1 percent, which is the weakest performance since 2009 of the same quarter.

Chief Executive Officer Klaus Maier of Daimler's Mercedes-Benz business in China revealed that the demand outstrips supply for the company’s units. He also added that the company is increasing production capacity at its German factories.

Even after Shanghai and Beijing restricted vehicle licenses in attempts to ease traffic congestion, and China ended the subsidies and tax breaks that promoted vehicle purchases, the companies experienced a rise in sales in their models including BMW's CHY296,000 ($45,300) 3-series sedan.

Read the entire article BMW and Daimler outpace rivals in China

Germany's big three carmakers – BMW AG, Volkswagen AG and Daimler AG - which have added about EUR67 billion ($90 billion) in market value since the end of the 2009, are set for 2011 profits exceeding pre-financial crisis highs amid Chinese and United States demand.

Analysts say that BMW and VW will probably post earnings before interest and taxes for 2011 beating records set in 2007 and 2008, respectively, while Daimler’s earnings are expected to rise to the highest level since 1999, when Chrysler was still part of the company. Daimler's Mercedes-Benz, BMW and VW all reported record deliveries in January 2011.

Daimler CEO, Dieter Zetsche, who is the first of the German auto CEOs to discuss 2011 targets when he reports fourth-quarter earnings, said in January 2011 that growth in 2011 will be constrained by factory limits rather than customer demand.

Read the entire article Bmw, Daimler and Vw poised for 2011 profits exceeding pre-financial crisis