China will soon slap a penalty on an un-named U.S. automaker for monopolistic behaviour, the official China Daily newspaper reported on Wednesday, quoting a senior state planning official.
Investigators found the U.S. company had instructed distributors to fix prices starting in 2014, Zhang Handong, director of the National Development and Reform Commission’s price supervision bureau, was quoted as saying.
News of the penalty comes at a sensitive time for China-U.S. relations after U.S. president-elect Donald Trump called into question a long-standing U.S. policy of acknowledging that Taiwan is part of “one China”.
Beijing maintains that self-ruled Taiwan is a wayward province of China and has never renounced the use of force to take it back.
Zhang was quoted in an exclusive interview with the newspaper as saying that no one should “read anything improper” into the timing or target of the penalty.
An alliance between Toyota Motor and Suzuki Motor could be a boon to both sides, helping the former gain ground in emerging markets such as India and giving the latter the engineering needed to compete in an increasingly high-tech industry.
Can’t go it alone
The two automakers said Wednesday they were discussing collaboration on environmental, safety and information technology.
Although Toyota President Akio Toyoda told a new conference that the idea of an alliance came together in just two business days after Suzuki Chairman Osamu Suzuki got the ball rolling, there is more to the story. Suzuki’s next partner had been the subject of speculation since August 2015, when the Japanese maker of economy cars ended a capital and business relationship with Germany’s Volkswagen over management conflicts.
Though Chairman Suzuki had said publicly that his company would look to remain independent going forward, another senior executive had acknowledged that collaboration was “necessary” in some fields. Even in India, a successful market for Suzuki, environmental regulations are growing tougher, making investment in technology like hybrid drive systems essential. Rising incomes have also stoked demand for higher-end vehicles in such countries.
Finding a big automaker ally was seen as essential for Suzuki to ensure a presence in self-driving cars. While a Toyota or a Volkswagen has the financial strength to counter the challenge posed by Google and other tech giants in this field — Toyota’s annual research and development budget comes to around 1 trillion yen ($9.59 billion) — Suzuki, which spent just 130 billion yen on R&D in the year ended March 31, hardly stands a chance alone.
South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor slipped to its 10th straight profit drop in the second quarter as it soaked up stiff competition and shrinking demand for its mainstay sedans in United States and at home.
Hyundai, the world’s fifth-biggest automaker together with affiliate Kia Motors, said on Tuesday its April-June net profit slipped to 1.66 trillion won ($1.46 billion) from 1.70 trillion won a year ago, just below a consensus forecast of 1.67 trillion won from a Reuters’ poll of 19 analysts.
The automaker had bet on new sedans like the Elantra and the Sonata to help it reverse out of its lengthening slowdown. But low oil prices have prompted consumers in the United States – the firm’s second-biggest market – to switch to gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks, hitting Hyundai harder than peers because of its heavier reliance on sedan sales.
Hyundai said on Tuesday it plans to expand its supply of SUVs to meet growing demand. But it warned the second half of the year could be tough as Britain’s June 23 vote to leave the European Union had clouded the outlook for business in the region.
Two weeks after the world woke up to the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union, India’s Tata Motors is still trying to make sense of the ramifications. But the impact will be broad, likely affecting the country’s entire auto industry.
In an internal report revealed just days before the fateful June 23 referendum, Tata unit Jaguar Land Rover predicted a 1 billion pound ($1.29 billion at current rates) hit to annual profits from Brexit. The document listed several negative consequences of walking away from the market, including the re-establishment of high tariffs between the U.K. and the EU. Its concerns have now become reality.
Acquired by Mumbai-based Tata Motors in 2008, Jaguar Land Rover is a British icon. Its cars are sold around the world, but its main market is Europe. It sells a fifth of its vehicles in the U.K. and another 24% in the rest of Europe. It churns out 500,000 units every year in the U.K. — more than any other automaker in the country.
The carmaker does not produce finished vehicles on the continent. Instead, it procures nearly 40% of its parts there and assembles them into finished cars for exports back to the continent. Brexit will disrupt its supply chain, which hinges on British membership in the EU.
Strong sales by luxury vehicle maker Jaguar Land Rover and higher demand for trucks in its home market powered a tripling of net profit at India’s Tata Motors Ltd in the latest quarter.
Strong demand for the Jaguar XE compact saloon, nicknamed the ‘baby Jag’, and the Discovery Sport SUV pushed sales at the British luxury unit up 28 percent to 158,813 vehicles in the fiscal fourth quarter ended March 31, Tata Motors, India’s top automaker by revenue, said on Monday.
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) sales in China, once its biggest and fastest-growing market, recovered during the quarter, rising 19 percent after dropping 10 percent in the previous quarter.
But that trailed 55 percent growth in Europe where demand for its vehicles soared.
“China is really coming back and that will also be the focus,” JLR Chief Executive Ralf Speth told a news conference.
“I am cautiously optimistic that we can continue around the world with very nice sales and distribution,” he said.
JLR overtook Nissan last year to become Britain’s biggest automaker.
American consumers are revving their engines. Car-information site Edmunds.com is forecasting a record November for US new car and truck sales.
The company reckons 1.3m new cars and trucks will be sold in November, with sales hitting a seasonally-adjusted annualized pace of 18.3m. That would top a previous record for the month set in 2001.
The monthly tally will, however, fall short of the 1.5m sales logged in October.
November, which used to be a notoriously slow month for auto sales has recently become more important as auto dealers have followed other retailers in offering Black Friday promotions, according to Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds’s director of industry analysis.
Edmunds sees year-over-year advances from the so-called Big Three automakers – General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. Meanwhile, Volkswagen sales are forecast to lag the broader industry, tumbling 14.4 per cent from the same month in 2014, amid an ongoing drag from its emissions-rigging scandal.
It has been a strong year for auto sales, with October’s pace striking a decade high, according to Barclays’ estimates.
The US has expressed concern over India’s crackdown on the Ford Foundation and Greenpeace, and said it is seeking “clarification” on the action.
“We are aware that the (Indian) Ministry of Home Affairs suspended the registration of Greenpeace India and has placed the Ford Foundation on a prior permission watch list,” the state department deputy acting spokesperson, Marie Harf, told reporters at her daily news conference yesterday.
“We remain concerned about the difficulties caused to civil society organisations by the manner in which the Foreign Contributions Regulations Act has been applied,” she said in response to a question.
“We are concerned that this recent ruling limits the necessary and critical debate within Indian society and we are seeking a clarification on this issue with the appropriate Indian authorities,” Harf said.
In a crackdown on foreign fundings to NGOs, the Union Home Ministry has put the Ford Foundation of the US on its “watch list” and ordered that all funds coming from the international organisation have to be routed only with its nod due to “national security concerns”.
Jaguar Land Rover has helped drive Britain’s carmakers to their best December output in a decade with the industry producing 109,000 vehicles – up by 27% on the same month a year earlier.
It capped the strongest year for car manufacturers since 2007, with more than 1.5m cars rolling off production lines over the 12 months, equivalent to a car every 20 seconds. The figure is 1.2% up on the previous year despite continuing weakness in some export markets. Further rises are forecast over the next 12 months.
Jaguar Land Rover, the Indian-owned but Midlands-based producer of the upmarket Defender and Range Rover models reported volumes rising by nearly 7.5% over the year while production at the Japanese-owned volume carmaker Honda fell by 12.3%.
The figures came as the latest industrial trends survey from the CBI revealed more gloomy sentiment among the general manufacturing sector.
Motor industry leaders said higher investment had triggered the strong result. The business secretary, Vince Cable, said it showed the government’s positive industrial strategy was paying off.
The boss of Jaguar Land Rover has denied the company is betting the company’s future on the new XE entry-level model it will officially launch on Monday night.
At a briefing ahead of the unveiling of the compact saloon, Dr Ralf Speth said that “no one car will make or break the one company”.
However, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has invested £2bn into the car’s production programme, which has involved building two new plants and will ultimately create 2,300 jobs.
The “baby” Jaguar XE, which will be revealed to world during a ceremony at Earls Court featuring Emeli Sande, will enter a segment of the market that means it will take on BMW’s 3 Series, Mercedes’ C-Class and Audi’s A4.