Intel to produce chips for automakers within six to nine months: CEO

(Reuters) – The chief executive of Intel Corp told Reuters on Monday the company is in talks to start producing chips for car makers to alleviate a shortage that has hobbled factories.

Chief Executive Officer Pat Gelsinger said the company is talking to companies that design chips for automakers about manufacturing those chips inside Intel’s factory network, with the goal of producing chips within six to nine months. Gelsinger earlier on Monday met with White House officials to discuss the semiconductor supply chain.

Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Chris Reese

Hyundai to suspend South Korea production on chip shortage: Yonhap

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co plans to suspend production for two days from Monday at its Asan plant because of a chip shortage, Yonhap news agency said, citing an unidentified company official.

The shortage had led to problems for Hyundai over powertrain control unit parts, the agency added.

The Asan factory turns out 300,000 vehicles each year, including the Sonata and Grandeur sedans.

Reporting by Heekyong Yang; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Electric trucks may soon challenge diesel if charging hurdle cleared: Study shows

(Reuters) – Electric heavy trucks will soon be able to compete economically with diesel trucks as battery technology rapidly improves, a study by Sweden-based think tank the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) showed on Thursday.

A green shift in the transport sector, which generates roughly a quarter of global carbon dioxide emissions, is seen as important to help align with globally agreed climate goals.

Battery-powered trucks have often been dismissed as too costly to replace diesel trucks in many capacities, with batteries too heavy for long-haul freight.

But researchers at SEI said a tipping point was now in sight.

“Battery technology is very close to a threshold that makes electric trucks feasible and economically competitive. All that is missing is one companion component: fast charging,” said Bjorn Nykvist, senior researcher at SEI.

The study, which evaluated costs, energy use, and battery pack weight, showed that the availability of fast, high-capacity charging was key, as that meant truck batteries could be kept relatively small and light.

This should be an incentive to the private sector and policy makers to focus on making charging infrastructure more available, said co-author Olle Olsson.

“In many settings, electric freight trucks can play an important role in reducing emissions from heavy transport,” he said.

Research by Capgemini Invent, part of Capgemini Group, recently showed that electric trucks are among 55 clean technologies that can help the European Union reach its goal of climate neutrality by mid-century.

General Motors Co and electric truck startup Nikola Corp said last year they would join forces to build electric pickup trucks and fuel cell commercial trucks to take on Tesla Inc.

Volvo Trucks, Sweden’s AB Volvo’s main truck brand, aims to sell a complete range of electric, heavy-duty trucks in Europe starting this year.

Reporting by Helena Soderpalm; editing by Niklas Pollard

Subaru to temporarily shut Yajima plant: Chip shortage

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Subaru Corp said on Monday that the automaker will halt its Yajima plant between April 10 and 27 to adjust production plans due to a chip shortage.

Subaru will restart all production lines at the Yajima plant in Gunma Prefecture from May 10, it said in a statement. It added that the impact on the group’s financial results is uncertain.

Xiaomi invests $10 billion in smart EV business over ten years

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp has formally entered the automotive industry with a new smart electric vehicle (EV) business, the company announced on Tuesday in a filing.

The firm will initially invest 10 billion yuan ($1.52 billion) in the wholly-owned subsidiary, with a total investment goal of $10 billion over the next ten years.

Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun will also serve as CEO of the smart electric vehicle unit, the company added.

($1 = 6.5647 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Exclusive: Hyundai Motor to suspend South Korea production – Chip shortage

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co said on Tuesday it would suspend production at its Ulsan No.1 plant in South Korea from April 7-14 because of a shortage of semiconductor chips and supply issues with electrical components.

It said there were supply problems with semiconductor parts for the front view camera system of its Kona sport utility vehicle (SUV) and power electric modules for the IONIQ 5

Volkswagen recalls Audi A3s in the U.S. over air bag concerns

BERLIN (Reuters) – Volkswagen has issued a recall for more than 150,000 Audi vehicles in the United States on concerns that their passenger air bags might not activate, according to a filing to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The recall is expected to affect 153,152 Audi A3 cars built between 2015 and 2020, including the Sedan, Etron and Cabriolet models, as well as certain S3 Sedans.

The system which detects whether the passenger seat is occupied might malfunction and switch off the air bag even if a person is sitting there, the filing said.

Volkswagen will write to owners of the affected vehicles by May 21 and will contact them again once a solution to the problem has been found.

Analysis: Electric shock – German auto stocks get a new lease of life

LONDON (Reuters) – Volkswagen and BMW’s plans to grab market share in the fast-growing electric car market and challenge Tesla could shift the dial for their cheaply priced shares.

A deadline set by many countries to go carbon-free by 2050 has led to rising adoption of zero-emission vehicles and Tesla has been at the forefront of this transformation, selling long-range battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

Despite a recent pullback, its stock has soared 650% in the last year, helped also by a cult following for CEO Elon Musk.

But it is no longer the only electrification play in town.

Volkswagen, the German company competing with Toyota to be the world’s biggest vehicle seller by volume, laid out its ambitious plan to turn 70% of European sales at its core VW brand electric during its “power day” last Monday.

The plan, months in the making, has helped to fuel a Tesla-esque rally in the 83-year old company’s shares, with CEO Herbert Diess even taking to Twitter, Elon Musk-style to crow as the company’s market value crossed 100 billion euros ($119 billion) earlier this month.

The stock is now up 52% year-to-date, taking its market value to 143 billion euros.

“With VW’s CEO really pushing the message on BEVs across all channels (conventional media, investors as well as Twitter and LinkedIn) we believe the private investors are picking up on this story and could be quite a powerful force by themselves,” said Barclays analyst Kai Alexander Mueller.

German rival BMW, meanwhile, said on Wednesday it was aiming for half of its sales to be non-fossil fuel vehicles by 2030, and that around 90% of its market categories would have fully-electric models available by 2023.Slideshow ( 2 images )

REBIRTH

“No one can know today who will win in the global electric car market, but while there is greater balance among the players, in stock market valuations there is unprecedented imbalance between early adopters and those who are becoming so,” said Alessandro Fugnoli, a strategist at Kairos in Milan, calling it “the rebirth of the German auto”.

UBS recently forecast Volkswagen would match Tesla’s output by 2025 and raised the price target on the company’s shares by 50% to 300 euros – the most bullish target among the 28 analysts covering the stock. The stock is currently at about 223 euros.

Valuation comparisons are also supportive.

At 160 times forward earnings, Tesla is by far the most expensive stock in the autos sector, whereas Volkswagen and BMW still trade at only around 9-10 times forward earnings.

“European carmakers, from a size and balance sheet perspective are well positioned to re-orient themselves towards electrification and they have strong distribution platforms,” said Sunil Krishnan, head of multi-asset funds at Aviva Investors.

What’s more, Volkswagen is also considering listing luxury car arm Porsche AG to help raise funds for investments in software and electric vehicles, according to a source.

STILL A VALUE PLAY

Despite its recent gains, Volkswagen’s market value is still only about a quarter of Tesla’s, and several analysts see further room for gains at both the German group and across the European autos industry.

“Abandoned by all, and in particular by investors, the German auto industry, after eating a lot of dust and falling in a state of disrepair, understands that adherence to electrics must be total,” Fugnoli said.

As well as lifting German autos stocks, the electrification drive is helping to boost broader European equity markets, which have long underperformed those in the United States.

Germany’s DAX has been setting new record highs in March.

With positioning and flows into European equities still relatively weak, some investors think that could soon change. BofA’s weekly flow data for March 10-17 showed fund managers withdrew $1 billion from Europe, while pumping a record $53 billion into U.S. equities.

Still, few think European indexes will attract the frenzied buying seen by tech stocks on the U.S. Nasdaq in recent years.

“In Europe, it will remain a stock specific issue for a while, we won’t be looking at the Euro50 this year as a tech index,” Aviva’s Kirshnan said.

“But these things can change quickly – look how quickly VW moved up in the market cap pecking order.”

GRAPHIC: Market cap race: Tesla vs. top car sellers –

Reuters Graphic

U.S. safety agency reviewing 23 Tesla crashes; three from recent weeks

The U.S. auto safety agency disclosed on Thursday it has opened 25 investigations into crashes of Tesla vehicles, including three crashes in recent weeks, and 23 remain active.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirmed Thursday that it will send a team to investigate a recent crash of a Tesla in the Houston area. Two of the 25 NHTSA investigations have been completed and the results published.

Source: Reuters

China’s SAIC partners with U.S. lidar maker Luminar on self-driving cars

(Reuters) – SAIC Motor Corp, China’s largest automaker, said Thursday it plans to begin offering self-driving vehicles in that market in 2022, in partnership with U.S. lidar maker Luminar Technologies.

Laser-based lidar sensors help detect objects ahead of and around the vehicle, and are a key component of many self-driving systems being developed by automakers and suppliers.

California-based Luminar in early March announced a deal with the self-driving software subsidiary of Volvo Cars, owned by China’s Geely Automobile Holdings, to offer a combination hardware-software system to other automakers.

Luminar, founded in 2012, is one of several U.S. lidar manufacturers in the past year to go public via reverse mergers with blank-check companies.

SAIC, which is partnered in China with General Motors Co (GM) and Volkswagen AG (VW), plans to install Luminar’s lidar sensors and software next year on its new R brand vehicle line and said it expects to standardize the equipment eventually across all its vehicles in China.

GM and VW are developing self-driving technology separately from SAIC – GM through its majority-owned Cruise subsidiary, VW in part with minority-owned Argo AI.

SAIC is an investor in Chinese lidar startup RoboSense, as well as other tech startups in the United States and China that are working on various aspects of self-driving vehicles.

Initially, SAIC’s R line vehicles will have self-driving capability on highways, as well as advanced driver assistance features, the company said. The vehicles also will have the ability over time to upgrade their self-driving capability through over-the-air software updates, the company said.

Luminar earlier inked lidar development deals with Daimler AG’s truck group and Intel Corp’s Mobileye. Luminar is also slated to supply lidar for Volvo’s first self-driving cars in 2022.