March 25, 2023

VW Says Bentley Will Build S.U.V. in Britain

The new model, billed as the world’s most expensive SUV, will go on sale in 2016, VW said on Tuesday. The project will create over 1,000 jobs in the UK, Europe’s second-largest auto market, and require over 800 million pounds of investment over the next three years.

Crewe, England-based Bentley aims to replicate the success that Porsche has had with the Cayenne SUV, which was launched over a decade ago and now accounts for half the sports-car maker’s global sales.

The push towards off-roaders is aimed at boosting profitability at Bentley, which accounted for no more than 1 percent of the VW group’s first-quarter earnings of 2.34 billion euros.

“SUVs continue to be in high demand and Porsche has shown that plush sport-utility vehicles have great potential,” said Frankfurt-based Equinet AG analyst Tim Schuldt.

But the Bentley SUV may face competition from VW stable mate Lamborghini, which recently won the backing of parent Audi to launch the Urus SUV in 2017, Maserati’s Jeep-based Kubang and Land Rover’s Range Rover Sport, analysts said.

The moves by Bentley and Lamborghini have dismayed some automobile fans, who fear that the push into four-by-fours betrays their history and will dilute the brands’ exclusivity.

Bentley is known for sleek models with a racing pedigree. Its redesigned Flying Spur has a 6-litre, 12-cylinder engine generating 616 horsepower and a top speed of 200 miles per hour.

It is targeting annual sales of between 3,000 and 4,000 SUVs priced at above 150,000 euros. The new model would be key to almost doubling Bentley’s worldwide deliveries to 15,000 autos by 2018.

The company has had extremely positive feedback on the SUV from customers in the past 16 months, VW said.

“This decision will ensure sustainable growth for the company,” said Bentley Chief Executive Wolfgang Schreiber.

(Reporting by Andreas Cremer; editing by Christoph Steitz and Tom Pfeiffer)

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Nissan’s Net Profit Jumps

But Carlos Ghosn, who heads both the Japanese firm and France’s Renault SA, said that while Nissan’s annual global retail sales volumes will reach a record, he expects the European market to face another tough year.

“I think 2013 is going to be tough and I don’t foresee any growth in Europe probably before the end of (Nissan’s) mid-term plan, which means not before 2016, or even later,” Ghosn told a news conference at Nissan’s headquarters in Yokohama.

“We think the European consumer lacks of confidence. The European consumer is confused, he doesn’t know when Europe is going to get out of this crisis and until he sees or understands what’s going on in Europe, I don’t think (he’s) going to buy cars,” he said.

Nissan, Japan’s second biggest automaker by sales volume, expects global retail sales of 5.3 million vehicles in the business year that ends in March 2014, up from 4.9 million last year, when it eked out a 1.4 percent year-on-year rise.

That paled in comparison with increases in the same period for Toyota, which rose 16.3 percent, and Honda, which grew 32.2 percent.

Of the Japanese automakers, Nissan is the most exposed to China. The world’s biggest auto market accounts for about a quarter of its global sales.


A sales slowdown there last year as customers spurned Japanese brands in response to a diplomatic spat between the countries has led to uncertainty about whether Nissan will be able to achieve its goal of winning 8 percent global market share by March 2017, with an operating margin of 8 percent.

Ghosn was bullish, saying year-on-year sales in China were higher in April and that he expects a full recovery in China sales by the end of 2013, and that the overall mid-term plan is on track.

The company said on Friday it expects to make a net profit of 420 billion yen (2.74 billion pounds) in the year to March 2014, below an average forecast of 475.1 billion yen made by 19 analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Its profit growth rate forecast was also below Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co, partly because Nissan, which tends to use more imported components for parts in the cars it makes in Japan than do its rivals, is less able to cash in on the weakening yen.

In January-March, Nissan net profit’s grew 46.1 percent to 110 billion yen, above an average forecast of 100.8 billion yen net profit made by five analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

(Reporting by Yoko Kubota and James Topham; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)

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Toyota Returns to No. 1 in Global Auto Sales

General Motors, which held the top spot in 2011, mustered 9.29 million vehicles in global sales last year. The U.S. company had been the top-selling automaker for decades before losing its lead to Toyota in 2008.

Volkswagen sold 9.1 million vehicles last year, a record for the German automaker, which has expanded its presence in emerging markets. VW also outsold Toyota in 2011.

Toyota estimated last month that it sold 9.7 million vehicles for the year, and final figures released Monday were slightly higher.

By confirming its No. 1 title, Toyota cements a strong comeback from several years of tumbles.

A sharp slowdown in exports during the global economic crisis led to the automaker’s biggest loss in decades, while controversy over its handling of recalls greatly tarnished its image for quality and reliability.

In 2011, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, as well as widespread flooding in Thailand later that year, severely disrupted production, weighing on sales in important markets like the United States and pushing Toyota to No. 3 in global sales.

Toyota had a bumper year in 2012, however, as production rebounded and the automaker went on an offensive to win back market share. Toyota sales in the United States surged 27 percent, to 2.08 million vehicles. In Japan, sales rose 35 percent, to 2.41 million units, helped by government incentives for fuel-efficient cars.

Those increases were enough to offset a decline in sales in China, where Japanese businesses have been hurt by consumer boycotts amid a bitter territorial dispute between the two countries. In Europe, sales of Toyota cars rose by 2 percent. Toyota’s sales figures include deliveries from its subsidiaries Hino Motors and Daihatsu Motor.

The other automakers among Japan’s big three also sold more cars in 2012 and are set for even higher sales this year on the back of a weaker yen, which makes Japanese-made cars and parts more price competitive. Honda Motor said global sales jumped 19 percent to 3.82 million vehicles, while Nissan Motor logged a 5.8 percent sales growth to 4.94 million vehicles.

This year, Toyota aims to improve on its record for this year to sell 9.91 million cars worldwide.

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Chrysler Quarterly Profit Jumps

DETROIT (AP) — Strong U.S. sales powered Chrysler to a healthy third-quarter profit.

The company on Monday reported net income of $381 million, up 80 percent from $212 million a year earlier. The profit was due mainly to a 13-percent sales increase in the U.S., where Chrysler does three quarters of its business. The company sold nearly 417,000 cars and trucks in the U.S. under the Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Fiat and Chrysler brands.

Under the ownership of Italy’s Fiat SpA, the Detroit company has been transformed since its 2009 trip through bankruptcy protection. It has posted profits since early last year and is now propping up Fiat, which is struggling with dropping sales in Europe.

Unlike its Detroit rivals General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co., Chrysler has few sales in Europe and its profits aren’t being eroded by losses there.

Chrysler’s sales have been helped by a series of revamped cars and trucks that began rolling out in 2010, including the Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV, the Ram pickup and the Chrysler 200 midsize sedan.

The company’s quarterly revenue rose 18 percent to $15.5 billion as global sales increased 12 percent.

The company earned $1.29 billion in the first nine months of the year, and it reaffirmed a 2012 profit forecast of $1.5 billion.

Chrysler Group LLC also repeated estimates that it would ship 2.3 million to 2.4 million vehicles worldwide this year, as well as generate $65 billion in revenue.

CEO Sergio Marchionne, in an e-mail to employees, said the competition isn’t showing any signs of vulnerability, so the company will have to keep fighting for its share of the market.

“We are going in the right direction, and I simply ask you to keep faith in Chrysler and in each other and keep working to shape this company,” he wrote.

Chrysler plans 66 new, revamped or special-edition cars and trucks by 2014, Marchionne wrote.

Even though it had a good quarter, Chrysler’s rapid growth is starting to slow. Its U.S. sales last quarter fell about 4 percent from the second quarter and it faces increased competition from Honda and Toyota. The two Japanese companies have recovered from last year’s earthquake and tsunami that hobbled their factories and left them short of models at U.S. showrooms.

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