Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler is getting cold feet about opening a factory in Russia, and thinks it might just skip a little bit west.
That, two Porsche executives avoid the Big House, the NHTSA wants autonomous rules post-haste, Volkswagen seeks a quick way out of trouble, and Aston Martin wants an F1-inspired moonshot … after the break!
Sunnier pastures for Daimler
Sometimes you just need to get out of Dodge Oblast.
A planned Daimler production facility in Russia will likely be scrapped in favor of a new site in economically viable Poland, according to German and Polish media sources (via Automotive News Europe):
One of the sites under discussion is in Jawor in southwest Poland where Jaguar Land Rover had considered opening a new factory before the UK luxury automaker opted for Slovakia, the reports said.
Just two months ago, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche was talking about adding a plant in Russia to capitalize on the sales success of the Mercedes-Benz brand in that country. However, the current economic turmoil taking place in Russia is hammering vehicle sales.
If Poland does turn out to be the promised land for Daimler, many new jobs will follow:
Daimler’s plans also include an engine plant in Poland, the business paper Puls Biznesu reported, according to Automobil Produktion. According to the report, Puls Biznesu expects a decision on the plants to be announced by the end of this month.
The heat is off
There’ll be no trip to the slammer for two former Porsche executives, after a German court ruled the pair did not manipulate the stock market in order to gain a financial advantage, the New York Times reports:
Wendelin Wiedeking, 63, the former chief executive of Porsche, and Holger Härter, 59, the former chief financial officer, were acquitted by a German court of charges stemming from a news release the company issued in October 2008.
Prosecutors argued that the news release was intended to mislead investors and to drive up the price of Volkswagen shares. Porsche had amassed a huge stake in Volkswagen as part of an audacious takeover bid.
It’s hard not to be amused by the time capsule-like qualities of this case, in light of the ongoing diesel emissions scandal and the vastly changed fortunes of both companies.
NHTSA wants self-driving vehicle rules ASAP
It’s a game of playing catch-up as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tries to stay ahead of rapidly developing autonomous driving technology.
NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind has given the road safety regulator a difficult six month timeline in which to create federal rules for self-driving cars, Automobile reports:
Rosekind’s urgency stems in part from an uptick in the national auto-related fatality rate. NHTSA said the number of deaths, when the stats are finalized, will be higher for 2015 than the 32,675 auto-related deaths in the U.S. in 2014. The estimate so far, based on the first nine months of the year, is a 9.3 percent increase over 2014.
Meanwhile, NHTSA already is behind on U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx’s goal to publish a proposed vehicle-to-vehicle communications standard, a key building block in autonomy, by 2015.
Having federal guidelines in place would create a level playing field across every state as the technology continues its slow march towards the mainstream.
Volkswagen wants to rip off the band-aid
After we reported yesterday that Volkswagen is setting up an environmental remediation fund for the U.S. and another for California, new details have emerged via Reuters about the automaker’s plans to get itself out of trouble in a hurry.
The source of the information is a senior manager at Volkswagen:
“It must be our goal to negotiate a comprehensive solution, which could also include the lion’s share of expected penalties,” the person, who asked not to be named because talks with U.S. authorities were confidential, said on Thursday.
Other details emerging from the high-level discussions include the possibility that Volkswagen will purchase emissions rights for nitrogen oxide, invest in electric-vehicle charging infrastructure in the U.S., and scrap tentative plans for a new electric vehicle factory.
Aston Martin looks for a shot of adrenaline
Luxury British automaker Aston Martin will team up with the Formula One team Red Bull Racing to create a groundbreaking hypercar, using the latest technology and the best expertise available from F1.
The partnership will match Adrian Newey, Red Bull Racing’s chief technical officer and prolific F1 designer, with Marek Reichman, Aston Martin’s chief creative officer.
“Formula One offers the ultimate global stage to build wider awareness of the Aston Martin brand,” said Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer in a statement. “However, this partnership will deliver even more than that when the hypercar that Aston Martin and Adrian Newey are in the process of developing hits the road.
“Between Q by Aston Martin Advanced, Red Bull Advanced Technologies and project partner AF Racing AG, we are going to create a car that will excite and stir the imaginations of the car designers of the future and a global audience of sports car enthusiasts.”
The project will blend the latest aerodynamic technology available from F1 with Aston Martin’s design language.
[Image: Volkswagen, Rob Brewer/Flickr]