It shouldn’t really surprise anybody that Mitsubishi finally got taken over by a larger auto maker, the brand was simply too small and too irrelevant in the world’s most important markets to survive on its own. But the way Nissan played its cards was a stroke of genius, whether intentional from the get-go or just improvising on the opportunity at hand. Mitsubishi has supplied its bigger rival with Japanese market minicars (“Kei” cars, as described in my article on the Japanese auto culture) since 2011 and when Nissan was testing the pre-production next generation cars they found some irregularities with the reported fuel economy figures. This led to a public scandal in which Mitsubishi had to admit some of its engineers had been using a trick with tire pressures for the past 25 years to overstate fuel economy of its Japanese market cars (and perhaps some cars sold outside of Japan), causing Mitsubishi’s share prices on the stock market to almost halve. Nissan then scooped up 34% of these shares at the heavily discounted price for a controlling stake to become Mitsubishi’s largest single shareholder. It’ll take a few months to complete the takeover, and there are still quite a few issues to be handled before the deal will be finalized, but looking ahead: what will Nissan do with Mitsubishi? [Read more…]
The German “Manager Magazin” reports that Kia is re-exporting newly registered Kia Soul EVs to Norway in order to bring down the average CO2 emissions of its fleet.
This alleged manipulation came to light when Kia reported sales of almost 1.000 Soul EVs in Germany in October, 87% of all Kia Soul models delivered in that country, which raised suspicion considering the Soul EV is almost twice as expensive as the gasoline powered version (starting price € 30.790,- vs. € 16.990,-). And also because those 980 units of the Soul EV were in sharp contrast with the 67 units Volkswagen sold of its € 34.900,- e-Golf or the 61 units of the Nissan Leaf, which starts at a much more affordable € 23.060,-.
So what appears to be the case? Well, let’s first explain some background information: the European Union has mandated carmakers to lower the CO2 emissions of their fleet to an average of 130 g/km on average in 2015, with each carmaker getting an individual target, which lies at 131 g/km for Hyundai-Kia. However, it appeared that the South-Koreans weren’t going to meet their target for this year, which meant the carmaker would face a hefty fine from the EU of € 95,- per gram over their target, multiplied by their annual sales. One possible solution to this problem could be to sell more electric cars in order bring down the average fleet emissions. In this specific case, selling an additional 4.000 units of the Kia Soul EV could help to bring down the carmaker’s average CO2 emission down by one gram, potentially saving them € 80 million in penalties. [Read more…]