Tesla in Talks to Buy Low-Carbon Nickel from Canada

Circle K Owner Plans EV Charging Push in U.S., Canada

Automotive Weekly

Tesla in Talks to Buy Low-Carbon Nickel from Canada


Circle K owner Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. is taking its electric car strategy to North America after learning from consumer habits in northern Europe. The Laval, Quebec-based convenience store giant will add charging stations at locations on the west coast of the United States and Canada and in its home province, CEO Brian Hannasch said in an interview Wednesday. Longer term, the company wants to expand into at-home vehicle charging in North America, as it’s doing in Norway. “We’ll have chargers deploying in the next 12 months in Canada and in the U.S.,” said Hannasch, whose company has outlets in 48 of the 50 states. “Our goal will be to follow the path we’re on in Norway.”

The company, which counts more than 14,350 locations worldwide, has been experimenting with chargers and stations for years in the Scandinavian nation, where subsidies for electric cars helped speed up their adoption.

The potential growth of electric vehicles in North America, Couche-Tard’s biggest market, offers the company a new revenue stream at a time when gasoline demand may have peaked. Couche-Tard received 71 per cent of its revenue and 46 per cent of its gross profit from fuel sales in the fiscal year that ended April 26, according to a recent company presentation to investors. “There could be a real first-mover advantage to be gained for companies that aggressively develop quick-charge capabilities both in a retail environment, such as at fuel stations, but also for home or office charging,” Jennifer Bartashus, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said in an email. “Demand for charging stations is poised to grow, particularly as companies are increasingly evaluating electric vehicles for transportation and delivery of goods.”

Hannasch said the company and a partner have mapped out several hundred locations they’re interested in. He believes some of the lessons from Norway can be taken to North America, including the kind of neighborhoods where charging stations are popular. 

Source: Bloomberg


Manager Magazin reported that Volkswagen Group is discussing the sale of Bugatti to Croatia's Rimac. VW aims to complete the sale this year, the magazine said, citing VW sources.

Bugatti would become an all-electric brand under Rimac, Car magazine reported. VW Group and Bugatti spokespeople separately declined to comment on the reports.

A Rimac spokeswoman also said: "We cannot comment on speculation."

VW executives approved the deal last week, but it still needs supervisory board approval, Car magazine said on Thursday, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.

Bugatti has long been considered to be the jewel in the crown of the VW Group and also an example of the automaker's engineering extravagance. It was revived under former Chairman Ferdinand Piech in 1998 after the brand had largely faded from existence in the 1950s.

Because of high development costs and low volumes, the 16-cylinder Veyron -- Bugatti’s first model under VW control -- was considered one of the biggest money losers in the auto industry. Volkswagen doesn’t break out financials for the brand. Bugatti was profitable last year on the back of sales of its $3 million Chiron hypercar, President Stephan Winkelmann said in July.

The company will also be profitable this year, the Bugatti spokesman said.

The COVID-19 crisis led to the brand to postpone a decision on whether to launch a second model amid concerns about whether customers would be willing to pay for it during a recession, Winkelmann said in July. Bugatti sold 82 cars in 2019, according to VW Group's annual report.

Since the 2015 diesel-cheating scandal, VW has been taking a closer look at its portfolio, with a particular focus on the expensive luxury-car brands amid the growing burden of investing in electric mobility and self-driving technology.

Bloomberg had previously reported that the carmaker was weighing options for the Lamborghini unit.

Rimac developments

Rimac's success in developing its own electric drive components has led to investments from Porsche, which has a 15.5 percent stake, and also Hyundai, which has 14 percent stake. Chinese battery maker Camel Group owns a 19 percent stake. Rimac would give VW Group's Porsche brand a larger stake to help pay for Bugatti, according to the Car magazine report.

Rimac is currently developing an electric hypercar, the C_Two, which is due to be launched in the first quarter of 2021.

The C_Two is said to make 1,914 hp, more than the 1,600 hp Bugatti Chiron, which uses a 8.0-liter 16-cylinder gasoline engine. The launch of the C_Two has been delayed by the pandemic.

Founder Mate Rimac told Automotive News Europe last year that he aims to be a Tier One supplier of electric components. He also said the company would keep production of cars to a very low volume. "We don't want to go to a higher volume with our cars for several reasons. One of them is that we don't want to compete with our customers. As long as we are below 100 cars a year, they don't care," he said.

Source: Bloomberg and Reuters


Automakers balked at the European Union’s plan to set stricter emissions limits for the next decade, saying they lack the government support needed to achieve the targets. The industry is among the sectors most under fire in the 2030 Climate Target Plan, which calls for the bloc to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 55% from 1990 levels rather than the previously planned 40%. To achieve this, the European Commission sees carmakers needing to gradually phase out combustion engines and roughly halve CO2 emissions from 2021 targets.

Source: Bloomberg


Canada launched a fund on Thursday to invest in community-based projects to curb emissions, with bulk of the money coming from a fine that Volkswagen AG paid for breaking the country's diesel emissions rules. The $206 million (US$157 million) fund is part of the government’s new Climate Action and Awareness Fund which seeks to boost climate science research by empowering youth and communities. “The new Climate Action and Awareness Fund will create jobs for Canadians in science and technology, academia, and at the grassroots community level,” Johnathan Wilkinson, minister of environment and climate change, said in statement.

In January, a judge in Canada approved a $196.5 million fine against Volkswagen after the company pleaded guilty to dozens of counts of diesel emissions violations. The fine was by far the largest environmental penalty in Canadian history, prosecutors said. The minister also announced a $50 million investment over three years towards a number of priorities such as supporting additional research to bring down the country’s emission to net-zero.

Source: Reuters


Hyundai and Genesis are resuming their dealership upgrade programs after halting them six months ago when the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the U.S. auto market. And some dealers are pushing back. Retailers say economic conditions remain uncertain in the U.S. and car buyers are increasingly moving online, especially under the shadow of the pandemic, making major investments in physical stores less appealing. But executives at Hyundai Motor America say they feel the company's retail sales have rebounded from the coronavirus crisis thanks to aggressive factory promotions and hard work by dealers. And now is the time to move forward.

Source: Automotive News


Michigan auto dealers are trying to block startup electric carmakers including Rivian Automotive Inc. and Lucid Motors Inc. from following in Tesla Inc.’s footsteps by selling vehicles directly to consumers and servicing them in the state. A bill introduced in the Michigan legislature last week would block any manufacturer other than Tesla from selling cars to customers without a dealer as an intermediary and from owning and operating service and repair facilities. It could come up for a vote as soon as Tuesday, according to a Rivian official.

Source: Bloomberg


Ford Motor Co.'s CEO-in-waiting is betting the future profitability of the Dearborn automaker lies in a rich but under-appreciated side of the industry: the trucks and vans it sells to business customers. "Our commercial vehicle business is a powerhouse," Jim Farley told The Detroit News earlier this year. When Farley becomes CEO Oct. 1, he's looking to leverage those commercial assets to help the Blue Oval strive to achieve a 10% profit margin in North America, compared to 6.7% in 2019.

Source: The Detroit News


Ford Motor Co. has reached a tentative labor deal with its 5,400 unionized employees in Canada, in a settlement that also secures a nearly $1.5 billion investment in two plants and a commitment to build electric cars in suburban Toronto. The decision from the Dearborn, Mich.-based auto maker represents a shot of confidence for Canada’s auto sector. Factories in the country produce roughly two million vehicles annually, but that is down 25% from 2000 as car makers invested in lower-cost regions such as Mexico and the U.S. Sunbelt. Source: The Wall Street Journal

Later Reuters and Automotive News Canada reported the deal may encounter push-back from the portion of the Union members in Oakville. They were not happy that the last contract did not eliminate he “10 year” phase in of salaries for new workers. That contract was only approved because the Ford workers in other locations carried the vote.


California will ban the sale of new gasoline powered passenger cars and trucks starting in 2035 in a dramatic move to shift to electric vehicles and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Governor Gavin Newsom said on Wednesday. Newsom told a press conference the state was committing to a “firm goal” to phase out the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035 and was encouraging other states to take similar action. Newsom’s order labeled the elimination of gasoline-powered vehicles a “goal” and a “target” after his office said earlier his order would require the sale of nothing but zero emission passenger vehicle starting in 2035. The move would be the most significant to date by a U.S. state aimed at ending the use of internal combustion engines for passenger travel.

Source: Reuters


Ford will build five electric vehicles at a Canadian factory, as part of a deal with auto-worker union Unifor announced Tuesday, the Toronto Star reported. Subject to ratification by union members, the agreement is for a three-year national labor contract covering 5,400 unionized works, a Ford statement said.

The proposed settlement includes a $1.8 billion investment at Ford's Oakville, Ontario, factory for the production of five electric vehicles, as well as an engine contract for a Windsor, Ontario, factory, according to the Toronto Star.

The Oakville factory currently builds the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus crossovers. It was reportedly considered a closure risk because Ford has not committed to new versions of those aging models.

Electric-vehicle production will start in 2024, with the last of the five planned models entering production in 2028, Unifor national president Jerry Dias said in an interview with the Toronto Star. It's unclear which models will be built at Oakville. The Ford Mustang Mach-E crossover will be built in Mexico starting later this year.

The first of Ford's new-generation EVs to be built in the United States will be the F-150 Electric pickup truck, in Michigan. Ford confirmed that in late 2019, and recently said the electric truck will arrive in 2022.

The pandemic already derailed plans for a Lincoln EV, based on Rivian's "skateboard" platform and built at the company's Illinois factory. Ford, which owns a stake in Rivian, still plans to collaborate with the company on an unspecified future model, however.

Lincoln is still planning an electric vehicle, and Mustang Mach-E's scalable platform is expected to spawn additional models. Perhaps some of these will be allocated to Oakville. Source Green Car Reports

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