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Mercedes-Benz unveils its revamped G-Class


The all-new G-Class makes its public debut at the Detroit auto show in G550 form. Completely redeveloped and fitted with a 4.0-liter V8 biturbo gasoline engine offering 427ps and 450 lb-ft of torque at 2,000rpm to 4,750rpm, despite near-identical looks to its predecessor plenty has changed for the Mercedes-Benz SUV.

Ford’s F150 pickup gets its first diesel motor


Developed by the powertrain team behind the 6.7-liter Power Stroke engine for super duty trucks, the all-new 3.0-liter V6 Power Stroke unit promises 250ps, 440 lb-ft of torque, and an anticipated 5175kg of towing capacity.

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In light of Fisker's solid-state battery breakthrough and claims of a one minute charge time, will this electric vehicle technology development kick-start mass BEV uptake? 


ZF sales drop

Sales for ZF have fallen by a third from January to August 2009 compared to the first eight months of 2008. And the German supplier has estimated that corporate sales will fall further by a quarter to 9.2 billion euros and anticipates sharp net losses. The number of corporate employees will be reduced by 6% to approximately 59,800 by year’s end. At its German sites, about three quarters of ZF employees are on subsidized short working hours or have had their work hours otherwise cut.
ZF CEO Hans-Georg Härter said: “ZF is feeling the effects of the economic crisis very deeply. There is still great uncertainty in the marketplace, which is obscuring a clear view of the coming months.” Härter added: “It remains to be seen if government stimulus programs, such as Germany’s ‘cash-for-clunkers’ scheme, can sustain an elevated demand for cars. We cannot exclude a W-shaped trend – in which case, we are now riding an artificially generated peak before entering a second valley,”
And ZF commercial vehicle segment’s 50% sales decline offers little cause for optimism. “The earliest foreseeable recovery would be in late 2010,” said Härter, who sees “no major overall recovery next year, but slight, low level growth at best”. But one positive for the company is the budding automobile demand in South America and Asia. Brazil, India and China continue to be the growth drivers in the global economy. In contrast, Russia as the fourth BRIC nation has lost significant ground due to serious sales declines.
ZF says it is combating the massive loss in sales and consequent negative group profit figures with cost reductions in all areas – from purchasing and logistics to production, IT and finance. ZF is lowering personnel costs primarily through the almost universal application of subsidised short working hours as well as other measures to reduce the weekly work hours of its employees. About three quarters of all German ZF employees are subject to these measures.
Overseas, ZF has laid off about 800 employees in North America and 500 employees in South America, while adding about 500 new positions in Asian growth markets. By the end of 2009, there will be approximately 59,800 ZF employees, slightly more than six percent fewer than at the end of last year.
“The fact that ZF has always operated according to sound business principles and has paid particular attention to liquidity since the beginning of the crisis is now paying off,” said Härter, giving grounds for his cautious optimism. “Car makers are becoming increasingly determined to work with suppliers who are stable, dependable partners committed to a long-term business relationship. Our liquidity serves as an insurance policy in this regard. We must now safeguard this position with our austerity plan.” Härter also points to the Group’s long commitment to manufacturing resource-conserving, fuel-saving pollution-reducing products as an important factor in overcoming the crisis soundly and independently.
Härter added: “Our product portfolio is ideally suited to the future. The
ever-growing trend towards sustainable products that are both economically and ecologically friendly will once again put us on a growth path in the medium term.”

21 September 2009


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