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To deal with pandemic blow, Piaggio to offer Vespa and Aprilia Scooters on lease

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MUMBAI: Piaggio India, the maker of Vespa and Aprilia scooters, said that it will be offering its scooters on a lease, becoming the latest automaker to try the leasing option in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

The company has tied up with OTO Capital for the service and customers can lease the vehicles from dealerships through the OTO app. It would be first available in Pune and Bangalore.

“We see flexible ownership to be a desirable new trend amongst the youth of India and we believe, Vespa and Aprilia would lead it to extend the premium experience to the aspirants,” said Diego Graffi, chairman and managing director, Piaggio India.

Under the leasing model customers would have to pay only for the number of years they want to keep the vehicle and then return it anytime, the company claimed in a statement. Further, through the leasing option, one can even upgrade to a more premium model of Vespa and Aprilia in the same EMI budget.

Earlier, Maruti Suzuki and Toyota Kirloskar Motor had announced their own subscription and leasing plans post the coronavirus pandemic. Rivals Hyundai and Mahindra too offer similar services.

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Volkswagen appoints Ashish Gupta as Brand Director for India ops

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NEW DELHI: Volkswagen Passenger Cars India on Thursday said it has appointed
Ashish
Gupta as Brand Director for the Indian operations with effect from November 1.

Gupta succeeds Steffen Knapp, who had been leading the Indian operations since August 2017.

“Completing his tenure as the Director for the Indian operations, effective November 1, 2020, Knapp will be succeeded by
Ashish
Gupta, currently head of Sales Operations at Volkswagen Passenger Cars India,” the automaker said in a statement.

During his tenure, Knapp relentlessly worked towards strengthening brand Volkswagen in India, it added.

Knapp significantly contributed towards redefining the brand positioning for India, improving the sales and after-sales service operations, building a strong and profitable network, and laid the foundation for a unique Volkswagen customer experience, the company said.

He will be moving to a new international assignment within the Volkswagen Group, it added.


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Tesla (TSLA) earnings Q3 2020

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk attends the Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory groundbreaking ceremony in Shanghai, China, January 7, 2019.

Aly Song | Reuters

Elon Musk’s electric car and renewable energy company, Tesla, reports third-quarter results after the bell on Wednesday.

Here’s what Wall Street analysts are expecting, per an average of analyst estimates compiled by Refinitiv:

  • Earnings per share (adjusted): 57 cents
  • Revenue: $8.36 billion

The company already reported that it delivered 139,300 vehicles during the quarter, a new record for Tesla.

At Tesla’s 2020 annual shareholder meeting and battery day presentation in September, CEO and co-founder Elon Musk said that vehicle deliveries in 2020 would be up 30% to 40% from last year, implying a range from 477,750 to 514,500 deliveries total. (Earlier, the company said it would comfortably exceed deliveries of 500,000 this year, but it reined in expectations slightly as the Covid-19 pandemic began to impact Tesla operations and auto sales.)

Tesla completed a five-for-one stock split during the quarter. When a company splits its stock, its total value doesn’t change, but it helps get smaller investors to buy shares.

Ahead of the earnings call on Wednesday, institutional and retail investors submitted questions to a site called Say.com that Tesla uses to pick questions for executives to answer during the Q&A portion of its calls.

Among other things, institutional investors sought information about just how much Tesla plans to spend on new factories over the next decade. They were also curious about Tesla’s pricing and margin targets, after the company recently cut prices on its vehicles including in the U.S. and China. Tesla is currently building new factories in Austin, Texas, and Brandenburg, Germany (outside of Berlin).

In September, Musk and Senior Vice President of Energy Engineering, Drew Baglino also unveiled a new battery cell that the company designed itself, and plans to produce on their own, starting on pilot lines in Fremont, California, then at their other factories.

Institutional and retail investors also wanted to know when Tesla will roll out vehicles, and energy storage products, that include the new battery cells. They also had questions about when Tesla’s vehicles will be capable of functioning as driverless robotaxis, and when Tesla will offer its own ride-hailing service.

Today, Tesla offers its customers what it markets as a Full Self-Driving or “FSD” option, which it sells for $8,000. The FSD package is Tesla’s most advanced driver assistance system, but it is not a fully autonomous one. Tesla recognizes a portion of revenue from FSD sales with each new feature update that moves it closer to what the company defines as driverless capability.

Musk has previously said a Tesla vehicle with FSD should be able to drive itself coast to coast, or from a Tesla facility to a customer’s home, in lieu of a traditional delivery arrangement. It’s been about four years since the CEO promised a driverless vehicle was on the way.

During the third quarter, however, he said that Tesla was rewriting its semi-autonomous system:

In October, he promised a beta software update for select drivers who purchased the company’s Full Self-Driving option. Tuesday after markets closed, Musk wrote the rollout would begin slowly rolling out overnight.

Retail investors, many of whom are enthusiastic Tesla owners themselves, want executives to say whether Tesla will let customers transfer their FSD software to their next vehicle, with or without a transfer fee, much the way that gaming or mobile companies let customers transfer games and apps when they upgrade to newer hardware.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.


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Skoda: Backed by new SUVs and sedans, Skoda Auto Volkswagen India eyes trebling output in 2 years

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Mumbai: Skoda Auto Volkswagen India Pvt Ltd is planning to treble output to 200,000 units in the next two years, on the back of new product launches, with the carmaker utilising the Covid-19 pandemic-induced lockdown to revamp its factory under its India 2.0 project.

The Indian arm of Volkswagen Group – the world’s largest carmaker — is also open to partnerships in the country and will continue to talk to interested parties in future, its India chief told ET, a move that will help build scale and reduce break-even points.

The carmaker is bullish on the future of the Indian market, including its exports potential, and will roll out sedans and sport utility vehicles between 2021 and 2022, said Gurpratap Boparai, managing director of Skoda Auto Volkswagen India.

Boparai said the company expects to operate the plant at 100% capacity within two years and the group garnering 3% share of the Indian market.

“We will be in the phase of ramping up production from next year. One by one, new models will be launched every six months till 2022 under the India 2.0 plan. The next year will be definitely better than this year, but we will really see our full volumes in 2022. That’s when we expect our group market share to be around 3%,” he added.

With capacity likely to be fully utilised next year, Skoda VW will explore its next phase of expansion in the country, Boparai said, but when and how soon will depend on market recovery.

“If we do a partnership, we would clearly be expanding capacity and then that capacity can be shared. There is nothing concrete at the moment (on partnership). We continue to engage with all players that have similar strategies,” he added.

The company has reportedly been in talks with MG Motor India for a contract manufacturing tie-up.

Boparai, however, declined to comment on potential partners it is in discussions with.

For years, 60-70% of Skoda VW’s total production was reserved for exports, but Boparai said that is set to reverse from 2021.

“We are very bullish about recovery in the Indian market, so we will continue to produce as much as the Indian market absorbs and then whatever is required to completely utilise our production capacity that we will export. The recovery in the exports market is rather slow, as against a V-shaped recovery we have seen here,” he said.

VW Group has so far exported half a million cars from India, the company said on Tuesday.

While the domestic market will take precedence over exports, the group is likely to start exporting Skoda-badged vehicles starting next year, expanding its global footprint for India-made cars to over 100 markets.

Backing the government’s Make in India push, Boparai said the country can gain a competitive edge on bigger car exports too by removing the sub-4 metre definition.

India is one of the most cost-efficient production bases for automobile companies, but the tax structure prefers cars less than 4 metres in length and that is taking away its competitive edge, Boparai said.

“The global market of sub-4-metre cars is roughly 7% of the pie. And that is obviously not too big,” he said.

“We understand that it will take time to transition to any new taxation regime, but there has to be some roadmap on when the cess on the two categories of cars will come down to the same number. That would really open up our industry to the segments where there is far more export potential globally,” Boparai said.


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