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Chattanooga plant may assemble VW electric vehicles
Volkswagen has unveiled plans to assemble electric vehicles in North America starting in 2021, with the Chattanooga plant in Tennessee being one of the choices.

Dr. Herbert Diess, Volkswagen brand’s worldwide chief, said the company will make considerable investments in electric vehicle infrastructure over the next few years. “We will be significantly stepping up our activities in the US,” he revealed in a statement, adding that the main focus will be on key segments such as large sport-utility vehicles. “In a second stage, we will then take our new electric cars to North America.”

Also, VW will drop diesel vehicles from its US product lineup. Diesel vehicles used to comprise about 25% of the brand’s sales in the US. “At the moment, we assume that we will offer no new diesel vehicles in the US,” Diess told European business daily Handelsblatt.

Volkswagen has a production plant in Mexico, but the US will likely become the largest electric vehicle market in North America.

The German automaker has already spelled out its future strategy not only in North America but worldwide in an effort to bolster sales and profitability. The plan is dubbed “Transform 2025+” and it focuses on clearer brand-positioning across regions and segments, backed by improvements in efficiency and productivity.

With EVs, there are no emissions regulations Volkswagen needs to, um, circumvent.

Daimler to spend $11 billion on electric vehicle R&D
According to a report by Stuttgarter Zeitung, German automaker Daimler, which owns the Mercedes-Benz brand, is bent on investing up to $11 billion in the research and development of electric vehicles.

“By 2025, we want to develop 10 electric cars based on the same architecture,” the paper quoted Daimler R&D head Thomas Weber as saying. “For this push, we want to invest up to 10 billion euros (or $11 billion).” He supposedly pointed out that three of these 10 EVs will be Smart-branded models. With better battery technology available these days, the company is targeting a cruising range of 700km with a single charge.

This development comes as German auto firms face issues involving diesel vehicles.

Unlike Volkswagen, however, Daimler plans to continue selling diesel cars in the US. “There is currently no decision nor are there considerations to withdraw diesel from the US,” a Daimler spokesperson was quoted by Reuters as saying.

It should be noted, according to German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel, that diesel models “account for less than 1% of the Mercedes brand’s car sales in the US this year,” compared to 5% “several years ago.”

It really looks like our motoring future is electric.

Duplicate Mercedes auto parts seized in UAE
The Department of Economic Development (DED) in Ras Al Khaimah of the United Arab Emirates has confiscated 54 automotive parts bearing the Mercedes-Benz trademark.

“The Department Economic Development spares no effort in curbing the supply of fake and duplicate products, protect the intellectual property rights, and fight commercial fraud,” said Faisal Alyoon, head of the commercial control section at DED.

In a complaint to the department, a Mercedes-Benz representative said some institutions were involved in selling duplicated wheels of the brand.

“The staff inspectors of the control and commercial protection section, who are well trained to competently differentiate between the original and fake products, raided said shops and seized all the fake wheels,” Alyoon shared.

The outlets have been issued warning letters, according to Alyoon. “Failing to observe the set rules and getting involved in selling duplicate products again will draw a hefty fine and even call for a closure of the erring shops,” he added. “It is our responsibility to ensure a safe business environment in Ras Al Khaimah.”

We wish someone could do the same in the Philippines and inspect all the dubious shops in the Banawe area.

Singer Morrissey asks GM to put vegan leather in Volt, Bolt
As part of the broader campaign for the ethical treatment of animals, British singer-songwriter Morrissey (former lead vocalist of The Smiths) has asked General Motors to replace leather seats and interiors with vegan leather on the seats, steering wheels and gear shifters of Chevrolet’s Volt and Bolt models.

The letter was released in time with Morrissey’s recent concert at the Royal Oak Music Theater.

“GM is named in the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ brand-new investigation of cattle ranches, on which animals are branded on the face, electro-shocked and beaten before they’re slaughtered and used to make leather interiors for car companies, including yours,” said Morrissey’s letter to GM chairman and chief executive officer Mary Barra.

“More and more people are opting for vegan leather for the sake of both cows and the environment,” the musician added. “A staggering 51% of greenhouse gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture. Animal skins also have to be treated with a toxic soup of chemicals in order to keep them from decomposing, and run-off from leather tanneries poisons vital waterways.”

A GM spokesperson declined to comment on Morrissey’s letter.

PETA claimed early this year that Tesla Motors had responded to a similar campaign by offering vegan leather as an interior option on its Model X SUV, but the company said it had offered a faux leather interior package on both the Model S and the Model X.

Leather seats and steering wheels are available on the Premier packages for both the hybrid-electric Volt and the full-electric Bolt. The latter goes on sale next month in California and Oregon.

PETA has been criticizing Brazil-based JBS Leather, which supplies a range of automakers.

“The company will not purchase raw materials from farms in areas involved in deforestation or subject to environmental embargo, that use labor analogous to slavery, or which are based on indigenous land or in environmental protection areas,” JBS said on its website on the issue.

Well, as the title of a Smiths album says, meat is murder.

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