PARIS — French carmaker PSA Group delivered a sharp increase in first-half profit, defying a global industry downturn as new models and cost savings from the integration of Opel-Vauxhall more than made up for weaker emerging market sales. Standing out against profit warnings from peers such as Daimler, PSA said on Wednesday its efficiency drive produced a 10.6% operating income gain even as deliveries went the other way — with a 12.8% decline posted earlier this month. That lifted the Peugeot maker's operating margin to a new 8.7% record from 7.8% a year earlier, boosted by a 270 million euro (242.2 million pounds) increase in cost savings on purchasing, research and development and overheads. "Our results are proving the sustainability of our performance despite the weakness of global markets," Chief Financial Officer Philippe de Rovira told reporters on a call. The recurring operating income came in at 3.34 billion euros, with net income up by almost a quarter to 1.832 billion as revenue slid 0.7% to 38.3 billion. "PSA continues to buck the trend being seen among most carmakers," Citi analyst Raghav Gupta-Chaudhary said. Barring any new merger opportunities, PSA could have about 3 billion euros in excess cash to return to shareholders, he added. PSA's pricing and profitability also benefited from new models such as the Citroen C5 Aircross SUV and a trio of commercial van launches — with strong gains in evidence at Opel-Vauxhall, acquired from General Motors in 2017. PSA shares were up 0.8% as of 0713 GMT in Paris, set against a smaller decline for European automotive stocks. Much of the operating-cost improvement stemmed from steady integration of the vehicle technologies and architectures underpinning new models across the Peugeot, Citroen, DS, Opel and Vauxhall brands. PSA's bottom-line improvement came despite a 302 million-euro hit from China that included a 139 million asset writedown reflecting a steady plunge in the group's sales — down another 61% in the first half. The French carmaker is seeking to cut capacity at its manufacturing venture with its 12.2% shareholder Dongfeng, De Rovira said on Wednesday. For the full year, PSA predicted further auto-market contractions of 1% in Europe, 4% in Latin America and 7% in China, with Russia growing 3%. But European sales disruption in late 2018 — when tougher emissions rules forced competitors to suspend key models including the Volkswagen Golf — means the market is likely to grow in the latter half of 2019, the CFO said. The risk of a hard Brexit, however, make it "difficult to predict what the operating environment will be," he added. PSA said its positive free cash flow came to almost 1.6 billion euros at group level in the first half, with 2.29 billion euros at the core car-manufacturing business.
Nissan is introducing some new, advanced driver assist systems for the Japanese market Skyline sedan this fall. Similarly to Tesla's Navigate on Autopilot, the updated ProPILOT system now combines navigation and automatic lane-changing. In addition, hands-off driving is enabled when certain guidelines are met and the driver is paying attention to the road ahead. Earlier ProPILOT iterations have required the driver to keep a hand on the wheel at all times.
This advanced cruise control/lane keeping assist now allows hands-off driving in a single highway lane, while constantly monitoring the driver's attentiveness, as the system will need the driver to take over in a sudden situation. With a pre-defined route activated on the navigation system and relying on a suite of cameras and radars, the ProPILOT equipped Skyline is able to change lanes and choose the correct ramp; at the highway exit ramp, the system prompts the driver to take full control of the car, both with audio and visual cues.
A Mitsubishi dealer told Wards Auto last year that "the most requested model at the brand's U.S. dealer meetings is 'a pickup truck, a pickup truck, a pickup truck.'" This month, Mitsubishi North America's COO told Wards that the carmaker has its eye on getting back to the compact pickup segment in the U.S., but that it will take time. "[We'd] have to have one that's the right fit for Mitsubishi," he said, "for our demographic, and something that's really competitive in the market."
That wasn't the case with the last compact pickup the brand sold here, the Raider. A product of the Daimler-Chrysler alliance with Mitsubishi at the time, the Raider was a rebadged Dodge Dakota. The pickup sputtered through four years of meager sales, being pulled from the market in 2009.
Toyota has officially unveiled its C-HR-based electric crossovers for the Chinese market. The GAC Toyota-built electric C-HR and the FAW counterpart, IZOA, appeared at the Shanghai Auto Show today. The models are the first fully electric Toyotas for China, and sales begin next year.
No figures have been released for the electric twins, nothing about the attainable range, available power or performance, but more information is sure to be made available later. The C-HR rides on the same TNGA platform as the new Corolla, so the BEV-ization of the Corolla is surely just a matter of time, and it's not unreasonable to expect a global fully electric variant of both the Corolla and C-HR in the near future if the Chinese endeavor is anything to go by. Still, as recently as late 2017, a Toyota executive said that "long range" battery electric cars were not part of the plan because of the time it takes to charge them, but that a new quicker-charging solid state battery was in the works for early next decade.
Sony recently took the wraps off a bunch of new phones at MWC 2019, including a flagship and a handful of mid-rangers. Unfortunately for our readers in Australia, it seems that you might not be able to get your hands on them as the company has seemingly exited the Australian market. This is according to a report from Ausdroid who spoke to various retailers.
They also cite how back in early 2018, they were able to reach out to Sony Mobile’s PR firm in Australia easily, but that changed in the later part of the year where the PR team no longer represented the company, and that they have since been also unable to contact their Sony Mobile contacts.
With our smartphones getting more capable with each and every release, reasons for owning a digital camera are getting less to the point where according to a report from Nikkei (via Photo Rumors), they interviewed Canon’s President Fujio Mitarai who seemed to have a rather bleak outlook on the future of the digital camera market.
According to Mitarai, it seems that he believes that the market for digital cameras could shrink by about 50% in the next two years. We’re not sure how accurate the translation was so it is unclear if something might have been lost in translation, but that’s what Mitarai is suggesting. He also sees how cameras will start seeing an increase in usage in other fields, such as surveillance and medical care.
Japan's anime industry was worth 2.1527 trillion yen ($20 billion) in 2017, topping 2 trillion yen for the first time and marking the fifth straight record high, the Association of Japanese Animations (AJA) said.
The AJA, comprising production studios and anime-related companies, released the 2018 edition of the annual Report on Japanese Animation Industry in December.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government appears to be considering redeveloping the former site of the Tsukiji food market as a venue for international conferences and expos.
The market was closed last October, and its functions transferred to a new market in the Toyosu district, also in Tokyo. It is now being dismantled. The roughly 23-hectare-wide space is scheduled to serve as a transport hub during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.