How VW battled adversity to become the world's biggest car-maker
A spokesperson for the company admitted that "...
Despite all of its recent troubles, Volkswagen is now officially the biggest car-maker in the world.
A spokesperson for the company admitted that "2016 was a very challenging year for us", yet VW has been able to overtake Toyota for the title. While scandal has haunted the business, it has made strides in new markets, such as Sweden where the Golf was the most popular car last year.
Dr Sebastiaan Van Doorn, Associate Professor of Enterprise at Warwick Business School, offered the following expert comment: "Volkswagen's sales are up 4 percent globally on an annual basis which is a commendable effort given the turmoil over the past 18 months. At the same time, these numbers have to be appreciated in relation to the performance of other car manufacturers, the geographical focus of sales numbers and bottom-end accounting returns.
"In the US, currently a sluggish growth market, with overall industry sales on par with those of 2015 and 2014, VW group experienced reduced sales by 2.6 percent, while competitors such as Daimler were able to retain their market share. In the important European home market VW group grew 3 percent while selling less Volkswagens (-1 percent) than the previous year but selling more Audi (+8 percent) and Skoda models (+7 percent). The total European car market grew 6.5 percent and in this same context Daimler (+13 percent) enjoyed double digits sales growth. In China the car market grew 17.8 percent. In this booming market Daimler was able to increase its sales 26.6 percent, while VW group (+12 percent) lagged behind.
"Truthfully, this was an important year for VW and they performed above expectations. Their growth numbers are less impressive as some of their competitors, but given their market share they are in good form nevertheless. Still we have yet to see how VW group was able to retain or modestly grow their market share in their key geographical markets. Was this at the expense of greater discounts, more friendly finance options and did it take into account buy-back/upgrade schemes in the US? Before we can comment on the state of VW we have to get more in-depth with the financials, in this sense being the largest car manufacturer in the world by volume could also be considered a vanity metric.
"Finally, while roughly half a million US customers have been generously compensated, affected EU customers, roughly 8-10 mllion, have been left in the cold. Continued negative publicity on this matter may lead to persistent poorer sales growth, particularly for the Volkswagen models in Europe as evidenced by the sale slump. At the same time VW group will be financially unable to compensate EU customers in a similar vein as their US counterparts - a strategic gridlock that they will be hopeful to ride out in as little media attention as possible."
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Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing
Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing
What is Ultium Cells LLC?
Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”
Who is Li-Cycle?
Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.
As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”
Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?
By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.
“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).
"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.
"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.
Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.
"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.