Officials at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Peugeot Citroën (PSA Groupe) are vowing to complete their planned merger by early next year, despite a recently announced, four-month investigation into the deal by European Union (EU) antitrust regulators.
The EU’s European Commission stated that it’s concerned the merger would give the combined company too much control of the commercial van market, specifically commercial vehicles less than 3.5 tonnes.
Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, responsible for competition policy, says, “Commercial vans are important for individuals, [small- and medium-sized enterprises] SMEs, and large companies when it comes to delivering goods or providing services to customers. They are a growing market and increasingly important in a digital economy where private consumers rely more than ever on delivery services. Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot SA, with their large portfolio of brands and models, have a strong position in commercial vans in many European countries. We will carefully assess whether the proposed transaction would negatively affect competition in these markets and ensure that a healthy competitive landscape remains for all the individuals and businesses relying on commercial vans for their activities.”
In Belgium, Croatia, Czechia, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and the UK, PSA and FCA combined would hold high market shares, together with the widest range of brands and models across all sizes, regulators say.
The companies are particularly strong in the smaller van segment. There are fewer competitors in vans than in passenger cars, and in most of these countries, all competitors would be significantly smaller than the merged entity.
The investigation could slow or even halt the merger if regulators find the deal could create significant market dominance. The EU could demand that FCA or PSA sell off van lines to competitors to assure healthy competition, something the companies would loathe given the strong profit margins on commercial vehicles.
The Commission has until Oct. 22, 2020, to decide on how to proceed, however, the automakers don’t appear fazed by the announced investigation.
Following the announcement of the EU’s regulatory investigation, the companies issued plans to call the merged FCA-PSA company Stellantis, a name that won’t appear on any vehicles but will be prominent in corporate communications and on a few executive paychecks. Issuing that statement the companies said they still expect the deal to close by the end of Q1 2021.
Heimatec tooling is now available for the Haas BMT turret. The line includes driven tools such as axial and radial drilling and milling heads as well as static tool holders. The tools have already been tested and used in production on other turrets, allowing the supplier to offer immediate support for Haas machine users.
Platinum Tooling Technologies Inc. http://platinumtooling.com
The MQ150SU uses a dual-axis CNC control package for a broad range of ferrous and non-ferrous drilling and tapping. The combination optimizes current operations and can be integrated into more robust drill and tap applications.
The sealed unit features an internal synthetic lubrication system and grease-packed bearings for long life and operation in any position. The feed unit uses a ball screw on the centerline of a hardened 55mm diameter quill, precision ground and pre-loaded with zero backlash. An involute spline-driven spindle uses EP7 high-precision bearings and the unit features an HSK-32C spindle nose connection with clamping cartridge assembly.
The dual-axis controller uses standard CNC commands and features an internal motion processor and programmable logic control (PLC). The 10.4" color display and operator panel is user friendly. Two servo motors and two servo drives for spindle and feed axis are included, as well as motor cables.
The combination supports drilling and tapping in stainless or cold-rolled steel and aluminum, with maximum spindle speeds of 5,000rpm.
Zagar Inc. https://www.zagar.com
New processing technology could make it easier to use plant fibers in automotive polymers, making such plastics more eco-friendly and cost effective for manufacturers.
Technology from a team of Purdue University innovators could provide a more business-friendly option for using cellulose nanomaterials in vehicles, food packaging, and other manufactured items.
It provides a new way for manufacturers to use nanocellulose – a green nanomaterial derived from natural sources such as plant matter. Typically, nanocellulose is mixed with solvents or other dispersants to improve the material’s dispersion in polymers.
“These methods can be very expensive for manufacturers, who must add additional processes and machinery to comply with emission standards that may be impacted by solvent use,” says Jeffrey Youngblood, a professor of materials engineering in Purdue’s College of Engineering.
Cellulosic additives for automotive plastics aren’t new. Companies have experimented with several agricultural waste byproducts such as wheat straw, corn fibers, and agave fibers left over from tequila production. At the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, the Japanese Ministry of the Environment showed off a supercar made entirely from cellulosic fibers called the Nano Cellulose Vehicle (NCV).
The NCV project derived cellulose from wood, but automakers continue to study agricultural waste byproducts as source candidates, hoping to find an inexpensive stock material while reducing landfill use.
The Purdue team’s method involves mixing the nanocellulose in polymer additives, such as plasticizer, and then compounding that mixture into the polymer instead of blending them directly.
This technique could be applicable to a wide variety of polymers, including nylons used in the automotive industry and polylactic acid and ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer used in food packaging. It enables easy extrusion or injection molding of nanocellulose into useful products with better, more sustainable properties.
“We created a way to use polymer additives as the solvent to disperse nanocellulose during melt processing,” Youngblood says. “This way, you still have increased properties, but without the pieces of the manufacturing process that require additional emissions-lowering components. This makes using nanocellulose, which is biodegradable, more sustainable as well.”
Advantages of the Purdue technique for large-scale polymer production include:
- Solvent-free compounding of nanocellulose into polymers
- Homogenous mixture of hydrophilic nanocellulose, hydrophobic polymer
The innovators have worked with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization to patent the technology and are looking for additional partners interested in licensing the technology.
Purdue University https://www.purdue.edu
For the first time in decades, Jeep has a serious contender in the mass-market, off-road vehicle segment as Ford readies the launch of its Bronco lineup. While luxury brands such as Land Rover have offered alternatives for the Jeep Wrangler and its rock-crawling brethren, there’s been little competition for Jeep in the $50,000 or less world since 1996 when Ford discontinued the Bronco lineup.
The new vehicles, to be built at the Michigan Assembly Plant near Detroit, will be remarkably similar to the Wrangler – available in 2-door or 4-door versions that allow users to remove those doors for open-air driving. Ford plans to power most models with EcoBoost twin-turbo engines. The Bronco Sport small SUV will compete with more refined Jeeps such as the Compass and Cherokee.
Not to be outdone, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCA’s) Jeep brand did everything it could to steal the Bronco’s thunder. In the days leading up to the Bronco’s reveal, Jeep showed off the EcoDiesel version of the Gladiator, its Wrangler-based pickup. A big hit since its launch in 2019, the Gladiator is one of the only vehicles to post sales gains this year. The 3L diesel model boasts 442 lb-ft of torque, the level of power needed for steep vertical climbs popular with off-road enthusiasts. https://www.ford.com; https://www.jeep.com
Judge rejects GM suit against FCA
A federal court in Detroit dismissed a lawsuit that General Motors (GM) filed against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) late last year, accusing its rival of bribing United Auto Workers (UAW) officials to harm GM.
Before dismissing it, Judge Paul Borman called it a waste of resources and ordered the automakers’ CEOs to meet to negotiate a settlement. GM rejected those pleas and asked for a new judge in the case. When that tactic failed, Borman threw out the complaint. GM says they may appeal the ruling.
At issue is a long-running investigation into the UAW by the FBI and the Department of Justice that has led to guilty pleas from former UAW President Gary Jones, several of his lieutenants, and a handful of FCA executives.
GM alleges that FCA wasn’t simply looking for better labor deals from the UAW when it bribed the union leaders, the automaker claims FCA was intentionally driving costs up for GM. At the time, late FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne had been publically pressuring GM to enter merger talks with FCA.
FCA, which has since agreed to merge with France’s Peugeot Citroën (PSA Group) (see regulations, page 10), has called the suit meritless and targeted at scuttling the PSA merger. https://www.gm.com; https://www.fcagroup.com