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BERLIN (Reuters) – German premium brand Audi on Tuesday said it plans to sell about 800,000 battery-electric and hybrid powered cars in 2025, as it seeks to catch up with electric car rival Tesla and emerge from a damaging emissions-cheating scandal.
Audi’s image has been tarnished by regulatory probes investigating what role its engineers may have played in designing engine management software to cheat modern emissions tests.
Audi will launch more than 20 electrified vehicles by 2025 thanks to an ability for using parent Volkswagen’s (VOWG_p.DE) new MEB modular platform and vehicle underpinnings jointly developed with premium sibling Porsche, it said.
That’s slightly more ambitious than the 20 electrified vehicles Audi had previously guided for. Audi said it would launch the cars without undermining its 8-10 percent operating margin target.
Audi declined to provide details about how many fully battery electric, and how many hybrid cars it will sell by 2025. Last year, it sold about 16,000 semi-electric vehicles and it still lacks a fully electric model in its lineup.
The Ingolstadt, Germany-based brand, which delivered 1.88 million cars globally in 2017 currently offers three plug-in hybrid vehicles.
In August, Audi will launch the e-tron sport utility vehicle, its first serial all-electric model.
Demand for large sports utility vehicles has helped make Audi Volkswagen’s main profit driver.
On Tuesday Germany’s Transport Ministry said the KBA vehicle authority was investigating a further 60,000 diesel-engined Audi cars for suspected illegal manipulation software which may have helped the carmaker cheat emissions tests.
To fund its electric-vehicle offensive through to the middle of the next decade, Audi has extended by three years until 2025, an investment program worth about 40 billion euros ($ 47.42 billion), it said.
To free up funds for its electric-car push Audi is ceasing production of some models, including two-door versions of its A1 and A3 vehicle lines, as well as cutting component and administration costs. It now aims to save at least 10 billion euros by 2022.
($ 1 = 0.8435 euros)
Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Edward Taylor
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Toshiba Corp has decided it will cancel the planned $ 18.6 billion sale of its memory chip unit if it does not get approval from China’s anti-monopoly regulator by May, the Mainichi newspaper said on Sunday.
A consortium led by U.S. private equity firm Bain Capital last year won a long and highly contentious battle for the unit, which Toshiba put up for sale after billions of dollars in cost overruns at its Westinghouse nuclear unit plunged it into crisis.
But Toshiba was unable to complete the sale by the agreed deadline of March 31 as it was still waiting for approval from China’s antitrust authorities.
Toshiba raised $ 5.4 billion from a share issue to foreign investors late last year and it had now decided it did not need to go through with the sale, the Mainichi newspaper reported. It did not cite any source.
“Toshiba has come to a decision that there is little necessity for the sale as it is no longer in insolvency,” the newspaper reported, adding that Toshiba would consider listing the unit if the sale did not go ahead.
A Toshiba spokesman said the company was still aiming to complete the sale as soon as possible.
In early April, Toshiba Chief Executive Nobuaki Kurumatani said his company would not use the option of cancelling the sale unless there was any “major material change” in circumstances.
Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki, Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Robert Birsel
SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese internet search firm Baidu Inc posted a forecast-beating quarterly revenue increase and unveiled a U.S. listing plan for its Netflix-like video platform iQiyi as it looks to rev up new drivers for growth.
Baidu posted on Tuesday fourth quarter revenue of 23.6 billion yuan ($ 3.72 billion), up 29 percent against the same period a year ago and topping analysts’ forecasts of 23.05 billion yuan and the company’s own guidance.
The strong results are a major fillip for Baidu as it looks to ramp up spending on riskier gambles in autonomous driving and fend off cashed-up rivals such as Tencent Holdings Ltd and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd in online video content.
A U.S. listing would bring extra financial muscle for its popular iQiyi platform as it ramps up spending. Baidu said the size of any IPO was not yet set, but that it would likely remain iQiyi’s controlling shareholder. iQiyi could be worth $ 8 billion or more, according to Reuters Breakingviews.
“An IPO will bolster iQiyi’s position in the market and give it more cash to buy content or make content on their own,” said Ni Shuang, Beijing-based Pacific Securities analyst, adding it would help Baidu keep pace with rivals in the space.
The strong quarterly showing – driven by the core search and news feed businesses – is also key to generating cash flow “to fund our new AI businesses”, Baidu chief executive Robin Li told a post-earnings conference call.
The company’s shares rose nearly 5 percent in extended trading after the results, overturning a nearly 4 percent fall since the start of the year.
Herman Yu, the firm’s chief financial officer, said content costs rose 70 percent last year to 13.4 bln yuan as iQiyi acquired content. These costs would rise at a similar pace this year.
The firm will also raise R&D spending in areas like its Apollo open-source software platform for autonomous driving, which executives said would eventually become a “very material and significant revenue source for the company”.
“Having said that, a key caveat is that this market will take time to build,” chief operating officer Qi Lu told the conference call.
Strong results in its more traditional businesses were central to Baidu’s success, with revenue from its core online marketing – including its search platform and news feed – jumping 26.3 percent to 20.4 billion yuan.
The results will help soothe Baidu investors as the company looks to turn around its fortunes after a series of missteps sparked steep losses in 2016 and hit its advertising revenue from internet searches.
Baidu, part of China’s trinity of tech giants along with Alibaba and Tencent, posted net income of 4.16 billion yuan in the quarter ended Dec. 31, up from 4.13 billion yuan a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, the company earned 14.9 yuan per ADS, above forecasts.
Baidu pegged its guidance for first-quarter revenue growth, between 19.86 billion yuan and 20.97 billion yuan, a 25-32 percent increase against the same period of 2017. That compared with analysts’ average estimate of 21.18 billion yuan.
Reporting by Adam Jourdan in SHANGHAI, Pei Li in BEIJING and Arjun Panchadar in BENGALURU; Editing by Eric Meijer and Muralikumar Anantharaman
SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) is looking to lease a 50,000-square-meter warehouse just outside Sao Paulo, people familiar with the matter told Reuters, as it steps up its push into Latin America’s biggest retail market, Brazil.
The logistics investment, which would be four times the size of its current book-shipping operation in the country, is a sign the online retailer may soon handle distribution of electronics and other goods sold on its Brazilian website.
That would be the first step of its kind for Amazon in Latin America’s largest economy, where it currently relies on third parties to ship their own goods sold on its marketplace, and it underscores the seriousness of the e-commerce giant’s renewed push into Brazil.
Amazon declined to comment to questions about leasing a warehouse.
While an estimated two-thirds of Brazil’s 209 million people have internet access, online retail was slow to take off at first, amid concerns over security and complications with tax and logistics in the continent-sized country.
E-commerce accounts for around 5 percent of Brazil’s roughly $ 300 billion retail market — about half its share in the United States — but it has doubled in the past four years and is forecast to keep growing annually at a double-digit pace.
Now Amazon, which expanded its Brazil business from books to electronics in October, is gearing up to fight rivals such as Latin Ameria’s homegrown e-commerce champion Mercado Libre Inc (MELI.O) and B2w Cia Digital, (BTOW3.SA) which is indirectly controlled by partners of private equity group 3G Capital.
“You obviously can’t underestimate a company like Amazon,” said Pedro Guasti, CEO of Brazilian online consultancy Ebit. “It has huge capacity to invest and it’s obviously taking a bigger bite of the cake than it did last year.”
Mercado Libre Inc, B2w and local retailer Magazine Luiza SA (MGLU3.SA) have stolen a march on Amazon by storing and shipping goods appearing on their websites even when offered by third-party sellers, to ensure speed and customer satisfaction.
Amazon, by contrast, has been slow to tackle the challenges of shipping in a country where tricky logistics and tax issues have long made online retail an unprofitable venture.
In Mexico, Amazon launched its third-party marketplace coupled with its own shipping service, called “Fulfillment by Amazon,” in 2015.
The contrast has been stark. Nearly 20 percent of reviews on Amazon’s Brazilian marketplace are negative, compared with 10 percent in Mexico and just 4 percent in the United States, according to e-commerce analytics firm Marketplace Pulse.
Complaints in Brazil often focus on delayed or canceled orders – a problem dramatically reduced in other countries when Amazon itself packs and posts orders of third-party goods stored at its warehouse facilities.
In an early sign of Amazon’s Brazilian logistics push, the company posted more than a dozen listings for distribution jobs in the country to LinkedIn last year, including “Site leader, Fulfillment Center”.
The new warehouse site outside of Sao Paulo, in the municipality of Cajamar, looks to be a step in that direction.
There San Francisco-based logistics company Prologis Inc (PLD.N) has offered a 50,000-square-meter space to Amazon in a new industrial park that hosts DHL and Samsung, according to sources, who said adaptation of the warehouse had not begun.
Prologis, which also partnered with Amazon on a mega-warehouse north of Mexico city last year, declined to comment.
The preparations in Brazil come as Luft, the local logistics operator for Amazon’s book business, readies a move into another Prologis site nearby in Cajamar, sources said, leaving its current 12,000-square-meter facility in the city of Barueri.
Amazon registered in October to conduct operations in Cajamar, according to municipal records seen by Reuters.
The new logistics investment could spell trouble for rivals.
Mercado Libre has been a success story among Latin America tech start ups: its shares have nearly tripled since 2014, bringing its market capitalization to more than $ 15 billion.
Magazine Luiza’s stock has risen sixfold in each of the past two years as it shifted its rolled out an ambitious e-commerce strategy built on its brick and mortar stores.
Reporting by Gabriela Mello; Writing and additional reporting by Brad Haynes; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Alistair Bell