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Renault-Nissan deal pays off

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The Renault-Nissan Alliance delivered significant growth in 2016, with global sales of 9.96 million vehicles.

The car group also reinforced its leadership in zero-emission vehicles with cumulative sales of nearly 425,000 electric vehicles since the introduction of the Nissan LEAF in 2010, followed by the Renault ZOE.

The Alliance sales figures include Mitsubishi Motors sales of 934,013 vehicles globally. Mitsubishi Motors joined the Alliance last fall with Nissan’s acquisition of a 34 percent equity stake in the company.

“The combination of Groupe Renault, Nissan Motors and Mitsubishi Motors creates a new force in the global auto industry,” said chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn. “The strength of this innovative partnership that began 18 years ago has allowed us to improve our competitiveness, boost our growth and engage in the race for the vehicle of the future.”

The Alliance brands accounted for about one in nine cars sold worldwide last year.

Groupe Renault‘s sales were up 13.3 percent to 3,182,625 vehicles in 2016 for the last year of the “Drive the Change” plan. This marked the fourth consecutive year of sales growth with a record year-on-year increase of 374,000 units.

Both Renault and Dacia brands had a record year in terms of sales volumes and Renault Samsung Motors volumes were up by 38.8 percent. Market share and sales volumes are up in all regions, with the Renault brand becoming No. 2 in Europe.

Nissan Motor sold a record 5,559,902 cars and trucks worldwide, up 2.5 percent. In the U.S.A. and China, the company achieved sales growth of 5.4 percent and 8.4 percent respectively, setting new records in both markets. Infiniti sold over 230,000 vehicles in 2016, a 7 percent increase from the previous year. In December alone, Infiniti sold 27,200 vehicles, an 18 percent increase versus the prior year.

Mitsubishi Motors sold 934,013 cars worldwide, down 13 percent. Sales grew in the United States and Australia, but were offset by lower sales in Brazil, Russia, and the Middle East. Japan sales were also affected by lower consumer confidence following the fuel consumption issue.

Through Nissan’s partnership with Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan expects to target synergy benefits worth 24 billion yen in fiscal year 2017, rising to 60 billion yen in fiscal year 2018 and beyond. The gains will contribute to increased earnings per share worth an estimated 4 yen per share in fiscal year 2017 and 10 yen per share in fiscal year 2018 – on top of any earnings accretion linked to Nissan’s overall shareholding in Mitsubishi Motors.

AVTOVAZ, which sells cars under the LADA brand, sold 284,807 vehicles. Together, the Renault-Nissan Alliance and AVTOVAZ sell about one in three cars in Russia.

Sustained leadership in electric vehicles

The Renault-Nissan Alliance, with Mitsubishi Motors, cumulatively sold 424,797 electric vehicles through 2016, making it the undisputed leader in zero-emission mobility.

The Nissan LEAF, the first mainstream, mass-marketed electric vehicle, remains the world’s best-selling EV with more than 250,000* vehicles sold since its launch in December 2010.

In addition to the LEAF, Nissan also sells the e-NV200, a light commercial vehicle sold mainly in Europe and Japan since 2014.

Renault has sold more than 112,000 electric vehicles worldwide since 2011, including the Renault ZOE, Kangoo Z.E., Fluence Z.E., the SM3 Z.E. and the Twizy.

Renault was at the top of the European EV market last year, with sales up by 11 percent at 25,648 units (excluding Twizy). ZOE led the EV ranking with 21,735 sold. Renault Pro+ recently announced the addition of two new commercial EVs to its lineup: the New Kangoo Z.E. and Master Z.E.

In 2016, the Renault-Nissan Alliance, including Mitsubishi Motors i-Miev series, sold 94,265 EVs, up more than 8 percent from 2015.

* Including Venucia E30 sales in China. No CO2 emissions and no regulated exhaust pollutants while driving, according to NEDC homologation cycle.

Boosting innovation for the vehicle of the future

In 2016, the Renault-Nissan Alliance took several steps to advance the development of future vehicles that will be electric, autonomous and connected.

The Alliance plans to launch at least 10 models with autonomous drive functionality by 2020. Development and tests of connectivity and autonomous drive technologies are underway with several partners, including Microsoft and NASA.

“We were the first to launch an affordable electric car back in 2010. Other major automakers are now recognizing that EVs are the most effective zero-emission solution,” Ghosn said. “With autonomous drive and connected cars and services, we are firmly engaged in the race for the vehicle of the future.”

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Data journalism takes top prize in revamped awards

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The entries to the 2018 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards were extraordinarily varied and of an excellent standard, with new categories introduced which are based on content as opposed to platforms. This year, the judges decided that two entries were equally worthy of the coveted Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award.

The first co-winning entry, in the new Data Journalism category, is a set of stories by Alastair Otter and Laura Grant of Media Hack which showed how Data Journalism is shaping the future. The second co-winning entrant is Bongani Fuzile of the Daily Dispatch for his articles in the investigative category on how migrant workers were being ripped off by pension deductions (full citations below).

Convenor of the judging panel Ryland Fisher says: “This year we modernised the 12 categories that journalists could enter their work in and the change was embraced by entrants. In a turbulent time for media, the 2018 entries once again proved that there are excellent South African journalists delivering praiseworthy work, and we commend them for finding new and innovative ways to cover the news.”

Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs at the Vodacom Group, says: “Vodacom is proud of its 17-year association with these prestigious awards, which make an important contribution to our society through the recognition of journalistic excellence. I’d like to congratulate all of tonight’s winners and, as always, I’d like to pay tribute to our hardworking judges. Ryland Fisher, Mathatha Tsedu, Arthur Goldstuck, Collin Nxumalo, Elna Rossouw, Patricia McCracken, Megan Rusi, Mary Papayya, Albe Grobbelaar and Obed Zilwa: thank you for making these awards a continued success.”

Veteran journalist and media stalwart Ms Amina Frense is the winner of the 2018 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Lifetime Achiever AwardShe has spent decades in mainstream media both locally and internationally. She is a former Managing Editor: News and Current Affairs at the SA Broadcasting Corporation. She has worked in many countries abroad as a producer and a foreign correspondent, has written two books and is also a founding member of SANEF where she still serves as a council member (full citation below).

The overall winners share the R100 000 main prize. National winners in the various categories are as follows, with each winner taking home R10 000:

SPORT

The entries in this category were of an exceptionally high standard. One entrant stood out and became the unanimous winner. This journalist showed an exceptional skill for story-telling and for finding unexpected angles and unknown facts. For his stories about Musangwe’s fight for recognitionAge cheating in SA football, and Hansie Cronje revisited, the winner is Ronald Masinda, and the team of Gift Kganyago, Nceba Ntlanganiso and Charles Lombard from eSAT TV.

Click here to see who won the awards for data journalism , CSI/sustainability and photography.

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Cons exploit Telegram ICO

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Kaspersky Lab researchers have uncovered dozens of highly convincing fake websites claiming to be investment sites for an initial coin offering (ICO) by the Telegram messaging service. Many of these websites appear to belong to the same group. In one case alone, tens of thousands of US dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency were stolen from victims believing they were investing in ‘Grams’, Telegram’s rumoured new currency. Telegram has not officially confirmed an ICO and has warned people about fraudulent investor sites.

In late 2017, stories started to circulate that the Telegram messaging service was launching an initial coin offering (ICO) to finance a blockchain platform based on its TON (Telegram Open Network) technology. Unverified technical documentation was posted online, but there appears to have been no confirmation from Telegram itself. The resulting confusion seems to have allowed fraudsters to capitalise on investor interest by creating fake sites and stealing vast sums of money.

Kaspersky Lab researchers have discovered dozens of such sites, possibly belonging to the same group, claiming to sell tokens for ‘Grams’ and inviting investors to pay with cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, lice litecoin, dash and Bitcoin dash. A record of transactions on one site revealed that the scammers were able to steal at least $35,000 US dollars’ worth of Ethereum from investors.

The researchers found that some of the websites were so convincing that even after Telegram and others began to issue warnings, they were still able to recruit potential investors. Most use a secure connection, require registration and generate a unique online wallet for each new victim, making it harder to track the money.

Judging by the content of the fake websites, it appears they may have common ownership. For example, several have the exactly the same ‘Our Team’ section.

“ICOs are a fairly risky investment and many people don’t yet fully understand how they work, so it is not surprising that high quality fake websites, with seemingly reassuring features such as a secure connection and registration are successful at luring people in. People wishing to invest in an ICO would do well to check with the company behind it and make sure they know exactly who they are giving their money to, or they may never see it again,” said Nadezhda Demidova, Lead Web-Content Analyst, Kaspersky Lab.

Kaspersky Lab offers the following advice for users considering investing in an ICO:

  • Check for warning signs: for example, some of the fake Telegram ICO websites had the same wrong image next to the name of Telegram’s Chief Product Officer.
  • Do your homework: always check with the brand’s official site to verify the legitimacy of the investment site and, if necessary contact the company’s ICO teams before investing any money or currency.
  • Use reliable security solutions such as Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, which will warn you if you try to visit fake internet pages.

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