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.”
Personal computing devices sales still decline in MEA
The Middle East and Africa (MEA) personal computing devices (PCD) market, which is made up of desktops, notebooks, workstations, and tablets, suffered a decline of -7.3% year on year in Q2 2017, according to the latest insights from International Data Corporation (IDC).
The global technology research and consulting firm’s Quarterly PCD Tracker for Q2 2017 shows that PCD shipments fell to around 6 million units for the quarter.
“As forecast, the market followed a similar pattern to recent quarters, with the downturn primarily stemming from a decline in shipments of slate tablets and desktops,” says Fouad Charakla, IDC’s senior research manager for client devices in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa. “This was the result of desktop users increasingly switching to mobile devices such as notebooks or even refurbished notebooks, while users of slate tablets shifted to smartphones. These trends translated into year-on-year declines of -21.9% for desktops and -15.7% for slate tablets in Q2 2017, while shipments of notebooks and detachable tablets increased 11.0% and 63.3%, respectively over the same period.”
“Market sentiment in the region remained low overall, although an aggressive push from some slate tablet vendors meant the market declined much slower than expected,” continues Charakla. “At the same time, heightened competition has also made it harder for certain players to sustain their slate tablet businesses and generate profits, causing them to lose interest in the slate tablet market altogether. Despite this, slate tablets are still the most popular computing device among home users in the region.”
Looking at the region’s key markets, IDC’s research shows that when compared to Q2 2016 overall PCD shipments were down -11.4% in the UAE, -8.9% in Turkey, and -6.7% in the ‘Rest of Middle East’ sub-region (comprising Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Palestine, and Afghanistan). South Africa and Saudi Arabia bucked this trend, recording year-on-year increases of 3.5% and 9.6%, respectively.
A massive education delivery in Pakistan acted as a key driver for notebook shipments in the region overall. Similarly, the education sector was the biggest driver of detachable tablet shipments, triggered by a huge delivery in Kenya, as well as two other deliveries in Pakistan and Turkey, which enabled this category to achieve the fastest growth of all the PCD categories.
“While a component shortage prevented market players from reducing their prices too much, the average price of consumer notebooks experienced a considerable year-on-year decline in Q2 2017,” says Charakla. “This played a key role in driving demand from the consumer segment, and was reflected in the growing popularity of lower-priced notebook models.”
Looking at the PC market’s vendor rankings, each of the top five vendors maintained their respective positions compared to the previous quarter, with the top four all gaining share.
Middle East & Africa PC Market Vendor Shares – Q2 2016 vs. Q2 2017
|Brand||Q2 2016||Q2 2017|
Although Samsung continued to lead the tablet market, the vendor rankings in the space saw quite a few changes, with Huawei catapulting itself to second place. Lenovo also climbed up a position compared to the previous quarter, causing Apple to drop to fourth place.
Middle East & Africa Tablet Market Vendor Shares – Q2 2016 vs. Q2 2017
|Brand||Q2 2016||Q2 2017|
“Looking to the future, the MEA PCD market is expected to decline at a faster rate than previously forecast for 2017 as a whole,” says Charakla. “Technological shifts are playing a pivotal role in deciding the future of this market, with demand for certain products shifting to other PCD products and beyond (i.e., smartphones). Accordingly, shipments of slate tablets are expected to continue declining over the coming years as demand is cannibalized by smartphones. Meanwhile, the ongoing shift to mobile computing will see growth in the desktop market remain close to flat throughout IDC’s forecast period ending 2021. Notebook shipments will experience very slow growth beyond 2018, while detachable tablets will remain the fastest growing PCD category, eating away share from other computing devices.”
Gazer cyber-spies exposed
ESET has released new research into the activities of the Turla cyberespionage group, and specifically a previously undocumented backdoor that has been used to spy on consulates and embassies worldwide.
ESET’s research team are the first in the world to document the advanced backdoor malware, which they have named “Gazer”, despite evidence that it has been actively deployed in targeted attacks against governments and diplomats since at least 2016.
Gazer’s success can be explained by the advanced methods it uses to spy on its intended targets, and its ability to remain persistent on infected devices, embedding itself out of sight on victim’s computers in an attempt to steal information for a long period of time.
ESET researchers have discovered that Gazer has managed to infect a number of computers around the world, with the most victims being located in Europe. Curiously, ESET’s examination of a variety of different espionage campaigns which used Gazer has identified that the main target appears to have been Southeastern Europe as well as countries in the former Soviet Union Republic.
The attacks show all the hallmarks of past campaigns launched by the Turla hacking group, namely:
- Targeted organisations are embassies and ministries;
- Spearphishing delivers a first-stage backdoor such as Skipper;
- A second stealthier backdoor (Gazer in this instance, but past examples have included Carbon and Kazuar) is put in place;
- The second-stage backdoor receives encrypted instructions from the gang via C&C servers, using compromised, kegitimate websites as a proxy.
Another notable similarity between Gazer and past creations of the Turla cyberespionage group become obvious when the malware is analysed. Gazer makes extra efforts to evade detection by changing strings within its code, randomizing markers, and wiping files securely.
In the most recent example of the Gazer backdoor malware found by ESET’s research team, clear evidence was seen that someone had modified most of its strings, and inserted phrases related to video games throughout its code.
Don’t be fooled by the sense of humour that the Turla hacking group are showing here, falling foul of computer criminals is no laughing manner.
All organisations, whether governmental, diplomatic, law enforcement, or in traditional business, need to take today’s sophisticated threats serious and adopt a layered defence to reduce the chances of a security breach.