Audi targets top spot
Volkswagen AG’s Audi unit, the world’s second-biggest maker of luxury cars, plans to spend 22 billion euros (US$30.3 billion) through 2018 developing new models and expanding production to gain the premium segment’s top spot. About 15.4 billion euros, or 70 percent of the total, will be invested in new cars and sport-utility vehicles along with developing technology, the Ingolstadt, Germany-based carmaker said today in a statement. Audi targets 2 million deliveries annually after achieving a goal of selling 1.5 million cars this year, two years ahead of its original plan. The budget is equivalent to spending 4.4 billion euros a year, an increase from a previous plan that called for investing 4.3 billion euros annually on new models and expanding production capacity.
GM to recall cars in China
General Motors Co’s (GM) China joint venture will recall close to 1.5 million vehicles due to potential safety issues in one of the biggest recalls in the world’s biggest autos market. Shanghai General Motors Co Ltd, GM’s venture with SAIC Motor Corp 上海汽車), will recall about 1.46 million Buick and Chevrolet models produced locally due to issues with a bracket that secures the fuel pump, the country’s quality watchdog said on Friday. Some of the recalled vehicles include the Chevy Sail which is exported to emerging markets, a Shanghai-based GM official said. Separately, the watchdog said Ford Motor Co’s joint venture with Chongqing Changan Automobile Co ( 重慶長安汽車) Ltd will recall close to 81,000 of its Kuga cars over a steering part.
UN agrees budget cut
The UN General Assembly on Friday ordered a staff and budget cut for the world body under pressure from the US and other austerity-stricken industrialized powers. After protracted negotiations, the 193-nation assembly agreed to cut 221 staff at the UN headquarters and ordered a one-year pay freeze for the more than 10,000 workers in New York. UN members also voted to cut the UN’s general budget to US$5.5 billion for 2014-15, US$50 million below the final spending level for the previous two years. Joe Torsella, the US diplomat in charge of UN management affairs, hailed the move to “eliminate unnecessary, duplicative or outdated” jobs.
Brazil narrows debt gap
Brazil’s ratio of net debt to GDP was the lowest last month since 1997, as the government took in one-time payments of back taxes and oil auction fees. Net debt to GDP fell last month to 33.9 percent, after Brazil posted the narrowest budget deficit in ten months, the central bank said in a report distributed in Brasilia today. The number was lower than every estimate from six economists surveyed by Bloomberg, whose median forecast was 34.4 percent. Standard & Poor’s in June placed Brazil’s rating on negative outlook, and Moody’s Investors Service in October lowered its outlook to stable from positive, citing deteriorating debt and investment ratios and evidence of slow growth. Brazil’s fiscal performance will continue to improve through next year, Treasury secretary Arno Augustin told reporters yesterday in Brasilia.