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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

Toyota unveils third generation humanoid robot T-HR3

November 21, 2017

Toyota Motor revealed T-HR3, the company’s third-generation humanoid robot. Toyota’s latest robotics platform, designed and developed by Toyota’s Partner Robot Division, will explore new technologies for safely managing physical interactions between robots and their surroundings, as well as a new remote maneuvering system that mirrors user movements to the robot.

T-HR3 is controlled from a Master Maneuvering System that allows the entire body of the robot to be operated instinctively with wearable controls that map hand, arm and foot movements to the robot, and a head-mounted display that allows the user to see from the robot’s perspective. The system’s master arms give the operator full range of motion of the robot’s corresponding joints and the master foot allows the operator to walk in place in the chair to move the robot forward or laterally. The Self-interference Prevention Technology embedded in T-HR3 operates automatically to ensure the robot and user do not disrupt each other’s movements.

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Volkswagen to invest ~$1.2B in Zwickau plant to convert to pure e-mobility facility; MEB-based EVs

November 19, 2017

As part of a projected €22.8 billion (US$26.9 billion) investment in its plants worldwide, the Volkswagen Group will invest about €1 billion (US$1.2 billion) into its Zwickau, Germany plant to convert it into a pure-play e-mobility facility.

As the Group announced earlier (earlier post), the Zwickau site is being remodeled for the launch in 2020 of the first series production of electric vehicles on the MEB platform (the I.D. series). This will lay a key foundation for the electrification and hybridization of the Group’s product portfolio.

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Geely acquiring flying car startup Terrafugia

November 14, 2017

Zhejiang Geely Holding Group has entered into an agreement to acquire Terrafugia, a US-based company developing practical flying cars.Terrafugia was founded in 2006 by five MIT graduates; since then, the company has delivered a number of working prototypes. Terrafugia aims to deliver its first flying car to the market in 2019, with the world’s first VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) flying car being made available by 2023.

Under the terms of the agreement, Terrafugia will remain domiciled and headquartered in the US, and continue to focus on its existing mission of developing flying cars. Terrafugia will also benefit from the Geely Group’s significant expertise and track record of innovation within the global auto industry. This deal has received approval from all relevant regulators including the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CIFIUS).

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Opel’s PACE! plan calls for electrification of all carlines by 2024

November 10, 2017

The sale of Opel Automobile GmbH with its brands Opel and Vauxhall by General Motors to Groupe PSA was finalized at the beginning of August. The Opel/Vauxhall management team set to work on a plan for the future, now announced as its PACE! strategic plan.

Under PACE!, all of the company’s European passenger carlines will be electrified—offering a pure battery electric propulsion or plug-in hybrid version alongside efficient internal combustion engines—by 2024. By 2020, Opel/Vauxhall will have four electrified carlines on the market, including the Grandland X PHEV and the next-generation Corsa as a fully electric vehicle.

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Audi steps up research into carbon-neutral synthetic fuels with new e-diesel pilot plant; power-to-liquids

November 08, 2017

Audi is systematically building on its e-fuels strategy. (Earlier post.) Together with the partners Ineratec GmbH (earlier post) and Energiedienst Holding AG, the company has plans for a new pilot facility for the production of e-diesel in Laufenburg, in Canton Aargau (Switzerland). For the first time, the energy needed will be supplied from the renewable source of hydropower. The planned facility will have a capacity of around 400,000 liters (105,669 gallons US) per year.

For some years now, Audi has been conducting research into climate-friendly, CO2-based fuels such as e-gas, e-gasoline or synthetically manufactured e-diesel fuel. (Earlier post.) The company is now taking the next step in e-diesel production.

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Ford and Zotye forming JV in China for EVs; Ford’s third JV in the country

Ford Motor Company and Zotye have agreed to establish Zotye Ford Automobile Co., Ltd., a new 50:50 joint venture that will offer a range of stylish and affordable all-electric vehicles for consumers in China under a new indigenous brand. The two companies had signed a memorandum of understanding back in August to explore the possibility of such a venture. (Earlier post.)

Pending regulatory approval, the new JV will design, build, market and distribute all-electric passenger vehicles for China, the world’s leading electric vehicle market. The new JV will leverage a combined investment of 5 billion RMB (approximately US $756 million). The agreement was signed in Beijing today by Peter Fleet, Ford group vice president and president, Ford Asia Pacific, and Ying Jianren, chairman of Tech-New Group Ltd. and board director of Zotye Auto.

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Volkswagen Group to support Hamburg, ITS Germany in hosting of 2021 World Congress for ITS; projects beginning now

November 06, 2017

The Volkswagen Group will support Hamburg and ITS Germany in 2021 for hosting the World Congress for Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) as a main partner and chair of the Host Organizing Committee. ERTICO (ITS Europe), organizer of the World Congress, announced the decision to stage the event in Germany with Hamburg as the hosting city at the ITS World Congress in Montréal.

With this decision, the mobility partnership between Hamburg and Volkswagen will be strengthened. Decisions have been taken on specific projects to develop Hamburg into a model city for future urban mobility. For the implementation of these projects, the Volkswagen Group will be calling on the broad-based competence of its brands.

Germany had submitted its bid to host the ITS World Congress 2021 together with the City of Hamburg and the active support of the Volkswagen Group. The application was part of the strategic mobility partnership between the Hanseatic City and the Volkswagen Group. The objective of the mobility partnership is to shape the urban mobility of the future together and to develop and position Hamburg internationally as a model city for forward-looking, sustainable and integrated urban mobility.

With the announcement concerning the 2021 World Congress, the joint implementation of a large number of future-oriented projects will start: for example, in connection with the objective of Hamburg to become a pioneer in autonomous driving in urban areas, the Group will send autonomous test vehicles to Hamburg’s city center.

In addition, MAN intends to test the use of autonomous trucks in the port of Hamburg and on selected highway sections. This allows the driver to carry out other work on the road; from the point of arrival in the port area, the truck will be operated fully autonomously. For safety reasons, a driver will initially remain on board. This way, the Volkswagen Group will help make private and goods traffic flow more efficient, safer and more environmentally compatible.

Another project involves the intelligent use of data acquired from sensors in vehicles of the Group fleet operated by the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. Using smart algorithms, additional information and services will be provided for the citizens and administration of Hamburg.

In addition, MOIA, the Volkswagen Group’s company for mobility services, is working on a project to develop new environmentally compatible mobility services for Hamburg. Within the framework of the project, a shuttle-on-demand service using eco-friendly electric vehicles is to be launched in 2018. This project will supplement public transport and offer an attractive alternative to private cars. Hamburger Hochbahn AG is the partner for this project.

In addition to implementing these projects, the Group intends to play a key role in the ITS World Congress 2021. The Group is a main partner and will also assume the chair of the Host Organizing Committee (HOC) for the planning and organization of the congress.

Beyond the projects in Hamburg, the Volkswagen Group is also actively involved in the development of intelligent, sustainable transport systems within the framework of TOGETHER - Strategy 2025. A key element of this commitment is the Group’s e-mobility offensive. At the Frankfurt International Motor Show, Volkswagen announced its “Roadmap E” comprehensive electrification initiative. By 2025, Group brands will be supplying more than 80 new electrified models to customers, including 50 all-electric vehicles and 30 plug-in-hybrids. (Earlier post.)

Another key topic is autonomous driving. Audi recently established an independent company, Autonomous Intelligent Driving GmbH, for self-driving systems. The development of the new Mobility Solutions business area is one of the key elements of “TOGETHER – Strategy 2025” on the way to becoming a mobility provider. For this purpose, the Volkswagen Group is developing intelligent future solutions – such as the pilot project “We by Volkswagen Deliver” of the Volkswagen brand in Berlin and at MOIA.

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Volume production of Tesla Model 3 pushed back to late Q1 2018; battery module problems; record loss in Q3 2017

November 02, 2017

In its third-quarter 2017 financial results update, Tesla Motors reported that it is delaying its expected start of volume production—defined here as 5,000 Model 3 vehicles per week—to “late Q1 2018”. The company was earlier targeting that milestone for “some time in 2017”. (Earlier post.)

As first emerged in early October, Tesla has been having production issues with the Model 3, and only delivered 222 units in the third quarter. In the investor update, Tesla ascribed the bulk of the delay to the battery module assembly line at its Gigafactory, where cells are packaged into modules.

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BMW Group adopts new approaches for a more sustainable battery cell supply chain; focus on cobalt

October 27, 2017

Cobalt is one of the key components in production of electrified vehicles and is used in significant quantities in high-voltage batteries for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. The challenge facing companies that work with cobalt as a raw material is that risks related to environmental standards and human rights cannot be completely eliminated in cobalt mining.

The BMW Group has now set itself the goal of enhancing the transparency of its battery cell supply chain and exploring options for model projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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BYD unveils North America’s largest electric bus factory; capacity for up to 1,500 vehicles annually

October 10, 2017

BYD, the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicles, unveiled its expanded battery-electric bus manufacturing facility in Lancaster, California—North America’s largest. The growth of BYD Coach and Bus reflects a rapid transition to electric transportation and will allow BYD to build up to 1,500 battery-electric buses annually.

The opening celebration was held with bipartisan support from elected officials including US House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield); California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon; Congress members Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) and Nanette Diaz Barragan (D-San Pedro); 2018 California Gubernatorial Candidate and former mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa; California Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Lancaster); Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger; City of Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris and BYD leadership including Chairman Wang Chuanfu, President Stella Li and Senior Vice President Macy Neshati.

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Renault’s new 2017-2022 plan: 8 EVs, 12 electrified models, 15 autonomous models

October 06, 2017

Groupe Renault announced “Drive The Future,” a new six-year plan to deliver annual revenues of more than €70 billion and achieve a group operating margin of more than 7% by the end of the plan, with a floor at 5%, and positive free cash flow every year. Drive The Future is aligned with the Groupe Renault vision: sustainable mobility for all, today and tomorrow.

Under the Drive The Future plan, Groupe Renault forecasts that unit volumes will grow more than 40% to more than 5 million units, compared with 3.47 million units2 sold in 2016, as the company expands its product range, including in LCV and new electric vehicles and builds on success of its global access range. The plan will also leverage the R&D and global economies of scale from Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, the world’s largest automotive alliance, while maintaining financial discipline and cost efficiency.

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Asahi Glass and Toyota co-develop new energy-saving glass structure

October 05, 2017

Asahi Glass (AGC) and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) have jointly started development of a new glass structure they call the “Ceiling-mounted Double Skin System.” This glass unit is designed to enhance energy savings of buildings such as car showrooms, capable of being flexibly opened or closed in response to weather conditions. After finalizing product specifications and safety and performance testing, the companies plan to launch sales of the product in the spring of 2018, mainly targeting car dealership showrooms and office buildings.

Car dealership showrooms and modern office buildings with large glass surfaces are facing challenges of reducing air conditioning load during summer. Conventional countermeasures include use of roll-screen curtains and heat-shielding films. These have drawbacks however. For example, roll-screen curtains have inadequate ability to block sunlight while also reducing visibility when rolled down.

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Ford outlines strategic plan to investors; connected, smart vehicles and services, EVs and financial fitness

October 04, 2017

In New York yesterday, Ford Motor Company provided a strategic update to investors; the presentation follows a four-month deep dive into Ford’s strategy and business operations led by President and CEO Jim Hackett and Ford’s senior leadership team. Hackett said Ford will improve its operational fitness, refocus capital allocation and accelerate the introduction of smart vehicles and services. Ford reaffirmed its 2017 full-year financial guidance and said its 2018 outlook will be provided in January.

To deliver on its long-term goal of an 8% automotive operating margin (Ford delivered 6.7% in 2016), the company said it is expanding its scope to include vehicles and services—all designed around human-centered experiences. Specifically, Ford is:

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Mercedes-Benz to set up EV production in US, battery plant; $1B investment in Alabama

September 21, 2017

Mercedes-Benz will set up electric vehicle production in the United States. The company plans to produce EQ-branded SUV models at MBUSI (Mercedes-Benz US International), its Tuscaloosa, Alabama facility. At the time being launched, the EQ models will feature the latest status of automated driving—always under the premise of safety and in compliance with the statutory regulations.

In addition, a battery plant will also be built near the existing passenger-car plant ensuring availability of advanced technology for future generations of Mercedes-Benz vehicles built in the US. In total, Mercedes-Benz plans to invest $1 billion in the expansion of its industrial footprint in the region, most of which is slated for the electric initiative.

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Renault, Nissan, Mitsubishi 6-year plan sees 12 pure EV models launched on common platforms, 40 models with autonomous drive

September 20, 2017

The Alliance of Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi announced their six-year plan—Alliance 2022—which sets a new target to double annual synergies to €10 billion by the end of the plan. To achieve this, said Carlos Ghosn, chairman and chief executive officer of the Alliance, the three automakers will accelerate their collaboration on common platforms, powertrains and next-generation electric, autonomous and connected technologies.

The Alliance is forecasting total annual sales to exceed 14 million units with $240 billion in revenue by the end of the plan—up more than 30% on the $180 billion aggregate revenues achieved in 2016. Under Alliance 2022, the member companies will increase their use of common platforms, with nine million units based on four common platforms. The plan will also extend the use of common powertrains to 75% of total sales. Alliance 2022 plans a major expansion in shared electric vehicle technologies, alongside the development and deployment of advanced autonomous drive systems, vehicle connectivity and new mobility services.

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Mahindra and Ford to explore strategic cooperation to drive profitable growth in India and other emerging markets

September 18, 2017

Mahindra Group and Ford Motor Company have agreed to explore a strategic alliance designed to leverage the benefits of Ford’s global reach and expertise and Mahindra’s scale in India and successful operating model.

The agreement between the two companies will allow each to leverage their mutual strengths during a period of unprecedented transformation in the global automotive industry. The areas of potential cooperation include:

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Volkswagen Group new Roadmap E: 50 BEV, 30 PHEV new Group vehicles by 2025, €50B battery tender; €20B capex earmark

September 11, 2017

At the Volkswagen Group Media Night ahead of the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, Germany, the Volkswagen Group announced what it called the most comprehensive electrification initiative in the global automotive industry. Under the new “Roadmap E”, Volkswagen will have electrified its entire model portfolio by 2030 at the latest.

This means that, by then, there will be at least one electrified version of each of the 300 or so Group models across all brands and markets. This makes Volkswagen the first big mobility group to have put a date on the electrification of its entire fleet. The Group will need more than 150 GWh of battery capacity annually by 2025 for its own e-fleet alone. This is equivalent to at least four gigafactories for battery cells. To meet this demand, the Company has put one of the largest procurement volumes in the industry’s history out to tender: more than €50 billion (US60 billion).

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Jaguar Land Rover seeking to increase the amount of aluminum from scrap for new vehicle production; 3-year, £2M REALITY project

Jaguar Land Rover Automotive is expanding the use of recycled aluminum in its car bodies to cut waste and reduce carbon emissions.

A £2-million (US$2.6-million) project, called REALITY, will work to enable the closed-loop recycling of aluminum from end-of-life vehicles back into high-performance product forms for new vehicle body manufacture. The target is to increase the amount of aluminum coming back from scrap. REALITY builds on the REALCAR project (earlier post) allowing tens of thousands of tonnes of aluminum generated in the manufacturing process to be recycled and reused as a closed-loop. Aluminum from other sources, including end-of-life vehicles, can now be graded and used in the manufacture of new cars.

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BMW Group to offer 25 electrified vehicle models by 2025, 12 fully electric

September 07, 2017

By 2025, the BMW Group will offer 25 electrified vehicle models—12 of them fully electric, said Harald Krüger, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, in a preview briefing before the opening of the Frankfurt Motor Show next week.

BMW Group will deliver 100,000 electrified vehicles to customers this year, Krüger said. By the end of 2017, there will be a total of more than 200,000 BMW Group electrified vehicles on the road. The Group’s market share for electric drives in Europe is already three times higher than its market share for combustion-powered cars, added Klaus Fröhlich, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Development.

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Toyota begins collaboration with Grab on ride-hailing service in Southeast Asia; MSPF

August 30, 2017

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), Toyota Financial Services Corporation (TFS), Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance (Aioi) and Grab, Inc. (Grab), the largest ride-hailing service company in Southeast Asia, are collaborating to provide ride-hailing services throughout Southeast Asia.

The Connected Company, a TMC in-house company, developed the data-transmission TransLog driving recorder, a device that captures driving patterns and deliver telematics services such as a vehicle position management system to fleet customers. This project will now be extended to Southeast Asia for the first time.

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Volkswagen’s 4th SUV makes its debut: MQB-based T-ROC slots under Tiguan

August 24, 2017

As part of its biggest model offensive yet, Volkswagen is adding a compact-class crossover: the T-Roc. The new crossover slots below the Tiguan with pricing in the €20,000-class segment (Germany) and is based, like the Tiguan and the Atlas/Teramont, on the modular transverse matrix (MQB). Market launch begins in Europe this November and later in China.

Like the larger Tiguan, the new T-Roc is being offered with efficient turbocharged engines: three gasoline engines (TSI) and three diesels (TDI). These come in three power levels: 85 kW / 115 PS; 110 kW / 150 PS; and 140 kW / 190 PS. The 115-PS versions are offered with front-wheel drive and a manual gearbox. In conjunction with the 150-PS engines, buyers can choose front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (4MOTION) as well as an automatically shifting dual clutch gearbox (7-speed DSG). The 150 PS gasoline engine is equipped with Active Cylinder Management (automatic deactivation of two cylinders). The two 190-PS engines are equipped with 7-speed DSG and 4MOTION as standard.

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Ford to explore new 50:50 electric vehicle JV in China with Zotye Auto

August 22, 2017

Ford has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Anhui Zotye Automobile Co., Ltd., a major manufacturer of all-electric vehicles in China, to explore the establishment of a 50:50 joint venture for the development, production, marketing and servicing of a new line of all-electric passenger vehicles in China.

China is the fastest-growing market in the world for new energy vehicles (NEVs). Ford expects the market for NEVs in China to grow to six million units per year by 2025, of which approximately 4 million vehicles will be all-electric.

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Toyota and Servco Pacific pilot test new car share application in Hawaii

August 17, 2017

Toyota and Servco Pacific Inc. (Servco) have partnered to test a new car-sharing technology in Honolulu. The suite of software and services is an important part of Toyota’s Mobility Services Platform (MSPF) which will offer various functions to enable a more convenient mobility experience.

When the employee-only pilot testing program concludes, Servco, the distributor of Toyota vehicles in Hawaii, will use the car-sharing technology to launch a new Honolulu-based car share business by the end of 2017.

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles joining BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye in developing global autonomous driving platform; Level 4/5 by 2021

August 16, 2017

BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye signed a memorandum of understanding with the intention for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to be the first automaker to join them in developing a world-leading, state-of-the-art autonomous driving platform for global deployment.

In July 2016, BMW Group, Intel, and Mobileye announced that they were joining forces to make self-driving vehicles a reality by collaborating to bring solutions for highly automated driving (Level 3) and fully automated driving (Level 4/5) into production by 2021. (Earlier post.) Since then, they have been designing and developing a scalable architecture that can be used by multiple automakers around the world, while at the same time maintaining each automaker’s unique brand identities.

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Nissan to sell AESC automotive Li-ion battery business to GSR Capital

August 08, 2017

Nissan Motor has entered into a definitive sale and purchase agreement with GSR Capital (GSR), a private investment fund, for the sale of Nissan’s automotive electric battery operations and production facilities to GSR.

The sale and purchase agreement covers Nissan’s battery subsidiary, Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC), as well as battery manufacturing operations in Smyrna, Tennessee, owned by Nissan North America Inc. (NNA), and in Sunderland, England, owned by Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd. (NMUK). Assets sold to GSR will also include part of Nissan’s Japanese battery development and production engineering operations located in Oppama, Atsugi and Zama.

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Volkswagen to offer incentive in Germany of up to €10,000 to scrap Euro 1-4 diesels

Volkswagen is offering an incentive of up to €10,000 (US$11,815)—depending upon the model purchased—for the purchase of Euro 6 vehicles in Germany if an older diesel vehicle (Euro 1 to Euro 4 standards) is scrapped at the same time. The incentive is one of a number of elements of a new environmental program launched by the automaker in its home country.

In addition, Volkswagen is offering a future incentive of between €1,000 and €2,380 (US$1,181 to $2,812) to customers purchasing a vehicle with an electric, hybrid or natural gas powertrain.

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UK issues new guidance on automotive cybersecurity

August 07, 2017

The UK government has issued new guidance on vehicle cybersecurity. The 8 principles—each with more detailed sub-principles—in the guidance set out how the automotive sector can make sure cybersecurity is properly considered at every level, from designers and engineers, through to suppliers and senior level executives.

The government is also looking at a broader program of work announced in this year’s Queen’s speech under the landmark Autonomous and Electric Vehicles Bill that aims to create a new framework for self-driving vehicle insurance.

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Toyota to invest additional $95M in Preferred Networks; joint R&D on deep learning AI tech in mobility-related fields

August 04, 2017

With the aim of accelerating joint research and development of artificial intelligence technologies in mobility-related fields, such as automated driving technology, Toyota Motor Corporation will invest an additional ¥10.5 billion (US $95 million) in Preferred Networks (PFN). (Earlier post.) Toyota will acquire stock in PFN through the allocation of new shares to a third party.

Toyota and PFN have been working on joint research and development since October 2014, and for the purpose of strengthening the relationship, Toyota invested approximately ¥1 billion (US $9.02 million) in PFN in December 2015. To date, the joint research and development has focused on object-recognition technology and analysis technology of vehicle information. This additional investment will further enhance the relationship between Toyota and PFN and spur joint research and development.

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Toyota and Mazda enter business and capital alliance; $1.6B plant in US, joint development for electric, connected vehicle tech

Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) and Mazda Motor Corporation (Mazda) signed an agreement to enter a business and capital alliance, with the aim of further strengthening their partnership. The companies agreed to: 1) establish a joint venture that produces vehicles in the United States; 2) jointly develop technologies for electric vehicles; 3) jointly develop connected-car technology; 4) collaborate on advanced safety technologies; and 5) expand complementary products.

In addition, together with the aim of advancing and strengthening their long-term collaboration, Toyota and Mazda agreed to a capital alliance arrangement that preserves independence and equality for both companies. In the capital tie-up, the two companies have agreed that Toyota will subscribe for and acquire shares to be newly issued by Mazda through a third-party allotment, and at the same time Mazda will subscribe for and acquire third-party allocation shares of treasury stock disposed of by Toyota in the equivalent amount in value to the Mazda shares. The value of the shares mutually acquired by both companies will be equivalent.

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BMW defends diesel while pushing electrification

August 03, 2017

BMW has established solid electrification credentials. With BMW i, the BMW Group was the first German manufacturer to make a clear commitment to electromobility, notes BMW AG Management Board Chairman Harald Krüger. In 2017, the BMW Group expects sales of its electrified vehicles to exceed 100,000 for the first time in a single year, with the all-electric BMW i3, BMW i8, BMW iPerformance plug-in hybrids and the plug-in hybrid MINI Countryman all contributing to the figures. The company’s electrified range currently comprises nine electrified vehicles and will be further complemented in 2018 by the all-new BMW i8 Roadster.

Shortly after that, BMW Group will roll out battery-only solutions across its core brands, with Plant Oxford starting production of the battery-powered MINI in 2019, and the battery-only BMW X3 following in 2020. The following year, 2021, will see the launch of the BMW Group’s new technology spearhead: the all-electric BMW iNEXT. Nonetheless, says Krüger, “Future mobility will definitely depend on state-of-the-art diesels as well, because environmental protection has several dimensions: one of them is the fight against climate change.

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Tesla quarterly revenue up 93% YOY in Q2; quarterly loss rises; >1800 reservation/day for Model 3

In a quarterly financial update that emphasized the bullish prospects for the Model 3, Model S and Model X, Tesla reported that its automotive revenue grew 93% to $2.287 billion as compared to Q2 2016 largely due to 53% growth in total vehicle deliveries, and to a smaller percentage of vehicles sold with residual value risk that were subject to lease accounting. Compared to the prior quarter (Q1 2017), automotive revenue was down very slightly ($2.287 billion vs. $2.290 billion) despite a decline in vehicle deliveries due to lower mix of deliveries subject to lease accounting and the sale of $100 million of ZEV credits in Q2.

The company’s net loss grew to $336.4 million in the second quarter, increasing from $293.2 million in Q2 2016. a year earlier. Tesla also reported having more than $3 billion cash on hand at the end of Q2. The quarterly update, which followed shortly after the intial delivery of the first production Model 3s and provided some additional insight into timing along with financial guidance for the EV.

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Volvo Cars and Geely to establish JV to boost synergies, accelerate next-gen electrified vehicle technology

July 20, 2017

Volvo Cars plans to set up a new joint venture technology company with Geely Holding, the Chinese car group, to share existing and future technology, to deepen industrial synergies and to provide the economies of scale that will allow them to develop next generation electrified vehicle technology more rapidly.

According to a Memorandum of Understanding signed today, Volvo Cars, Geely Auto and LYNK & CO will share vehicle architecture and engine technologies via cross licensing arrangements of technologies managed by the new joint venture. They will also cooperate more deeply by commonly sourcing components and cutting procurement costs.

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Daimler launches diesel plan; expands recall to >3M units, accelerating next-gen diesel launch

July 18, 2017

The Daimler Board of Management has approved a comprehensive plan for diesel engines consisting of a substantial expansion of the current service action for vehicles in customers’ hands as well as a rapid market launch of the completely new OM 654 diesel engine family (earlier post).

Since March, Mercedes-Benz has offered its customers of compact-class cars an improvement in NOx emissions for one engine version. Approximately 45% of those cars have since been updated. A voluntary service action is also being carried out for V-Class customers—so far with approximately 75% of the vehicles in Germany. To improve the emissions of additional model series, Daimler has now decided to extend the service action to include more than three million Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

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Toyota Research Institute launches Toyota AI Ventures with $100M investment

July 11, 2017

Toyota Research Institute (TRI) is investing an initial $100 million to launch Toyota AI Ventures, a new corporate venture capital subsidiary designed to provide early-stage financing to startup technology companies.

TRI launches the venture by contributing initial investments it has made in three technology companies: Nauto, SLAMcore and Intuition Robotics. The venture will also cultivate select start-ups by offering them mentorship and support on-site at TRI's Silicon Valley headquarters. Investment will focus in the areas of Artificial Intelligence; Robotics; Autonomous Mobility; and Data and Cloud Technology.

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Volkswagen to start fitting vehicles with pWLAN technology as standard from 2019 on for V2X communication

June 28, 2017

From 2019, Volkswagen will start fitting its first models with pWLAN as standard in order to serve as an additional communication technology for the exchange of selected information relevant to traffic between cars made by different manufacturers.

This will involve information being exchanged both between vehicles (car-to-car), as well as between vehicles and the transport infrastructure (car-to-X) (also fitted with pWLAN technology). This will, for example, enable information about the current traffic situation, accidents and other situations relating to traffic conditions to be shared with the local environment, within a radius of approximately 500 m, even faster than has been possible in the past.

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Volkswagen IT expands deep learning competence via partnership with NVIDIA

Volkswagen IT is cooperating with US technology company NVIDIA with a view to expanding its competence in the field of deep learning. At the Volkswagen Data Lab—named the Group’s center of excellence for AI and data analysis—IT experts are developing advanced AI systems with deep learning.

The Volkswagen Group is already partnering with NVIDIA in other areas, such as in a strategic partnership for the new Volkswagen Group Future Center California in Silicon Valley, where the teams are at work developing an AI-based cockpit. (Earlier post.)

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2018 VW Tiguan and new 2.0 TSI B-cycle engine gives VW a strong offering in compact SUV segment

June 27, 2017

Volkswagen of America is in the process of rolling out its all-new long wheelbase 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan (earlier post). As with the all-new 2018 Volkswagen Atlas full-size SUV (earlier post), the new Tiguan is based on Volkswagen’s Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) architecture.

The all-new 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan—the second-generation of the vehicle—is powered by the latest version of the EA888 four-cylinder engine, the 2.0L TSI EA888 Gen3 B-Cycle (Budack-cycle, earlier post), coupled with an 8-speed automatic. This is the only engine/transmission combination available in the Tiguan in the US. 4Motion with Active Control all-wheel drive system is optional. The core element of the new engine is a new combustion process combining short intake events with a high compression ratio.

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Audi A8 fully active electromechanical suspension powered by 48V electrical system; predictive adjustment using front camera

June 22, 2017

The new Audi A8 will feature a fully active, electromechanical suspension system which drives each wheel individually and adapts to the prevailing road conditions. Each wheel has an electric motor which is powered by the A8’s 48-volt electrical system—used for the first time as the main electrical system. (The Audi SQ7 TDI introduced in 2016 offered a 48V subsystem as well as a 12V system for the alternator. Earlier post. The new A8 also features a 48V mild hybrid capability (mHEV).)

Additional components include gears, a rotary tube together with internal titanium torsion bar and a lever which exerts up to 1,100 Nm (811.3 lb-ft) on the suspension via a coupling rod. The new Audi A8 makes its world debut at the Audi Summit in Barcelona on 11 July.

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Ford to import next-gen Ford Focus for N. America from China; production starting 2H 2019

June 20, 2017

Ford announced a series of global manufacturing actions centered on improving the company’s operational fitness, among them that it would source the next-generation Ford Focus for North America primarily from China, rather than Hermosillo, Mexico.

Production of the next-generation Focus begins in the second half of 2019, with models coming from the company’s existing Focus plants globally. Most new North American Focus models initially will come from China, with additional variants coming from Europe later, Ford said. Production of the current North American Focus at the Michigan Assembly Plant continues through mid-2018. Following that, the plant will be converted to produce the Ranger midsize pickup truck in late 2018 and the Bronco midsize SUV in 2020.

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Volkswagen Group expands presence in Russia with agreements with GAZ

June 16, 2017

The Volkswagen Group and GAZ Group have extended their manufacturing agreement for Volkswagen and ŠKODA models in Russia until 2025. Furthermore, the Volkswagen brand will in future supply 2.0 TDI engines for GAZ light commercial vehicles, opening up new business opportunities in international markets.

Additionally, Volkswagen Truck & Bus signed a letter of intent with GAZ Group which will enable the companies to identify the possibilities for a long-term strategic partnership. The main focus will be on the delivery and joint assembly of components as well as joint product concepts.

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Mercedes-Benz Rastatt plant to produce compact electric EQ vehicles; 3rd center of competence for EQ models in Germany

May 29, 2017

Mercedes-Benz announced that its Rastatt plant—the company’s lead plant in global production of compact cars—will produce compact-class electric EQ models in the future. The decision is based on a declaration of intent, which the company has set up with the works council. All three German Mercedes-Benz car plants—Rastatt, Bremen and Sindelfingen—will now produce EQ-brand EVs.

Future EQ models can be integrated in the series production of existing Mercedes-Benz plants on four continents. With highly flexible structures, the plants already can produce vehicles with different drive types on the same line. The company will decide on the basis of market demand which foreign locations will produce further EQ models within the production network.

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Ford continues executive shuffling in wake of replacement of CEO; Marakby back from Uber to lead electrification

May 25, 2017

On Monday, Ford Motor Company announced the immediate replacement of Mark Fields as CEO by Jim Hackett, who had led Ford Smart Mobility LLC since March 2016. Ford also announced changes in roles for three top executives: Jim Farley (Global Markets), Joe Hinrichs (Global Operations) and Marcy Klevorn (Mobility). (Earlier post.)

Today, Ford announced another set of senior leadership changes around the world, completing the newly reorganized team led by President and CEO Hackett. Among those changes is the return of Sherif Marakby from Uber to become Ford vice president, autonomous vehicles and electrification.

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Six mobility start-ups launching Volkswagen’s incubator program at Transparent Factory

May 24, 2017

Volkswagen has selected the first six teams for the new start-up incubator at Volkswagen’s Gläserne Manufaktur (Transparent Factory, earlier post) in Dresden: the start-ups Smart City System from Nuremberg; LoyalGo from Dortmund; Tretbox from Berlin; and Ekoio from Leipzig were declared winners on Thursday evening following a pitch competition at the factory. Volkswagen announced the incubator program at CeBIT 2017 in Hanover earlier this year.

They will move into the Gläserne Manufaktur in summer, together with the start-ups Geospin from Freiburg and CarlundCarla.de from Dresden. There they will be able to develop their ideas for the market with support from Volkswagen experts and financial support from the state capital, Dresden.

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Ford Motor replaces CEO Fields

May 22, 2017

Ford Motor Company has appointed Jim Hackett as Ford Motor Company president and CEO, replacing Mark Fields, who is retiring, effective immediately. Hackett led Steelcase Inc.’s turnaround, served as interim Athletic Director at University of Michigan, and has led Ford Smart Mobility LLC since March 2016. He served on Ford’s board from 2013 to 2016.

Fields’s 3-year tenure as CEO, succeeding Alan Mulally, saw the share price of the automaker drop 39%. Ford’s US sales are down 5.1% year-to-date, with cars showing the steepest decline of 22.1%. Ford’s US hybrid and electric vehicle lineup—unchanged since 2013—has seen its sales volumes decline 10% from 2014-2016 to a combined 77,511 units in 2016 (with only 872 BEVs). At the annual shareholders’ meeting on 11 May, Fields had taken flak from investors over Ford’s share price and product performance.

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Audi to launch 3 new electric models by 2020; subsequent electrification in renewed core; targeting 1/3 electrified unit sales by 2025

May 19, 2017

At Audi’s Annual General Meeting yesterday in Neckarsulm, Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of Audi AG said that Audi plans to launch three new electric models by 2020, after which the brand will gradually electrify models in each of its core series. First up will be the production version of the e-tron quattro SUV, due next year. (Earlier post.)

Stadler, whose was just reappointed as Chairman of the Board of Management for another five years, said that Audi will renew five existing core model series by mid-2018. “In addition, we will expand our successful Q family by 2019 with two new concepts—the Audi Q8 and the Audi Q4—and we will launch our battery-electric e-tron models.

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Tesla Q1 revenue more than doubles on record deliveries; losses up

May 04, 2017

Tesla reported record first quarter GAAP revenue of $2.7 billion on record vehicle deliveries of 25,051 units. Vehicle production in Q1 increased by 64% year-on-year. Automotive revenue was $2.3 billion, up 15% quarter-on-quarter and up 123% year-on-year. The 13% sequential increase in Q1 deliveries drove much of the increase in automotive revenue. In addition, average transaction prices (ATPs) improved from Q4 2016, driven primarily by a favorable product mix shift and higher option uptake.

Automotive gross margin increased because of improved ATPs and manufacturing efficiencies. Enhanced Autopilot revenue recognized in Q1 on cars delivered in Q4 contributed $35 million to gross profits. This was partially offset by $26 million in warranty reserve for the Takata airbag recall and equipment impairment charges.

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First $300M tranche of VW National ZEV investment targets charging infrastructure; 150kW+ fast charging on highway network

April 14, 2017

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published the plan for the first tranche of Volkswagen’s National Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Investment spending, directed at 11 cities nationwide—New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Portland, Boston, Seattle, Philadelphia, Denver, Houston, Miami, and Raleigh—and several highway corridors.

As a part of the first cycle of investment, Volkswagen’s “Electrify America” program is earmarked to spend $300 million, with the most focus on the installation of hundreds of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at multi-family residences, workplaces, highway rest-stops, commercial and retail sites, and municipal lots and garages.

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Toyota invests $1.33B in Kentucky plant to introduce TNGA; 2018 Camry to be 1st TNGA car made in US

April 10, 2017

Toyota Motor is making a $1.33-billion investment in Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK); the plant will be Toyota’s first in North America to begin producing vehicles using Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA). (Earlier post.) In 2015, Toyota announced it was investing $1 billion in a new TNGA plant in Guanajuato, Mexico—the first designed from the ground up with TNGA production engineering technologies. The Guanajuato plant will begin producing the Corolla with Model Year 2020. (Earlier post.)

The TMMK-produced Camry, from the 2018 model year, will become the first Toyota vehicle made in the US fully to incorporate the new vehicle development and production technology.

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Porsche and Audi to work on shared vehicle architecture; electrification, autonomy, digitization

April 05, 2017

Within the Volkswagen Group, Porsche AG and AUDI AG now plan to cooperate more closely on future vehicle architectures, with a particular focus on electrification, digitization and autonomous driving.

Brands within the Volkswagen Group have been rolling out modular component matrices, or assembly toolkits, for their light-duty vehicles over the past few years. Until recently, the four main modular toolkits (modularen Baukästen) of the Group were: the MQB (transverse, driven by the Volkswagen brand); the MLB (longitudinal, driven by the Audi brand); the MSB (standard drive, driven by Porsche); and the NSF (New Small Family). (Earlier post.)

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Ford investing US$375M for R&D in Canada; doubling connectivity team, new research and engineering center

March 30, 2017

Ford is investing an additional C$500-million (US$375 million) in its Canadian research and development presence, adding connectivity software and hardware engineers and establishing a new Ottawa Research and Engineering Center. Ford is adding more than 400 connectivity engineers in Canada and the US—approximately 300 of whom will be based in Canada—more than doubling Ford’s mobile connectivity engineering team.

The new Ottawa Research and Engineering Center in Canada will focus on research and development across infotainment, in-vehicle modems, gateway modules, driver-assist features and autonomous vehicles.

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Ford investing $1.2B in 3 Michigan plants; focus on trucks, SUVs, big data & mobility services

March 28, 2017

Ford Motor Company is investing $1.2 billion in three Michigan manufacturing facilities to strengthen its leadership in trucks and SUVs and support the company’s expansion to an auto and mobility company.

Ford is investing $850 million in Michigan Assembly Plant to retool the plant to build the all-new Ford Ranger and Ford Bronco. Employees at Michigan Assembly Plant will begin building Ranger at the end of 2018 and Bronco in 2020.

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SAIC-GM Connectivity Strategy 2025 lays out roadmap to cloud-based connectivity, autonomy

SAIC-GM, GM’s Chinese joint venture with SAIC, announced its Connectivity Strategy 2025, which lays out a roadmap for its connectivity development from 2017 through 2025. The strategy will take advantage of its extensive customer base and global resources with a focus on vehicle information, infotainment and intelligent driving.

SAIC-GM will speed up the creation of a cloud-based platform and services, improve its vehicles’ connectivity to build a “people-vehicle-life” ecosystem, and aim to lead the development of a future intelligent vehicle society and lifestyle. In this effort, SAIC-GM is leveraging OnStar’s more than 20 years of experience. The high-level timeline is:

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Volkswagen partners with D-Wave on quantum computing; CeBIT premiere of research project for traffic flow optimization

March 14, 2017

Volkswagen partners with D-Wave on quantum computing; CeBIT premiere of research project for traffic flow optimization

Volkswagen Group IT is cooperating with leading quantum computing company D-Wave Systems on a research project for traffic flow optimization.

At CeBIT 2017 in Hanover, Volkswagen and D-Wave will be announcing their strategic cooperation and, as a world premiere, demonstrating a software program that optimizes traffic flow on a quantum computer. In the course of this project, experts from the Volkswagen Code Lab in San Francisco and the Volkswagen Data Lab in Munich and used data from approximately 10,000 taxis in Beijing.

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Volkswagen Group and Tata Motors Ltd. to explore strategic alliance for joint development projects; ŠKODA to lead

March 10, 2017

Matthias Müller, CEO of Volkswagen AG, Bernhard Maier, CEO of ŠKODA Auto and Günter Butschek, CEO and Managing Director of Tata Motors Ltd., signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which forms the basis for exploring long-term strategic cooperation in clearly-defined fields. The goal of the strategic alliance is to bundle the expertise of both car manufacturers with a view to jointly developing vehicle components and possibly also vehicle concepts.

Under the terms of the memorandum, the Volkswagen Group and Tata Motors will explore possibilities for a strategic partnership in India. In order to share responsibility among the Volkswagen Group brands, ŠKODA Auto is to lead the project.

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Ford testing 3D printing of large-scale parts using Stratasys Infinite Build 3D printer

March 09, 2017

Ford Motor Company is exploring how large-scale one-piece auto parts, such as spoilers, could be printed for prototyping and future production vehicles, as the first automaker to pilot the Stratasys Infinite Build 3D printer.

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Honda Motor Europe: 2/3 of European sales to feature electrified powertrains by 2025; “Electric Vision”

March 07, 2017

Speaking at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, Honda Motor Europe’s President and COO, Katsushi Inoue outlined Honda’s commitment to an electric future in Europe, with a specific aim to have electrified powertrains in two-thirds of Honda cars sold in Europe by 2025.

Honda’s focus on electrification in Europe will initially be driven by a roll-out of hybrid technology across its automobile range. The first new hybrid model, which will feature Honda’s two-motor hybrid system, will go on sale in 2018.

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PSA to acquire Opel/Vauxhall & GM Financial Euro operations for €2.2B; partnering on electrification and maybe fuel cells

March 06, 2017

General Motors and PSA Group announced an agreement under which PSA Group will acquire GM’s Opel/Vauxhall subsidiary and GM Financial’s European operations in a transaction valuing these activities at €1.3 billion (US$1.38 billion) and €0.9 billion (US$0.95 billion, respectively. With the addition of Opel/Vauxhall, which generated revenue of €17.7 billion (US$18.75 billion) in 2016, PSA will become the second-largest automotive company in Europe, with a 17% market share.

GM will also own warrants to purchase shares of PSA. GM and PSA also expect to collaborate in the further deployment of electrification technologies. Existing supply agreements for Holden and certain Buick models will continue, and PSA may potentially source long-term supply of fuel cell systems from the GM/Honda joint venture.

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Volkswagen Group launches Future Center Europe: focus on future mobility concepts

March 04, 2017

The Volkswagen Group has taken an additional important step to implementing its digitalization strategy with the launch of the Future Center Europe, located in Potsdam, Germany.

Volkswagen says that it intends to link the automotive and digital worlds in a way that benefits customers, society and the economy—and to promote the Volkswagen Group to become the leading mobility provider by 2025. The Future Center’s functions therefore go beyond standard product development.

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Volkswagen names Infineon first partner under TRANSFORM 2025+ strategy

March 01, 2017

Germany-based semiconductor supplier Infineon is Volkswagen’s first partner under its TRANSFORM 2025+ strategy (earlier post). Under the new partnership, Volkswagen will further intensify its direct dialogue with Infineon in order to define the requirements for future semiconductor solutions and thus pursue new joint development approaches.

A modern automobile is equipped with as many as 100 networked electronic control units (ECUs) and thousands of electronic components. Powerful ECUs ensure outstanding driving comfort and safety. They operate and regulate everything from the air conditioning system to the interior and exterior lighting systems, the adaptive cruise control radar and a whole range of driver assistance systems. Thus, a significant part of all vehicle innovations is based on electronic systems.

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Volkswagen Group returns to profitability with new record for sales revenue and operating result in 2016

February 27, 2017

The Volkswagen Group made progress in 2016 in overcoming its self-inflicted diesel crisis. Sales revenue in fiscal year 2016 rose by €4.0 billion (US$4.22 billion) to €217.3 billion (US$229.4 billion). At €7.1 billion (US$7.5 billion), the Group’s operating result, which dropped into the red in the previous year due to the diesel issue, was back in strongly positive territory. Before special items, the Group’s operating result reached a new record and at €14.6 billion (US$15.4 billion) was substantially higher than the prior-year figure (up 14%); the operating return on sales rose to 6.7% (6.0%).

In spite of further challenges resulting from the diesel issue and the persistently difficult conditions in vehicle markets such as Brazil and Russia, the Group delivered 10.3 million vehicles to customers worldwide in the past fiscal year—up 3.7% from 9.931 million in 2015. The Group therefore reached not only its targets for 2016 but also a new record, helped in particular by increases in Western and Central European markets and in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Alfa’s first SUV: the Stelvio

February 23, 2017

Alfa Romeo is introducing its first SUV, the Stelvio. The Stelvio is Italy’s highest mountain pass and Highway 38, which crosses it, more than 20 kilometers in length and with more than 75 hairpin bends, has iconic status. The new SUV delivers sports-car-handling, with balanced weight distribution, the most direct steering ratio in the segment and state-of-the-art suspension with the exclusive Alfalink technology.

Stelvio features extensive use of ultra-lightweight, hi-tech materials including carbon fiber for the drive shaft and aluminium for the engines, suspension systems, hood, wings, doors and the tailgate. The Stelvio SUV also features the Alfa Romeo Q4 all-wheel drive system, and can be equipped with mechanical self-locking rear differential on request.

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Toyota’s new three-way catalyst reduces precious metal usage by 20%; improving uniformity of flow with FLAD

February 22, 2017

Toyota Motor Corporation announced the commercial availability of a new, smaller three-way catalyst for the treatment of NOx, CO and unburned hydrocarbons from gasoline engines that uses 20% less precious metal in approximately 20% less volume, while maintaining the same exhaust gas purification performance.

The catalyst uses the world’s first integrally-molded Flow Adjustable Design Cell (FLAD) substrate. FLAD features a different cell cross-sectional area at the inner portion compared to that at the outer portion. Innovative design and manufacturing technologies have allowed for the mass production of the new catalyst, which will gradually be installed in new vehicle models, starting with the Lexus LC 500h later this year.

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Ford investing $200M in next-gen wind tunnel complex

February 15, 2017

Ford is investing $200 million in a new aerodynamic testing complex that will house a next-generation rolling road wind tunnel and state-of-the-art climatic chamber. The new wind tunnel complex will sit on 13 acres next to Ford’s current Driveability Test Facility in Allen Park, Michigan. The complex will house new innovative technology that delivers state-of-the-art real-world driving simulations to advance improvements in fuel economy. Construction starts this year.

Ford’s new wind tunnel complex better positions its engineers to conduct testing that proves out advancements in vehicle design. A new five-belt conveyor system can replicate real-world drag through a rolling road aerodynamic tunnel that enables Ford to bring the road to the vehicle, rather than the vehicle to the road.

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Ford investing $1B in startup Argo AI to advance autonomous driving to SAE Level 4; potential for licensing

February 10, 2017

Ford is investing $1 billion over the next five years in Argo AI—an artificial intelligence software startup founded by former Google and Uber leaders—to to develop an SAE Level 4 virtual driver system for the automaker’s autonomous vehicle coming in 2021 (earlier post), and for potential license to other companies.

Argo AI is bringing together some of the most experienced roboticists and engineers working in autonomy from inside and outside of Ford. The team of experts in robotics and artificial intelligence is led by Argo AI founders Bryan Salesky, Argo AI CEO, and Peter Rander, Argo AI COO. Both are alumni of Carnegie Mellon National Robotics Engineering Center and former leaders on the self-driving car teams of Google and Uber, respectively.

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Honda establishes Marine Science Foundation

February 08, 2017

Inspired by the Japanese concept of sato-umi—the convergence of land and sea where human and marine life can harmoniously coexist—Honda has established the Honda Marine Science Foundation, a new initiative to address marine ecosystem restoration and the impact of humans and climate change on oceans and intertidal areas. Committed to marine conservation, the foundation will support science-based programs that improve and preserve coastal areas for future generations. Its first initiative is the Southern California Native Oyster Restoration Project.

The Southern California Native Oyster Restoration Project is being conducted in partnership with the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. The goals of the project include pioneering research to educate the public about the benefits of restoring native oysters for shoreline stabilization.

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Hitachi Automotive Systems and Honda to establish a joint venture for electric vehicle motors

February 07, 2017

Hitachi Automotive Systems and Honda Motor have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aiming to establish a joint venture company for the development, manufacture and sales of motors for electric vehicles. Initially, Hitachi will hold 51%, Honda 49% of the new JV, the name of which is still to be determined.

Subsidiary operations of the new Japan-based joint venture are planned for the US and China, each with manufacturing and sales functions. Together with the establishment of these operations, the new company will expand the global supply of motors by creating a robust response to demand from Honda and other vehicle manufacturers.

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Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen to produce EQ brand EVs

February 01, 2017

The Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen plant will produce electric vehicles in the new electric EQ brand (earlier post), according to an agreement the company and works council have signed after intensive negotiations. Mercedes-Benz earlier announced that its Bremen plant will build the first production EQ model by the end of this decade. (Earlier post.)

The new generation of electric vehicles will be based on a scalable architecture developed specifically for battery-electric models; it is suitable for all model series as well as sub-models, such as SUVs, saloons and coupés. Wheelbase and track are variable.

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GM and Honda to establish industry-first $85M joint fuel cell system manufacturing operation in Michigan

January 30, 2017

General Motors and Honda are establishing the auto industry’s first manufacturing joint venture—Fuel Cell System Manufacturing, LLC, FCSM)—to mass-produce an advanced hydrogen fuel cell system that will be used in future products from each company. Over the past three years, GM and Honda have been collaborating on next-generation fuel cell and hydrogen storage systems, aiming at commercialization in the 2020 time frame. (Earlier post.)

The co-developed new generation stack builds on the compact size and high-performance of Honda’s current generation stack in the Clarity (earlier post) by achieving significant cost reductions. FCSM will operate within GM’s existing battery pack manufacturing facility site in Brownstown, Michigan, south of Detroit. Mass production of fuel cell systems is expected to begin around 2020 and create nearly 100 new jobs. The companies are making equal investments totaling $85 million in the joint venture.

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Audi and EOS start development partnership focused on holistic approach for metal-based additive manufacturing

January 25, 2017

Audi AG has started a development partnership with EOS, a global provider of high-end Additive Manufacturing (AM) solutions. The EOS consulting division “Additive Minds" is supporting Audi in the holistic implementation of this industrial 3D printing technology and the development of a corresponding 3D printing center in Ingolstadt.

Audi recognized early on the potential of additive manufacturing for the automotive industry, and now promotes the application of the technology, working closely with EOS. For Audi, toolmaking and the casting technical center for planning are leading applications. Industrial 3D printing is first being applied to equipment and prototype building at Audi, as well as motor sports, where the technology is already in use today.

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KPMG Survey: execs say connected car generates 10x revenue than a conventional vehicle; market share based on units “outdated”; BEVs #1 trend

January 24, 2017

Advancements such as connectivity, big data, autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence are driving new economic models for automakers, and most see tremendous revenue potential and consumer value in leveraging driver and vehicle data to offer mobility services, according to the 2017 KPMG Global Automotive Executive Study.

The KPMG research, which polled nearly 1,000 executives with the world’s leading automotive companies, found that 76% say one connected car generates more revenue streams than 10 conventional cars. In fact, expectations for data-driven revenue are so great that 71% say measuring OEM market share based on units sold is outdated.

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Audi & FAW sign strategic growth plan for China; focus on electrification and digitalization; 5 more e-tron models

January 17, 2017

Audi AG and FAW Group have crafted a strategic growth plan for China. Audi and its local partner FAW Group have defined 21 key strategy fields with respective goals in a 10-year plan. Audi will significantly expand its model portfolio locally produced at FAW VW and enter new segments, including electrified automobiles.

With a new dedicated company for mobility and digital services, the two partners want to advance their joint commitment in this expanding premium business segment. Furthermore, Audi and FAW will intensify their collaboration in financial services aiming to serve the rapidly growing demand from Audi customers in this field.

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New Opel Insignia to offer torque-vectoring all-wheel drive with Twinster system

January 11, 2017

The all-new Opel Insignia Grand Sport, arriving in the market early this year, will be available with a torque vectoring all-wheel drive system. The new Opel Insignia uses a GKN Twinster all-wheel drive system with a rear drive module that uses a twin clutch system without differential. The two clutches distribute torque between the front and rear axle and between the two rear wheels.

Torque vectoring provides intelligent control of the vehicle dynamics by sending precise amounts of torque to individual wheels; by over-speeding the outside wheel in a corner, torque vectoring can induce a yaw-moment, helping steer the vehicle. Conventional torque vectoring systems use a set of planetary gears either side of the differential to achieve only very low levels of over-speeding. Other systems use braking to achieve a similar effect—but waste energy and slow the vehicle in the process.

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Volvo Cars to establish new shared mobility business unit

January 06, 2017

Volvo Cars will establish a new shared mobility business unit as part of a broad expansion of its car sharing and mobility services strategy.

The new business unit will be based around Sunfleet, one of the world’s first car sharing companies that has been operated by Volvo since 1998. Based in Sweden, Sunfleet has around 50,000 subscribers generating approximately 250,000 transactions in more than 50 Swedish cities.

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Nissan CEO announces LEAF with ProPilot autonomy; other autonomous and connected technologies & partnerships

In his 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) keynote, Nissan chairman of the board and chief executive officer Carlos Ghosn made five key announcements of several technologies and partnerships as part of the Nissan Intelligent Mobility blueprint for transforming how cars are driven, powered, and integrated into wider society.

Among these is the plan to launch a new Nissan LEAF, with ProPILOT technology (earlier post), enabling autonomous drive functionality for single-lane highway driving. Nissan introduced ProPilot on the new Serena in Japan last year. Employing advanced image-processing technology, ProPILOT understands road and traffic situations and executes precise steering enabling the vehicle to perform naturally.

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Hyundai “Mobility Vision” concept for integration of car and home; Health + Mobility Cockpit

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2017 in Las Vegas, Hyundai Motor revealed its Mobility Vision concept that, in the future, will connect autonomous cars to living and working environments. Hyundai says that its Smart House technology blurs the line between mobility and living and working space, integrating the car into the daily lives of users.

The Smart House concept shown at CES places connected car technologies at the center of the home. The CES display suggests how the car could shed the image of a conventional vehicle, integrating itself with the living space when docked, before becoming a mobile living space when customers need to move around.

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Volvo Cars and Autoliv announce the launch of Zenuity JV for AD and ADAS; first ADAS products in 2019

January 03, 2017

Volvo Cars, and Autoliv signed a final agreement to establish a new joint venture called Zenuity to develop software for autonomous driving (AD) and driver assistance systems (ADAS), based on the letter of intent announced during fall 2016. (Earlier post.)

Both Volvo Cars and Autoliv will license and transfer the intellectual property for their ADAS systems to the joint venture. From this base, the company will develop new ADAS products and AD technologies. The new company is expected to have its first driver assistance products available for sale by 2019 with autonomous driving technologies following shortly thereafter.

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DOE awards LanzaTech $4M for low-carbon jet & diesel demo plant; 3M gpy; Audi evaluating fuel properties

December 30, 2016

LanzaTech has been selected by the Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) to receive a $4-million award to design and plan a demonstration-scale facility using industrial off gases to produce 3 million gallons/year of low-carbon jet and diesel fuels. The LanzaTech award was one of six totaling $12.9 million. (Earlier post.)

The LanzaTech facility will recycle industrial waste gases from steel manufacturing to produce a low cost ethanol intermediate: “Lanzanol.” Both Lanzanol and cellulosic ethanol will then be converted to jet fuel via the Alcohol-to-Jet" (ATJ) process developed by LanzaTech and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). (Earlier post.)

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Volvo Cars adds Microsoft’s Skype for Business to 90 Series; looking ahead to autonomous cars

December 29, 2016

Volvo Cars will introduce Skype for Business, Microsoft’s collaborative productivity app, to its new 90 Series cars. Volvo Cars is the first carmaker to launch such an in-car productivity tool.

Skype for Business is actively used by millions of people at work around the globe. In Volvo’s 90 Series cars people will be able to view their upcoming meetings and participant details, and join meetings with one click via the large center display.

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Ford 2017 trends report: disruption the status quo, “never more difficult” to find objective information

December 25, 2016

For the past five years, Ford has issued an annual trend report exploring societal shifts expected to influence consumers and brands (e.g., earlier post). The reports have focused on microtrends in consumer behavior; the fifth anniversary edition report—Looking Further with Ford: 2017 Trends—revisits three that surfaced in earlier reports, and highlights seven that are emerging.

Sheryl Connelly, Ford global trend and futuring manager, says there is no escaping the fact that disruption is now the status quo. At a time in which truthfulness tends to be subjective, two-thirds of adults say it never has been harder to find objective, fact-based information, while just 55% say what they put on social media is what they really think. An abundance of choice matched with uncertainty in the marketplace is bringing about a reluctance to commit—giving rise to a “sampling society” that prioritizes trying over buying .

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Volkswagen plans integrated mobility concept in Rwanda; vehicle production in Kenya

December 23, 2016

Volkswagen is taking a further step to develop market potentials in Africa. The Hon. Francis Gatare, Director of the Rwanda Development Board, and Thomas Schäfer, CEO of Volkswagen Group South Africa, this week signed a memorandum of understanding for a new integrated mobility concept in Kigali in the presence of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen brand.

Volkswagen also this week inaugurated a vehicle production facility in Kenya. At the inauguration, Diess underlined Kenya’s key role within the Volkswagen brand’s Africa strategy: “After over 60 years of Volkswagen vehicle production in South and North Africa, I am delighted to now have a further site in Kenya. We will systematically continue to develop our position in the fast-growing African car market.

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Volkswagen Group receives all approvals from KBA for NOx fixes for EA189 TDI engines

December 22, 2016

The Volkswagen Group has now received all necessary official approvals within the remit of the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) for the modification of diesel vehicles with type EA189 engines. (Earlier post.) In close consultation with the relevant authorities, the Group brands concerned will successively notify European and international vehicle owners in the weeks ahead. All customers will then be able to make an appointment in the short term to have their vehicles modified at an authorized service center of their choice.

In Germany, customers are being notified in a two-step process. In the first step, all affected owners received a letter agreed with the authorities back in spring, notifying them that their vehicles are affected by the modification. Now that the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) has approved the technical solutions for all models, customers are to be requested with a second letter to arrange an appointment with a partner workshop of their choice.

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Honda R&D and Alphabet’s Waymo enter discussions on technical collaboration on full autonomous vehicles

Honda R&D Co., Ltd., the R&D subsidiary of Honda Motor Co., Ltd., is entering into formal discussions with Waymo, an independent company of Alphabet Inc. (earlier post), to integrate its self-driving technology with Honda vehicles. This technical collaboration between Honda researchers and Waymo’s self-driving technology team would allow both companies to learn about the integration of Waymo’s fully self-driving sensors, software and computing platform into Honda vehicles.

As part of the discussion on technical collaboration, Honda could initially provide Waymo with vehicles modified to accommodate Waymo’s self-driving technology. These vehicles would join Waymo’s existing fleet, which are currently being tested in four US cities. (Waymo will also receive 100 Chrysler Pacifica PHEV minivans from FCA built uniquely to support self-driving operation. (Earlier post.) Waymo CEO John Krafcik will have one of the autonomous PHEV minivans onstage for his keynote at NAIAS in January.)

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New Mercedes-Benz lab procedure shows MB car filters trap even finest allergenic particles

December 20, 2016

A new testing procedure developed by Mercedes-Benz, for which a patent application has been filed, has shown that even the minutest of allergenic particles are trapped by the charcoal fine particle filters in the vehicle. The results were confirmed by a medical study conducted by ECARF Institute GmbH in an innovative, mobile pollen chamber in the grounds of the Charité university hospital in Berlin.

Allergies are now the commonest form of chronic illness in industrialized countries. In Europe, around 30% of the population is affected. Airborne pollen, emissions given off by materials, or skin contact with them, can lead to a strong immune reaction with symptoms such as swelling of the nasal passages and bronchial tubes or swollen, itching eyes.

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FCA delivers 100 uniquely built Chrysler Pacifica PHEVs to Waymo for autonomous driving test fleet

December 19, 2016

Waymo (formerly the Google self-driving car project, earlier post) and FCA announced that production of 100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans (earlier post) uniquely built to enable fully self-driving operations has been completed.

The plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles are currently being outfitted with Waymo’s fully self-driving technology, including a purpose-built computer and a suite of sensors, telematics and other systems, and will join Waymo’s self-driving test fleet in early 2017. Waymo and FCA also revealed today the first images of the fully self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid vehicle.

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Audi sponsors AI conference NIPS 2016, demonstrates how car develops intelligent parking strategies

December 07, 2016

Audi is a sponsor this year of the annual Conference and Workshop on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) and is showcasing its expertise at the conference on artificial intelligence for the first time. Throughout this week, the automaker is showing, with the aid of a 1:8 scale model—the “Audi Q2 deep learning concept”—how a car develops intelligent parking strategies. On an area measuring 3 x 3 meters, the Q2 autonomously searches for and finds a suitable parking space in the form of a metal frame, and then parks itself there.

Self-learning systems are a key technology for piloted-driving cars, and Audi has already built up a body of know-how in machine learning. The company is the only automaker represented at NIPS 2016 with its own stand and a showcase. (Although engineers from Daimler are presenting a demonstration at NIPS 2016 on the detection of obstacles by an autonomous car.)

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Volkswagen Group launches standalone mobility services company MOIA; initial focus on ride-hailing

December 05, 2016

The Volkswagen Group officially launched its new mobility services company MOIA. Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Müller previewed the formation of the new business unit during a presentation of the Group’s new strategic plan—TOGETHER - Strategy 2025—in Wolfsburg in June. (Earlier post.)

“MOIA will help us gain a deeper understanding of new forms of mobility and how to make them even more attractive in future, to offer a much broader scope than at present and to tailor these services to suit very wide-ranging needs,” Müller said at the launch event in London. “Even though not everyone will still own a car in future, MOIA can help make everyone a customer of our company in some way or another.”

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BMW Group expands BMW i Ventures role with new €500M fund; widened scope of investment, greater independence

December 01, 2016

The BMW Group is expanding the remit of its BMW i Ventures venture capital unit and creating a new fund of up to €500 million (US$531 million) over ten years to support it. The new fund will allow BMW i Ventures to make investments in a wider range of areas, such as autonomous driving and digitalization, and to secure continued access to the technologies of the future.

BMW i Ventures’ previous focus on mobility services and electro-mobility will be expanded to cover the BMW Group’s full innovation spectrum in all areas of Strategy Number ONE > NEXT, even those outside of the traditional automotive value chain. Future topics for exploration will focus on “Enabling Technology and Digital Vehicle Technology”, “Mobility and Digital Services”, “Customer Experience” and “Advanced Production Technology”.

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Nissan announces new strategy for customer ownership experience; leveraging connected car, big data, and personalization

November 29, 2016

In Japan, Nissan announced a new, comprehensive strategy to transform its customer aftersales experience through innovative technology and enhanced services. The company anticipates that, as a result, connected car services and greater choice in accessories and personalization will increasingly drive growth in its aftersales business, anticipated to contribute 25% of aftersales revenue by 2022.

Connected car technology and expanding use of big data will enable Nissan to offer new services, improve the dealership experience and increase customer retention. In the future, Nissan cars will provide customers advance notice when servicing is needed, as well as automatically order parts to ensure dealership availability on customer visits. Connected car technology will also dramatically streamline Nissan’s global supply chain, bringing just-in-time logistics to increase manufacturing efficiency, from plants to the dealer.

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Some Volkswagen strategists see battery-electric, diesel cost lines crossing by 2023-2025; TRANSFORM 2025+

November 22, 2016

The increasing stringency of global emissions standards, both current and projected, is driving up the cost for internal combustion engines to meet those standards, although numerous technology pathways exist. (Earlier post.)

In a conversation with Green Car Congress at AutoMobility LA last week, Dr. Matthias Erb, Executive Vice President of the NA Engineering and Planning Center, Volkswagen Group of America, said that, as a result of those pressures, some strategists in the Volkswagen Group project that the cost lines between battery-electric vehicles and diesel will cross within the coming decade.

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