[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.]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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 .
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.”
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.)
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.”
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”.
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.
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.
Toyota to establish in-house venture company for EV development
November 17, 2016
Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) will establish an in-house venture company responsible for developing electric vehicles (EVs). The venture company, which initially will be a virtual organization comprising four people—one each from Toyota Industries Corporation, Aisin Seiki Co., Ltd., Denso Corporation and TMC—and which will be independent of other internal structural organizations, is set to launch in December 2016.
The venture company will draw on the technological know-how and resources of the Toyota Group. Toyota intends that the small organizational structure will enable the new company to implement unconventional work processes, leading to accelerated project progress and fast-to-market products.
Hyundai announces two more ways to get into an IONIQ Electric: ad-based car sharing and subscription ownership
At AutoMobility LA, Hyundai announced two new ways for drivers to get into the new IONIQ Electric: the “Ioniq Unlimited” electric vehicle subscription, and a partnership with car-sharing service Waivecar.
Under the “Ioniq Unlimited” electric vehicle subscription-based ownership experience, IONIQ Electric shoppers will be able to select one fixed payment that includes unlimited mileage, electric charging costs, scheduled maintenance, wear items and all typical purchase fees such as registration. The Ioniq Unlimited ownership experience begins availability in California in early 2017.
RideCell introduces white-label global carsharing and ridesharing platform for automakers; used by BMW ReachNow
November 16, 2016
RideCell, Inc., the developer of a Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) platform for leading automakers and transit providers globally, unveiled today at AutoMobility LA the worldwide release of its white-label multiservice platform that allows car manufacturers to provide on-demand mobility when and where it’s needed. (A white-label product or service is produced by one company and rebranded by its customers.)
By integrating ridesharing and carsharing into a single platform, RideCell makes it easy for car manufacturers to create and launch a premium mobility service in a matter of months. The RideCell platform is being used by the BMW Group to power the ReachNow carsharing service. (Earlier post.) First introduced in April 2016, RideCell powers the service which has more than 370 BMW and MINI vehicles.
BMW’s ReachNow car sharing expands to Brooklyn, launches pilot programs for new mobility services
During a press conference at AutoMobility LA, ReachNow, BMW Group’s free-floating premium car sharing service, announced its expansion into its third city: Brooklyn, NY. The service also introduced four new mobility services: Ride, Reserve, Share, and Fleet Solutions for residential buildings. The expansion to Brooklyn marks the company’s first expansion beyond the West Coast of the United States; the service currently operates in Seattle and Portland.
ReachNow is building on its premium experience by offering members greater versatility through a suite of convenient and easy-to-use transportation solutions, available in a single app for the first time. The four mobility services that will launch as pilots in select cities over the next month include:
Hyundai adds Blue Link skill for Amazon Alexa
At AutoMobility LA, Hyundai announced the addition of a Blue Link skill for Amazon Alexa. (Earlier post.) Hyundai owners now have the convenience of locking, unlocking and remote-starting their vehicles from the comfort of their couch, kitchen or bedroom using voice commands. The new Blue Link skill for Amazon Alexa is available across Alexa-enabled devices and Hyundai vehicles equipped with the second generation of Blue Link.
Adding even more convenience to the ownership experience, owners of the all-new Hyundai IONIQ Electric and Plug-in Electric vehicles are able to start and stop the charge of their cars with the ease of simple voice commands with the Blue Link skill. Hyundai owners can request various functions of their car including:
California ARB holding public workshop on how to spend VW’s $800M ZEV payment
November 15, 2016
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) is holding a public workshop on Friday, 2 December 2016, to provide suggestions for Volkswagen’s $800-million 10-year zero emission vehicle (ZEV) Investment Commitment in California.
The ZEV Investment Commitment is a component of California’s partial settlement with VW resulting from VW’s use of illegal defeat devices in 2.0 liter (2.0L) diesel cars that were sold into the State from model years 2009 to 2015. During the workshop, staff will discuss:
BMW begins Phase 2 of ChargeForward Program with PG&E to study advanced electric vehicle charging; results from Phase 1
November 14, 2016
In an effort to further understand and expand the possibilities of smart charging for electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), BMW of North America announced a second phase of its BMW ChargeForward program. BMW i3, BMW i8 and iPerformance owners in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area who are Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) customers are invited to apply for participation in a 24-month program focused on managed EV and PHEV charging. Funding for this second phase was secured through a competitive bid for a California Energy Commission (CEC) grant.
Phase 1 of the program demonstrated the viability of creating grid value by optimizing smart charging of EVs. (Earlier post.) BMW developed innovative solutions that utilize the existing vehicle communication system both to create value for customers and to help optimize the electric grid through demand response, which improves grid reliability, lowers costs and helps the environment by incentivizing customers to reduce usage during periods of high peak demand.
Audi FAW China JV to intro 5 locally produced e-tron models within 5 years; Audi also in discussion with SAIC
Audi has outlined a growth plan for its joint business with FAW Group in China for the next 10 years, establishing a base course for sustainable growth in the brand’s largest global market.
Within the next five years, the joint venture, FAW-Volkswagen, will add five locally-produced Audi e-tron models to its China portfolio, including pure battery vehicles with a range of more than 500 kilometers. By 2025, Audi, with FAW-Volkswagen, will offer at least one locally-produced electrically powered SUV and sedan model in all volume segments and, with this, there will be an e-tron model in each of the six biggest segments.
Mercedes-Benz launches new private car-sharing scheme: Croove
November 10, 2016
A new car-sharing platform from Mercedes-Benz will go online at the start of December. App-based Croove pairs up private vehicle owners and hirers. The Croove scheme will be launched in Munich to begin with and is open to any brand of vehicle.
The peer-to-peer car-sharing platform is another example of a CASE strategy project that has advanced from idea to implementation. The acronym CASE is the name given to the specific area of strategy at Mercedes‑Benz Cars that focuses on the future-oriented issues of “connectivity”, “ autonomous driving”, “sharing” and “electric drive systems”. (Earlier post.)
Nikkei: Toyota to begin mass-producing 300+ km BEV by 2020
November 07, 2016
Without citing sources, the Nikkei reported that Toyota Motor intends to start mass-producing battery-electric vehicles capable of a range of more than 300 km (186 miles) on a single charge by 2020. According to the report, the platform underlying the Prius or Corolla is being considered for an electric SUV.
Up to now, Toyota has envisioned using all battery-electric powertrains mainly in short-distance, urban applications; longer-range electric operation was to be handled by fuel cell vehicles. With GM readying the release of the 383 km (238-mile) Chevy Bolt for this year, Tesla plowing ahead for a release of the Model 3 next year, and other rivals such as Volkswagen accelerating their long-range EV efforts, however, Toyota apparently is broadening its strategy.
Ford developing new ADAS technologies for stress-free parking, collision avoidance, wrong-way driving alerts
November 04, 2016
Ford Motor Company is expanding its portfolio of driver-assist technologies with a range of next-generation features designed to ease parking hassles, improve collision avoidance, detect objects in the road and prevent wrong-way driving.
Cross-traffic alert with braking technology in development at Ford is being designed to help reduce parking stress by detecting people and objects about to pass behind the vehicle, providing a warning to the driver and then automatically braking if the driver does not respond. Rear wide-view camera, on the in-car display, will offer an alternative wide-angle view of the rear of the vehicle. Enhanced active park assist will parallel or perpendicular park at the push of a button.
BMW has sold more than 100,000 EVs and PHEVs worldwide over three years
November 03, 2016
The BMW Group has now delivered more than 100,000 purely electric-powered cars and plug-in hybrids to customers worldwide since the launch of BMW i in November 2013. The BMW i3 alone has reached a figure of more than 60,000 units, making it the most successful electric vehicle in the premium compact segment. More than 80% of BMW i3 customers worldwide are new to BMW.
The BMW i8 ranks first among electrified sports cars, with more than 10,000 delivered since the middle of 2014. (For comparison, Tesla sold approximately 2,400 units of the Roadster.) Additionally, there are the approximately 30,000 plug-in hybrids (BMW iPerformance) sold to date.
Toyota to establish car-sharing and other mobility services platform; collaboration with and investment in Getaround; smart key box
October 31, 2016
Toyota Motor Corporation will establish a Mobility Services Platform (MSPF) to collaborate with various service providers, as well as telematics insurance. Given on the proliferation and popularity of mobility services, such as car-sharing, the MSPF will have various functions to support these mobility services, and to leverage the Toyota Smart Center (TSC), the Toyota Big Data Center, and financial services.
Toyota also announced an investment in, and pilot car-sharing program with, US car-sharing company Getaround.
Mercedes-Benz Vans shows pickup truck concepts; market launch in late 2017; diesel V6
October 25, 2016
Mercedes-Benz Vans unveiled two design variants of the Concept X-CLASS, previewing the coming X-Class pickup, in Stockholm. The introduction of the one-ton pickup with seating for up to 5 people will make Mercedes-Benz the first premium manufacturer to account for the changing customer requirements in the global segment of mid-size pickups.
With the pickup, Mercedes-Benz Vans will also expand its product range with a fourth model series. Daimler AG will make investments in the high nine figures (euro) in the new model series by the time of the market launch. The pickup will be launched in late 2017 in Europe under the name Mercedes-Benz X-Class. The key markets will be Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, Australia with New Zealand, and Europe.
Inaugural meeting of Volkswagen Sustainability Council; Group makes €20M available for projects
Recently appointed by The Volkswagen Group’s Sustainability Council, recently appointed and comprising nine members from several nations—including Margo Oge, former director of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Transportation Air Quality—set the agenda for its work at its inaugural meeting on Monday. The Council elected Georg Kell, Founding Director UN Global Compact, as its chair. The first areas of focus in 2017 for the body will be the challenges of global CO2 emissions and the corresponding regulations post-2025, plus the company’s transformation process.
The Volkswagen Group is proactively making €20 million (US$21.75 million) available for the first two years for the proposal and funding of projects.
Nissan completes 34% stake in Mitsubishi Motors; Mitsubishi joins Renault-Nissan Alliance
October 20, 2016
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. has completed an acquisition of a 34% equity stake in Mitsubishi Motors (MMC) (earlier post) and has become its largest shareholder. As indicated in May, when Nissan outlined the deal, MMC is also becoming part of the global Alliance with Nissan and Renault. With the addition of MMC, the Alliance will be in the world’s top three automotive groups by global volumes, with sales of 10 million units in fiscal year 2016.
The investment and alliance comes in the aftermath of revelations of MMC cheating on fuel consumption testing in Japan with mini-cars and other models. Nissan was the one which first brought the discrepancies in minicar testing to light; MMC produces minicar models for Nissan in Japan.
Suzuki and Toyota to explore business partnership; environment, safety, and information technology
October 12, 2016
Suzuki Motor Corporation (Suzuki) and Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) have agreed to start exploring ideas that are directed towards a business partnership.
In a joint statement, the two companies said that, given the rapid change in the auto industry, the industry is required to work not only on conventional automobile R&D, but also on R&D for advanced and future technologies in the fields including environment, safety, and IT. In addition to the R&D that is conducted by individual companies, it is increasingly important to work together with other companies on areas such as infrastructure development, as well as the establishment of new industrial standards.
GM makes strategic investment in car-sharing technology company Yi Wei Xing in China
October 11, 2016
GM has made a strategic investment in Yi Wei Xing (Beijing) Technology Co., Ltd. (Yi Wei Xing), a leading car-sharing technology solution provider in China, as another move in exploring personal mobility in China.
Yi Wei Xing’s product, Feezu, is based on mobile technology. It merges hardware and software to provide a convenient car-rental and car-sharing experience. It also offers car-rental companies a customized cloud-based car-sharing platform.
Volkswagen Group opts for LNG-fueled car carriers
October 06, 2016
From 2019, Volkswagen Group Logistics will use two LNG-powered charter vessels from Siem Car Carriers AS, making it one of the first automakers to opt for low-emission LNG-powered vessels for the marine transport of vehicles. The two ships, with a length of 200 m and a capacity of about 4,500 vehicles, are to be used for vehicle shipment between Europe and North America. The use of LNG-powered roll on/roll off (RORO) car carriers on other routes is currently being considered.
Alternative LNG drive systems for ships reduce air pollutant emissions significantly—CO2 by up to 25% and NOx by up to 30%, particulate matter by up to 60% and SOx by as much as 100%. Emissions will be further reduced by the use of an advanced dual-fuel marine engine with direct injection and exhaust gas treatment.
Volkswagen’s MEB for EVs: long electric range, open-platform, open-space, pricing for the volume market; “tablet on wheels”
October 05, 2016
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).
Development work on these continues; Audi, for example, is refining MLB evo—the second-generation of MLB and the foundation for the battery-electric e-tron quattro SUV due out in 2018. (Earlier post.) These four main kits are now joined by the all-new Modularer Elektrifizierungsbaukasten (“Modular Electric Drive kit”, or MEB), being developed by the Volkswagen brand. The MEB will be the foundation for an entirely new generation of battery-electric vehicles designed not only to be electric and feature extended range, but to be connected, autonomous, open and priced for the volume market as required by Volkswagen’s positioning.
Cooperation between Daimler and Renault-Nissan Alliance deepening in 2016
October 03, 2016
At the Paris Motor Show, Carlos Ghosn and Dieter Zetsche said that the strategic partnership between the Renault-Nissan Alliance and Daimler AG is maturing as it enters its seventh year in 2016.
One major milestone of the past year includes the EV versions of the new smart fortwo, smart cabrio and smart forfour (Electric energy consumption: 13.1 – 12.9 kWh/100 km; CO2 emissions, combined: 0 g/km). (Earlier post.) These all-new smart and the Renault Twingo were the first vehicles built on a common platform by Daimler and the Alliance.
Audi opens €1B San José Chiapa plant in Mexico; 1st on N.A. continent; Smart Factory
October 02, 2016
Audi is further expanding its worldwide production network with the opening of the company’s first automobile plant on the North American continent. This will be the first time the company has produced a model for the global market at a location outside of the European continent.
Audi will produce the new generation of the Audi Q5 for the world market in San José Chiapa in Mexico’s federal state of Puebla. The €1-billion plant has an annual production capacity of approximately 150,000 premium SUVs. By the end of the year, a total of 4,200 jobs will be created locally at Audi México.
Renault-Nissan and Microsoft enter multi-year agreement on next-gen connected driving
September 27, 2016
The Renault-Nissan Alliance and Microsoft Corp. have signed a global, multi-year agreement to partner on next-generation technologies to advance connected driving experiences worldwide.
The companies will work together to develop next-generation connected services for cars powered by Microsoft Azure, one of the company’s intelligent cloud offerings. These new services are intended to improve customer experience via advanced navigation; predictive maintenance and vehicle centric services; remote monitoring of car features; external mobile experiences; and over-the-air updates. The partnership will accelerate development of best-in-class infotainment and location-based services that will:
Toyota develops new DNA analysis technology to accelerate plant improvement; boosting biofuel crop yield
September 23, 2016
Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) has developed a DNA analysis technology it calls Genotyping by Random Amplicon Sequencing (GRAS). This technology is capable of significantly improving the efficiency of identifying and selecting useful genetic information for agricultural plant improvement.
This newly developed technology could thus lead to substantial time and cost savings in the agricultural plant improvement process. Toyota says that the promising technology has the potential to boost sugar-cane production, and to increase biofuel crop yields per unit area of land. The company worked with analytical materials provided by the Kyushu Okinawa Agricultural Research Center (KARC) of the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO)
New Audi paintshop at Ingolstadt; heating energy & water per car down by 20%, CO2 by 30%, VOCs by 90%; bell-bell
September 22, 2016
Audi has put a new topcoat paint shop into operation at its plant in Ingolstadt. The new paint shop incorporates technologies such as air recirculation, dry separation and exhaust air cleaning that enable a significant reduction in the use of resources. Heating energy and water consumption per car are reduced by 20%. Air recirculation also helps to reduce CO₂‑emissions per painted car by 30%, while the cleaning of exhaust air reduces emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by 90%.
The new topcoat point line‑in the north of the plant site also introduces state‑of‑the‑art painting technology at Audi: paint‑application equipment with robot technology and electrostatic high‑speed rotation spray guns carry out the “bell‑bell” painting process fully automatically.
Mercedes-Benz Vans launches “Startup adVANce” competition for partners for future transport solutions
September 18, 2016
With “Startup adVANce”, a large-scale startup partnership challenge, Mercedes-Benz Vans is starting its search for intelligent solutions relating to the transport of goods and passengers. As part of its recently introduced strategic initiative adVANce (earlier post), the company is to invest a total of €1 million (US$1.12 million). The goal is to find new, innovative partners with whom Mercedes-Benz Vans can establish long-term partnerships without constricting the startups.
Digitalization, urbanization and the Internet of Things are just a few of the megatrends that are placing new demands on virtually every industry. General changes in consumer behavior and mobility patterns are directly affecting logistics providers and vehicle manufacturers. Online buyers, for example, expect new services such as same-day or time-definite delivery and want to know where their orders are at all times. Further, the number of deliveries is growing rapidly.
Ford embeds researchers in new U-M robotics lab to accelerate autonomous vehicle research
September 16, 2016
Ford and the University of Michigan are teaming up to accelerate autonomous vehicle research and development with a first-time arrangement that embeds Ford researchers and engineers into a new state-of-the-art robotics laboratory on U-M’s Ann Arbor campus.
While the new robotics laboratory opens in 2020, by the end of this year Ford will move a dozen researchers into the North Campus Research Complex (NCRC), kicking off the first phase of expanded presence.
CALSTART survey of major auto suppliers finds 70% don’t want US to change CAFE targets; split on amount of electrification needed
September 15, 2016
Major automotive suppliers see national fuel economy standards as important for long-term planning and investment and don’t want to see them altered by US policymakers, according to a first-of-its-kind industry survey commissioned by CALSTART and conducted by Ricardo Energy & Environment.
The firm polled and interviewed 23 suppliers, almost all of them global Tier 1 suppliers that sell parts directly to automakers. According to the survey:
GM commits to 100% renewable energy by 2050
General Motors plans to generate or source all electrical power for its 350 operations in 59 countries with 100% renewable energy—such as wind, sun and landfill gas—by 2050.
This new renewable energy goal, along with the pursuit of electrified vehicles and efficient manufacturing, is part of the company’s overall approach to strengthening its business, improving communities and addressing climate change. GM is also joining RE100, a global collaborative initiative of businesses committed to 100 percent renewable electricity, working to increase demand for clean power.
Audi deepening partnerships with Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent on connected cars in China
September 11, 2016
In China, Audi has signed tripartite memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent respectively. The partners will deepen their cooperation in the areas of data analysis, internet-vehicle platform building and urban intelligent transport.
The partnerships will be supported through the brand’s strong development capabilities in China. In Beijing, Audi operates its largest research and development facility outside of Germany. The R&D center is part of Audi China, a 100% Audi AG daughter-company, and puts a strong focus on key future technologies such as connected car, piloted driving, new energy vehicles and digital services.
DENSO looks to increase holding in FUJITSU TEN, making it a group company
September 10, 2016
Auto parts supplier DENSO Corporation, Fujitsu Limited, and Toyota Motor Corporation have reached a basic agreement to start consideration of changing the capital structure of automotive electronics manufacturer FUJITSU TEN, in which the three companies have stakes. DENSO is part of the Toyota Group.
In the automotive field, the interface between the driver and vehicle is becoming increasingly important due to remarkable technological innovations. Against this backdrop, DENSO has agreed with Fujitsu and Toyota to review specific changes to make FUJITSU TEN a group company of DENSO and to enhance cooperation between the two companies in developing in-vehicle ECUs, millimeter-wave radar (earlier post), advanced driver assistance / automated driving technologies, and basic electronic technologies, among others.
Ford acquiring SF-based crowd-sourced shuttle service, launching Ford GoBike
September 09, 2016
Ford is acquiring Chariot, a San Francisco-based crowd-sourced shuttle service, and is collaborating with bike-sharing provider Motivate to launch Ford GoBike, expanding its transportation solutions in city centers. Ford also is establishing a new City Solutions team to work with cities around the world on their transportation needs.
Ford’s acquisition of Chariot, subject to normal customary closing conditions, will serve as the cornerstone for its new global shuttle services business. The shuttle service is expected to be expanded beyond San Francisco to at least five additional markets in the next 18 months.
Volvo Cars and Autoliv to create joint venture for next-gen autonomous driving software
September 06, 2016
Volvo Cars and Autoliv have signed a letter of intent to set up a new jointly-owned company to develop next-generation autonomous driving software. The planned new company will have its headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden, and an initial workforce taken from both companies of around 200, increasing to over 600 in the medium term. The company is expected to start operations in the beginning of 2017.
The new company, which has yet to be named, will develop advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous drive (AD) systems for use in Volvo cars and for sale exclusively by Autoliv to all car makers globally, with revenues shared by both companies.
Volkswagen Truck & Bus enters into strategic alliance with Navistar, takes 16.6% stake; entry into N. America
Volkswagen Truck & Bus has formed a wide-ranging strategic alliance with Navistar International Corporation, which includes an equity investment in Navistar by Volkswagen Truck & Bus and framework agreements for strategic technology and supply collaboration and a procurement joint venture.
Volkswagen Truck & Bus will purchase from Navistar newly issued common shares representing, pro forma for such issuance, a 16.6% stake (19.9% of pre-transaction outstanding common stock) in Navistar for a price per share of $15.76 and an aggregate purchase price of approximately $256 million (or approximately €229 million at current exchange rates). To underscore the long-term nature of the alliance, Volkswagen Truck & Bus has agreed to hold these shares for a minimum of three years.
Volkswagen and Hamburg enter 3-year strategic mobility partnership; e-bus development with MAN
August 30, 2016
The Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and the Volkswagen Group will collaborate over the next three years to jointly develop innovative solutions for making urban mobility more environmentally-friendly, safer, more reliable and more efficient. The cooperation aims to develop Hamburg as a model city for forward-looking, sustainable and integrated urban mobility.
Urban mobility concepts and intermodality, traffic control and management, autonomous driving and parking, innovative vehicle concepts and alternative technologies as well as air pollution control are the cornerstones of the partnership.
Ford targeting highly autonomous vehicle for ride-sharing in 2021; new tech company investments, staffing up in Silicon Valley
August 17, 2016
Ford intends to have a high-volume, highly autonomous SAE level 4-capable vehicle in commercial operation in 2021 in a ride-hailing or ride-sharing service. To achieve this, the company is investing in or collaborating with four startups to enhance its autonomous vehicle development, doubling its Silicon Valley team and more than doubling its Palo Alto campus.
Autonomous vehicles in 2021 are part of Ford Smart Mobility, the company’s plan to be a leader in autonomous vehicles, as well as in connectivity, mobility, the customer experience, and data and analytics.
BMW says electrified models exceeding sales expectations, especially in Europe
August 11, 2016
BMW said that its electrified models continue to exceed expectations, especially in Europe. While 4% of all BMW sales in Western Europe in July were electrified vehicles, that percentage increases significantly in markets where innovative electric mobility is supported through financial and infrastructure measures.
In the Netherlands, 43% of BMW 3 Series registrations are for the plug-in hybrid BMW 330e model and 26% of 2 Series Active Tourer registrations are for the BMW 225xe. In Scandinavia, those figures are even higher, with the plug-in hybrid versions accounting for 45% of all BMW 3 Series sales and 55% of all BMW 2 Series Active Tourer sales.
2017 Range Rover picks up suite of ADAS and semi-autonomous driving technologies
August 10, 2016
For 2017, Range Rover receives a suite of advanced ADAS and semi-autonomous driving technologies. Additionally, Land Rover will introduce the new Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic model for the 2017 lineup.
Standard Range Rover driver assistance technologies include Rear Park Distance Control; Cruise Control and Speed Limiter; Lane Departure Warning; and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB). This intelligent technology uses a forward facing camera to detect a risk of collision and warn the driver initiating full emergency braking if the driver fails to respond.
Tesla posts $293M Q2 loss, up 59% from Q2 2015
August 04, 2016
Tesla reported a $293-million GAAP net loss for Q2, a 59% increase from the $184-million net loss for Q2 2015. This marks Tesla’s 13th consecutive quarterly loss. However, Tesla also completed a $1.7-billion equity raise to end the quarter with $3.25 billion in cash.
In Q2, Tesla delivered 14,402 new vehicles consisting of 9,764 Model S and 4,638 Model X. Tesla said that production and demand are on track to support deliveries of approximately 50,000 new Model S and Model X vehicles during the second half of 2016.
Tesla acquiring SolarCity in $2.6B all-stock deal; expected close of transaction in Q4
August 01, 2016
Tesla and SolarCity reached agreement for the automaker’s purchase of the solar company in an all-stock deal valued at $2.6 billion—slightly less than the original $2.8-billion proposal made by Tesla just over a month ago. (Earlier post.) SolarCity will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tesla.
The all-stock transaction is valued based on the 5-day volume-weighted average price of Tesla shares as of 29 July 2016. Under the agreement, SolarCity stockholders will receive 0.110 Tesla common shares per SolarCity share, valuing SolarCity common stock at $25.37 per share based on the 5-day volume weighted average price of Tesla shares as of 29 July2016. The original proposal was an exchange ratio of 0.122x to 0.131x shares of Tesla common stock for each share of SolarCity common stock.
Daimler ups its stake in the professional driver service Blacklane
Daimler AG is continuing to increase its stake in the professional driver service portal Blacklane. During the recently completed financing round, Blacklane received an eight-digit amount that it will use to further expand its global business. The parties agreed to keep the details of the transaction confidential.
Blacklane has approximately 200 employees and is represented in more than 200 cities and 400 airports in more than 50 countries worldwide. Daimler has invested in Blacklane since 2013. The global market for professional ride services is currently estimated to have a volume of about $30 billion per year and is rapidly growing and evolving.
BMW provides some insight into Dingolfing eDrive competence center; motors, battery packs and more
July 29, 2016
During its Innovation Days 2016 event in Munich, the BMW Group provided some insight into its Dingolfing competence center for the manufacture of electric drive systems (eDrive). Dingolfing supplies the high-voltage batteries and other chassis and powertrain components for BMW i models and the BMW Group’s plug-in hybrid models—current (earlier post) and future.
Beginning with the launch of the first BMW i production models, the Dingolfing plant has produced high-voltage batteries and other powertrain and chassis components for these vehicles. Prior to that, the plant had supplied high-voltage batteries for the BMW Active E; BMW 3 Series ActiveHybrid; BMW 5 Series ActiveHybrid; and BMW 7 Series ActiveHybrid. Now, with the market launch of the first plug-in hybrid versions of the BMW core-brand models—for which the plant supplies the rear-mounted electric motors and all high-voltage battery packs—production of BMW eDrive components in Dingolfing is scaling up once again.
BMW introducing fully-automated, optical measuring cell in pilot plant; digitalization for production
July 28, 2016
The BMW Group has introduced a fully-automated, optical measuring cell in its pilot plant in Munich. Freely moving robot arms use sensors to create a three-dimensional image of an entire vehicle and generate a 3D data model from the data captured, with an accuracy of less than 100 µm. This allows barely visible deviations to be identified at an early stage.
The optical measuring cell is deployed at the interface between development and series production. It forms part of the BMW Group’s digitalization strategy for production and supports the high quality standards for production of premium vehicles. The next generation of the BMW 5 Series Sedan will be the first to benefit from this new technology.
Ford, MIT project uses LiDAR, cameras to measure pedestrian traffic & predict demand for new, on-demand electric shuttles
July 27, 2016
Ford Motor Company and MIT are collaborating on a new research project that measures how pedestrians move in urban areas to improve certain public transportation services, such as ride-hailing and point-to-point shuttles services.
The project will introduce a fleet of on-demand electric vehicle shuttles that operate on both city roads and campus walkways on the university’s Cambridge, Massachusetts, campus. The vehicles use LiDAR sensors and cameras to measure pedestrian flow, which ultimately helps predict demand for the shuttles. This, in turn, helps researchers and drivers route shuttles toward areas with the highest demand to better accommodate riders.
Daimler chief Zetsche: Daimler working toward swarm organization; mobility services, digitalization and e-mobility
July 25, 2016
In an interview with Germany’s Wirtschaftswoche, Daimler CEO Dr. Dieter Zetsche said that the company is implementing swarm organization management techniques to enable more rapid development in emerging critical areas such as digitalization, mobility services and e-mobility.
The swarm organization method, explained Zetsche, supplements the hierarchical-management pyramid with cross-functional and interdisciplinary groups and eventually replaces them.
Musk’s “Master Plan, Part Deux”; expands Tesla to heavy-duty electric trucks and urban transport; integrated energy generation and storage
July 21, 2016
Master Plan Part 1—public now for ten years—outlined (1) the creation of an expensive low-volume electric car (Roadster) to fund (2) a medium-volume electric car (Model S, X) at a lower price to create (3) an affordable high volume car (Model 3) and (4) provide solar power. Master Plan v2.0 takes Tesla into integrated energy generation and storage (i.e., Tesla’s acquisition of Solar City, earlier post) as well as into heavy-duty electric vehicles and urban transport.
ECS and Toyota North America announce 2016-2017 Fellowship winners for projects in green energy technology
July 16, 2016
The ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship Selection Committee has selected three recipients who will receive a minimum of $50,000 each for fellowships for projects in green energy technology. The winners are Professor Elizabeth Biddinger, City College of New York; Professor Joaquin Rodriguez Lopez, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Professor Joshua Snyder, Drexel University.
The ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship, a partnership between The Electrochemical Society (ECS) and Toyota Research Institute of North America (TRINA), an advanced research arm of Toyota Motor North America, Inc. (TMNA), is in its second year. (Earlier post.)
Mazda introduces SKYACTIV-VEHICLE DYNAMICS control technologies; G-Vectoring Control uses engine to enhance chassis performance
July 14, 2016
Mazda Motor Corporation is introducing SKYACTIV-VEHICLE DYNAMICS, a series of new-generation vehicle motion control technologies. The first in the series, G-Vectoring Control, will be introduced to all new-generation models starting with the updated Mazda Axela (known as Mazda3 outside Japan), which has just gone on sale in Japan. By adopting GVC, Mazda vehicles will exhibit even smoother transitions between G-forces in all driving scenarios.
Until now, lateral and longitudinal acceleration (G) forces have been controlled separately. GVC is the first technology to adjust engine torque in response to steering inputs in order to control these forces in a unified way and optimize the vertical loading of each tire to realize smooth and efficient vehicle behavior.
California Air Resources Board rejects Volkswagen Group recall plan for 3.0-liter diesel passenger cars
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) on Wednesday rejected proposed plans submitted by Volkswagen/Audi and Porsche for repair of undisclosed Auxiliary Emission Control Devices (AECDs) and defeat devices in 3.0 liter, diesel passenger cars manufactured for model years 2009-2016. This decision affects about 16,000 3.0-liter diesel Volkswagens, Audis and Porsches sold in California.
CARB staff determined that the proposed recall plans submitted by the companies are incomplete and deficient in a number of areas. CARB said it, in conjunction with EPA, will continue the on-going technical discussions with the companies through the enforcement process to ensure a legally and technically acceptable resolution is reached which fully mitigates the excess emissions.
BMW Group expands use of additive manufacturing processes in series production; planar technologies
July 13, 2016
The BMW Group has been using components from 3D printers in series production since 2012; more than 10,000 additively-manufactured parts are built into the Rolls-Royce Phantom. The Additive Manufacturing Center at the company’s Research and Innovation Centre (FIZ) has also been using these forming processes to produce parts for the new Rolls-Royce Dawn since the beginning of the year.
The BMW Group is steadily pursuing the evolution and use of advanced additive-manufacturing methods, and says it will continue to expand the application of 3D printing in the future. Planar 3D printing technologies will enable much faster production times and more economical production.
Volkswagen brand says it has met 2018 Think Blue. Factory. environmental targets; environmental compatibility of car production improved by 25%
July 09, 2016
The Volkswagen brand announced that it has reached the self-defined sustainability target for production set out in Think Blue. Factory. for 2018. (Earlier post.) At the brand’s production facilities throughout the world, vehicles and components are now manufactured in a way which is 25% more environmentally compatible than five years ago.
Taking the average of the five agreed environmental indicators for the Volkswagen brand, environmental impact has been reduced by 25.3%, with energy consumption down by 24.7%; CO2 emissions by 29.1%, waste production by as much as 46.5%; water consumption by 18.2%; and solvent emissions by 8.2% between 2010 and the end of 2015. These figures are determined per vehicle or component produced.
VW to pay California additional $86M in civil penalties over defeat device
July 08, 2016
California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced that, in addition to the historic $14.7-billion settlement with Volkswagen announced last week (earlier post), the company will also pay California $86 million in civil penalties as part of a second partial settlement over the company’s use of “defeat devices” to evade emissions testing in its diesel vehicles. California will secure $1.18 billion from the initial $14.7-billion settlement.
Volkswagen will also agree to significant injunctive terms to deter future misconduct, including a new requirement that Volkswagen contractors and employees report to the California Attorney General’s office any request for or use of “defeat devices.” The agreement, which is subject to court approval, represents the largest amount of money recovered by the state of California from an automaker and resolves certain aspects of the California Attorney General’s claims against Volkswagen under California’s Unfair Competition Law as well as the Dodd-Frank Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010.
Volkswagen and LG agree on joint development of next-gen connected car platform
July 06, 2016
The Volkswagen Group and LG Electronics have signed a memorandum of understanding on joint research and development of a next-generation connected car service platform.
Going forward, the two companies will work together on Volkswagen’s Cross Over Platform, which is aimed at enhanced vehicle connectivity and convenience. Using cloud technology, it will offer drivers seamless digital access to extensive features such as smart home and location-based services. Over the coming years, the two companies will be concentrating on:
Renault-Nissan Alliance delivers €4.3B synergy target early; autonomous drive and connectivity expected to deliver major savings
Renault-Nissan Alliance generated €4.3 billion (US$4.8 billion) in synergies in 2015, one year ahead of schedule and an increase of 13% from 2014. Purchasing, engineering and manufacturing were the main contributors.
The Common Module Family and cross-production continue to reduce costs, while the development of technologies including autonomous drive and vehicle connectivity is expected to generate major savings moving forward. With the convergence, the Alliance expects to generate at least €5.5 billion (US$6.1 billion) in synergies in 2018
Volkswagen & Audi to pay >$14.7B in US to settle 2.0L diesel emissions case; $2B of that to promote ZEVs
June 28, 2016
Under a class action settlement agreement filed today (earlier post), Volkswagen and Audi in the US will pay more than $14.7 billion to settle complaints arising from its cheating on emissions from its 2.0-liter diesel engines. The class settlement creates a funding pool of up to $10.033 billion for affected consumers; companion settlements with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (ARB) call for an additional $4.7 billion for environmental impact. (California’s share represents one-quarter of the total national mitigation funding of $4.7 billion dollars.)
The class-wide settlement in the Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation will provide owners and lessees of Volkswagen and Audi 2.0-liter diesel vehicles substantial compensation through buybacks and lease terminations, government-approved emissions modifications, and cash payments, while fixing or removing these polluting vehicles from the road.
Report finds US automakers remain profitable under future CAFE standards even with fuel price fluctuation
Even with wide-ranging unpredictable gas prices, US automakers will remain profitable and suppliers will benefit under existing national fuel economy standards slated to be in place until 2025, according to a new economic analysis brief prepared by independent automotive industry analysts, commissioned by the nonprofit group Ceres. The brief is a summary for investors and policy analysts of a larger study that will be available from Ceres in August 2016.
The study, Economic Implications of the Current National Program vs. a Weakened National Program in 2022-2025 for Detroit Three Automakers and Tier One Suppliers, was released shortly before federal agencies are expected to release a new technical assessment report regarding a midterm review of light-duty fuel-efficiency and carbon emissions standards.
Tesla makes ~$2.8B all-stock offer to acquire SolarCity
June 21, 2016
Tesla Motora has made an all-stock offer worth approximately $2.8B to acquire all of the outstanding shares of solar energy provider SolarCity. Subject to completing due diligence, Tesla is proposing an exchange ratio of 0.122x to 0.131x shares of Tesla common stock for each share of SolarCity common stock. This proposal represents a value of $26.50 to $28.50 per share, or a premium of approximately 21% to 30% over the recent closing price of SolarCity’s shares.
Tesla Chairman and CEO Elon Musk is also Chairman of SolarCity; Antonio Gracias, CEO of investor Valor Management Corp., is on both Tesla and SolarCity boards. Musk and Gracias recused themselves from voting on the proposed acquisition at the Tesla Board meeting, and will recuse themselves from the SolarCity Board meeting which will consider the offer.
BMW Group introduces MINI and Rolls Royce centenary concepts; individual mobility based on megatrends and projections
June 16, 2016
To mark its centenary year in 2016, the BMW Group is looking further ahead than usual with a series of Vision Vehicles designed to anticipate and respond to future mobility needs. At its Munich Centenary Event on 7 March, the automaker introduced the BMW VISION NEXT 100. (Earlier post.)
BMW now has introduced two more Vision concepts: the MINI VISION NEXT 100 and the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100. A fourth Vision Vehicle, by BMW Motorrad, will make its premiere on 16 October in Los Angeles, completing the BMW Group’s brand quartet of far-forward looking concepts.
Ford Sustainability Report details pilot program in South Africa to deliver health care, education
June 15, 2016
A new Ford Motor Company pilot program aims to enhance mobility health services in rural areas of South Africa and Nigeria.
Ford Project Better World brings together multiple organizations such as World Vision South Africa, and social entrepreneurs to deliver health education, medication, nutrition and basic services to thousands of underserved people in remote areas. The services will be accessed using enhanced mobility and connectivity technologies from Ford vehicles. Ford Project Better World is detailed in the automaker’s 17th annual Sustainability Report, released today.
Daimler Trucks pushing forward with platform strategy for chassis and electrics/electronics
June 08, 2016
Daimler Trucks is systematically expanding its strategic pillars of intelligent platforms and modules beyond the existing modular drivetrain components. The platforms for drivetrain components for medium- and heavy-duty engines and for automated transmissions are already successful in the market, and account for about 50% of a truck’s value added.
Daimler Trucks is now introducing multi-brand platforms for other truck module groups, including uniform electrics/electronics architecture (E/E), chassis and cab. Joint development and purchasing will be carried out wherever there is no impact on customer perception and brand differentiation.
Daimler establishes Mercedes-Benz Energy GmbH for stationary energy storage
June 02, 2016
Daimler AG has established Mercedes-Benz Energy GmbH to take over the development and global sale of Mercedes-Benz brand stationary energy storage (earlier post) with immediate effect. The production of the systems remains the core expertise of Daimler’s other wholly owned subsidiary, Deutsche ACCUMOTIVE GmbH & Co. KG.
Daimler AG, with ACCUMOTIVE, began delivery of domestic storage solutions for the German market in April. Work also started on setting up the first large-scale industrial projects in the field of primary regulation energy. With the establishment of Mercedes-Benz Energy GmbH based in Kamenz/Saxony, the company is now taking another step toward expanding its stationary storage business. International expansion and collaboration with further partners are particularly high on the agenda, Daimler said.
Toyota and KDDI jointly to establish global communications platform to support car connectivity
Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) and KDDI Corporation (KDDI) are partnering to establish a global communications platform to enable the operation of communications networks throughout the world to support car connectivity.
Toyota aims to bring greater connectivity to its vehicles throughout the world. To do so, a broad-reaching, robust communications platform and the use of a uniform data communications module (DCM) will be needed. Toyota will develop such globally uniform DCMs by 2019. DCMs will be the standard equipment in nearly all new Toyota and Lexus vehicles sold in Japan and the US by 2020, and will gradually be installed in a range of new vehicles in other major markets over time.
Volkswagen Group and ride-hailing provider Gett to expand on-demand mobility solutions & activities in Europe
One week after the Volkswagen Group announced a US$300-million strategic investment in global ride hailing provider Gett (earlier post), the two companies laid the cornerstone for their strategic partnership at a kick-off event at the DRIVE Volkswagen Group Forum in Berlin. For the Volkswagen Group, this marked its first substantial step in the transition from car making to structuring and providing integrated, sustainable mobility.
Chairman of the Board of Management Matthias Müller stressed the importance of the new strategic partnership, stating that ride hailing will be at the center of the Group’s new mobility on-demand business, which the company is building up as the second pillar alongside the classic automobile business. “Our investment in Gett gives us instant access to a service from which people all over the world can benefit.”
BMW i Ventures makes strategic investment in Scoop; carpooling mobile application
May 25, 2016
BMW i Ventures announced a strategic investment in Scoop Technologies, Inc., creators of the carpooling mobile application “Scoop”. Since launching in August 2015, Scoop commuters have taken more than 40,000 trips, offsetting nearly 500,000 in commute mileage for riders. Originally launched in Pleasanton, CA, Scoop now also operates commute trips into San Francisco, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and North San Jose.
The Scoop app automatically connects co-workers and neighbors who live in the same neighborhood and travel to the same work area. Commuters select each trip one way at a time and choose whether to ride or drive. Scoop’s algorithm matches them to a carpool with neighbors and co-workers for the most efficient commute.
Volkswagen Group makes $300M strategic investment in on-demand mobility provider Gett
Volkswagen has made a US$300-million strategic investment in Gett (formerly GetTaxi), a global provider of ride-hailing services. Present in more than 60 cities worldwide, Gett is one of the faster-growing ride-hailing providers sprouting up in the mobility-on-demand area. The partnership between Volkswagen Group and Gett is based on a joint growth strategy to expand on-demand mobility services in Europe.
Innovative, digitally integrated services covering all aspects of mobility promise very strong growth momentum and earnings opportunities in the coming years. Other OEMs, such as GM with its $500M investment in Lyft, Ford with its $182-million stake in Pivotal, or Toyota with its new investment in Uber (earlier post), have begun expanding their presence in the mobility services sector sector. The Volkswagen Group says that the ride-hailing market represents the greatest market potential in on-demand mobility, while creating the technological platform for developing tomorrow‘s mobility business models.
GM’s Maven car-sharing reaches 1M miles driven in <4 months; Boston, Chicago, and DC joining lineup
May 19, 2016
In less than four months, Maven, General Motors’ personal mobility brand (earlier post), has grown to five markets: New York City, Ann Arbor, Mich., and is adding Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Maven members have driven more than one million miles.
In Chicago, the Maven City car sharing program is now in operation, with pricing starting at $8 an hour including insurance and fuel. Registered customers use the Maven app to reserve one of 30 vehicles at more than 15 sites throughout the city.
Volkswagen takes stake in German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI); autonomous driving and the digital factory
May 14, 2016
Volkswagen is taking a stake in the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), the world’s largest non-profit scientific institution specializing in artificial intelligence (AI). By acquiring participating in DFKI, the Volkswagen Group is reinforcing its research activities in the field of future-oriented digital technologies.
In addition to research in artificial intelligence, DFKI specializes in the fields of robotics, Industry 4.0 and driver assistance systems. In a joint project, Volkswagen and DFKI have started further to develop the software framework ROCK (Robotics Construction Kit) to allow direct, close cooperation between human beings and robots. The system was presented in a near-production scenario at the Volkswagen AG IT Symposium 2016.
Nissan taking 34% stake in Mitsubishi Motors for $2.17 billion; expanding the Alliance model at a good discount
May 12, 2016
Following an MMC share issue, Nissan Motor will take a 34% equity stake in Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) for ¥237 billion (US$2.17 billion). The two companies have signed a Basic Agreement to form a strategic alliance, extending an existing partnership under which the two companies have jointly collaborated for the past five years.
The investment and alliance comes as MMC struggles to deal with the aftermath of its recently revealed fuel consumption testing cheating in Japan with mini-cars and other models. Nissan was the one which first brought the discrepancies in minicar testing to light; MMC produces minicar models for Nissan in Japan. (Earlier post.)
Tesla affirming 80-90K deliveries this year; advancing 500K unit build plan by 2 years to 2018; capex to be up 50% this year
May 05, 2016
In its Q1 2016 letter to shareholders, Tesla affirmed its plan to deliver 80,000 to 90,000 vehicles in 2016. Given the tsunami of reservations for the Model 3 (more than 325,000 according to the letter), Tesla also said it is advancing its 500,000 total unit build plan (combined for Model S, Model X, and Model 3) to 2018—two years earlier than previously planned.
The company noted that increasing production 5x over the next two years would be “challenging and will likely require some additional capital.” Given the plans to advance the total unit build plan, Tesla said it expects capital expenditures will be about 50% higher than the previous guidance of $1.5 billion for 2016. “Naturally, this will impact our ability to be net cash flow positive for the year.”
Volkswagen again reaffirms 20 new PEV models coming across the Group; MEB development
April 29, 2016
In his remarks at the Annual Media Conference, where the Group presented 2015 results, Matthias Müller, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, said that 2016 will be a year of transition for Volkswagen, and will also see the accelerated transformation of the company.
The Group is currently working on the further development of its strategy, to be presented mid-year. This will focus on the major fields of future importance in the industry—such as digitalization, networking, e-mobility and new mobility services. Although Volkswagen is already addressing all of these fields, it will in the future do so “in a much more systematic and focused manner. Our Strategy 2025 will provide the framework for this," Müller said.
Volkswagen AG decides not to release interim report on diesel emissions investigation; cites current negotiations with US authorities
April 23, 2016
On Friday, Volkswagen AG announced that the Supervisory Board and the Management Board of Volkswagen have decided not to release the interim results of the investigation into the diesel emission cheating as originally planned. Disclosure of interim results at this point in time would “present unacceptable risks for Volkswagen” they company said and, therefore, cannot take place now.
The decision was based on the assessment of the US law firms retained by Volkswagen (Sullivan & Cromwell and Jones Day), which have both strongly advised against such a disclosure independently of each other.
Volvo Cars sets target of 1M electrified cars sold by 2025
April 21, 2016
Volvo Cars aims to sell a total of up to one million electrified cars by 2025. The Swedish company plans to achieve this aim by offering at least two hybrid versions of every model in its range and releasing the first all-electric car in 2019.
Volvo Cars has been readying itself for the emergence of electrified vehicles for the last five years. It has developed two all new vehicle architectures for larger and smaller cars—Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) (earlier post) and Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) (earlier post)—that can incorporate either hybrid or fully electric car technology.
Honda introduces new automotive assembly line system: Assembly Revolution Cell Line; first implementation in Thailand
Honda Motor Co. has deployed the first mass-production automobile assembly line with a main line that incorporates a flowing cell production system. Honda has named this the Assembly Revolution Cell (ARC) Line and introduced it in Honda’s new Prachinburi Plant in Thailand that became operational in March 2016.
The newly-developed ARC Line differs significantly from a conventional line production system and was developed by incorporating flowing cell production-style production units in the main line. In production on a conventional line—the foundation of automobile production to date—each line worker (production associate) takes charge of a single process and installs parts to vehicle bodies flowing on a conveyor. In cell production, by contrast, one production associate takes charge of a broader range of production processes and installs multiple parts.
Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg opens competence center for manufacturing technology and innovation for new production technologies
Volkswagen has opened a competence center for technology and innovation and its Wolfsburg plant. Volkswagen employees will develop and test new production technologies on-site in the center’s near-production environment.
The innovation center has six sections: digital way; human-machine interaction (HMI); material flow and material handling; body construction; assembly; and ergonomics. Going forward, experts will be able to test their developments in continuous operation for a three- to six-month period and at the same time train employees on site in how to use the new technologies.
Mitsubishi Motors manipulated fuel economy testing on 625K mini-cars sold in Japan; other models affected
April 20, 2016
Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) has admitted to manipulating fuel consumption testing data for some 625,000 mini-cars it manufactured for sale in Japan by itself and partner Nissan. Nissan was the one who identified the discrepancies.
In a statement, MMC said that with respect to the fuel consumption testing data submitted to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), MMC conducted testing improperly to present better fuel consumption rates than the actual rates; and that the testing method was also different from the one required by Japanese law.
Ford launches 10-year project to transform Dearborn campus; sustainability in the built environment; Living Building Challenge
April 12, 2016
Ford Motor Company unveiled its plans to transform its Dearborn facilities into a modern, green and high-tech campus to foster innovation and help drive the company’s transition to an auto and a mobility company. The 10-year transformation of the company’s more than 60-year-old Dearborn facilities will colocate 30,000 employees from 70 buildings today into primarily two locations—a product campus and a world headquarters campus. More than 7.5 million square feet of work space will be rebuilt and upgraded into even more technology-enabled and connected facilities.
The transformation will integrate sustainability and innovation throughout the built environment, including a new Sustainability Showcase building on the product campus, which will aim to meet Living Building Challenge standards, the highest level of sustainability certification today. To be certified under the Challenge, projects must meet a series of ambitious performance requirements over a minimum of 12 months of continuous occupancy. Among the key criteria is that 100% of the building’s energy needs on a net annual basis must be supplied by on-site renewable energy. No combustion is allowed.
BMW Group Launches car sharing service “ReachNow” in Seattle
April 08, 2016
Following a successful pilot program, BMW Group has launched ReachNow, a free-floating premium car sharing service, in Seattle. In addition to debuting the ReachNow car sharing service in Seattle, BMW Group Member of the Board Peter Schwarzenbauer also announced the establishment of ReachNow’s North American headquarters in the city and its plans to expand the service to three additional cities in 2016—with the intention of servicing 10 North American cities.
ReachNow is designed to provide drivers with an experience that is as convenient as owning a car. The user experience is premium, with fast registration and an almost instant approval process—in two minutes or less. The initial fleet of 370 vehicles, including the BMW i3, the BMW 3 Series and the MINI Cooper, will be located on the streets of Seattle for immediate use. The service will expand to include Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in the next quarter.
Toyota Research Institute establishes 3rd US facility; AI, materials science and robotics research at U-M
Toyota will establish its third Toyota Research Institute (TRI) facility in the US. The new facility will be located in Ann Arbor, near the University of Michigan (U-M) campus where it will fund research in artificial intelligence, robotics and materials science. Joining the TRI facility established last January in Palo Alto working with Stanford (TRI-PAL), and in Cambridge working with MIT (TRI-CAM), TRI-ANN is scheduled to open in June.
Although the focus of each of the three strategically located facilities will be broad, each will feature a different core discipline. TRI-ANN will focus primarily on fully autonomous (chauffeured) driving. TRI-PAL will work on what may be termed “guardian angel” driving, where the driver is always engaged but the vehicle assists as needed. TRI-CAM will dedicate a large portion of its work to simulation and deep learning.
Tesla Model 3 reservations top 325,000; Tesla projects average price ~$43,000
April 07, 2016
Tesla Motors reported that Model 3 reservations have topped 325,000, corresponding to about $14 billion in implied future sales (average unit price ~$43,000). Base price is $35,000.
Model 3 reservations secure the approximate priority within the buyer’s region for taking delivery of the desired Model 3. The reservation ($1,000) is effective when it is placed, and when Tesla receives payment. (Now representing more than $325 million of no-interest cash that can be applied to whatever Tesla needs.)
Hyundai Motor Group outlines roadmap for connected car development
April 05, 2016
Hyundai Motor Group has outlined its roadmap for connected car development. The Group will collaborate with leading global IT and networking companies to develop its “Hyper-connected and Intelligent Car” concept.
The roadmap outlines four main service fields that will help develop smarter, more intelligent cars that can receive and utilize data faster than before. The mid- to long- term development focus includes a range of key features, including: smart remote maintenance services; autonomous driving; Smart Traffic; and a connected Mobility Hub that provides security and data management for all elements of the connected car.
Toyota launches new company to focus on software- and data-driven mobility
April 04, 2016
Toyota is launching a new company—Toyota Connected, Inc.—to significantly expand the company’s capabilities in the fields of data management and data services development. The new company will serve as a data science hub for Toyota’s global operations and will support a broad range of consumer-, business- and government- facing initiatives.
The company intends to leverage the power of data science through Microsoft’s Azure cloud technology to develop predictive, contextual, and intuitive services that help to humanize the driving experience while pushing the technology into the background.