Automotive research, Automotive strategy, Automotive trends, Auto industry trends, Automotive market research, Auto industry news
What happened in the automotive industry last week? Please enjoy our digest of industry news for the week of 4th September to 10th September 2017. A PDF version can be found here. If you’re happy with just the text version then please read on… Favourite stories this week…? It’s all about hedging your bets… four companies (one newby and three established) showed this week that they see a path to success through picking trends first and companies second.
  • Let’s do LIDARDelphi has invested in two LIDAR companies — Leddartech and Innoviz.
  • No car for meDaimler announced stakes in car sharing firm Turo (which operates in the peer-to-peer space that Croove operated in, rather than B2C where Car2Go is positioned) and on-demand bus company Via, with which it has established a joint venture that will launch services in Europe (but using minbuses rather than conventional taxis like myTaxi).
  • Baby you can drive my carPSA said that it has been working with self-driving start-up AImotive, even though it already has projects underway with nuTonomy as well as a hand in the driverless car research of Vedecom and an in-house development team.
  • Look Ma, no handsLyft said that it was going to undertake trials of self-driving vehicles with drive.ai, adding to a roster than includes Waymo, nuTonomy, Cruise and its own recently started in-house teams.
This all makes great business sense and it’s a shame that too few others are following the same path. With countless examples of ideas that were before their time and “best” technical solutions that didn’t become the industry standard, why back winners so early on?   Find our archive here. SIGN UP FOR THE WEEKLY UPDATED TO BE EMAILED TO YOU HERE  

News about the major automakers

  BMW
  • BMW’s CEO said in his pre-IAA show remarks that the company intended to have 12 all-electric vehicles by 2025 (in addition to 13 other “electrified”, thought to mean PHEV, products) and that in future the company would be able to equip every model with any type of drivetrain. At the Frankfurt show, BMW will unveil an all-electric 4 door product that could sit between i3 and i8. (BMW)
  • Unveiled a series of nearly production-ready concepts for its new car family with the X7 large SUV (BMW) and 8-series large coupe joining the 7-series saloon in the line-up. In addition to showing off the cars, BMW mentioned a mobility “add-on” that would allow owners of one of the vehicles to easy rent one of the others. (BMW)
Daimler
  • Announced that it had been the lead investor in a financing round for US peer to peer carsharing service Turo and that as a part of the deal, Daimler’s own peer to peer carsharing service Croove would be folded into Turo’s operations and Turo would enter the German market in 2018. (Daimler)
  • Created a joint venture with on-demand shuttle bus company Via that will see Daimler invest $50 million and licence Via’s technology to launch services in Europe, starting with London, where an on-demand bus service will begin in late 2017. The companies will also work together to develop an optimised Mercedes van for the service. (Via)
  • Will show a concept called EQA at the Frankfurt show that will be Mercedes’s vision of how a shared car might look. (The Verge)
Ford
  • The UAW’s chief representative for Ford said that Ford CEO has told him that the strategic review to be presented on 3rd October will not call for additional job reductions in the US. (Bloomberg)
Geely (includes Volvo)
  • Volvo said that it was buying Luxe, a premium valet and concierge service. The acquisition will bring key staff and the Luxe’s existing technology into Volvo, the company appears to have no interest in continuing to offer the service. (Volvo)
General Motors
  • At an investment bank conference, the head of the mobility program said that Maven Gig vehicles had an average utilisation rate of 60% on hourly leases and 40% on daily leases. She also said that she believes the company currently has no competition in terms of the breadth of activities it is undertaking around mobility services. She sees Maven’s fleet as being 2/3 electric “going forward”. (GM — Audio only)
Honda
  • Said that the previously announced all-electric, China-only, vehicle it is planning for introduction in 2018 will be sold under the brands of both its joint ventures (with GAC and Dongfeng). Honda also said that it will “proactively” explore car sharing opportunities in China. (Honda)
Nissan (includes Mitsubishi)
  • At the launch of the new Leaf, Nissan said that the new generation would have a 40 kWh battery and 378km (European drive cycle) range (150 miles on US EPA rating) as well as a number of driver assistance technologies. Nissan executives said they hoped to sell 90,000 vehicles per year and that the company believed electric technology alone was “not enough” to change travel and buying behaviour and therefore they had combined the all-electric vehicle with new technologies in order to present a more compelling prospect to customers. Nissan will be progressively offering features of a service called Nissan Intelligent Integration which aims to help customer’s manage their overall energy supply. (Nissan)
  • During the media reveal of the new Leaf, Nissan executives said that a higher performance derivative to launch in 2018 would have a 60 kWh battery and that “we might have a crossover [SUV] EV shortly in the future”> (Economic Times of India)
PSA (includes Opel/Vauxhall)
  • The French fraud prevention office reportedly believes PSA may have calibrated diesel engines to perform only during homolgation tests, affecting two million vehicles. PSA said it was “outraged” by the claims and pointed to a earlier French government report which said the company done nothing wrong. (Les Echos) & (PSA)
  • Has been working with self-driving start-up AIMotive since May on self-driving technologies. AImotive say that their self-driving solution can be applied to any vehicle. (TechCrunch)
  • CEO Tavares gave a joint interview with the new Opel CEO in which he said that PSA would provide electrification technologies to Opel but that the company must use them profitably. (Reuters)
Renault
  • Launched a digital development centre in Russia to create technologies for global markets. (CCFA)
  • Creating an immersive simulator to test the behaviour and response of drivers and passengers to autonomous vehicles, investing €25 million in the project. (Renault)
  • Said it was working towards a localisation target of 80% for the Indian derivative of the Captur (Economic Times of India)
  • Will show a concept car called Symbioz at Frankfurt that shows how Renault sees autonomous, electric and connected trends coming together in a single product. (Renault)
Tata (includes JLR)
  • JLR said that from 2020, every new product launched will be electrified. The company says that it will have a portfolio that includes mild hybrid (48V), plug-in and fully electric vehicles. JLR’s wording implied that in some instances, “electrification” could mean no more than a 48V system being offered alongside ICE-only powertrains. (JLR)
  • Showed off its vision of travel in 2040 called the Jaguar Future Type. JLR has joined Daimler and BMW by adopting the Connected, Electric, Autonomous, Shared breakdown of future vehicle attributes. Much of JLR’s presentation was around a new in-car assistant technology called Sayer which will exist in the cloud and can thereore be downloaded into different vehicles. (JLR)
  • JLR’s CEO gave a speech in which he declared that the company was leading the mobility “revolution” but said that the UK government needed to do more to support technological change. Amongst other things he said that the government had “no detailed plans” for the implementation of an ICE ban by 2040. (JLR)
  • Reportedly suffering from industrial relations problems at the Jamshedpur factory. A mistake in employee pay cheques is being used as leverage by unions to demand increased permanent (as opposed to temporary) hiring. (Economic Times of India)
Toyota
  • Toyota’s chairman said in a television interview that he thinks two or three more technological breakthroughs are needed in order for fully electric vehicles to become competitive with ICE vehicles. He said that he was unable to say when a vehicle powered by a battery would be economically viable. He also said that major carmakers would have to partner with start-ups on new mobility technologies and those that didn’t “would not survive”. (InsideEVs)
VW Group
  • VAG’s CEO said that the company was working on the sale of businesses accounting for 20% of the group’s revenue. (Manager Magazin)
  • The leader of the CDU in Lower Saxony (the German region where VW are based, that also has seats on the board) called for next VW Group CEO to be from outside the automotive industry. The CDU is currently ahead in polls with the state election due in October. (Reuters)
  • Will develop mobility services with IBM under a five year cooperation agreement. (VW)
  • Audi is reportedly having problems getting its L3 Traffic Jam Pilot system approved by European regulators (CCFA)
  • Audi will display two concepts at Frankfurt: the first will be a “highly automated” L4 car featuring technologies that will allow the driver to sometimes give control to the vehicle in fully automatic mode; the second will be a L5 car designed primarily for long journeys. (Audi)
    • Implication: Here’s hoping that the Audi L5 concept is something more than a version of the Mercedes F-105 (because that concept is two years old now)
Other
  • Mahindra announced an all-electric rickshaw called the e-Alfa Mini with a range of up to 85km. The vehicle will carry 4 passengers and retail at 1.12 lakh rupees (about $1,800). (Mahindra)
 

News about other companies and trends

  Economic / Political News
  • China is looking to set a deadline for the end of sales of new ICE powered cars according to the vice minister of industry and information technology. (Bloomberg)
  • Scottish politicians said that they intended to phase out new sales of petrol and diesel vehicles by eliminating the “need” for them by 2032. (Scottish Government)
  • UK new car registrations of 76,433 vehicles in August fell (6.4)% on a year-over-year basis. (SMMT). Light commercial vehicles saw a 1.5% YoY increase to 15,619 units. (SMMT)
  • German passenger car registrations in August of 253,679 units were 3.5% up on a year-over-year basis. Electric cars were up 143%, albeit from a low base. Diesel engine sales were down (13.8)% and took a 37.7% share of the market. (KBA)
Dealers
  • UK dealer Lookers has created a 3D virtual showroom on Facebook in order to increase its interaction with customers. (Motor Trader)
Ride-Hailing, Car Sharing & Rental
  • Daimler announced that it had been the lead investor in a financing round for US peer to peer carsharing service Turo and that as a part of the deal, Daimler’s own peer to peer carsharing service Croove would be folded into Turo’s operations and Turo would enter the German market in 2018. (Daimler)
  • Daimler created a joint venture with on-demand shuttle bus company Via that will see Daimler invest $50 million and licence Via’s technology to launch services in Europe, starting with London, where an on-demand bus service will begin in late 2017. The companies will also work together to develop an optimised Mercedes van for the service. (Via)
  • Lyft said that it would introduce self-driving vehicles in collaboration with ai. Memo: Lyft is already working with GM’s Cruise operation and has recently begun its own in-house autonomous effort. (Lyft)
  • Estonian ride-hailing start-up Taxify saw the launch of services in London run into problems when the city’s transport regulator told it to suspend services because they were dissatisfied with the way in which Taxify circumvented licencing application requirements by partnering with an existing firm. (Telegraph)
  • GM’s mobility chief said that Maven Gig vehicles had an average utilisation rate of 60% on hourly leases and 40% on daily leases. She sees Maven’s fleet as being 2/3 electric “going forward”. (GM — Audio only)
Driverless / Autonomy
  • UK start-up FiveAI said that it had raised £35 million from a combination of public and private sources to fund development of an autonomous on-demand transport service. Similar to Uber, the company is developing its own self-driving solution as well as intending to run the server. (TechCrunch)
  • Waymo (Google) gave an overview of how they use simulation to increase the rate of AI learning for autonomous vehicles (Waymo on Medium)
  • LIDAR company LeddarTech announced that it had raised $101 million from investors including Osram, Delphi and Magneti Marelli. (Leddartech)
  • LIDAR company Innoviz announced it had raised $65 million from a variety of investors including Delphi and Magna. (Innoviz)
  • Lyft said that it would introduce self-driving vehicles in collaboration with ai. Memo: Lyft is already working with GM’s Cruise operation and has recently begun its own in-house autonomous effort. (Lyft)
  • Uber to said that it will electrify its entire London fleet UberX fleet by 2019, with all Uber vehicles to follow by 2025. The company will offer financial incentives for drivers to buy new vehicles, funded by a £0.35 levy on all London trips. (TechCrunch)
Electrification
  • Future Mobility, the Chinese all-electric start-up led by a group that includes a number of executives from BMW’s electric car program said that the brand name for its cars would be Byton and that sales would begin in China in Q4 2019. (Economic Times of India)
  • Detroit Electric said that it would launch three vehicles within the next three years, putting to use some of the £1.8 billion funding it previously announced following a joint venture agreement with Chinese compay Far East Smarter Energy Group. The company plans to recruit around 200 engineers in the UK to work on the project. (Detroit Electric)
  • British start-up Alcraft Motor Company unveiled a prototype all-electric sports car and launched a crowdfunding campaign to raiase £600,000 in order to make a prototype. The car is intended to have a 200-250 mile range. (Electrek)
  • LG Chem and SK Innovation said that they would begin production in 2018 of EV batteries with an NCM 811 chemistry that improves energy density and reduces cost. (Push EVs)
  • Consulting firm AlixPartners published an electrification index to track progress of electric vehicle take-up by country and manufacturer. (AlixPartners)
Other
  • Consulting firm Roland Berger published the second edition of their automotive disruption tracker, saying that in general, Asian countries were doing more to prepare their citizens and infrastructure for emerging automotive and travel technologies than European countries or the USA. (Roland Berger)