• Crowds in face masks pack out China auto show after COVID-19 delay

    Crowds in face masks pack out China auto show after COVID-19 delay

    BEIJING: Crowds packed a mega motor show in Beijing on Saturday (Sep 26) – the only major international auto event this year – as manufacturers hope to boost the world's biggest car market despite the coronavirus battering demand. Delayed for five months because of the pandemic, the 10-day event opened as China has largely brought the virus outbreak under control, although travel restrictions mean most overseas executives appeared virtually to introduce their new motors. But this did not stop a packed audience in mandatory face masks from cheering as new cars were driven on stage to be shown off. The fact the glitzy gathering was going ahead marked "a symbol of hope" in the industry, BMW China CEO Jochen Goller told the crowds on Saturday morning. Tickets were limited this year in a bid to reduce crowds, although crowds surged through the exhibition centre shoulder-to-shoulder. China's auto industry is showing signs of recovery after passenger car sales collapsed by around 80 per cent in February, when consumers stayed home and the economy came to a near-standstill to curb the virus outbreak. Sales have picked up after a painful first quarter, up 8.8 per cent year-on-year last month according to the China Passenger Car Association. Saturday's sprawling displays of almost 800 vehicles include 82 world premieres, with automakers jostling to gain market share and revive consumer interest after a long slump predating the pandemic. In a year where global auto sales are expected to fall by 20 per cent, rating agency S&P expects China may be the only market to catch up with 2019 volumes in the next two years. Electric vehicles were also a prominent feature of the China show as Beijing pushed the sector and targets a 25 per cent adoption of energy-saving vehicles by 2025. There were 160 on display on top of concept cars from makers including luxury brand Audi, Japanese giants Honda and Nissan and Chinese electric vehicle start-ups like Nio and XPeng. China's electric vehicle firms have seen a surge in interest from investors as they search for the next Tesla – also hosting a stand drawing large crowds – with XPeng and Li Auto both going public in the US this year. Meanwhile, established players like Volkswagen and BMW made commitments to their own electric future, with all-electric models to be produced in China. Although China's auto sales are still expected to fall by up to 9 per cent this year overall, new energy vehicles are likely to pick up in the second half, S&P predicted. ——
  • Tesla announces ‘tabless’ battery cells that will improve range of its electric cars

    Tesla announces ‘tabless’ battery cells that will improve range of its electric cars

    Tesla unveiled plans Tuesday to develop a “tabless” battery that could improve an electric car’s range and power. The company will produce its new batteries in-house, which Tesla CEO Elon Musk predicts will help dramatically reduce costs and allow the company to eventually sell electric vehicles for the same price as gasoline-powered ones. The battery is expected to lower Tesla’s cost per kilowatt-hour, the unit of energy most commonly used to measure the capacity of the battery packs in modern electric vehicles. Many experts believe that lowering these costs would allow Tesla to dramatically lower the price of its cars, thereby making them far more accessible. The news of the new battery was announced during the company’s much-hyped “Battery Day” event in Palo Alto, California. Musk said Tesla achieved this breakthrough by removing the tab, a part of the battery that forms a connection between the cell and what it is powering. These new tabless cells, which Tesla is calling 4860 cells, will give the company’s EV batteries five times more energy capacity, make them six times more powerful, and enable a 16 percent range increase for Tesla’s vehicles. The tabless cells were among the first announcements from Tesla’s Battery Day. The new cells are bigger than Tesla’s current cells, measuring 46 millimeters by 80 millimeters (thus the name, 4680). In addition to more energy and power, the new cells will result in a 14 percent reduction in cost per kWh at the cell form factor level only, Musk said. Tesla’s new cell manufacturing system is “close to working” at the pilot plant level. During the event, Drew Baglino, Tesla’s vice president for powertrain and energy, offered more insight into the new cells. He said that Tesla’s engineers “laser patterned” the existing foils in the cell to create a “shingled spiral” that results in a shorter electrical path length of 50 mm, versus the existing 250 mm length in the current cells. “You actually have a shorter path length [for the electron to travel] in a large tabless cell than you have in the smaller cell with tabs,” Musk added. “So even though the cell is bigger, it actually has more power.” Like most car companies, Tesla sources its batteries from major producers so it can focus on its core mission: building electric cars. The company’s 2170 cells, which are currently used in Model 3 and Model Y vehicles, are produced by Panasonic at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada. But those supplies have become strained. In 2018, a shortage of cells at Panasonic added to Tesla’s “production hell” woes just as it began ramping up its big push to make the Model 3. Musk has criticized Panasonic’s pace of battery production as constraining the Model 3 and the Model Y. And Panasonic CEO Kazuhiro Tsuga has predicted that its batteries will “run out” if Tesla continues to expand its business. Musk’s announcement that Tesla will begin manufacturing its own batteries is aimed at alleviating those bottlenecks. But it wasn’t exactly...
  • Creating Something New

    Creating Something New

    The world of electronics has been in contact flux for the past fifty years, with new developments in every arena. In automobiles, the situation is much the same with new technology affecting how we drive and how we interact with vehicles. Leading this charge of modernity is First International Computer, Inc. (FIC). Based in Taiwan, but with a global footprint, we look more closely at the company in the light of its award-winning success. Founded by Dr. Ming J. Chien, FIC has come a long way since selling its first PRIME computers in 1980. And in year 2004, Mr. Leo Chien, son of Dr. Ming, joined the group and contributed his master expertise as COO of FIC in 2008. Mr. Leo began to lead the group towards a new business development in 2010, with unique insights to the market trend and gradually moved the team towards a new direction of automotive electronic design manufacturing and smart building IoT system integration business. Throughout the years, he integrated the group's relevant technical capabilities and resources in order to support the new business comprehensively, and became CEO of FIC in 2016. He owns high sensitivity to the market demand and has been certain that in the future,  smart automotive including autonomous technology, smart building automations and smart traffics business will increase tremendously, hence leading the group toward the direction by providing supreme technologies to enrich people’s lives and driving experiences. With 40 years of design engineering and manufacturing experience, FIC possesses proven records as unique advantages over many of its competitors. As a true leader in the field, FIC provides automotive EDMS (Electronic Design Manufacturing Service), supply chain management and system integration solution for global Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers, with roughly 60% in US & European Market and 40% in Asia Market. With a broad reach, the team is able to provide clients with end-to-end automotive electronic design manufacturing solutions, from Concept and Design Development, Supply Chain Management, JDM (Joint Design Manufacturing), POC, EVT/DVT/PVT, PCB Assembly, Box-Build, System Assembly and System Integration, turnkey solutions all the way to logistic and RMA service. In order to create the best possible result, efficient communication and collaboration with customers is the key. A substantial number of FIC’s projects are jointed efforts with customers. This approach not only saves significant costs at the preliminary design stage but also creates the opportunity to quickly learn from each other’s expertise. Long-term partnership has proven vital to the success of FIC by building up close teamwork, respecting each other’s domain known-how, hence a consistent performance can be delivered.  Thanks to the vice president of the design team, Mr. Alex Dee, he has been leading the team to successfully develop various projects over the years. FIC has already achieved its great success in the field of desi...
  • Connected car market forecast sees over 14% CAGR to 2027

    Connected car market forecast sees over 14% CAGR to 2027

    A new report from market research firm Verified Market Research finds that the global connected car market, which was valued at $72.68 billion in 2019, is projected to reach $215.23 billion by 2027 - growing at a CAGR of 14.56% from 2020 to 2027. According to the report, the increase in advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) features in cars is driving the connected car market as it ensures enhanced levels of safety. Other key factors contributing toward the growth of the connected car market are the rising demand for connectivity solutions, an increase in dependency on technology, and an upsurge in the tech-savvy population. In addition, technological advancements, an increase in the production of vehicles, and an increase in demand for luxury and comfort in vehicles are expected to support the growth of the market. Also, the report finds, automakers are nowadays following new vehicle safety norms to both encourage the safety of the vehicle and to make them more secure from hacking and malfunctioning, which, in turn, is also likely to foster the demand for connected car systems. The following trends, says the report, are reinforcing the shift towards a fully developed connected car industry: New technological innovation in the field of the network is accelerating at a fast rate. High-speed computers help make the car aware of surroundings, which can transform maneuvering a self-driving vehicle into an increasing reality. The Internet of Things (IoT) provides mobile services in the car with high-speed internet, enabling real-time traffic control, interaction with the car manufacturer service for remote diagnostics, and enhanced company logistics automation. The increase in demand for lightweight suspension systems and the development of technically advanced suspension systems are expected to provide a favorable opportunity for the growth of the market. The report segments the connected car market based on services, form, network, and geography. Major players in this market include Bosch, Continental AG, Delphi Technologies PLC, DENSO Corporation, Harman International Industries, Infineon Technologies AG, NXP Semiconductors N.V., Toyota Motor Corporation, Valeo, and ZF Friedrichshafen AG. ——
  • Japan's Big Four To Start Testing Their Swappable Batteries Soon

    Japan's Big Four To Start Testing Their Swappable Batteries Soon

    In April, 2019, we told you that Japan’s Big Four motorcycle manufacturers—Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Suzuki—were forming a consortium to work on swappable battery tech for electric two-wheelers. So far, so quiet—but as of September, 2020, we’re seeing some encouraging forward movement from the team. The four companies are running a large-scale demonstration test in collaboration with Osaka Prefecture and Osaka University, and it’s starting sometime in September, 2020. They’re calling it “e-Yan Osaka,” and will be providing electric two-wheelers to students and staff at the University to ride and use in the course of their daily activities. They’ll also be setting up charging stations and monitoring how well things work together, as well as any pain points that need to be addressed. While avid followers of electric two-wheelers and/or Honda are probably already aware of the Benly:E (Shoulda called it the Benl-E. Bad move, Honda. - JM) and/or the PCX Electric scooters that Big Red already developed, it’s unclear whether this will have any bearing on the Consortium’s work as a unit, according to Young Machine. The group is looking to analyze convenience, usefulness, and how a shared common specification can work in the real world. The question of what two-wheelers will be involved is an interesting one, though. Honda, Yamaha, and Suzuki all appear to have brought electric scooters to the party—but can we take this image to mean that Kawasaki is finally moving ahead with the Concept J? After hinting about it possibly not being consigned to the dustbin of forgotten concepts with a promotional video in 2018, we hadn’t heard or seen anything else about it until now. Now, it could just be a placeholder image, and we admit that’s a possibility. Still, it’s kind of a hilarious comparison, and you can see that Kawasaki’s representative looks pretty pleased with himself. I mean, wouldn’t you be? If that is a real thing that Kawasaki has somewhere in the pipeline, it will definitely stand out from every other electric vehicle on the market—and they’ll all go (team) green with envy, even as they grudgingly stop to swap batteries. ——
  • VW believes it can catch up to Tesla with 1.5 million EV capacity by 2023 ‘or sooner’

    VW believes it can catch up to Tesla with 1.5 million EV capacity by 2023 ‘or sooner’

    VW believes that it can catch up to Tesla where it matters when it comes to electric vehicles: mass production capacity. The head of VW’s worker union believes that they can achieve a production capacity of 1.5 million electric vehicles by 2023 ‘or sooner’. With Fremont factory and Gigafactory Shanghai, Tesla has two of the highest producing electric vehicle factories in the world. Other automakers are playing catch up, but Volkswagen, who has been less shy about converting existing factories to electric car production, believes it can catch up. Bernd Osterloh, the head of Volkswagen Work Council, told Germany’s Welt that he believes that catch up to Tesla’s planned production capacity by 2023 (translated from German): “If Tesla builds three factories in which you can build between 300,000 and 500,000 cars, then we’re talking about a number between 900,000 and 1.5 million. We want to achieve that in 2023, probably sooner.” Tesla had a production capacity of 690,000 cars at the end of the last quarter according to its own filing: But the automaker plans to have a production capacity of 500,000 Model 3 and Model Y vehicles in Fremont by the end of the year. The production capacity of the rest of the factories in development is less clear, but Tesla is expected to double the production capacity in Shanghai with the introduction of the Model Y next year. Furthermore, Gigafactory Berlin and Gigafactory Texas are expected to each have total outputs of more than 500,000 cars per year. It would put Tesla’s total output closer to 2 million vehicles once all projects are completed. Both factories in Germany and Texas are expected to start production next year, but it will take a few more years to ramp up to full production. As for Volkswagen, the automaker has converted its entire Zwickau factory to electric vehicle production and it also started to convert its Emden factory to begin electric car production in 2022. VW is also producing electric vehicles out of a factory in China and it is building a new factory next to its Chattanooga factory in Tennessee to produce electric vehicles. Osterloh mentioned that the work council won’t be afraid to push for the conversion of their massive facilities in Wolfsburg if they see a need for it: “There is of course the possibility of converting the Wolfsburg site to electric cars. If the number of combustion engines drops sharply, then we as the works council will demand that we also manufacture a battery-powered vehicle here.” VW’s Wolfsburg factory has a capacity of over 700,000 vehicles per year and a conversion to electric vehicle production would be a major step for the company. However, the automaker will also have to secure battery cell supply, which it is trying to do through partnerships with several major cell suppliers and its own effort with Northvolt. ——
  • Dream of flying car could get real as Japan successfully conducts test flight

    Dream of flying car could get real as Japan successfully conducts test flight

    Japan's SkyDrive Inc., among the myriads of ''flying car'' projects around the world, has carried out a successful though modest test flight with one person aboard. The decades-old dream of zipping around in the sky as simply as driving on highways may be becoming less illusory. Japan's SkyDrive Inc., among the myriads of ''flying car'' projects around the world, has carried out a successful though modest test flight with one person aboard. In a video shown to reporters on Friday, a contraption that looked like a slick motorcycle with propellers lifted several feet (1-2 meters) off the ground, and hovered in a netted area for four minutes. Tomohiro Fukuzawa, who heads the SkyDrive effort, said he hopes ''the flying car'' can be made into a real-life product by 2023, but he acknowledged that making it safe was critical. ''Of the world's more than 100 flying car projects, only a handful has succeeded with a person on board,'' he told The Associated Press. ''I hope many people will want to ride it and feel safe.'' The machine so far can fly for just five to 10 minutes but if that can become 30 minutes, it will have more potential, including exports to places like China, Fukuzawa said. Unlike airplanes and helicopters, eVTOL, or ''electric vertical takeoff and landing,'' vehicles offer quick point-to-point personal travel, at least in principle. They could do away with the hassle of airports and traffic jams and the cost of hiring pilots, they could fly automatically. Battery sizes, air traffic control and other infrastructure issues are among the many potential challenges to commercializing them. ''Many things have to happen,'' said Sanjiv Singh, professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, who co-founded Near Earth Autonomy, near Pittsburgh, which is also working on an eVTOL aircraft. ''If they cost $10 million, no one is going to buy them. If they fly for 5 minutes, no one is going to buy them. If they fall out of the sky every so often, no one is going to buy them,'' Singh said in a telephone interview. The SkyDrive project began humbly as a volunteer project called Cartivator in 2012, with funding by top Japanese companies including automaker Toyota Motor Corp., electronics company Panasonic Corp. and video-game developer Bandai Namco. A demonstration flight three years ago went poorly. But it has improved and the project recently received another round of funding, of 3.9 billion yen ($37 million), including from the Development Bank of Japan. The Japanese government is bullish on ''the Jetsons'' vision, with a ''road map'' for business services by 2023, and expanded commercial use by the 2030s, stressing its potential for connecting remote areas and providing lifelines in disasters. Experts compare the buzz over flying cars to the days when the aviation industry got started with the Wright Brothers and the auto industry with the Ford Model T. Lilium of Germany, Joby Aviation in California and Wisk, a joint venture between ...
  • The future of cars is electric – but how soon is this future?

    The future of cars is electric – but how soon is this future?

    BloombergNEF (BNEF) has painted a picture of how the auto industry will evolve in its latest Long-term Electric Vehicle Outlook report. In the report, BNEF outlines that electric vehicles (EVs) will hit 10% of global passenger vehicle sales in 2025, with that number rising to 28% in 2030 and 58% in 2040. According to the study, EVs currently make up 3% of global car sales. Beyond just new sales, EVs are predicted to represent 31% of all cars on the road in 2040, making up 67% of municipal buses, 47% of two-wheeled vehicles (scooters, mopeds, motorcycles and so on) and 24% of light commercial vehicles. Compare this to 2020, where EVs make up 33% of municipal buses, 30% of two-wheeled vehicles and 2% of light commercial vehicles. In terms of gross vehicles usage, BNEF predicts that 500 million passenger EVs will be on the road globally by 2040, compared to a total passenger vehicle fleet of 1.6 billion. Unfortunately, there will still be more miles driven globally by internal combustion passenger vehicles than EVs. Sales and price parity The ramp in EV adoption will be initially led by reaching price parity with internal combustion engine vehicles. This will begin when large vehicles hit this point in Europe, which is expected to happen in 2022 and will end with small cars making the achievement in India and Japan around 2030. While this parity takes a global perspective, it will be hard-driven by the European and Chinese markets, which are expected to represent 72% of all passenger EV sales in 2030. By 2030, China and Europe are expected to achieve the feat of 50% of all cars on the road being EVs. This will be because of the other head of EV adoption, policy support, taking the form of European vehicle CO2 regulations and China’s EV credit system, fuel economy regulations and city policies restricting new internal combustion vehicle sales. The rest of the pack As for the United States, the country will be slower to reach the levels of adoption that are expected to come to Europe and China, due to limited projections of charging infrastructure availability. The U.S. does have one factor working in its favor to make a quick catchup possible by the end of the 2030s, according to BNEF: nearly 60% of U.S. households have two or more cars – and many have the ability to install home charging. On a similar adoption rate projection to the United States comes South Korea. Like Europe and China, the South Korean adoption timeline is predicated upon strong government policy support, yet the country will also get a push from its domestic auto and battery manufacturers. The report also outlines that there will be 550 EV models available from global auto manufacturers by 2022. Despite this prediction, Japan, home to a bevy of international vehicle manufacturers that already include a number of EVs, is predicted not to take off until 2025. The report states that this is when Japanese automakers launch more EV options, although the country home to Honda, Toyota, ...
  • China new-energy vehicle sales drop for first time in over two years

    China new-energy vehicle sales drop for first time in over two years

    BEIJING (Reuters) - Sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs) in China fell 4.7% in July from a year earlier, the first drop in more that two years, data from the country’s biggest auto industry association showed. NEV sales fell to 80,000 units last month in China. That compared with a growth of 80% in NEV sales in June. Overall auto sales in the world’s biggest vehicle market fell 4.3% in July, down for a 13th consecutive month, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said on Monday. That followed declines of 9.6% in June and 16.4% in May, as well as the first annual contraction last year since the 1990s against a backdrop of slowing economic growth and a crippling trade war with the United States. “The main reason for new energy vehicle sales decline in July is the switch of policies,” said Chen Shihua, assistant secretary general at the CAAM, referring to China’s move to cut NEV subsidies last month. CAAM has previously said it expects China auto sales to drop 5% year-on-year to 26.68 million vehicles this year. It had trimmed its forecast for a rise in NEV sales to 1.5 million, versus a previous forecast of 1.6 million. The prolonged sales decline has made local carmakers from Geely (0175.HK) to Great Wall (601633.SS) cut expectation on sales and profit. It has also prompted some global names like Peugeot maker PSA Group (PEUP.PA) to close plant and adjust workforce. China has since January been trying to boost consumption of wide-ranging goods as the world’s No.2 economy slows further in 2019 amid the trade spat with the United States. But its measures to spur car sales have disappointed as they included no plans to relax controls over the issuance of new licences for traditional-fuel cars in major cities. The implementation of NEV emission standards earlier than the central government’s 2020 deadline by 15 cities and provinces, which account for over 60% of car sales in China, have spooked buyers too and hurt sales, according to CAAM, analysts, dealers and consumers. ——
  • Safety tech explained: a guide to the key systems (II)

    Safety tech explained: a guide to the key systems (II)

    Blind spot monitoring What is it: A piece of technology that keeps a virtual eye on traffic around your car that may be lurking in your blind spot – the areas to the rear and sides that are often invisible to wing mirrors yet big enough to hide a car, truck or motorcycle. Why it’s important:By virtue of their design, some cars have large blind spots – and it’s often the biggest and heaviest SUVs with small rear windows that are the culprits. By using the short-range parking sensors embedded in the rear bumper (or sometimes a camera-based system), blind spot monitoring will sound an alarm if you put your indicator on to merge into an adjacent lane that’s already occupied by another car, truck or motorcyclist. Reversing camera What is it:Technologically simple, a reversing camera is simply a rear-facing video camera mounted somewhere on the back of a car – often above the licence plate on the bootlid or tailgate, or housed within the rear bumper, or even behind the car maker’s logo. Why it’s important:The statistics on the number of children killed by reversing vehicles in driveways alone are saddening, but those deaths could be easily prevented by having a camera to let the driver know when the area behind them is clear. Thankfully, reversing cameras are almost universal on many modern cars, even those in the smallest vehicle segments. Lane departure warning What is it:A camera-based system that monitors where your car is relative to painted road markings or – in more advanced systems – the road’s edge. If it determines that you’re straying from your lane and you haven’t signalled with your indicators, it lets you know. Why it’s important: Driving outside of your lane is often a sign that you’re either distracted from the task of driving or you’re becoming drowsy – both of which are dangerous for obvious reasons. If the lane departure warning is being triggered frequently, it’s as good a signal as any that you need to pull over and rest so you can refocus. Fatigue monitoring What is it:Fatigue monitors vary in how they detect your state of consciousness, with some using a camera to scan your face and look for visual cues (like slowly narrowing eyelids or head jerks) while others monitor the position of the steering wheel to detect abrupt movements or other fatigue-related patterns. Why it’s important:Because sometimes you don’t realise just how tired you might be getting. Fatigue is a big killer, and just like lane departure warning, a dedicated driver fatigue monitor can be an invaluable wake-up call to prompt you to pull over and either have a powernap, or change drivers. What is it:A lesser-known feature but one that’s becoming reasonably widespread, rear traffic alert uses the car’s rear camera and its reverse parking sensors to scan the street behind and to the sides, issuing an alert if it detects vehicles approaching as you’re reversing. ——
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