Kijiji will debut standalone auto-shopping platform
Canadian classifieds site Kijiji has announced a new standalone car-shopping platform: Kijiji Autos.
The platform is separate from the company's existing automotive business (a space it has been in since 2005) and is an all-new automotive research and shopping destination with its own website and app.
"Our goal at Kijiji has always been to help Canadians make connections and to find what they need within their community," Kijiji general manager Matthew McKenzie said in a news release.
"Cars and trucks has always been one of the top categories on Kijiji and we've enabled countless Canadians to buy or sell vehicles for more than a decade," he said. "Through developing a new digital destination, we want to further help in the car buying journey."
McKenzie added: "We recognize that for some, car shopping is really fun, while for others it can be a lot of work.
"Whether you're a less experienced shopper who needs more information and guidance during the car-shopping process, or a car lover who knows what you want and simply want to find it faster, we want Kijiji Autos to help you find to the vehicle for you, through an easy-to-use, transparent and enjoyable user experience."
Sharing more details about the new platform, the company - which is part of the eBay Classifieds Group - said Kijiji Autos is designed to provide an easier, intuitive shopping experience focusing entirely on autos. It will include vehicle recommendations and various search/browse filters.
Kijiji Autos also has plans for features to help promote transparency: dealer ratings/reviews and pre-owned price analysis tool.
"The autos industry has rapidly changed over the last few years and we've worked tirelessly to elevate the brand, develop the right product and partnerships, and assemble the best talent," Kijiji director of autos Leanne Kripp said in a news release. "We constantly ask for feedback from our community of users and dealer partners, and that feedback is what's driven the evolution of our brand.
"What we heard was clear - Canadians want a better car shopping experience. Building on the success and learnings from our eCG family, we felt this was the right moment to do something disruptive in Canada. We're confident that Kijiji Autos will provide a more thoughtful experience for Canadian car shoppers, our dealer partners and private sellers," she said.
Kripp added: "We know that by making it easier for Canadians to shop, we are also making it easier for Canadians to sell. By leveraging the 16.8 (million) monthly users on Kijiji and investing in the growth of the car-focused audience that can exist on Kijiji Autos, we can connect the full spectrum of car shoppers - low-, mid- and high-funnel automotive seekers - to dealers and sellers, creating more opportunities for buyers and sellers to transact successfully in their communities."
MERCEDES-BENZ, GEELY CONSIDERING JOINT RIDE-HAILING SERVICE
Daimler, parent company of Mercedes-Benz and Smart, is reportedly considering starting a 50-50 joint-venture ride-hailing service with Chinese carmaker Geely.
Sources have told Bloomberg the ride-hailing system would be for the Chinese market.
Daimler is reportedly considering using vehicles from its Denza electric car brand, which itself is a joint venture with BYD and produces EVs based on the first-generation B-Class.
Should the joint venture go ahead, the automakers face an uphill battle to gain significant market share from Didi Chuxing. Although dominant in China, the company is currently under regulatory pressure and is spending big to gain market share in other countries.
Li Shufu, founder and chairman of Geely, acquired a 9.69 per cent stake in Daimler in February this year, making him the largest single shareholder in the German automaker.
Daimler, like some other automakers, has already begun to diversify into mobility services, and currently operates the MyTaxi ride-hailing app, ViaVan ride-pooling service, and Car2Go short-term car hire platform.
Honda invests $2.75B to build driverless car with GM Cruise
Honda Motor Co.'s alliance with General Motors Co.'s self-driving unit creates a formidable trans-Pacific player to develop and build an autonomous vehicle, powered by a $2.75 billion investment from the Japanese automaker.
The tie-up announced Wednesday leapfrogs the smaller Honda from the back of the pack in the race to deploy autonomous vehicles to the market. And it signals a vote of confidence in the self-driving technology developed by GM Cruise LLC, the Detroit automaker's autonomous-vehicle unit.
"For Honda to contribute that amount of money really elevates GM's efforts," said Mike Ramsey, an automotive analyst for research firm Gartner Inc. "This also gives you a sense of how hard it is to develop this technology and these vehicles on your own. GM clearly was willing to do this, and wouldn't do it if they didn't see a true benefit in sharing the cost with another major automaker."
In addition to its expertise in automotive interiors and engineering, Honda is bringing a significant financial investment to the table. It first will make a $750 million equity investment in GM Cruise to take a 5.7 percent stake in the GM division, which has helped the Detroit automaker become a leader in self-driving systems development.
The Japanese automaker also will contribute about $2 billion over 12 years to fund and develop a "purpose-built" autonomous vehicle for Cruise that can serve a variety of uses for global deployment.
Honda had been in talks with Waymo, the self-driving project of Google parent Alphabet Inc., since 2016. As recently as April, Waymo stated that a deal to work with Honda on a delivery-based service was "coming soon."
But Honda executive vice president Seiji Kuraishitold reporters Wednesday that its partnership with GM Cruise was "exclusive."
"We are going forward by leveraging each other's strengths, and would like to expand (in) this business field," he said through an interpreter.
The three-way partnership between Honda, GM and its self-driving unit is designed to equip GM Cruise with "the world's best design, engineering and technology resources to further establish them as a leader in AV technology with global reach and the ability to deploy at scale," CEO Mary Barra said at the company's technical and engineering hub in Warren.
GM and Honda have been working together on fuel-cell technology since 2013, a partnership that was strengthened last year when GM and Honda equally split $85 million in investment to create Fuel Cell System Manufacturing LLC - the auto industry's first joint-venture for fuel-cell manufacturing - at GM's battery-pack assembly plant in Brownstown Township.
The two automakers expanded their partnership on zero-emissions vehicles earlier this year with an agreement to jointly develop battery cells and modules. In the deal announced Wednesday, the companies will work together to build an autonomous vehicle to be manufactured by GM, not Honda.
Most of the funding provided by Honda will go toward development of that vehicle, with some contribution to develop new market opportunities at Cruise. The partnership will allow GM and Honda to deploy autonomous vehicles across the world, leveraging the geographic footprints of both automakers, GM President Dan Ammann said.
The project with Honda is separate from GM's launch of a driverless ride-service next year, and is focused on building what Ammann called "the next evolution in the future of transportation."
GM already is building test versions of its driverless Cruise AV, based on the Chevrolet Bolt EV, at its Orion Assembly Plant. The roof modules for the vehicles are built at GM's Brownstown Battery Assembly Plant. GM plans to build its production version of the Cruise AV, without a steering wheel or control pedals, at the two plants next year.
"One of the things that is underappreciated in this industry is going from a prototype vehicle that is covered in sensors and computers to one that can be produced on an assembly line," Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt told The Detroit News. "It is no easy task, especially if you want to do that in volume."
But with Honda at the table, that process is expected to move a little faster: "We will be able to take all the things we've learned from (working with GM) and apply them to the vehicle we're building together with Honda," Vogt said. "It shortens the timeline to go from the initial vehicle to a really great one like the one we're envisioning."
The two automakers are aiming to build a driverless car from the ground up, designed from the start to ferry people and things without the need for a driver. GM engineers will work on the base architecture of the autonomous vehicle, with Honda engineers and the Cruise team joining in for its overall development, including testing to ensure safety.
That vehicle might include a tricked-out interior with a TV, mini bar and lay-flat seats, as Vogt wrote in a Wednesday blog post, but it will also likely be engineered to practically operate in Cruise's network.
Vogt told The News that Honda's "talents in building space-efficient vehicles" fit well into GM's ultimate goal of a world without congestion, fossil-fuel emissions or crashes. The two automakers also have complementary global footprints, with Honda offering GM a gateway into the Japanese market.
"If you think about … the geographic reach of Honda and how it overlaps - or doesn't overlap - with the geographic reach of General Motors, that will perhaps give you a perspective on some of the things we might be thinking about," Ammann told investors on a conference call.
Honda's total $2.75 billion investment comes after Japanese investment-firm SoftBank Investment Advisers invested $2.25 billion in Cruise earlier this year, bringing the valuation of GM's autonomous vehicle unit to $14.6 billion.
GM plans to launch its driverless fleet of its Bolt-based Cruise AVs in a yet-to-be-named city in 2019. The Detroit automaker submitted earlier this year its federal safety proposal to put a driverless vehicle with no steering wheel, gas pedal or brake pedal on public roads. GM's efforts to deploy autonomous vehicles accelerated after its acquisition of Cruise Automation in 2016, earning the Detroit automaker credibility with industry observers and investors.
Ammann said GM's 2019 driverless-fleet launch is still "the target," but did not offer updates on the timetable.
"We are moving as fast as we can to deploy this technology," he said. "Adding the resources is only going to move us further and faster."
Most drivers don't understand limitations of car safety systems
Most drivers don't understand the limitations of advanced safety technology installed on new vehicles, according to a new study by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The study indicates that drivers overestimate the capabilities of features such as blind-spot monitoring systems, automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.
"A substantial proportion of respondents demonstrated what we believe was a concerning lack of awareness of some of the key limitations of the technologies," said Brian Tefft, senior researcher for the AAA Foundation.
The findings raise questions about whether Americans are ready to adapt to partially self-driving vehicles, which typically require drivers to remain alert and ready to take over the steering wheel if the car can't handle the conditions it encounters.
Problem spots flagged by AAA:
• Blind-spot monitoring: Nearly 80 percent of drivers don't understand the limitations or thought that the system had greater capability to detect fast-approaching vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. Relying too much on blind-spot monitoring, about 25 percent don't look for oncoming vehicles when they change lanes.
• Forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking: Many drivers confuse the two. One is a warning system, while the other takes action. More than 40 percent of drivers don't know these limitations.
• Adaptive cruise control: About 29 percent of drivers who use this system, which accelerates and brakes on its own, are sometimes comfortable "engaging in other activities" while the system is activated, according to the study.
To be sure, the researchers emphasized that advanced driver assistance systems are generally helpful. Such technologies can prevent about 40 percent of crashes and 30 percent of crash deaths, according to federal estimates.
The problem is that technology backfires when people don't understand how it works.
"I think there's a general assumption among members of the public that technologies in vehicles today will do things for us," said Jake Nelson, director of traffic safety advocacy and research for AAA. "These technologies are not meant to replace us behind the wheel. They're meant to help us out."
Nelson said that it's important for dealers, automakers and rental-car companies to educate drivers, at the time they take delivery of their vehicle, on how these systems work.
And "we shouldn't be marketing them in a way that could potentially mislead folks," Nelson added.
Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi is teaming up with Google to equip their vehicles with "intelligent" infotainment systems, according to a news release.
The technology partnership will see Google embedding its Android operating system in vehicles sold by the Alliance, ensuring that "intelligent" infotainment and customer-focused applications are spread across multiple models and brands. The implementation of these technologies will begin in 2021.
"Under the technology partnership, vehicles sold by the Alliance members in many markets will utilize Android, the world's most popular operating system, and will provide turn-by-turn navigation with Google Maps, access to a rich ecosystem of automotive apps on the Google Play Store and have the ability to answer calls and texts, control media, find information, and manage vehicle functions with voice using the built in Google Assistant," said Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi.
Google's applications and services will be integrated into both infotainment and cloud-based systems to further improve the user experience. Each Alliance brand will have the ability to create a unique customer interface, as opposed to sticking with the common Android platform.
The Alliance-Google partnership is part of the carmaker's 2022 mid-term plan to equip more of its vehicles with connectivity and cloud-based services.
Retail giant Walmart has announced plans to equip its Canadian fleet with 100 per cent alternative powered vehicles by 2028, according to a company news release.
Walmart Canada is aiming to acquire 30 Tesla semi-trucks, all 18-wheelers, adding to its original order of only 10 in November 2017. With the extra trucks, the company will have "one of the largest electrified fleets planned by a company in Canada." This will also allow the retailer to convert 20 per cent of its fleet to electric power by 2022 - an initial milestone Walmart is striving to meet.
"We are always looking for innovative ways to minimize our impact on the environment and lead the industry in the drive for sustainable change," said John Bayliss, senior vice-president, logistics and supply chain, Walmart Canada. "By converting 20 per cent of our fleet to electric vehicles by 2022 and committing to alternative power for all fleet vehicles by 2028, we are putting safety, innovation and sustainability at the forefront of our logistics network."
Walmart Canada plans to put its first 20 Tesla trucks to use at its base in Mississauga, Ont. The other half will be sent to its Surrey, B.C. sustainable fulfillment centre, set to open in 2022. The facility is expected to feature a "fully electric Walmart fleet base, a first for Walmart internationally."
Toyota, Geely in talks about cooperation in hybrid vehicle technology
BEIJING -- Toyota Motor Corp. said on Thursday it is in talks with Chinese automaker Geely about cooperation in gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle technology, but nothing has been decided on the matter.
The move comes as Japan's biggest automaker has been increasingly embracing new automotive technologies for future growth, and has also embarked on a strategy to ramp up sales in China, the world's biggest auto market.
Toyota said in a statement to Reuters that it and Geely are currently "communicating with each other" about gasoline-electric hybrid technology.
It was not immediately clear in what aspects of the hybrid technology Geely and Toyota are discussing cooperating.
A person familiar with the matter, however, said that the talks apparently involve a Chinese supplier of electric battery technology both companies have already been associated with but separately. Toyota declined to comment on the specifics of the cooperation.
"Toyota has been conducting the business with the open policy which also applies to the area of electrification technologies. The relationship with Geely (Toyota is exploring) is also based on this open policy," the statement said.
Toyota's response comes after a Chinese media report said Geely was working with Toyota on the conventional hybrid technology. The report said details on the joint effort would be announced soon.
A Geely spokesman declined to comment.
Toyota, which bet big on gasoline-electric hybrid technology in the late 1990s when it began selling the Prius hybrid, has since localized production of conventional hybrid cars in China and has been selling them here since 2015 under the Corolla and Levin names.
The company has said it plans to sell plug-in hybrid versions of the Corolla and the Levin next year.