Friday, 28 October 2016

What will the world of Wheels be like in 30 years?

Bob Redinger, President and General Manager of Ready Honda, says, I see driver-aided cars, but I don't see them being completely autonomous. There is too much to rely on, starting with the system in the car itself.
Last month, Toronto Star Wheels observed its 30th anniversary. Yes, hard as it is to imagine, it's been 30 years since the late Dennis Morgan was asked to create a section for the SaturdayStar in which all of the automotive advertising of the day could be accommodated.
Called Wheels (after Arthur Hailey's 1971 novel about the automobile industry), it was an instant success and there was soon as much editorial content in it as there was advertising.
Over those 30 years, this section traced the evolution of cars, trucks and motorcycles. This column today is about where the world of Wheels might be going in the next 30 years.
To find out, I talked to two people involved in the retail sales industry as well as a University of Ottawa professor who is an expert on solar-powered EV charging stations.
First, Todd Bourgon, Executive Director of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association (TADA):
Where are we going?
The question mark for me is fuel. The next big thing was supposed to be hydrogen, or propane or electricity. They're touting electricity now, but we were touting hydrogen, propane, natural gas and other sources of fuel 10 years ago and they went nowhere.
So, for me, the next 30 years will be waiting to see who invents the best way to fuel a vehicle.
Will there be as many dealers?
There were concerns that we would see fewer. The reality is that, right now, some manufacturers are adding more dealerships. There are people who say the dealerships will diminish because people will buy cars online, but I don't necessarily believe that, because if that was the case, they'd be doing that now. People will want to see the car they're going to buy.
Dealerships have changed dramatically. Where do you see that going?
It's all about the customer experience and realizing that customers have choice - and making their experience in the dealership that much more positive. At the end of the day, if you take your car in to be fixed, it's going to cost you money. So, the idea is to give people a positive experience, to not make it any worse for them.
I see that trend continuing and growing. I see dealerships now that are putting in cook counters, where you can have a full lunch. They have Wi-Fi, work stations, printers so you don't have to miss time from work. It's no different than the hotel industry, which is a home-away-from-home environment. Dealerships are just reflecting that.
I see that growing. We've done a good job as an industry.
Next, I called Bob Redinger, President and General Manager of Ready Honda in Mississauga who writes the Dealer's Voice column for Wheels:
Where are we going?
I see fractional ownership among millennials. They are either going to own cars and sub-rent them out or they will just rent what they need. But that will change once they have families and then the need (to own) will increase, and I think you'll see a shift back to typical ownership like we see today.
Dealerships have changed dramatically. Where do you see that going?
I see a different model. Millennials are buying things like clothing online, and they go to retailers to see the product, but then go home and order it/them online. I see that happening in our industry.
You will still have the service aspect, but that may change. It might be that servicing will be done at the consumer's convenience. You will take a mobile service to the consumer, and if it's something major, then you bring the vehicle into the shop. The example I use is that you don't take your washing machine in to have it fixed; somebody comes to fix it at your house.
What will electrification do to the automobile industry?
I see a mix. I see fuel cells and internal combustion. I think electricity is just the catalyst to get the movement going in that direction. I don't think it's the end game. It's not viable.
Autonomous cars? I see driver-aided cars, but I don't see them being completely autonomous. There is too much to rely on, starting with the system in the car itself. What if it fails? It's a skill to be able to drive. Do you want to lose that skill? I don't think so.
There is something positive about autonomous cars, though. They will be great for older generations. There won't be restrictions if you're 85 or 90 - you can still own a car and not have to worry.
Last, I talked to Prof. Hussein Mouftah, Canada Research Chair and Distinguished University Professor, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Ottawa.
Where are we going?
There will be more electrification of cars, whether they are taxis or shared cars. Buses will also be electrified.
More than 75 per cent of vehicles will be electrified. But not all of them will be autonomous because some people will still like to drive. I would suggest 30 to 40 per cent of vehicles in the next 30 years will be autonomous.
People who do not like to drive will participate in shared-car networks.
What will electrification do to the automobile service industry?
There will be a changing of skills and manpower. When automation was introduced, we were concerned that jobs would disappear. But the jobs did not really disappear; they just changed in nature. We have seen the Internet. There were fears that some jobs would disappear but it turned out that other jobs were created and people are now working in the Internet industry.
Jobs will be created according to the change of technology - the advancement of technology.
Will there be fuels other than electricity?
For sure. We've been talking 75 per cent electrification, but hydrogen will play a part, as will gasoline. However, if I compared the hydrogen business with the electricity business, I would say electricity will grow much faster.
What about batteries? They take up half the car these days
Batteries will become smaller, and as they get smaller, the rate of electrification will become that much faster. You might change the battery instead of charging it. And if that happens, the batteries will also be cheaper.
The Ontario government wants many more people to purchase EVs. Will the price of electricity go up for EV owners?
Not necessarily. The government is encouraging people to buy EVs, and that's why they have a rebate system. But those rebates may stop if a large number of EVs are on the road. Perhaps the attention will then turn to mass transit - buses and trains will be electrified. LRTs will be completely electrified.
And to all of the above, I say: We'll see.


What Will the World of Wheels be Like in 30 Years?..................................

Friday, 21 October 2016

The Apple Car is Dead, as Efforts Shift to Software

Code named Project Titan, Apple's highly secretive foray into building its own car is in a major tailspin. According to Automotive News Apple has abandoned the project in favor of developing a software-based autonomous drive system. Apple insiders note a cataclysmic failure of leadership at Project Titan, which has seen "hundreds" of team members quit, fired, or reassigned.AN reports that Apple executives have introduced a deadline of late 2017 for Project Titan to demonstrate the capability of its autonomous drive system and settle on the division's future. Although Apple is leaving open the possibility of making a self-driving car, all evidence points to it developing autonomous drive software that would be sold to automakers and other third parties.
Despite enormous investments, a hiring spree, and an ambitious target of early next decade, Project Titan hit numerous snags by the end of 2015 after kicking off just one year before. Whether its wary tech investors, executives and engineers jumping ship, or supplier issues, Apple's self-driving car project has been on the rocks more than it's been on the straight and narrow.
Apple Car doors open rendering
Investors are reportedly wary of the auto industry's slimmer profit margins of "well below 10 percent," compared to much more abundant return in the tech world. Debates over strategy among management didn't help either, nor did the exit of project head Steve Zadesky (formerly of Ford) in early 2016. By May, new project chief Bob Mansfield, a "highly regarded manager" responsible for the original iPad, put the kibosh on the Apple Car. That move unsurprisingly did not inspire confidence, resulting in the exodus of engineers in the following months. Two sets of layoffs, in August and September, followed soon after.
AN reports that in addition to regulatory experts helping navigate the complicated red tape of the auto industry, the remaining software engineers are "working on autonomous programs, vision sensors, and simulators for testing the platform in real-world environments."
It's unclear when we'll know more, given the heavy veil of secrecy surrounding Project Titan up to this point. If anything has become clear, however, it's that developing an autonomous car is proving a whole lot more complicated than the tech industry thought.
volkswagen mib ii infotainment apple carplay


The Apple Car is Dead, as Efforts  Shift to Software.............

Friday, 14 October 2016

BMW expecting hybrid, EV sales boost within 10 years

BMW expects sales of its electrified cars to surge in the next decade as the technology hits the mainstream, putting it in a race against Tesla and Mercedes Benz.
Plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars across the BMW and Mini brands could account for between 15 and 25 per cent of sales in about 10 years, BMW CEO Harald Krueger said in an interview. To put it in context, that's potentially more than half a million cars based on 2015 sales of 2.25 million vehicles, and compares with a 2 per cent share of deliveries now.
"With more range and more infrastructure being available, you'll see more electrified vehicles," Krueger said during a visit to Los Angeles. "We need some time for this movement and development, but it's nothing that'll go away."
Automakers are under pressure to sell more battery-powered vehicles to make good on heavy investment in the technology and meet tightening emissions regulation. Volkswagen, Opel and Renault are among the European automakers readying models that can drive several hundred miles on a single charge. Volkswagen's I.D. concept - due to go on sale by 2020 - will have a range that's almost twice as long as Tesla's upcoming Model 3.
BMW, which has an all-electric car and a plug-in hybrid that make up its more environmentally friendly "i" sub-brand, was one of the first European manufacturers to produce a standalone electric vehicle. Last month, it unveiled plans for a battery battery powered Mini and an all electric version of the BMW X3 crossover, indicating that the company considers the technology ready for a mainstream rollout.
Luxury Rivals
After claiming the first-mover crown among major carmakers, BMW's efforts slowed as limited driving range and high costs made buyers wary. The i3, which came to market in 2013, costs about $42,400. BMW also offers seven models with plug-in hybrid technology, such as the 7 series and the i8.
As ranges improve and costs drop, competition is intensifying. Mercedes-Benz, set to overtake BMW this year as the world's best-selling luxury automaker for the first time in a decade, predicts electric vehicles will account for as much as 25 per cent of its deliveries by 2025. Mercedes plans to produce at least 10 all electric models by then, and is working on a coupe-style SUV that's part of a new standalone sub-brand dubbed EQ.
European automakers are responding to the threat posed by Tesla, which has proved that cars can be eco-friendly and cool at the same time. The U.S. company is boosting output at its California factory with the aim of making 500,000 vehicles a year by 2018.
Tesla's more established rivals have emphasized plans to manufacture electric models on production lines that also make cars with combustion engines, setting them up for a flexible response to growing demand.
"Electric cars are very important for the future - if you'd like to offer sustainable mobility solutions then you need electrified products," said Krueger. "But in the next couple of years you'll still have combustion engines."


BMW Expecting Hybrid, EV Sales Boost Within 10 Years..................

Friday, 7 October 2016

Volvo to debut car-to-car communication this year

Volvo will launch car-to-car communication in its top model line in Europe before the end of the year, joining Mercedes-Benz and Toyota on a shortlist of automakers offering systems that allow vehicles to exchange information, giving the driver advanced warning about poor road conditions or obstacles further ahead.
The Swedish automaker earlier this month released details on its of its cloud-based solution at the launch of the new V90 Cross Country, which it just one of the models that will offer the technology.
"All vehicles in the 90 series - the S90, V90 and XC90 -- will be equipped with it as of the end of this year," Volvo Senior Vice President for r&d Peter Mertens told Automotive News Europe.
Mercedes announced in January that the E class would be its first series-production model with fully integrated car-to-car communication. Mercedes' system is already active in combination with the Comand Online infotainment system and is available in 20 European markets, the U.S. and China.
Mercedes' and Volvo's technology differs from the system that Toyota debuted in the Crown last year in Japan. Variants of Toyota's midsize luxury sedan that are equipped with its so-called intelligent transportation system (ITS) transmit data between cars and the infrastructure using a 760-megahertz frequency.
The Crown can "talk" with similarly equipped cars as well as receive warnings sent by emergency vehicles and information about a traffic light that is about to change from the transportation infrastructure.
Slippery road ahead
Volvo's solution, which it co-developed with Swedish telecom company Ericsson, will be able to send and receive warnings on slick roads and other hazards.
The slippery-road alert is activated based on road-friction information from the car's steering, braking and acceleration sensors.
The other warning is activated when the hazard lights are used, giving connected motorists a pre-warning about oncoming problems or a vehicle that is stuck in a dangerous position.
This image shows how Volvo's slippery road alert will function.
"We use a cloud-based system so we don't need to have a direct link between the vehicles," Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson said while presenting the technology. "It allows us to analyze the information and to look for the ideal distribution to other cars." A data connection to the internet in the car is required for the system to work.
More countries, more rivals
Volvo's system is similar to the one Mercedes uses in the E class, although Volvo executives say its solution uses a self-developed protocol. Mertens added that the technology will become more useful over time.
"Of course, it will be better when all cars are using a similar system," he said. "We will introduce it in the coming generations of our vehicles as well." Mertens added that the new system will be rolled out in other countries but declined to elaborate.
Other automakers working on similar systems include Cadillac, Audi and Jaguar Land Rover.
Cadillac aims to launch car-to-car communication in some of its 2017 models sold in the U.S. Audi is offering the Q7 and A4 with vehicle-to-infrastructure systems in so-called "smart cities" in the U.S. that include Las Vegas, Nevada, and Seattle, Washington. Cars with the system will display a countdown before a red light turns green and also will offer a countdown showing when it is too late to get through an approaching intersection before the light turns red.
Jaguar Land Rover will start real-time testing of car-to-car systems in the UK and in the U.S. city of Ann Arbor, Michigan.


Volvo to Debut Car to Car Communication This Year.................................

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Self-driving technology misunderstood: survey

Google has one goal: To make its cars fully autonomous. There is no in between, the company says.
Canadians would be willing to engage in some seriously dangerous behaviour while at the wheel of semi-autonomous vehicles, according to a new survey released Sept. 29.
The Traffic Injury Research Foundation in partnership with the Toyota Canada Foundation found some Canadians would nap, text, work and even drink and drive behind the wheel of a semi-autonomous vehicle.
In a statement, TIRF CEO Robyn Robertson called the results startling.
"These findings underscored that drivers are not aware of their continued role in the safety equation as these vehicles become available," Robertson said.
"Such misperceptions have real potential to negatively affect driver behaviour and result in either unintentional misuse or abuse of technologies that are able to assist drivers, but not replace them."
Specifically, the survey found:
Almost 25 per cent of drivers would drive tired or fatigued;
17 per cent would engage in a non-driving activity such as texting, reading or working more than they do now; 10 per cent would be more willing to sleep behind the wheel; nine per cent said they would drink and drive.
Expectations are high that even semi-autonomous vehicles will dramatically reduce road crashes and produce a range of other benefits, TIRF said.
Technology misunderstood Canadians will want to use semi-autonomous vehicles to drive in bad weather, heavy traffic and poor road conditions, but these are precisely the conditions under which automated technology is currently most likely to fail, the agency warned.
"The results of this poll demonstrated that the limitations of automated vehicle technology are not well understood by the general public," said Robertson, who was also the survey's lead researcher. 
The survey also found nearly one in six Canadians believe they would not have to be attentive when driving a semi-autonomous vehicle or even be prepared to take control of one unexpectedly.
"This study tells us that we as an industry still have lots of work to do when it comes to educating drivers about the capabilities and limitations of the technology," Toyota Canada Vice-President Stephen Beatty said in the same statement. "Some organizations will tell you that automated vehicle technology is intended to replace the driver."
All or nothing That's precisely what Google is trying to do with its self-driving car project. 
Speaking at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit in January, Google made it clear it wants nothing less than fully autonomous cars.
Toyota did announce in April that it will open an "autonomous vehicle research base" in Ann Arbor, Mich., in conjunction with the University of Michigan. 
The automaker now has three such facilities in the U.S. All have ties to elite universities specializing in artificial intelligence and self-driving vehicles.
Enhance, not replace Until Toyota develops its own autonomous car, it believes there is plenty of room and demand for semi-autonomous vehicles right now, as long as drivers use them wisely.
"Our view is that advanced active safety technology is meant to enhance a driver's control of their vehicle, but that it is not a replacement for a knowledgeable and attentive driver," Beatty said.
More vehicles on the road today than ever feature semi-autonomous technologies like lane-keeping and forward collision warning systems.


Self Driving Technology Misunderstood: Survey..............................................