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BMW Mulling Possibility of Eliminating Car Keys

Ubiquitousness of cell phones drives possibility.

by on Sep.15, 2017

BMW board member Ian Robertson suggested that car keys may be last year's "technology" as the maker contemplates dumping them for smart phone apps.

Everyone has scrambled around the house, searching for keys sat down in some place not remembered. BMW is considering making that harried episode a part of our past by eliminating keys for its vehicles in the future.

The Bavarian automaker may convert the key function to an app that can be loaded onto one’s cell phone since everyone has a cell phone, noted Ian Robertson, the company’s board member responsible for sales.

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“Honestly, how many people really need it,” he told Reuters, suggesting technology existed to make it so customers no longer had to put the key in the ignition to make the car start. (more…)

Ford Ponies Up $5M for American Center for Mobility

Matches Toyota's $5 million donation.

by on Sep.15, 2017

Ford is donating $5 million to help sponsor the new American Center for Mobility near Detroit.

Ford Motor Co. is now the second automaker to invest in the American Center for Mobility driverless vehicle test site. The automaker is putting $5 million into 335-acre facility, giving it a “founder-level” sponsorship.

The move follows Toyota’s $5 million donation earlier this year to help jump start the site, located at the former Willow Run bomber plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, a western suburb of Detroit. It is expected to begin operations in December. AT&T is also a founding sponsor. The ACM is expected to cost $110 million.

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Ken Washington, Ford vice president of research and advanced engineering and chief technology officer, noted the company’s investment keeps Michigan at the forefront of autonomous technology development. (more…)

GM’s Barra Pushes For Government Help with China EV Sales

CEO says automaker will meet the mandates.

by on Sep.15, 2017

GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said consumers in China will need government enticements to buy EVs in the numbers it wants.

If the Chinese government wants a flood of electric vehicles racing around the streets of its largest cities, GM CEO Mary Barra believes they’re going to need to provide some substantial incentives to consumers to lure them behind the wheel.

Barra, who was speaking at company event in Shanghai, said the move toward new-energy vehicles, or NEVs, will require the government to entice a market that is very comfortable with gasoline-powered cars to make the switch along with viable products.

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“While we are exploring all channels to boost NEV sales, building raw consumer acceptance of NEVs will depend on continued joint effort between the government and automakers,” Barra said, according to Reuters. (more…)

Renault-Nissan Come Even Closer as They Double Down Bet on Battery Power

Alliance targets annual sales of 14 mil vehicles, revenues of $240 bil.

by on Sep.15, 2017

Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said the Alliance expects to sell 14 million vehicles annually by 2022.

Renault and Nissan plan to double their savings by drawing even closer as part of what often is held up as the world’s most successful automotive alliance.

Together, the Renault-Nissan Alliance, which also includes Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors, has sold more vehicles than any other company in the world so far this year, leap-frogging competitors Volkswagen and Toyota. Now, as part of the new Alliance 2022 strategy, the goal is to boost global sales nearly 40%, to 14 million a year by 2022, Renault-Nissan Alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn said Friday. The partners also announced their goal of having electrified vehicles represent 30% of its global total.

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“This plan will boost the growth and profitability of our member companies,” said Ghosn. “We intend to deliver on growing synergies, with three autonomous companies cooperating with the efficiency of one. The Alliance has grown and performed with two members since 1999. With Alliance 2022, we will prove that we will grow and perform with three companies or more.” (more…)

GM Facing Strike Deadline in Canada

Talks with Ingersoll employees down to economic issues.

by on Sep.15, 2017

Unifor workers at GM's CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, still angry about losing 700 jobs, are ready to strike.

General Motors faces a strike deadline at a key Canadian plant that builds one of its newest and hottest-selling vehicles.

More than 3,000 members of Unifor Local 88 in Ingersoll, Ontario, are poised to go on strike at 11:59 p.m., Sept. 17. Last month, members of Local 88 overwhelming approved a strike if their negotiators could not reach an agreement with GM.

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Workers at the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, which GM once operated as a joint venture with Suzuki, are covered by an agreement that is separate from the agreement that Unifor signed with GM in September 2016. (more…)

VW Recalls 4.86M Vehicles in China with Takata Airbags

Chinese safety authorities have asked GM, Daimler to recall vehicles too.

by on Sep.14, 2017

As many as 18 people are known to have died due to faulty Takata airbag inflators. Now they are being recalled in China.

The Takata airbag crisis has spread to China where Volkswagen and its Chinese partners are recalling 4.86 million vehicles equipped with the supplier’s dangerous airbags.

Volkswagen and its Chinese joint ventures FAW-Volkswagen and SAIC Volkswagen implemented the action after Chinese regulators pushed the companies, as well as General Motors and Daimler AG, to recall vehicles with the airbags.

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Volkswagen told Reuters that after discussions, Chinese authorities had concluded the fault could occur in rare cases when the air bag was deployed, “which may create a potential safety risk.” The company added that it acted upon “advice from the Chinese safety authority” in deciding to recall the vehicles. (more…)

A Series of New Setbacks for Tesla

Debut of Electric Truck Delayed; top Musk lieutenant resigns.

by on Sep.14, 2017

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and his EV company have had a tough week, but investors are hanging in there.

It’s turning into a tough week for Tesla, the battery-carmaker hit with a series of potentially serious setbacks, delays and challenges.

That includes the departure of one of CEO Elon Musk’s most trusted lieutenants and an unexpected delay in the planned roll-out of Tesla’s heavy-duty electric truck. Meanwhile, the automaker is going to be facing a much more direct challenge from a broad range of established automakers now moving into the battery-car space.

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Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board this week issued its conclusion that Tesla’s Autopilot system played a “major role” in a May 2016 crash that killed a former Navy SEAL driving a Tesla Model S sedan. (more…)

Renault Driverless Electric Symbioz Concept Merges Home and Car

Press a button for a “French Kiss.”

by on Sep.14, 2017

Renault's Symbioz Concept made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show and reflects how we might live our lives in the future.

For many folks, the automobile has become a second home. So why not make the car quite literally part of one’s house?

What happens when automakers begin delivering their first driverless, connected and battery-powered vehicles in the coming decade? Such vehicles are expected to dramatically change not only the way we travel but many aspects of the way we live our lives more broadly – or so says Renault, which is giving a glimpse of how this might happen with the debut of its Symbioz concept car at this week’s Frankfurt Motor Show.

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As the name implies, embraces symbiosis, the concept of living together in harmony. In this case, it is envisioned as “an integrated house and car.” And, no, Renault isn’t suggesting you sell your home and live out of the backseat of the Symbioz, but it actually could operate as an additional room for your existing house, and even provide back-up power in the event of a grid outage. (more…)

Jaguar Launching I-Pace Electric Race Series

“Arrive and Drive” program will serve as warm-up to Formula E series.

by on Sep.14, 2017

Jaguar's I-Pace race car version will find life as the maker plans to participate in Formula E.

Jaguar Land Rover is plugging into battery power in a big way. It plans to not only launch electrified drivetrain options for every vehicle in its line-up but is making a big push into electric racing.

Already one of the growing list of manufacturers competing in the Formula E series, the Jaguar side of the British automaker this week announced the world’s first production battery-electric vehicle race series.

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The 10-event series will showcase JLR’s first battery-electric model, the I-Pace eTrophy to serve as a support series for Formula E. The program will be opened to anyone “holding the relevant international race license,” the automaker announced, though there will be a “VIP driver” at every race, as well. (more…)

Nexteer, Continental Partnering to Develop Autonomous Tech

New JV is based in Michigan.

by on Sep.14, 2017

Nexteer Automotive is forming a JV with Continental AG to develop autonomous vehicle components.

With the race to put autonomous vehicles on the road rapidly gaining momentum, two established automotive suppliers are teaming up to build some of the critical components that make self-driving cars possible.

Nexteer Automotive, which was once part of General Motors but is now owned by a Chinese investment fund, and Continental, a German company supplying everything from tires to electronics to top automakers all over the world, have created a joint venture to develop autonomous vehicles.

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Joint ventures, partnerships and other forms of collaboration have become the preferred way for organizing resources to meet the challenges inherent in developing affordable automated vehicles. (more…)