On 3rd March 2019, Volvo Electric Buses and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU) launched Volvo 7900, the world’s first full size, autonomous electric bus. The single deck electric bus is 12 meters long and has a full capacity of 80 passengers. The autonomous electric bus is equipped with Global Positioning System, numerous sensors, stereo video cameras for recording the surround view, and navigation controls managed by a comprehensive artificial intelligence.
On 4th March 2019, Sono Motors, a German electric vehicle start-up, unveiled an updated production design of the Sion, an electric car with full-surface integrated solar cells. These solar cells are embedded in hard-wearing and resilient polymer, which also contribute to the vehicle’s design aesthetic. The Sion is aimed at the European market. Sono Motors started registering pre-orders for Sion and has successfully recorded registrations for more than 9,000 units. The company declared that it would initiate the production of Sion in Sweden by mid-2020.
The pressing need of the transportation industry to produce lightweight vehicles with superior functional capabilities is driving the lightweight metal alloys penetration in the industry. CAFÉ regulations and growing demand for electric vehicles are pushing the automakers to adopt lightweight solutions. Aluminum and magnesium alloys are the most commonly used lightweight metals, followed by titanium and beryllium. Lightweight material can drastically reduce the overall weight of the vehicle, reduce CO2 emissions, improve fuel consumption, and are completely recyclable.
Alstom, a leading player in the railway technology, would showcase its latest technologies at the Eurasia Rail from 10-12 April 2019 in Izmir, Turkey. The latest technologies include Coradia iLint, the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell powered passenger train, and Pendolino, a flexible and interoperable passenger rail solution for high-speed and conventional trains that run at a speed of up to 250 km/h. The company would also showcase services for trains, infrastructure, and rail control systems. The highly reliable APS technology reduces the light rail lines and helps in preserving the urban environment. Atlas Trainborne is another technology that offers multiple Specific Transmission Modules (STMs) for compatibility with conventional systems.
The US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandated the use of ELD for commercial vehicles from December 18, 2017. A 2-year window, till December 16, 2019, has been provided for vehicles that already have ELDs in place to update these devices as per FMCSA’s ELD technical specifications. Electronic logging device, also known as digital tachograph in Europe, is designed to record data related to the operation of the vehicle and driver activity. The driver information mainly concerns the hours of service (HOS), breaks, and driving behavior. The fleet operators are restricted to a maximum number of hours they can drive between rest periods. According to FMCSA, the ELD mandate will result in a USD 2.44 billion savings, most of which will be attributed to the amount of time drivers will save by not having to complete and submit time logs. In 2006, a similar mandate was implemented in European countries. As per the rule, from May 2006, all new vehicles over 3.5 ton in Europe had to be equipped with a tachograph. Later, in 2016, the European Commission adopted legislation defining new technical specifications for smart tachographs.
Volkswagen and Microsoft shared progress on the development of the Volkswagen Automotive Cloud. The Volkswagen Automotive Cloud is to be extended to further regions of the world and will be available in Europe, China, and the USA—the core markets for the future, full-electric, and fully connected ID model family. Volkswagen and Microsoft are also working on the first lighthouse projects for connected vehicle services. They are concentrating on communication and navigation solutions as well as personalized services: These will leverage self-learning algorithms facilitating the use of services in vehicles and offering occupants extended functions. Automated linking into telephone conferences and transfer of prepared navigation destinations will only be the first steps, which will also include the integration of Microsoft Skype and Microsoft Office.
On 6th March 2019, Waymo announced its entry in the automotive sensors market with the selling of laser-mapping sensors (LiDAR) to other companies. Waymo uses the same sensors in its driverless vehicles. As Waymo has a strong presence in self-driving cars, the move to foray in the LiDAR market can prove to be an effective business strategy for the company. The new sensor division will compete with Velodyne Lidar Inc, a leading player in the automotive LiDAR market.
Lyft’s recent announcement to introduce its IPO or initial public offering is likely to help the company gain an edge over its major competitor Uber. Lyft is estimated to go public with a valuation of USD 25 billion compared to a USD 120 billion valuation of Uber. With this development, Lyft will become the first mobility startup to go public.
Recently, Tesla announced that they will include CCS adapter also in their Model S and X vehicles delivered in Europe, which implies that the buyers of a new Tesla EV in Europe will have access to the Tesla Superchargers as well CCS fast chargers. It should also be noted that, in November 2018, Tesla declared that Model 3 vehicles rolled out in the European market would come with a CCS combo 2 charge port. This will be a great boost for the exponential growth of the CCS EV connector market in the coming years.