There’s irony in the connection between two key themes running through just-auto‘s news this week – the latest round of ingenious electronic trickery unveiled through the first ever virtual CES show (a moment of silence for the huge loss to Las Vegas’ hospitality and entertainment sectors, please; this could stick) and the acute shortage of chips which power said electronics.
Back in my earlier journalist days, I gigged freelance shifts for a well known global publisher of personal and business computing magazines and, early 90s, CES – the Consumer Electronics show in ‘Vegas – was the holy grail. A media trip invitation, or an employer funded excursion offer, made the editors gleeful for months ahead and turned the rest of us drones in Sector Seven C green with envy, even more so when said editors returned from the States to the office laden with ‘blags’ (corporate gifts to attending media) and enough press packs to guarantee several months’ worth of copy. I’ve been a fan of consumer electronics (not called that then) since devices such as radios, TVs and tape recorders (remember them?) contained valves (tubes) and voltages lethal to the unwary DIY-er so, when I finally got to see CES for myself a few years ago, as a guest of Kia’s UK unit, I was simply blown away by the arrays of leading-edge TVs, phones, tablets, smart home appliances and all the rest.
Notably, over the last decade or so, CES, has also been a show and tell launching ground for the auto industry as the quantity of electronic devices in cars grows by the model year and the sector marches towards electrification and autonomous and the need for AI and other trickery. We ain’t seen nuffink yet. Our coverage this year, conveniently packaged in one take-home pack, is a mere snapshot of a fraction of what was rolled out this week virtually and globally, and also contains some excellent interviews conducted by our resident tech and interiors guru. Enjoy.
Alongside the launch of a whole new slew of auto electronics, came the disturbing scenario of a chips shortage, seemingly caused by a perfect storm of increased demand for non-auto product, as consumers of games and home entertainment were locked down worldwide for months and sent out, via Amazon et al for new toys to banish the boredom, increased use of newly purchased cars, where possible, to dodge sharing public transport with potentially COVID-19 infected strangers, a shortage of chip industry capacity (the capital equipment is so expensive and time intensive to install, spare manufacturing capability all but does not exist) and recent Trump administration attempts to curtail Chinese dominance and influence of the tech sector. Whew! We have increasingly been tracking all the developments and effects on the auto industry, and our news reports – and GlobalData’s own in-house analysis – are all packaged here.
Away from all that hullabaloo, came a clear indication of Ford strategy under new president and CEO, Jim Farley, the announcement Ford Brazil would cease production at its Camacari, Taubate and Troller plants during 2021, as it said the ‘COVID-19 pandemic amplifies persistent industry idle capacity and slow sales that have resulted in years of significant losses’. Ford said it would serve the region from its global product portfolio, including vehicle lines such as the Ranger pickup built in Argentina, new Transit van, Bronco and Mustang Mach 1. The company also said it plans to accelerate the introduction of several new connected and electrified models. Ford also maintains full customer support operations with sales, service, aftermarket parts and warranty support in Brazil and South America. It will also maintain its product development center in Bahia, its proving ground in Tatui, Sao Paulo, and its regional headquarters also in São Paulo. We have been fortunate for decades to retain the services of well connected Brazilian auto correspondents and their reports over the years have shown the boom or bust nature of Brazil’s economy and related effects on the autobiz there – Ford’s decision is hard for the thousands of affected redundant workers but quite understandable.
A shake-out which began a year ago is seeing many brands disappear from China’s monthly sales charts. For a while, Anhui Jianghuai Automobile also looked vulnerable. Instead, this medium-sized car maker has found a niche by contract manufacturing EVs and continuing a steady roll-out of of its own JAC-brand models. Nio and Volkswagen are key to the future of JAC, our future products guru concluded.
4D imaging radar – Is this the Next Big Thing to define automotive safety standards? Vayyar, an Israeli based startup, says its production-ready radar-on-chip platform has the safety credentials to redefine automotive standards, offering automakers and tier one suppliers in-cabin and ADAS high-end safety features for all vehicles, including economy models. To learn more, we spoke to Ian Podkamien, Head of Automotive at Vayyar.
Operating profit of EUR2.0bn in the first three quarters, along with EUR19.4bn in sales means Porsche AG is in great shape. The decision to create an EV also seems to be paying off with more than 11,000 Taycans sold in the same period. There’s quite a few more new and reinvented models to come too.
Rumours have persisted for a number of years that US electronics giant Apple is exploring options for entering the automotive industry. Now, adding fuel to the fire is the revelation by South Korean automaker Hyundai that it is in early talks with Apple, potentially signalling a collaboration between the two. No details of the discussions have been made public so far but they are likely to be focused on addressing megatrends including autonomous and electrified vehicles, along with drawing on Apple’s tech experience to develop connected vehicle technologies.
Maximising the time we spend in a car has become a major focus for manufacturers as the auto industry prepares for automated driving. Tomorrow’s cockpit will be digital and immersive to create a more personalised, versatile and connected user experience (UX) allowing all occupants to make the most of their time onboard. To learn more about smart cockpits and how the market place for LiDAR is evolving, we caught up with Ulrich Lueders, Director Strategy & Portfolio, Business Unit Human Machine Interface at Continental and Arnaud Lagandré, Head of Business Unit Advanced Driver Assistance Systems North America at Continental.
In a two-part series, the existing and next generation models of GWM’s Pao and Ora brands, along with Great Wall itself, were examined. The magnifier turned next to Wey and Haval.
BYD this week officially launched its new DM-i hybrid system and three models at an event in Shenzhen. The system uses BYD’s own plug-in hybrid technology “based mostly on electricity which delivers high speeds while bringing a quiet, smooth ride that saves energy, making vehicles green and eco-friendly”, according to the automaker. The system brings fuel consumption down to 3.8l/100km, and the combined fuel and electric cruising range exceeds 1,200km (745 miles) while the acceleration time from 0-100km/h (62mph) is claimed to be 2-3 seconds faster than that of similar fuel vehicles.
Details of the evolving tie-up between Honda and General Motors to build electric vehicles together are beginning to emerge. In April 2020, the two companies confirmed they would work together to jointly develop platforms and technologies to support a range of new battery-electric vehicles. This coincided with the reveal of the pair’s Ultium-branded EV hardware primarily based around new lithium-ion batteries co-developed with LG Chem.
China’s expanding electric vehicle (EV) market is becoming an increasingly significant engine of economic growth in the country. According to Beijing government statistics more than 55,000 new companies involved in the new energy vehicle (NEV) segment were established in the country in the first eleven months of 2020.
Aptiv has announced a new Level 1-3 capable ADAS platform. It has developing advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) for 20 years, from launching the industry’s claimed first radar-based adaptive cruise control system in 1999 to its autonomous driving joint venture, Motional, which will be among the first to put fully driverless vehicles on public roads. Its first generation automated driving satellite compute platform integrates its satellite architecture and active safety software, perception systems and compute and is being used by multiple OEMs for 10m vehicles over the next few years.
General Motors is launching a new US marketing campaign as part of efforts to accelerate mass adoption of electric vehicles. “The Everybody In campaign is a call to action meant to reflect a movement that’s inclusive and accessible,” the automaker said in a statement. There is also a GM electric vehicle initiative – BrightDrop – aimed at the urban delivery and logistics sector.
All in all, a busy week.
Have a nice weekend.
Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor, just-auto.com