BOOK : A luxury vehicle subscription service by Cadillac

Within three months of taking the corner office at Cadillac, Johann de Nysschen announced plans to move the brand’s longtime headquarters from Detroit to New York.

Why did he do it? De Nysshen had been hired to reinvent General Motors’ struggling luxury brand, and to achieve that goal, he wanted to put Cadillac smack in the middle of the city that he called “the epicenter of sophisticated living”.

Put another way, de Nysschen wanted to make Cadillac elite, so he took it to where the elites live.

Yesterday, de Nysschen announced a new program that could boost Cadillac’s profile even further. It’s called BOOK. (It’s so upscale, it’s all uppercase.)

Changing needs

These are exciting times in the auto industry. Car companies around the globe are working night and day to replace gasoline engines with battery packs and to develop software that can handle driving duties.

But many in the field are predicting a bigger shift–one that could ruin conventional automakers and put upstart start-ups on top. That shift is away from individual car ownership and toward car-sharing and ride-sharing.

Smart automakers are already trying to gain a foothold in those areas. For example, Toyota has invested in ride-sharing behemoth Uber, while General Motors has done the same with Lyft. GM has also created its own car-sharing service called Maven, which allows users to borrow vehicles from a GM-owned fleet for errands and other short trips.

That’s where BOOK comes in.

What is BOOK?

At heart, BOOK is a car-sharing service, but it’s far tonier than Maven, RelayRides, or their competitors. With BOOK, users are given a Cadillac to use as they please, for as long as they please.

Users can pick from a range of vehicles to suit their needs: a sleek sedan for a weekend roadtrip, a spacious SUV for a jaunt to an antique mall, and so on. The service will launch with a fleet that includes Platinum-trim Cadillacs like the XT5, CT6, Escalade, and V Series.

BOOK users request those vehicles via a mobile app. And since this is Cadillac we’re talking about, the cars arrive in style. According to the automaker, “The vehicles will be delivered via white-glove concierge to members’ requested locations and exchanged at their leisure or as their needs change.”

Of course, this kind of service ain’t cheap. Using BOOK runs a tidy $1,500 per month, which covers unlimited use of the car, as well as registration, taxes, insurance premiums, and maintenance. However, you’ll still have to fill up the tank, and you’ll need to find a place to park the vehicle. If you’re in an urban area–as many BOOK users are likely to be–parking could easily add $500 or more per month. That’s especially true in New York City, where BOOK will first launch.

Will BOOK help put Cadillac on equal footing with leading luxury brands like BMW and Mercedes-Benz? Will it lay the foundation for a solid future, giving Cadillac a leg-up in the evolving sphere called “mobility”?

We have no idea, but if you’re ready to sign up, check out the promo video above, then take a spin over to BOOKByCadillac.com.

The article is originally written by Richard Read in The Car Connection

Daimler joins Linux Foundation’s open source project Automotive-Grade-Linux(AGL)

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 5, 2017: CESAutomotive Grade Linux (AGL), a collaborative open source project developing a Linux-based, open platform for the connected car, today announced that Daimler is joining The Linux Foundation and Automotive Grade Linux.

Daimler is the tenth automaker to join AGL and will actively contribute to developing the Unified Code Base (UCB), AGL’s connected car platform. The third version of the UCB was recently released and is on display at CES 2017 in the AGL Demo Suite at the Bellagio Hotel.

“Automakers are becoming software companies, and just like in the tech industry, they are realizing that open source is the way forward,” said Dan Cauchy, Executive Director of Automotive Grade Linux. “We are excited to welcome our first major German automaker to AGL. Daimler’s expertise in developing intuitive, high-end technology will help us ensure that the AGL infotainment platform is user-friendly and can be customized to meet the diverse needs of drivers.”

Automotive Grade Linux members are working together to create a shared platform that can serve as the de facto industry standard. Adopting an open platform across the industry enables automakers and suppliers to share and reuse the same code base, which will reduce development costs, decrease time-to-market for new products and reduce fragmentation across the industry.

About Daimler AG

With its Mercedes-Benz Cars, Daimler Trucks, Mercedes-Benz Vans, Daimler Buses and Daimler Financial Services divisions, Daimler AG is one of the largest producers of premium cars and the largest globally operative manufacturer of commercial vehicles. As an automotive pioneer, Daimler continues to shape the future of mobility today: the company applies innovative and green technologies to produce safe and superior vehicles which fascinate and delight customers. Daimler invests continually in the development of alternative powertrains – from hybrid vehicles to all-electric vehicles with battery or fuel cell – with the goal of making emission-free driving possible in the long term. Furthermore, the company follows a consistent path towards accident-free driving and intelligent connectivity all the way to autonomous driving.

About Automotive Grade Linux (AGL)
Automotive Grade Linux is a collaborative open source project that is bringing together automakers, suppliers and technologies to accelerate the development and adoption of a fully open software stack for the connected car. With Linux at its core, AGL is developing an open platform from the ground up that can serve as the de facto industry standard to enable rapid development of new features and technologies. Although initially focused on In-Vehicle-Infotainment (IVI), AGL is the only organization planning to address all software in the vehicle, including instrument cluster, heads up display, telematics, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving. The AGL platform is available to all, and anyone can participate in its development. Learn more at: https://www.automotivelinux.org/

Automotive Grade Linux is a Collaborative Project at The Linux Foundation. Linux Foundation Collaborative Projects are independently funded software projects that harness the power of collaborative development to fuel innovation across industries and ecosystems.

The Linux Foundation has registered trademarks and uses trademarks. For a list of trademarks of The Linux Foundation, please see our trademark usage page: https://www.linuxfoundation.org/trademark-usage. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds.

Source: The Linux Foundation

Donald Trump threatens Toyota over vehicle imports from Mexico

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Donald Trump’s tweet; Image Source: Link

Following recent attacks on Ford and GM for existing and planned imports of vehicles into the US from Mexico, US president-elect Donald Trump has now turned his attention to Toyota.

In a tweet posted on Thursday (January 5th) Trump said: “Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for US. NO WAY! Build plant in US or pay big border tax.”

Trump’s criticism of Toyota is somewhat misplaced, as it not building a new plant in Baja; it already has a plant there in Tijuana, which builds the Toyota Tacoma. It is, however, building a $1 billion plant in Guanajuato, which it plans to open in 2019 and will make the Corolla, with a production capacity of 200,000 units a year.

The OEM said previously that its decision to build in Guanajuato was part of a broader initiative at Toyota to drive supply chain, logistics and production efficiency between plants. It said the new plant would “leverage the existing robust supply base and transportation infrastructure in the region.”

Toyota defends position

Toyota was quick to respond to the criticism from Trump, stating that neither production volume nor employment in the US would decrease as a result of the new Guanajuato plant.

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Toyota Motor Corporation’s tweet in response to Trump’s tweet; Image Source: Link

It also suggested it was the smallest importer of vehicles from Mexico to the US in 2016. According to the figures from the Mexican automotive association, AMIA, for the period between January and November last year, Toyota moved just 124,000 vehicles north across the border, including to Canada (though Mazda and Kia moved fewer).

That figure is small compared with overall exports of passenger cars and trucks from Mexico to its Nafta neighbours to the north, which stand at 2.19m, or 86% of overall vehicle exports from Mexico (2.55m) over the 11-month period last year.

Toyota also produced a list of figures to emphasise its commitment to production in the US, pointing out that it had made direct investment of almost $22 billion and already had 10 manufacturing plants there. Recent expansions include that at the Georgetown plant in Kentucky, in which Toyota invested $360m and added 750 jobs. Toyota also pointed out that it exported more than 160,000 US-built vehicles to 40 countries and was helping to establish the US as a global export hub.

At the same time, however, the carmaker was careful to declare its willingness to work with the new political administration coming in this month.

“Toyota looks forward to collaborating with the Trump administration to serve in the best interests of consumers and the automotive industry,” said the company.

Whether Trump will act on his Twitter threats to impose heavy border taxes remains to be seen but, according to Thomas Cullen, analyst at consultancy Transport Intelligence, if vehicle manufacturers start to feel pressure to change their supply chain policies, global trade and logistics markets would come under substantial pressure.

“To take the Mexican example, much of production in Mexico relies on major components – including items such as engines and gearboxes – made in the US,” he said. “The reverse is also true, with Mexican plants acting as sources for parts for US production. Unraveling this supply chain structure would be possible but expensive and would have a major impact on rail and road freight across the US.”

News Source: Link

Renesas Electronics & TTTech deliver Highly Automated Driving Platform

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Renesas Electronics Corporation, a premier provider of advanced semiconductor solutions, and TTTech Computertechnik AG, a global leader in robust networking and safety controls, today announced that they have developed a highly automated driving platform (HADP). The new HADP is a prototype electronic control unit (ECU) for mass production vehicles with integrated software and tools, which demonstrates how to use Renesas and TTTech technologies combined in a true automotive environment for autonomous driving. The HADP accelerates the path to mass production for Tier 1s and OEMs.

The automotive market is moving rapidly to make autonomous driving a reality for consumers by 2020. The increasing information from sensors as well as its assessment and resulting actions require hardware and implementations of software that have high performance and comply with highest safety standards. Furthermore, the broad range of sensors and functions means new challenges for the implementation and integration of software.

The newly released HADP is the first outcome of the collaboration between TTTech and Renesas announced in January 2016, and is an extended version of the HAD solution kit released in October 2016. It is based on dual R-Car H3 system-on-chips (SoCs) and the RH850/P1H-C microcontroller (MCU).

The HADP has been developed based on an ASIL-D functional safety concept. It supports a highly efficient integration process for complex highly automated driving systems. The HADP can be used by Tier 1s and OEMs to immediately prototype their functions in an embedded automotive ECU. It shortens time to market by enabling system developers to verify and integrate software easily on the prototype ECU designed to deliver a faster track to mass production vehicles.

“With the automotive industry’s increasing focus on autonomous driving, OEMs are set to play a key role in ensuring the safety and robustness of innovative functions,” said Jean-Francois Chouteau, Vice President, Global ADAS Centre, Renesas Electronics Corporation. “The HADP offered by TTTech and Renesas enables OEMs to drastically reduce both development efforts and the time needed to bring autonomous driving on the road.”

“We are delighted to present the first joint platform of the cooperation between Renesas and TTTech,” said Dr. Stefan Poledna, Member of the Executive Board at TTTech. “Renesas’ expertise as a leading semiconductor solution supplier and TTTech’s proven experience as a provider of scalable safety ECU platforms are a perfect match enabling customers to develop highly performant autonomous driving solutions much quicker.”

Key features of the HADP:

(1) Prototype ECU for faster track to mass production

The ECU has been developed for automotive sample grade quality following requirements on thermal design and shock resistance. It is provided in an aluminium housing targeting IP51 protection level for mounting in the passenger cabin or luggage compartment. The HADP can be directly connected to an automotive power supply and is designed to work at -40 to +85 °C operation temperature and exposed to vibrations in a running vehicle. The HADP comes with cabling and guidelines for easy adaption inside a vehicle.

(2) Shorter time to market by introducing a software platform for simplified integration

TTIntegration is a software platform that provides all the services to run several safety critical applications in parallel on multiple SoCs. A sophisticated partitioning concept ensures that safety related applications cannot be impacted by other applications running at the same time.

Due to a co-simulation environment on a standard PC it is possible to develop functions on the embedded HADP platform side-by-side with applications running on a PC. They all can share the same data and services as if it would be a single domain ECU.Seamless integration and testing of all applications are remarkably faster and more efficient in comparison to the usual step-by-step solutions.

About Renesas Electronics Corporation

Renesas Electronics Corporation delivers trusted embedded design innovation with complete semiconductor solutions that enable billions of connected, intelligent devices to enhance the way people work and live—securely and safely. The number one global supplier of microcontrollers, and a leader in Analog & Power and SoC products, Renesas provides the expertise, quality, and comprehensive solutions for a broad range of Automotive, Industrial, Home Electronics (HE), Office Automation (OA) and Information Communication Technology (ICT) applications to help shape a limitless future. Learn more at renesas.com.

About TTTech

TTTech is a global leader in the field of robust networking and safety controls. TTTech solutions improve the safety and reliability of electronic systems in the industrial and transportation sectors, with a portfolio of products that are helping to make the Industrial Internet of Things and autonomous driving a reality.

Thanks to the proven platform-based architecture, TTTech solutions enable simple system integration with shorter time-to-market and significant cost reductions for customers. TTTech solutions support highly scalable and modular open real-time architectures based on Deterministic Ethernet, including the upcoming IEEE TSN and the established SAE Time-Triggered Ethernet standard.More information about TTTech is available at www.tttech.com

Via: Renesas Press Release

Harman International & WayRay collaborate to develop Augmented Reality displays for Automotive Industry

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WayRay Augmented Reality Display projects information directly on to the windscreen

CES – LAS VEGAS – January 4, 2017 –  HARMAN International (NYSE: HAR), the premier connected technologies company for automotive, consumer and enterprise markets, and WayRay, a Switzerland headquartered pioneer in Holographic Augmented Reality displays, announced a collaboration to develop a wide view angle full windshield heads-up display proof of concept for the automotive market. WayRay, a pioneer of holographic AR displays for the auto industry, specializes in innovative use of holographic optical elements that enable an augmented reality (AR) projection system that is significantly more compact than traditional mirror and lens based projection technology and allows for high-resolution projection in direct line of sight of the driver particularly for ADAS applications such as augmented navigation.

Outputs from this collaboration can be fully-integrated into HARMAN’s end-to-end automotive connected car platforms that make the autonomous driving experience intelligent, safe and intuitive. HARMAN’s end-to-end compute platform leveraging the HARMAN LIVS suite of integrated technologies (Life-Enhancing Intelligent Vehicle Solutions), will transform the driving experience making it more powerful, productive and protected.

WayRay technologies allow the widescreen to be a new medium for information. An augmented reality solution, it is the first solution to use true holographic technology and deliver contextually relevant information to drivers and provide engaging entertainment for passengers simultaneously.

“HARMAN’s collaboration with WayRay is another example of our relentless drive to deliver seamless, integrated, connected and safer experiences in the car,” said Phil Eyler, president HARMAN Connected Car. “As the leader in the connected car space, HARMAN is committed to driving innovation across the industry to deliver on the needs of automakers and their drivers and passengers.”

“Holographic displays offer the opportunity to make self-driving vehicles safer and more reassuring for passengers,” said, Vitaly Ponomarev, CEO and Founder, WayRay. “By providing visualizations of what is happening around the car, how it’s riding and relevant POIs along your route, passengers are kept fully informed about the drive, even if they’re not actually driving.”

ABOUT HARMAN

HARMAN (harman.com) designs and engineers connected products and solutions for automakers, consumers, and enterprises worldwide, including connected car systems, audio and visual products, enterprise automation solutions; and connected services.  With leading brands including AKG®, Harman Kardon®, Infinity®, JBL®, Lexicon®, Mark Levinson® and Revel®, HARMAN is admired by audiophiles, musicians and the entertainment venues where they perform around the world. More than 25 million automobiles on the road today are equipped with HARMAN audio and connected car systems. The Company’s software services power billions of mobile devices and systems that are connected, integrated and secure across all platforms, from work and home to car and mobile. HARMAN has a workforce of approximately 30,000 people across the Americas, Europe, and Asia and reported sales of $7.0 billion during the 12 months ended September 30, 2016. The Company’s shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol NYSE:HAR.

ABOUT WAYRAY
WayRay is a global company based in Switzerland, with its own R&D center and prototyping laboratory. It specializes in development and production of transparent holographic displays based on HOE (holographic optical elements) and commercialization of this technology for consumer electronics and b2b markets.

Via: Newsroom Harman International

Niobium micro alloyed ferritic stainless steel for automotive exhaust system

By Prashant Poojary, Ferro Tech India Pvt Ltd. Emission regulations for vehicles have become increasingly stringent with the proposed nation-wide adherence to Bharat Stage-VI (BS-VI) emission norms by 2020. This decision will have cost implications for oil refineries as well as auto manufacturers to upgrade technology. Currently BS-IV fuel is being supplied to 13 cities,…

via Niobium microalloyed ferritic stainless steel for automotive exhaust system — Motorindia

India’s first 100% electric vehicle fleet cab service: Lithium Urban Technologies

Lithium Urban Technologies calls itself the company which delivers tomorrow’s transport transportation today(their tagline “TOMORROW’S TRANSPORTATION. TODAY.) and that might sound like an audacious claim from an Indian cab service provider that too from a startup. But that is true, it is the only company in India to have 100% electric fleet, it is the first zero emission transport service provider of India.

Lithium Urban Technologies Pvt Ltd is founded in October 2014 by Sanjay Krishan in Bengaluru. The company initially started off with 10 Mahindra e2o’s  and now they have a fleet of 200 plus electric vehicles and several hundred more are in pipeline. They started their operations initially in Bengaluru and now they are planning to enter North Central Region(NCR) of India. Despite many oddities the company is successfully marching ahead into new regions and new segments.

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Lithium Urban Technologies Co-Founder Sanjay Akhileswaran Krishnan. Image source: link

Why Electric Vehicles? Simple, the founders are feeling responsible for the the environment and are daring enough to do something good.

Is it Commercially Viable? Looking at the oddities the answer must be a big no, but the company is proving that it is possible to strike balance between commercial viability and environmental friendliness.In general, addressing one negates the other and growing while balancing both(profitability & environmental friendliness) is a commendable job.

What are the oddities before the company? 

  • Lack of Charging Infrastructure: Charging stations to electric vehicles are like petrol bunks to IC engine cars. In America there are very few charging stations compared to the number of gas stations, let alone India the number is minuscule.
  • Lack of uninterrupted power supply: If somehow the company manages to find or establish charging stations, then there is this problem of getting 24*7 power supply let alone quality supply. Getting quality power without interruptions throughout the year throughout the country is a tough ask in India.
  • Lack of Proper Electric Vehicles: The only electric vehicle available for purchase in India is Mahindra e2o(at the time founding Lithium Urban) which in many aspects is inferior to its conventional counterparts. Aspects like cramped interiors, rear seats access and range per charge are a few to say.
  • Battery Life and Replacement Costs: Battery pack to electric vehicles is like a fuel tank to IC engine cars. Let me use an analogy to help you understand the problems associated with battery packs. Imagine if your car’s fuel tank decreases in size over time & it cannot hold same amount of fuel as it does in the initial days and also it cannot take fuel at higher inflow rates so you have to slowly pump the fuel or it will spill off. And you have replace the fuel tank a couple of times before you replace the car itself. That is how it is with Electric Cars & Battery Packs. Though this a problem now, in the future this might not be a problem as the batteries are constantly improving and also battery costs are constantly falling.
  • Establishment Costs: Apart from the real estate costs,telemetry platform costs and other costs, the major capital requirement for any cab service provider is capital to purchase the fleet. In case of electric vehicle fleet the cost is multiple times higher than that of the conventional fleet. Mahindra e20 base variant on-road price in Bengaluru is INR 7.10 lakh and Tata Nano base variant on-road price in Bengaluru is INR 2.32 lakh. (*According to Cardekho and Tata Motors websites respectively ** Mahindra e20 is now discontinued and replaced with Mahindra e20 Plus)
  • And many more challenges like customer perception towards electric vehicles, safety(possibility of battery explosions),…etc are to be addressed by the company.

Lithium Urban Technologies despite all these challenges is managing to succeed and move forward. And apart from these inherent challenges associated with electric vehicles there are challenges like competition from established players and biggies national & international like Ola and Uber etc.

How the company is overcoming all these difficulties and progressing? The answer is simple, to start with, they chose a sub segment which they can serve despite their limitations. And as the numbers rise they will explore new segments and new geographies.

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Lithium Urban’s website’s landing page

What is the segment and city that they chose to start their operations? The segment is Corporate Employees Transport and the city is Bengaluru/Bangalore. The company found out that catering to corporate customers can solve many of their hurdles at once. Well, but why & how choosing corporates as their clients can help them. And what is the business model adopted.

  • Lithium is counting on the corporate companies to recharge their cars as the companies will already have the required infrastructure to supply uninterrupted & quality power. Lithium establishes a charging station at the premises of a company that signs up with them for their transportation services.

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    Lithium’s charging station at a company’s premises
  • The corporates have to pay Lithium on per-car-per-month basis irrespective of the miles driven. And the companies(clients) have to bear the electricity bills.
  • As the routes are fixed, timings are known and passengers are known, predictability is more and the complexities involved are less compared to that of their counterparts.
  • Coming to financial hurdles, apart from the founding members own investments, Lithium got backing from Robin Chase and Ramachandran. Ramachandran is chairman at InKlude Labs and former head of Morgan Stanley India. Robin Chase is a transportation entrepreneur and co-founder of ZipCar. Both the investors are happy and optimistic about Lithium Urban.

Companies saw partnering with Lithium Urban Technologies as a tool to reduce their carbon footprint and as a part of their social responsibility. Soon, Lithium roped in Tesco Plc as their first client. And other companies followed the suit. Companies like Accenture, Adobe Systems and VMware are few of their clients. VMware is one of their biggest clients.

Where Next and What Next? Lithium is planning to operate pan India. As most of their corporate clients have offices at more than one city and have thousands of employees at each city, Lithium is planning to extend the services to their existing clients at their other locations. This includes cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad etc.

As they spread across various  cities and scale up, they will start catering to non corporate clients i.e., to public. Until then they will concentrate only on corporate clients.

Coming to the what next question, The future of urban public transportation will be driven by four key tenets: clean, distributed, shared and connected, according to Krishnan. Keeping that in mind, he wants Lithium to eventually engage across the electric mobility value chain.

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Image source: link

Sanjay Krishnan plans to collaborate with more OEMs to introduce different new form factors (vehicles) for freight, mass transit and consumer transport by April 2017, and wants the company to expand its fleet to 6,000 vehicles in four years.To do all that and more, the company, which has raised $1.3 million of equity and $1.3 million of debt, is looking to raise $6-7 million.

In addition to Ramachandran and Chase, Lithium counts KPIT promoters’ group, Kewal Nohria, Cognizant’s Lakshmi Narayanan, H.V. (Prasad) Subramaniam and Subrata Ghosh as its angel investors.

And another member to back Lithium Urban Technologies is none other than the man who gave India its first electric car Reva, Chetan Maini. Maini is also very optimistic about Lithium.

“When I started Reva, it was way ahead of its time. What is happening today is a host of factors coming together” such as better technology, awareness of electric cars and a more favourable policy stance from global lawmakers, he said.

“The long-term vision is to move into several different product platforms,” said Maini, who is a co-promoter, board member and investor of Lithium.

While Lithium is currently focused on corporate transport in India, Maini expects a future where it could dabble in other mobility areas such as goods transport and “first-mile/last-mile” delivery, and think beyond India.


Reference links and source links:

  1. Company Profile
  2. Sanjay Krishnan
  3. Company Website
  4. The Better India
  5. PluginIndia
  6. LiveMint
  7. Company Profile @ Zauba Corp