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The EV that charges itself

Dutch start-up, Lightyear have developed a solar-powered car that is able to be driven for months without charging.

The electric four-wheel drive car can handle rough terrain and has a battery range of 800 kilometres, charged by the sun.

“You can think of the Lightyear One as being a completely redesigned electric car combining the best of solar cars and electric cars.”, says Lex Hoefsloot, CEO of Lightyear.

“It’s a revolutionary step forward in electric mobility. At night or on a cloudy day the Lightyear One can drive up to 800 kilometres on a fully charged battery, depending on your battery configuration.”

The solar cells on the roof of the Lightyear One will generate enough power to recharge the battery during the day. The Dutch startup claims that in sunny climates the car would even be able to drive for months without charging.

Since the car doesn’t depend on charging points, it is well suited for areas with a lack of charging stations.

“The Lightyear One is a statement to show that electric cars are ready for every corner of the planet”, Hoefsloot clarifies. “It is the first step in our mission to make electric cars available for everyone”.

The entire Lightyear team

There will be a limited number of models produced. The final design and details will be released early this year.

Pricing will begin at around 119,000 Euros, with 15 cars already reserved and paid for.

First deliveries are expected in 2019 throughout the EU.

 
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Most climate-friendly car manufacturers

BMW, Daimler and Toyota are the most climate-friendly car manufacturers, according to The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), an international non-profit organisation, while Japanese car maker Subaru came bottom of the list.

The CDP ranked responses from 16 manufacturers on their progress towards three key goals: meeting regulatory emissions standards, strategies on using self-driving technology and renewable energy, and management incentives to lower carbon emissions.

CDP’s summary League Table – Source CDP

Paul Simpson, CEO of CDP commented: “The auto sector is the poster child for the future of industry as we know it. Tech and software disrupters have forced this high-emitting industry to innovate at a pace faster than it perhaps feels comfortable with. It is promising to see traditional carmakers step up to the mark to meet global shifts in demand for EVs. Only time will tell if new market entrants such as Uber and Google will alter consumer demands in the long-term. Regardless, auto manufacturers should quickly adopt new business models to ensure their survival in the low-carbon transition.”

Electric vehicles could become as affordable as traditional petrol and diesel cars as soon as 2022 and a third of new cars sales are expected to be zero emissions and plug-in hybrid by 2030, CDP predicted. That would translate to a market worth around $1 trillion market, based on the organisation’s figures.

Car companies are already making big investments into new technologies, with around $11bn spent buying up autonomous and shared vehicle companies, including Lyft, in the last two years.

But CDP said more still needs to be done to ensure companies keep up with the pace of change required, and governance and remuneration structures need to be more closely aligned with the low carbon transition.

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Mercedes goes online

Mercedes-Benz believes that 25 per cent of its new and used vehicles sales will be completed online by 2022.

Britta Seeger

“In digital, we want to offer even more in the future and a different experience, and we are aiming to offer this in a seamless way,” Mercedes global sales boss, Britta Seeger said.

“In order to drive this journey, this is a huge effort that we together with our dealers have to undertake.”

Mercedes is working with its dealers to develop new platforms to engage customers, some of whom might not be the typical Mercedes-Benz buyer.

Seeger described Mercedes Me stores that have opened around the globe in places such as busy urban districts and airports. The company also has operated pop-up shops for short periods of time.

“The customer or prospect or just somebody who wants to drop by is taken into a Mercedes world without a feeling of Autohaus,” she said. “This is very much appreciated. We have excellent results from the customers. They just love to come.”

Mercedes also is entering electric racing series Formula E.

“This is important,” Seeger said. “We want to go where the customer is.”

Mercedes will continue to build on the strengths of its core business, she said. The brand just completed its second straight year of leadership in luxury sales both globally and in the U.S. market. 

“We truly believe this is a huge chance for us,” Seeger said. “We have to be fast. We have to have the right mindset.”

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Electric Ferrari in the works

Ferrari is considering building an all-electric supercar, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has admitted at the Detroit Motor Show.

However, Marchionne stated the brand still has some way to go before an electrified Ferrari will reach production.

“Ferrari has looked at this forever and if there is an electric supercar to be built Ferrari will build it first,” he said at the Motor Show.

Marchionne continued: “People are amazed with what Tesla did with the supercar. I am not trying to minimise what Elon did but I think it is doable by all of us.”

The question of range, however, is proving the big stumbling block, he claimed. “You’re going to go real fast but how long do you last? We have seen that in Formula E, you have to change your car in the race. We need a lot more work to be done before we can make that a legitimate answer, motorised sports cars.”

The admission marks a significant turnaround from Marchionne, after being sceptical for years about the speed of introducing alternative engines and new technologies.

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Rivals to test subscription services

Both Mercedes-Benz and BMW are preparing to launch vehicle subscription pilots in the U.S. this year.

Subscription plans offer customers a vehicle to drive for a monthly fee that includes insurance, maintenance and pickup and delivery. Customers typically can switch among available vehicles based on needs.

Luxury rivals are preparing to launch vehicle subscription pilots in the U.S. in 2018.

Mercedes will offer a pilot to figure out whether a subscription model has long-term merit.

“We need to learn,” Seeger said Monday at the Detroit auto show. “In different markets, we want to try this out.”

Mercedes is also cautious about what Seeger calls a “big threat” to the subscription model: whether the vehicle you want is available.

“On the weekend, if it’s sunshine outside and if everybody wants to have a cabriolet, and if I apply five times to have a cabriolet and I don’t get it, what does this cause?” Seeger said.

Mercedes-Benz hasn’t determined where in the U.S. it will pilot the program and when, Seeger said. The automaker has active subscription pilots operating in other countries, she said, citing a Smart-brand program in Italy and a Mercedes-brand program in Germany.

BMW is “most likely” going to go forward with a subscription model in the U.S. said BMW North America CEO, Bernhard Kuhnt.

“We are in the phase of looking at it and evaluating together with BMW Financial Services,” Kuhnt said. “And if we are going to do it, we are going to pilot it first to learn more about it.”

“At the end of the day, the consumer is going to decide if that’s something they want to do,” Kuhnt said.

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The new Lexus LF-1

The Lexus LF-1 Limitless has debuted at the North American International Auto Show overnight.

The Lexus LF-1 is deemed a showcase of technology, innovation and the latest evolution of design at Lexus. The concept has a sleek, sporty look, and a range of features designed around alternatives tailored to a potential owner’s drivetrain preferences and more.

The possibilities for the vehicle are indeed limitless – the LF-1 concept is capable of being powered by fuel cell, hybrid, plug-in hybrid or an all-electric powertrain.

This comes as no surprise as every Lexus model, by around 2025, will be available as either electric or have an electrified option.

“The LF-1 Limitless concept incorporates imaginative technology, and brave design while catering to the diverse lifestyles of customers,” says Paul Carroll, Senior General Manager of Lexus New Zealand.

The concept also has automated driving features, including self-parking and drive-by-wire steering, braking signalling and more. A “four-dimensional navigation system,” with the fourth dimension being time, meaning the vehicle can anticipate your upcoming destinations, etc. based on your schedule and other personal information.

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Oil seller turns to EVs

JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy Corp. is looking to start an EV car-sharing service at gas stations to help offset the expected decline in oil revenues.

Tsutomu Sugimori, president of Japan’s biggest fuel seller says that it is inevitable that EVs will become more and more prolific, so renting out battery-powered cars and other related services will become necessary for gasoline retailers

Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

“There is no point discussing how much and when EVs will become popular as people will shift to EVs to a point where it will have an impact at some time in the future,” Sugimori said in an interview in Tokyo. “As we don’t know the timing, we must start preparations now.”

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The world’s best-sellers

The best selling cars in the world have been revealed – what they all have in common is that they are manufactured in huge quantities and are sold all over the world. 

One of the reasons the Toyota Corolla is in the number one position is that it is sold in over 150 countries and regions. Since the launch of the first-generation Corolla in 1966, more than 44 million Corollas have been sold globally. By 1974 the Corolla was already the best selling car in the world. 

Let’s take a look at the infographic provided to us by TechRogers, which contains a mix of familiar favourites and the not so known:


15-Best-Selling-Cars-in-the-World

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BMW outsold by Mercedes

The BMW 5-Series

BMW reported a fantastic 2017 sales record but was outsold by Mercedes-Benz. Sales of BMW brand models rose 4.2 per cent in 2017 to 2.09 million passenger cars and SUVs, the carmaker said on Friday.

In comparison, Mercedes finished the year with a 9.9 percent gain to 2.29 million, which claimed the top spot in global luxury-car sales rankings for a second year.

The BMW 5 Series , which underwent a model change during 2017, achieved growth of 55.2 per cent, or an increase of 30,359 units, in December, with sales up by 6.3 per cent or 291,856 units in the full year. BMW also sold 103,080 electrified vehicles around the world, an increase of 65.6 per cent.

As for Mercedes-Benz, the most popular model was the C-Class in both Sedan and Estate guises. Over 450,000 units were sold over the course of 2017 while the E-Class accounted for about 350,000 units of the grand total. 

BMW, which had kept the global luxury sales crown for about a decade before slipping behind Mercedes in 2016, said deliveries were fuelled by a 9.6 percent gain for its SUV line-up and a 15 per cent increase for the 1-Series.

BMW also posted a 9.5 percent gain in December registrations to 195,916 vehicles, narrowly beating Mercedes and Audi whose sales came in at 193,534 and 180,250 cars respectively.

“I’m confident BMW sales will continue to grow during 2018, while we also maintain our focus on profitability,” said new sales chief Pieter Nota.

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Ford increases EV investment

Ford’s head of global markets, Jim Farley has just announced ­that Ford Motor Co will invest US$11 billion in electric vehicles, a major increase on their previously announced US$4.5 billion.

Bill Ford.

The electric vehicles will include 24 hybrids and 16 fully electric vehicles by 2022. 

The increased investment reflects the costs of building a dedicated electric vehicle platform, and development of 40 electric and hybrid models, Jim Farley said.

“We’re all in on this and we’re taking our mainstream vehicles, our most iconic vehicles, and we’re electrifying them,” Bill Ford said to reporters.

Rival Detroit automaker General Motors Co has also announced plans to add twenty new battery electric and fuel cell vehicles to its global lineup by 2023.

GM Chief Executive Mary Barra made a bold promise to investors that the Detroit automaker will make money selling electric cars by 2021.

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Top auto trends from CES

At the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), technology companies from around the world unveil and showcase their latest and greatest inventions. Here are the top auto trends at CES this year:

Horizontal infotainment screens.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class interior

At CES, Mercedes Benz launched a new infotainment system for its cars – Mercedes Benz User Experience, or MBUX. 

The “widescreen cockpit” replaces the traditional centre-stack touchscreen and instrument cluster with two side-by-side screens that run about half the length of the dashboard. 

MBUX debuts on the next Mercedes A-Class hatchback later this year. That model won’t be sold in the United States, but MBUX will be available here on a new four-door variant that will replace the current CLA-Class.

Pod cars

Toyota, Rinspeed and Smart Car all brought along autonomous pod shaped vehicles to CES to showcase their ideas on the future of mobility. 

Toyota’s e-Palette is a fully-automated, next generation battery electric vehicle (BEV) designed to be scalable and customisable for a range of “mobility as a service” businesses. Each e-Palette is also designed to be shared between businesses and to quickly transition between applications.

Mobility

Efficient and affordable mobility is the true goal of the tech industry’s disruption of the transportation sector.

VW released further details at CES on its  ride-sharing service, which it says will enable the elderly, disadvantaged and disabled to get around easier, and Toyota and Honda showed some self-driving scooter-style mobility concepts designed to make your life easier.

In-Car A.I.

In-car assistants and artificial intelligence systems were present in just about every vehicle presented at CES.

In the new Byton SUV, for example, the AI assistant can analyse your calendar, frequently visited locations, hobbies and smartphone application data to deliver a personalised in-car experience on its various screens.

Mercedes’ MBUX in-car display is powered by a digital assistant that can be prompted by saying ‘Hey Mercedes..’ The system also has natural language recognition, so you could say ‘Hey Mercedes, I’m hot’ and the system would turn the AC on, for example. 

 

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