Playing catch-up

November 3, 2016 § Leave a comment

img_1553In a belated post-match analysis, as it were, there was certainly no shortage of new product at the Paris motor show. Probably the most important new model, I reckon, was the Volkswagen I.D. concept: not just electric, but a ground-up design for something global, highly-adaptable, highly-connected and versatile, which should, crucially, be affordable, accessible and mass-market. If VW can pull this off and get it to production [scheduled for 2020] without too many of its key points dialled down, it’s a potential game-changer (as well as a crucial reputation-saver for the firm itself). The pre-fit for autonomous driving [targeted for 2025] is a bit of a red herring, I think; the nice stuff here is the blank-space interior into which owners/users bring their digital preferences, settings and personalisation details – ideal for a shared/on-demand vehicle – and also what the interior designers are calling ‘physical apps’: extra interior features, from bike-carriers to storage consoles to extra screens, which can be retro-fitted or even hired as needed. All good for extending the versatility and service-life of a vehicle. There’s a real focus on simplifying HMI for more intuitive interactions, too. I’ve written about all this at more length here [sorry, subs req]. And the I.D. is the first vehicle in a family on Volkswagen’s new MEB modular electric-drive platform, too.

img_1599The Mercedes-Benz Generation EQ, meanwhile, was a good-looking and well thought-out proposal too – and close to production – but a more conventional upper-end like-for-like substitution of an ICE vehicle. Note the car-to-X [infrastructure] comms though, enabling real-time info on nearby recharging facilities (including, potentially, inductive) and re-routing/mapping where appropriate.

No shortage of new metal and new ideas unveiled in the last month or so since the show, either, not least many a Chinese-brand EV and PHEV, and the return, yet again, of the irrepressible Henrik Fisker, but I’ve been particularly amused by the autonomous rolling greenhouse that is the Rinspeed Oasis… [to be seen at CES in January]. Honda’s 3D-printed Micro Commuter mini-delivery van is perhaps more useful, though: this also signals OEMs moving in on this territory to deliver low-cost customised solutions. Also intriguing is the launch of Geely’s sub-brand Lynk & Co, less for the car itself – though it’s a nice-enough looking SUV (electrified versions to be offered) – than for the no-showroom all-in pay-as-you-go/lease/loan/share sales model, and for details such as the open API and always-on wifi, with the view to development of additional services, functions and mobility options.

Other random, miscellaneous recent news snippets worthy of note:

  • ‘Intelligent’ electric vehicle charging and vehicle-to-grid communication can negate the need for static energy storage, according to a study by UC Irvine, and if charging can be scheduled/shifted to align with renewable electricity generation, then otherwise lost electricity is captured in the overall energy supply system: issue is breaking US EV drivers’ habits of immediate on-demand charging. More here.
  • Toyota has created a Mobility Services Platform and is teaming up with US carshare provider Getaround; the programme will include smartphone access/ignition for vehicles via a ‘smart key box’. More here.
  • Exciting or terrifying? GM’s OnStar platform is to incorporate the IBM Watson cognitive mobility platform, delivering up personalised content, reminders and ‘in-vehicle experiences’, from parking advice to shopping reminders and fuel payments, plus, yuk, giving drivers ‘the ability to connect and interact with their favourite brands’. More here.

 

 

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