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Apple Raises Profile in Race for Autonomous Vehicles with Waymo Exec Hire

Hiring Waydo signals company's intentions.

by on Jun.19, 2018

Former Waymo engineer has moved over to Apple and Project Titan.

Apple has hired one of Waymo’s top engineers, Jamie Waydo, to work on its secretive self-driving car program named Project Titan.

According to Silicon Valley news site, The Information, the tech giant Waydo, who was focused on making sure software and hardware worked together in the name of safety. The question is whether or not Waymo will fight back.

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Waymo sued Uber after the ride-sharing company acquired a company founded by an engineer who had left Google to launch his own start up. The $1.8 billion lawsuit was ultimately settled for less than $275 million after several bitter exchanges in federal court. (more…)

Toyota Latest to Push Into Ride-Sharing

Japanese maker investing $1B in Southeast Asia’s Grab.

by on Jun.13, 2018

Toyota invested $1 billion into Grab Holdings to bolster its ride-sharing operations.

Toyota will join a growing list of automotive manufacturers, including General Motors, Volkswagen, Ford and Fiat Chrysler, making bets on the anticipated explosion in ride-sharing services.

The Japanese giant plans to invest $1 billion in Grab Taxi Holdings Inc., a Singapore-based technology company operating ride-hailing services in places like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. Originally launched as a taxi company, it is now positioning itself as a regional powerhouse after acquiring Uber’s Southeast Asian operations earlier this year.

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For its part, Toyota was a relative latecomer to emerging mobility services, including ride-sharing and self-driving vehicles. But it has launched a number of investments during the last several years, both in the form of outside alliances and by setting up its own technology subsidiary, the Toyota Research Institute, or TRI. (more…)

GM Increasing Bolt Production, Per Sustainability Report

The Orion plant will also produce Maven autonomous car.

by on Jun.13, 2018

Chevy Bolt production will be increased for this year and next due to rising demand for the EV.

General Motors Co. said will increase production of its Bolt battery-electric vehicle this year in response to global demand, according to 2017 sustainability report it released ahead of the company’s annual shareholders meeting.

The Bolt EV is built at GM’s Orion Assembly plant in suburban Detroit.

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GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra also said at least 20 new all-electric vehicles will launch globally by 2023, and that GM is partnering with utilities and governments to accelerate the growth of charging infrastructure as it looks to deliver on its vision of an “all-electric, emissions-free” future. “We believe the future is electric,” she said. (more…)

Volvo Hopes to Electrify Customers – and Investors

All-electric models now expected to generate half its sales by mid-2020s, with 1/3 self-driving.

by on Jun.08, 2018

The Volvo 40.2 Concept hints at what's coming with the marque's first all-electric vehicle.

Volvo took a lead in the push into electrification last year, announcing it would use some of battery-based drive system on all future products, whether mild, conventional or plug-in hybrids, or pure battery-electric. And, last January, it gave us a hint of what that first BEV would be with the debut of its 40.2 concept.

The production version will follow in 2019 and, if Volvo’s latest forecast is any indication, so will plenty of other all-electric models, as the Swedish automaker now says it wants them to generate half of its sales by mid-decade.

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The mid-term plan Volvo is laying out is nothing if not ambitious. It also predicts that half of the Chinese-owned automaker’s sales will come from self-driving vehicles, and that half of its volume will come through its Care by Volvo subscription service, rather than conventional sales and leasing. Oh, and add a goal of boosting volume – and profitability – to match other premium manufacturers.

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GM Expanding Super Cruise to All Cadillac Models

Move to cover entire brand happens by 2020.

by on Jun.06, 2018

Cadillac will expand the availability of Super Cruise across the entire line-up by 2020.

Cadillac plans to expand the rollout of Super Cruise from just the 2018 CT6 to the brand’s entire line-up by 2020.

Super Cruise is the brand’s hands-free driver assistance technology. Executive Vice President Mark Reuss made the announcement during Detroit-area event. He added that after 2020, the technology will be made available on other products within the General Motors family.

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Cadillac also plans to offer V2X communications in a high-volume crossover by 2023 and eventually expand the technology across Cadillac’s portfolio.  (more…)

What’s Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Without Fiat and Chrysler?

Two namesake brands will survive – barely, for now.

by on Jun.04, 2018

The Chrysler Pacifica may soon go it solo as the brand continues to shrink.

It’s been nearly a decade since struggling European automaker Fiat combined with the post-Chapter 11 Chrysler, and if the 5-year plan unveiled during a day-long meeting in Milan last week comes close to being accurate, the carmaker could be in for a “brighter future” than ever, according to John Elkann, the chairman of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and the heir to the Italian side of the company’s founders.

There’s just one problem: neither the Fiat nor Chrysler brands seem poised to share in the spoils. The Fiat Capital Day briefing focused all but exclusively on just four brands – Jeep, Ram, Alfa Romeo and Maserati – expected to dominate FCA’s future. For now, Fiat and Chrysler will survive, but in greatly diminished form, and observers question whether they’ll be around for the long-term.

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“There was enough doubt…about their future because they barely showed up in the presentations,” said Joe Phillippi, chief analyst with AutoTrends Consulting, after attending the day-long session at Alfa’ proving grounds near Milan. Fca’s management team “took pains to say (Fiat and Chrysler will have a future, at least in the near-term. But it will be up to the next management team to determine whether they will remain in the portfolio for the long-term.”

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FCA Maps Out a Self-Driving Strategy

Automaker teams up with Waymo, BMW and Aptiv, but carves out its own path.

by on Jun.01, 2018

A Waymo-modified Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.

While there are a growing number of autonomous vehicle prototypes on the road these days, Waymo and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles made headlines when they announced, earlier this week, plans to direct as many as 62,000 Pacifica Hybrid minivans into the self-driving ride-sharing service the Google spin-off will launch later this year.

By some estimates, 20% or more of the miles Americans clock on the road will be in driverless vehicles operated by ride-sharing services like Waymo, Uber and Lyft by the end of the coming decade. Millions of motorists may opt to give up their personal vehicles and switch to those services. Millions more are expected to own their own autonomous vehicles.

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Until recently considered a laggard in the self-driving field, FCA has jumped in big, relying on partnerships with not only Waymo, but BMW and mega-supplier Aptiv. And that approach will not only help it to make up for lost time but give FCA several alternative paths to follow.

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FCA Planning to Plug In

After slow start, automaker reveals big plans for electrification.

by on Jun.01, 2018

The production version of this Maserati Alfieri concept will use an electrified drivetrain to launch from 0 to 60 in barely 2 seconds.

Sergio Marchionne isn’t much of a fan of battery power, or at least he hasn’t been until recently. When Fiat Chrysler Automobiles launched its first all-electric model, five years ago, the CEO actually urged motorists not to buy it, admitting FCA lost about $25,000 on every one of them.

But at the automaker’s “Capital Day,” in Milan on Friday, Marchionne and his management team were far more upbeat, announcing plans to add dozens of electrified vehicles – everything from mild hybrids to pure battery-electric vehicles – into the FCA line-up over the next give years.

Electrifying!

The economics still aren’t great, noted Mark Chernoby, the automaker’s head of technology compliance, but in an era of increasingly stringent emissions and mileage regulations, it’s the only real day to meet targets being set in markets as diverse as the U.S., Europe, China and Brazil. That’s all the more so as FCA continues to migrate from traditional sedans and coupes to the less efficient SUVs and CUVs that will overwhelmingly dominate its global line-up.

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SoftBank Investment Triggers GM Best Share Gain Ever

Cruise Automation could be floated in IPO.

by on Jun.01, 2018

The Chevy Bolt will be General Motors first fully autonomous car when it brings a self-driver to the market in the future.

Shares of General Motors posted their biggest gain in years, rising nearly 13% Thursday on news that Japanese tech investment fund SoftBank was investing $2.25 billion in GM’s autonomous vehicle development subsidiary, Cruise Automation.

SoftBank’s big investment was one of several major announcements yesterday that underscored the growing interest in self-driving vehicles. Waymo, the spinoff of Google, said it would purchase as many as 62,000 Chrysler Pacific Hybrid minivans for use in its planned self-driving ride-sharing service. Currently in a pilot program, it intends to begin commercial operations in Phoenix later this year and then begin a national rollout.

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GM plans to launch a similar ride-sharing operation through another subsidiary, Maven, using versions of its all-electric Chevrolet Bolt EV modified by Cruise. Mary Barra, the automaker’s CEO, said GM will look at “other opportunities” for Cruise that could involve alliances with other companies SoftBank has funded, including Uber and China’s Didi Chuxing. (more…)

More Products, More Volume, Bigger Margins: FCA Lays Out Aggressive, 5-Year Growth Plan

Morning presentation outlines plans for Jeep, Ram, Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands.

by on Jun.01, 2018

The Ram TRX will be among the new models FCA will bring out over the coming five years.

(This story has been revised to update plans for Jeep’s pickup and a midsize pickup from Ram that, CEO Marchionne now says will come to the U.S. market.)

In a sweeping presentation designed to give analysts, investors, media and potential buyers a good look at its future, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles executives are spending a day detailing their plans for the company and its various brands.

At the midway mark, as they break for lunch, they’ve already lifted the kimono far enough to show what’s coming for the Jeep, Ram, Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands and, in a nutshell, it can be summed up as more products targeting lots more volume and much bigger margins.

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The new five-year plan will be the last crafted under the guidance of Sergio Marchionne, the 65-year-old executive who helped pull off the pairing of two struggling manufacturers to form Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. His third five-year plan, Marchionne stressed that “The true finish line is the one always yet to come.”

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