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Aumento de preços destrói vendas e lucros

Posted on April  13, 2017

Aumento de preços destrói vendas e lucros
Desde 2013 volumes caíram 42,7% com reajuste médio real de 36%

PEDRO KUTNEY, AB

Em 2013, quando o mercado atingiu o pico recorde de 3,4 milhões de unidades de veículos leves vendidos no Brasil, o preço médio de compra entre todas as opções de modelos disponíveis era de R$ 50,4 mil, as vendas das montadoras somaram R$ 180,4 bilhões e a margem de lucro estimada dos fabricantes foi de 8% sobre o faturamento. Passados três anos, o volume caiu 42,7%, para 1,95 milhão de unidades em 2016, enquanto o reajuste médio real (descontada a inflação medida pelo IPCA) do tíquete médio neste período foi de quase 36%, elevando o valor a R$ 68,6 mil. O faturamento no ano passado de R$ 136,2 bilhões registrou contração de 24,5% ante 2013, com prejuízo de 25%. Ou seja, junto com a crise econômica, os reajustes praticados pelo conjunto das montadoras no País tiraram centenas de milhares de consumidores do jogo, assim destruíram vendas e, consequentemente, transformaram ganhos em perdas pesadas.

O cenário devastador é demonstrado com clareza por um recente levantamento do consultor Paulo Cardamone, da Bright Consulting. Como parte de um estudo maior, intitulado Automotive Brazil 2025, Cardamone fez o acompanhamento de preços e volumes dos carros vendidos no Brasil, para formar uma das bases que sustentam projeções até 2025 para o setor automotivo brasileiro. “Acostumados a sempre avaliar a performance do mercado em unidades, identificamos um mundo completamente diferente do usual ao analisar o mercado da indústria automobilística em valores”, destaca o consultor. “Com o objetivo de estabelecer novos padrões, a Bright Consulting desenvolve um projeto em big data que relaciona o conteúdo dos veículos à variação de preços, o que possibilita acompanhar a evolução do mercado no que realmente interessa e impacta o desempenho das empresas, ou seja, a receita”, define.

Na ânsia por preservar receitas em meio à profunda derrocada das vendas, as montadoras pesaram a mão nos preços: o conjunto de repasses foi de mais de 25% em termos reais entre 2013 e 2016. Prova do arrojo monetário praticado pelas empresas é que, segundo o levantamento de Cardamone, apenas 26,9% dos reajustes foram motivados por elevação dos conteúdos dos veículos existentes ou em lançamentos. Olhando por outro lado, pode-se dizer também que 73,1% dos aumentos não foram lastreados por qualquer elevação do nível de conforto, desempenho, economia ou segurança dos veículos vendidos no País.

Para Cardamone, se não são a causa primária do encolhimento do mercado brasileiro, os aumentos ampliaram sensivelmente os estragos da crise. “A questão crucial neste momento é: foi a deterioração da condição econômica a causadora da queda brutal do volume ou o repasse real em três anos de mais de 25% nos preços dos veículos que contribuiu para chegarmos aos patamares inferiores a 2 milhões de unidades no ano passado?”, pergunta o consultor.

REAJUSTES TRANSFORMAM O MERCADO

No estudo de preços e volumes, o mercado de veículos leves foi dividido em cinco segmentos: baixo conteúdo (para carros e picapes pequenos de entrada), médio conteúdo (veículos mais bem equipados), alto conteúdo (aí estão os sedãs e SUVs com nível completo de equipamentos, como por exemplo um Toyota Corolla ou Honda Civic), premium (principalmente os importados de luxo) e picapes médias. Nessa divisão, fica patente a enorme transformação do mercado brasileiro promovida pelos reajustes dos últimos três anos. Os aumentos de preços provocaram efeitos muito diferentes dependendo do segmento nos quais foram aplicados, causaram profundos deslocamentos de participação nas diferentes faixas de mercado (veja tabela abaixo).

O segmento mais afetado foi justamente o que concentrava a maior parte do mercado brasileiro em 2013, quando os carros de entrada, com baixo conteúdo, tinham preço médio de R$ 35,5 mil e dominavam quase 57% das vendas no País, com 1,94 milhão de unidades emplacadas naquele ano. Em três anos o preço médio real dos modelos deste segmento foi o que mais subiu: o aumento médio no período foi de 35,5%. Como efeito direto, as vendas dessa faixa foram as que mais caíram, mergulhando 70,6%, fazendo essa fatia do mercado encolher praticamente à metade do que era, para 29,3% das vendas totais, com 569,7 mil emplacamentos em 2016. Ou seja, a cada 1% de aumento de preço dos automóveis de entrada, houve queda de 2% nas vendas do segmento.

Com isso, a faixa de entrada hoje não é mais a maior no Brasil, foi superado pelos veículos de médio conteúdo, melhor equipados, que representavam 25,8% do mercado em 2013 e em 2016 este porcentual saltou para 43,1%. Em relação quase direta de causa e efeito, o preço médio desses modelos, que era de R$ 48,2 mil, aumentou 9,2% em três anos, para R$ 52,6 mil, e as vendas dessa faixa foram as que menos caíram no período, apenas 4,3%, de 877,5 mil em 2013 para 839,4 mil em 2016.

O maior ganho porcentual de participação foi do segmento de modelos de alto conteúdo, os “completos” e mais caros, que de apenas 8,5% das vendas em 2013 passaram a dominar 18,2%, mais que o dobro. Nessa faixa o reajuste do tíquete médio de compra não foi o maior, mas não tão pequeno, alcançou 18,2%, fazendo o valor médio do veículo de mercado saltar de R$ 74,8 mil para R$ 88,5 mil. Como nessa faixa estão os consumidores menos afetados por aumentos de preços, este foi o único segmento a registrar crescimento no período de três anos, com expansão de 6,3%, de 288 mil em 2013 para 306 mil unidades em 2016. Boa parte desse movimento é explicada pelos novos objetos do desejo dos consumidores brasileiros, os SUVs nacionais lançados nesse período, que transitam justamente nesse território e ajudaram a empurrar os emplacamentos para cima, na mão contrária do resto do mercado.

Até o mercado de veículos premium, apesar de servir a uma pequena parcela da população de alta renda no País, sofreu queda de volume diretamente ligada ao aumento do tíquete médio, neste caso afetado diretamente pela influência da alta do dólar sobre os preços dos modelos importados, em sua maioria. Enquanto o valor médio do segmento subiu quase 22% em termos reais, de R$ 151,7 mil para R$ 185 mil, as vendas caíram 23,6%, de 120 mil em 2013 para 91,7 mil em 2016.

EFEITOS DO TOMBO

O tombo de quase 43% do mercado brasileiro de veículos leves em três anos tem efeito devastador não só sobre os ganhos da indústria, mas também de um de seus principais sócios: o governo, que aplica imposto médio de 27% sobre os carros. Pelos cálculos de Cardamone, com a retração das vendas, a arrecadação de tributos cobrados do setor em 2016 foi cerca de R$ 12 bilhões menor do que em 2013, enquanto no mesmo período o faturamento das montadoras declinou quase R$ 45 bilhões.

“Apesar de porcentualmente a queda de arrecadação e faturamento ter sido a mesma, o impacto para as montadoras foi brutal quando se leva em consideração caixa e a utilização da capacidade instalada”, destaca Cardamone. “Em 2013, a indústria chegou a utilizar 77% dos 4,5 milhões de unidades de capacidade instalada de produção. Já em 2016, a utilização de apenas 46% trouxe um prejuízo de aproximados R$ 23 bilhões ao setor, considerando-se o número mágico de 65% de utilização para se atingir o break even (ponto de equilíbrio) das fabricantes. Portanto, a retração de mercado causou perda de receita em valor duas vezes maior para as montadoras quando comparada com a redução de arrecadação do governo”, calcula.

Caso sejam confirmadas as melhores expectativas de recuperação da economia brasileira nos próximos anos, a expectativa é de lenta evolução dos resultados do setor de volta ao campo azul do balanço. Nos cenários futuros projetados pelo estudo Automotive Brazil 2025 realizado por Cardamone, a previsão é que já em 2018 o governo passará a ter receita em termos reais equivalente à de 2013, diferentemente das montadoras, que só devem alcançar em 2022 desempenho equivalente ao de 2013.

date:  April 11. 2016

7 WAYS DRIVERLESS CARS WILL CHANGE YOUR DAILY LIFE

Posted on Dec 20, 2016

Reducing accidents to zero. Cutting down emissions. Autonomous driving promises significant advantages for our society as a whole. But how will it change YOUR daily life?

Looking ahead 10 or maybe 15 years, driverless cars with level 5 automation could be well established on our roads. But what does this future scenario mean for us? Whilst the media (including 2025AD) often discusses the far-reaching societal impact these vehicles will have, self-driving vehicles will also influence daily life. Here we bring you seven examples of how.

1. YOU WON’T RECEIVE ANY SPEEDING OR PARKING TICKETS

If you like putting your foot down, this might come as bad news for you. But for all others, this should be a relief: speeding will become a thing of the past. In a driverless vehicle, you will no longer have to keep an eye out for changing speed limits along your route. Instead, your vehicle will receive the information over the air and adjust its velocity accordingly.

And talking about tickets, with driverless technology, you will never find yourself parked in a prohibited area again. In the future, you will simply exit your car when you want, and let the car carry on to find a parking spot autonomously. Good for you. Bad for traffic wardens.

2. YOU WILL HAVE MORE MONEY IN YOUR POCKET

It is not only fewer parking fines that will help you save money. Insurance rates will also decrease significantly as car accidents become a rarity. Furthermore, once driverless ride-sharing and mobility flat rates are well established, costs of car maintenance will decline sharply.

Less money to spend on your car, more money for shopping. (Photo: Fotolia / Rawpixel.com)

Even housing prices could drop as autonomous driving frees up enormous areas currently reserved for extra lanes or parking and will make living outside of the city more attractive. This will make it easier to save up for the other things you have had your eye on. Sounds too good to be true? Unfortunately, there is in fact a downside to all this – see next point.

3. YOU WILL PAY FOR YOUR VEHICLE WITH YOUR DATA

Your favorite Thai food joint is offering a lunch special – and you are passing by in your driverless car. Chances are, your driverless vehicle will point out this fact to you. With OEMs changing their business models to a form of mobility provider, experts believe you will get the bill in the form of customized advertising and similar means. While many people might find this useful, others will be less inclined to have their mobility behavior analyzed for economic purposes. Although it seems that this topic is less under public scrutiny compared to other challenges (such as the ethical dilemma), this is sure to generate extensive debates in the future.

4. YOUR CAR WILL BECOME YOUR PERSONAL ASSISTANT

The average car sits idle for 23 hours a day – like a hedgehog during hibernation. That’s partly because working and sleeping take up a great deal of our time. But what if your car became your personal assistant, carrying out tasks while you are busy? For example, instead of waiting for you in the office parking lot while you are at work, it could pick up your dry cleaning or the order you placed at the drugstore. Once that is done, it could chauffeur your kids home from school. Come five o’clock, it would be back at your office to drive you home. Need more fuel? Not your concern. The car could drive to the gas station at night in the middle of the night when there is less traffic on the roads.

5. YOUR HOLIDAY STARTS THE MOMENT YOU ENTER YOUR CAR

Family holidays can be fun. Getting there with your car, less so. You head off at the crack of dawn to avoid congestion – only to end up in a huge traffic jam further down the road! While you become increasingly tired behind the steering wheel, your kids become increasingly bored in the backseat.

This iconic image from 1957 already pictured a family playing a board game in a self-driving car. (Photo: GettyImages)

In your self-driving car, the journey will be something the whole family can look forward to. Instead of cursing at other road users, you will have the option to play a board game with your kids, start reading your new book or watch a movie in your rolling home cinema. Since autonomous vehicles are expected to create a smoother flow of traffic, you may even be able to depart at a more comfortable time of day.

6. YOUR CAR WILL GET REPAIRED OVER THE AIR

Admittedly, it is not very likely that car repair shops are going to disappear anytime soon. Even if all cars drive autonomously one day, this will not prevent damage from natural factors, such as hail. However, if accidents caused by human error can be greatly reduced, then car body damage will also become increasingly rare. Your vehicle will behave like your smartphone – and receive frequent software updates, bug fixes and additional features over the air.

And this is no distant future vision – it is already happening. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently sent out a recall announcement to Tesla owners. A charger plug needed to be fixed because it had been found to cause fires. Tesla quickly responded and initiated a software update. Problem solved. Of course there will always be cases where a certain vehicle component will have to be replaced manually. But the reliance of a vehicle on proper software is ever-growing. So increasingly, instead of waiting a couple of weeks for a workshop appointment, you will just have to press the “update” button and relax on your couch while your vehicle is being wirelessly repaired. 

7. YOU WON’T NEED A DESIGNATED DRIVER ANYMORE

Do you and your friends take turns to drive on a night out? Do you draw lots or play rock-paper-scissors to determine the chosen one? Whatever the mechanism: allocating a designated driver before you go to the pub with your friends could soon be obsolete. Instead, you will be able to rely on a new companion, your driverless car. It doesn’t get drunk, or tired, and will be there when you and your mates call it a night.

Have a drink or two – your car will drive you home. (Photo: Fotolia / Syda Productions)

Especially for people in rural areas with fewer cabs and public transport options, this could be a great improvement in comfort – and safety! In the U.S. alone, someone is injured in a drunk-driving incident every 120 seconds. The festive season is also the time of the year where many people catch up with their buddies. Wouldn’t it be great if we could be sure that everyone gets home safe and sound?

date:  December 16. 2016

Source: 2025ad

A round up of all the top stories from Munich

Posted on Nov 08. 2016

As the question of whether the autonomous car will ever become reality appears to have been resolved – almost everyone in the motor industry now believes that it will. Players in the broad and expanding automobile ecosystem are now considering the future of personal transportation itself, especially on how the rapidly evolving digital technology will change how an individual travels from one place to another.

That was certainly the case at the Internationales Congress Center München (ICM), where some 850 representatives from every sector of the automobile ecosystem gathered for the two-day TU-Automotive Europe 2016 conference. On Day 1 of the conference, the phrase that one heard almost everywhere was “mobility as a service”, a vision of a future world in which the automobile will be but one link in a broad network of transport options based on sustainability, safety, low pollution and congestion-free roads.

In a sense, it seems as if recent technological innovations in mobility have been created in direct response to an on-going demographic shift that is altering the way we live. According to a forecast by the UN’s Population Division, cited by several conference presenters, 66% of the world’s population will be living in urban centres by the year 2050, compared to 30% in 1950 and 54% in 2014. Unless there is a radical transformation of how people move around, this means that in the future cities will be far more congested and polluted than they are today.

This development was put into sharp focus, during an afternoon presentation titled Changing the Face of the Modern City, by Michael Hurwitz, director of transport Innovation at Transport for London (TFL). He said London’s population is currently the highest it has ever been, 8.8M people, and it is expected to grow to 10M by 2030.

“To put that in a transport context, every single week the population of London grows by two double-decker red buses,” he said. “But we have constrained road space. We have 31M journeys on our networks every single day and less space to do this.”

In addition, Hurwitz said, 55% of all of our trips is by private car. Our vehicle occupancy is 1.4 on average, and 60% of car trips are with one individual in the car. We want to know how we can make that more efficient.”

Meanwhile, Volkswagen’s chief digital officer Johann Jungwirth revealed a little more about its new mobility brand first announced at the Paris Motor Show in September.

Speaking to TU-Automotive immediately after his fire-side chat on the future of mobility, Jungwirth said the 13th brand in the VW group will build on its relationship with Israeli start-up, Gett. He said: “It’s about mobility solutions focused on mobility on demand specifically and that is where we are covering our investment and partnership with Gett.

“Yet this new 13th brand will be a totally independent brand focused on mobility. We started in Hamburg with a city partnership and we are looking at partnerships with others cities. Of course we are focused on finding the right mobility solutions which we will discuss and disclose more in the next few weeks.”

Despite telling the conference that he can’t imagine wanting to drive a combustion power car again after his experiences with electric vehicle, Jungwirth did not rule our ICE power for the new mobility brand. He said: “It’s not about the product itself because it will draw from the products of the existing 12 Volkswagen brands because the 13th brand is the mobility brand. I cannot yet disclose which of these products will be used and which cities will be involved.

“I can say our new mobility solutions entity to be responsible for the 13th brand is headquartered in Berlin where we have a whole team in place withy CEO and CTO and the rest of the team working really hard to prepare for the launch.”

In another morning presentation, Michael Knudsen, strategy mobility services, BMW iVentures, offered additional data on how private car ownership is affecting urban congestion and pollution. “In high-density areas of a city, at peak time about 30% of the traffic are people looking for a parking space.” In addition, he said a great deal of urban parking is “wasted” because people in cities use their cars about 1-hour a day on the average, “so the car is parked for 23 hours a day”.

Or, as Christoph Weigler, general manager Germany, Uber, put it: “In many cities around the world, 30% of the landmass is dedicated to storing these hunks of steel that are not used right now.”

One way the city of London is attempting to reduce the number of cars on its roads is “to bear down on car ownership” by creating a mobility hierarchy that has private car use at the bottom and walking and cycling at the top, Hurwitz said. He noted, however, that the rise of ride-sharing services such as Uber has not reduced the number of cars in the city centre. “If you look at central London, the number of private cars is quite stable. What we’ve seen is a reduction in individual-driven cars but that’s been replaced by the rise of minicabs, Uber, private-hire vehicles. The fact is, we don’t have less [traffic].”

Uber’s Christoph Weigler suggested that carpooling could be a solution to reducing inner-city traffic congestion. Uber launched its Uber POOL service more than a year ago and it is now active in 35 cities. Weigler said that already 20% of global Uber trips are POOL trips, and in some West Coast cities half of the Uber trips are POOL trips, attesting to the attraction of the lower cost the service offers.

And it has had positive consequences for these cities, he said. “One year after launching Uber POOL congestion has been reduced significantly. And that makes sense because, especially on streets where congestion is really high and where a lot of people want to go, obviously there’s a huge likelihood of finding someone who wants to take the same trip.”

This has advantages for the passenger, in lower cost, for the driver, in higher utilisation, and for the city. “We take congestion out of the streets, we don’t need as much parking space and, obviously, pollution is reduced,” Weigler said.

Hurwitz said that autonomous cars may be an important part of London’s future mobility scheme but he does not regard it as a cure-all. “Looking at the future of autonomy, it will help in some parts of London and less so in others,” he said. “If it will take people out of private cars but not out of buses, if it will make people travel in a more efficient way, in a lower-emission way, those are positive opportunities. We just need to shape the regulations and to shape the policy incentives to make sure it happens in that way.”

Hurwitz noted that Volvo Group will be testing its autonomous prototypes in London next year and that the city is open to other carmakers testing the technology on its roads. “What we’re doing at the moment is engaging constructively with anyone who wants to work on our streets. If they’re going through our junctions, we need to know. We want to have an honest discussion about what’s safe operation, what useful data can we exchange, how we can utilise these services to complement our objectives. In the next 2 or 3 years you’re going to see lots of trialling.”

He was not the only representative of a European capital’s public transport authority to speak on the first day of the conference. Reinhard Birke, CEO of Upstream – next level mobility, which he described as “the digital part of the public transport authorities of Vienna”, addressed an afternoon panel discussion on Automated Mobility as a Service: Building the Framework for the Future.

He used the opportunity to describe WienMobil, his company’s solution to Vienna’s growing mobility issues. To begin with, he agreed with Hurwitz that current ride-sharing services are not solving urban mobility problems. In fact, they might eventually present another problem.

“We are transporting 440M people underground,” Birke said. “If the prices of on-demand car mobility would drop to near zero, which is predicted by the big companies, then most likely those 440M people will come up to the surface and will not ride the metro anymore and we will have a big problem. So we have to provide other services like that.”

Vienna’s – and increasingly Austria’s – solution is a single platform on which “we have integrated all the parts of the mobility chain in Vienna. And we’re expanding it now through the country. We have all the taxis, we have Uber, we have Europcar, we have all parking garages on our platform. And we are providing that via one application to our customers in Vienna.”

The app is available via download from the Google Play store and the App Store but this presents the question of having a viable business case for the platform. As Birke put it: “We cannot provide sustainable mobility for the long term if it relies on third party software like Google or Apple.”

Upstream’s solution was to open the platform to third-party mobility providers, which he says “was a big game changer for us”. He described one partner, a Finnish company that “provides mobility as a service in a way that you pay 200 or 300 euros flat per month and for that you can use car-sharing, a taxi, or whatever you want. We have 22 partners at the moment providing their own mobility services in Vienna, but all of them are running on our shared platform.”

Because the problems mobility services address are social in nature – pollution, congestion – it was probably inevitable that the solutions brought by private enterprise would have to be deployed in partnership with public authorities. BMW, a pioneer in the automotive technology, was among the first to recognise this.

In his presentation, BMW iVenture’s Michael Knudsen said the carmaker’s Centre of Urban Mobility Competence is aimed at holding dialogues with municipal authorities about mobile solutions. “This is a small team of five people who are starting to discuss with cities and other stakeholders what the future urban environment could look like, including mobility solutions,” he said. “Our services and partners are involved, other car-sharing providers are involved, public transportation is involved, all necessary stakeholders are involved.” The aim of this multi-stakeholder dialogue is “to talk about the best possible solutions for the cities, to create ideas to make the urban environment much more liveable for the residents.”

A first pilot based on these discussions, to convince people to rely more on public transport and car-sharing, was run for two weeks in the German capital Berlin and was very successful, Knudsen said.

So, it seems that in the future carmakers will act as a partners of public authorities, as well as increasingly becoming service providers. “OEMs are currently preparing for a new future,” said Stephanie Schliffski, Managing Director at StratMa International Sarl. “We see it with GM, who has heavily invested in Lyft and yesterday announced a partnership with Uber. We see it with Ford, who announced at the beginning of the year that they are now an auto and mobility company providing with FordPass services to Ford users and Ford non-users.”

As Knudsen’s presentation made clear, BMW has been preparing its future for some time, and is currently testing or rolling out new mobility products that are geared to the coming world of intermodal and pollution-free travel.

“BMW’s solutions for the city,” said Michael Knudsen, “is all about electric mobility, electric cars.” However, while this helps solve the problems of noise and emissions pollution, “it does not solve the problem of congestion, parking pressure and all the other [problems] we are faced with in our daily mobility,” he said.

To help ease those pressures, Knudsen said, “the main focus for BMW is on car-related services, [such as] car-sharing solutions like DriveNow or ReachNow, . . . [as well as} parking solutions such as Park Now.”

DriveNow, says Knudsen, “addresses the needs of young people in an urban environment who don’t necessarily need to own a car or don’t want to own a car but sometimes they need a car”. He added that the car-maker sees car-sharing as part of the overall mobility portfolio of a city, including public transportation and other modes, such as walking and cycling.

Knudsen said that the multinational transport company Arriva integrated BMW DriveNow in the Danish capital Copenhagen, where Arriva functions as the city’s public transport provider, “as part of their public transport offering. What is special about Copenhagen is that we have a pure electric fleet, with 400 i3s.” This, Knudsen maintained, “reduces [the number of] cars you need to cover all your mobility needs”.

He admitted that electric mobility was “still struggling with the high price of the cars [and] the lack of infrastructure regarding public charging.” BMW has tried to solve this issue by urging public authorities to expand the charging infrastructure and by offering its ChargeNow service, which “gives our customers access to the existing [charging] infrastructure”.

Certainly, as Schliffski made clear, BMW is not the only carmaker preparing for the future. Yet, as Tom Kirschbaum COO and co-founder of Door2Door, cautioned, perhaps not everyone is prepared for the change. “The US companies are more aggressive,” he said. “This is quite different from the traditional European players. They want to do it but the question is: are they agile enough to disrupt themselves? This is probably a question that most likely not every player in the market will answer with a strong yes five or ten years from now.”

Date: Nov 3 . 2016

Source: TU-Automotive

A Era da Internet Industrial e a Indústria 4.0

Posted on October 19, 2016

Indústria passa por nova revolução tecnológica que pode gerar crescimento econômico e empregos mais qualificados

A Revolução Industrial transformou a vida das pessoas, com acesso a grande variedade de produtos, novas formas de geração e distribuição de energia, meios de transporte mais eficientes e migração massiva para cidades. Recentemente, a internet encolheu o planeta e revolucionou o acesso à informação e o modo de relacionamento entre as pessoas.

Vivemos agora uma revolução tecnológica que promete transformar novamente a maneira como o mundo funciona, gerando crescimento econômico, empregos mais qualificados e elevação dos padrões de vida. A Internet Industrial já começou. Une máquinas inteligentes, análise computacional avançada e trabalho colaborativo entre pessoas conectadas para gerar profundas mudanças e trazer eficiência operacional para setores industriais diversos: manufatura, transporte, energia e saúde.

Analistas indicam mercado potencial de US$ 15 trilhões em 15 anos. Gigantes globais como GE e Intel, empresas de tecnologia, universidades e institutos de pesquisa trabalham para vencer desafios técnicos, como nível de segurança viável para troca de informações sensíveis e criação de padrões e referências para a interoperabilidade entre máquinas e dispositivos.

Para acelerar este processo e fomentar colaboração entre os participantes desta comunidade, foi criado nos Estados Unidos (2014) o Consórcio de Internet Industrial (IIC), com cerca de 250 associados de 30 países. No entendimento das empresas participantes, já dispomos da tecnologia para criar soluções inovadoras e boa parte do esforço do consórcio está em criar projetos pilotos (testbeds) que coloquem em prática as novas ideias.

A INDÚSTRIA 4.0

Foi na edição de 2011 da Feira de Hannover que o conceito começou a ser revelado ao público em geral. A Indústria 4.0, fortemente patrocinada e incentivada pelo governo alemão em associação com empresas de tecnologia, universidades e centros de pesquisa do país, propõe uma importante mudança de paradigma em relação à maneira como as fábricas operam nos dias de hoje. Nesta visão de futuro, ocorre uma completa descentralização do controle dos processos produtivos e uma proliferação de dispositivos inteligentes interconectados, ao longo de toda a cadeia de produção e logística. O impacto esperado na produtividade da indústria é comparável ao que foi proporcionado pela internet em diversos outros campos, tais como no comércio eletrônico, nas comunicações pessoais e nas transações bancárias.

Tornar a Indústria 4.0 uma realidade implicará na adoção gradual de um conjunto de tecnologias emergentes de TI e automação industrial na formação de um sistema de produção físico-cibernético, com intensa digitalização de informações e comunicação direta entre sistemas, máquinas, produtos e pessoas; a chamada Internet das Coisas (IoT). Este processo promete gerar ambientes de manufatura altamente flexíveis e autoajustáveis à demanda crescente por produtos cada vez mais customizados.

Para o sucesso do projeto, a consolidação de um único conjunto de padrões técnicos de comunicação e segurança será um elemento chave. Com ele, a troca de informações entre os diferentes tipos de sistemas e dispositivos será assegurada, eliminando-se as restrições relacionadas aos padrões proprietários vigentes.

Não cabe a este artigo explorar em detalhes os inúmeros aspectos tecnológicos envolvidos. Excelentes relatórios e publicações a respeito podem ser encontrados em uma busca na web utilizando-se o termo “Industrie 4.0”. Um bom exemplo é o material da Academia Nacional de Ciência e Engenharia da Alemanha (veja aqui. É importante frisar que boa parte destas novas tecnologias já está disponível, mas que a transição para a Indústria 4.0 não ocorrerá de forma repentina, mas sim gradualmente, com uma velocidade de implantação que dependerá de fatores econômicos e estratégicos e da capacitação tecnológica da indústria presente em cada país.

E O BRASIL, ONDE FICA NESTA REVOLUÇÃO?

O consenso entre os especialistas é de que a indústria nacional ainda se encontra em grande parte na transição do que seria a Indústria 2.0 (caracterizada pela utilização de linhas de montagem e energia elétrica) para a Indústria 3.0 (que aplica automação através da eletrônica, robótica e programação). Para termos uma ideia da nossa defasagem, precisaríamos instalar cerca de 165 mil robôs industriais para nos aproximar da densidade robótica atual da Alemanha. No ritmo atual, cerca de 1,5 mil robôs instalados por ano no país, levaremos mais de 100 anos para chegar lá.

A boa notícia é que não precisaremos passar por todo o processo de modernização fabril ocorrido nos países desenvolvidos nas últimas décadas, para só então poder abraçar as tecnologias da Internet Industrial e da Indústria 4.0. Podemos e devemos queimar etapas. O que não podemos é ignorar esta revolução, se quisermos preservar a indústria presente no Brasil e prepará-la para este novo panorama competitivo. Um cenário no qual as tecnologias de informação e de automação, e não a mão de obra de baixo custo, é que irão gerar as vantagens competitivas para as nações com setor de manufatura relevante.

A conjuntura brasileira atual, marcada por uma severa crise econômica e política, torna este desafio ainda mais difícil para o país. Precisaremos mais do que nunca de lideranças fortes e articuladores na indústria, no governo e nas instituições acadêmicas e de pesquisa.

Precisaremos também de níveis de investimento relevantes e da capacitação intensiva de gestores, engenheiros, analistas de sistemas e técnicos nestas novas tecnologias, além de parcerias e alianças estratégicas com entidades de outros países. Cada um precisará fazer a sua parte: (a) o governo com políticas estratégicas inteligentes, incentivos e fomento, (b) os empreendedores e gestores da indústria com visão, arrojo e postura proativa e (c) as instituições acadêmicas e de pesquisa com formação de profissionais e com desenvolvimento tecnológico, preferencialmente em grande proximidade com a indústria.

A Internet Industrial e a Indústria 4.0 criam também enormes oportunidades para empreendedores que atuem na área de tecnologia. Talvez como nunca antes na história da humanidade. Muito do que será necessário para converter a manufatura, os meios de transportes, agronegócio e outros setores industriais ainda precisa ser desenvolvido. Boa parte dessas tecnologias disruptivas ainda requer aperfeiçoamento, customização e a criação de soluções abrangentes que funcionem e gerem os benefícios esperados. Para mencionar apenas algumas destas novas ferramentas, precisaremos de empresas e de startups focadas em Big Data, Analytics, nuvem, segurança e automação de conhecimento na área de software e em robótica avançada, manufatura aditiva, novos materiais, energias sustentáveis e simulação no campo da engenharia.

Para empreendedores que já atuam em um dos segmentos diretamente impactados por essa revolução, vale investir tempo na formulação de um plano consistente para avaliar e aplicar as novas tecnologias em suas operações. O ideal é reunir sua equipe interna com especialistas do mercado para analisar a viabilidade e o impacto de cada uma das novas tecnologias. Na transição, uma dica é pensar grande e começar pequeno, ou seja, pilotar cada ideia, medir os resultados e expandir para toda a operação. A outra é não esperar por um momento futuro. A hora é agora, antes que seus competidores o tirem do mercado.

Date: Sept 16, 2016

WHY WE NEED ITS-G5 TO MAKE AUTONOMOUS CARS SAFE

Posted on October 11, 2016

How can the car industry ensure reliable vehicle-to-vehicle communication? In an op-ed for 2025AD, an expert demands: Make ITS-G5 the road safety connectivity standard for vehicles.

 Public debate on connected and autonomous driving (including testing & deployment scenarios) seems to mainly focus on cellular communication networks. Cellular communication is an essential piece of the greater vehicle connectivity puzzle. It connects the vehicle to back-offices/clouds and provides the big picture to the autonomous vehicle. It has to fit with ITS-G5, the other piece of this puzzle, though. ITS-G5 provides the reflexes of the vehicle through connecting it directly with other vehicles and the infrastructure.

Cellular communication is essential for autonomous driving. Cellular communication is capable of transporting large volumes of data, such as maps, billing information, traffic advice (non-time critical), infotainment, convenience applications, that autonomous vehicles need and that are not time-critical. An autonomous vehicle has to be able to “hold its breath” though, in case of no cellular network coverage. Its subliminal reflexes have to still work without a cellular connection. An essential requirement, since most big automotive markets, such as the US or the EU have not achieved full 3G or 4G cellular coverage yet and may take some time doing so.

If back-offices and clouds are the metaphorical brain of the autonomous vehicle, the autonomous vehicle also has a hippocampus, that allows instant reflexes  in any situation, because vehicles are capable exchanging time critical road safety information directly.

THE AUTONOMOUS CAR CAN “SEE”, “HEAR” AND SPEAK”

The autonomous car can be compared to an individual body with a nervous system providing the ability to instantly, subliminally so to say, react to threats. This nervous system fed by its sense of “sight” (laser, radar, cameras, ultrasound), its “hearing” and its ability to “speak” (ITS-G5).

Platooning: one of the uses cases for ITS-G5. (Photo: Kapsch)

A human has two lungs, two kidneys and so on; safety is about improving the perception of our environment, as well as having a spare set of the most essential things. An autonomous vehicle uses a range of technologies such as radar, laser technology, cameras and ultrasound to grasp its environment. These are the “eyes” of the autonomous vehicle. The vehicle has to interpret the information these sensors provide within a split second to decide which action to take. Fog, dust, heavy rain, snow, slush, bright light are some of the factors these sensors have to deal with and consider in their interpretation. Like our eyes these sensors rely on the line of sight. Like our eyes, sight is suited for some conditions better than for others.

That is why we have a sense our hearing complementing our eye-sight. Ships sound foghorns in thick fog, because sound traverses the fog, in a way light or sight can’t. ITS-G5 is a microwave technology, loosely related to WLAN, that offers autonomous vehicles a sense of “hearing” and the ability to “speak”. ITS-G5 enables autonomous vehicles to communicate with each other directly and instantly beyond the line of sight. This communication is the fastest available and allows vehicles to react instantly in cases of immediate danger. ITS-G5 is ETSI standardised in Europe and mature. Its American sister technology WAVE is also standardised and  the preferred road safety communication technology of the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA.

DRIVERLESS CARS DEPEND ON COOPERATION

Ironically, to become autonomous a vehicle depends on cooperation with other vehicles and the road operator. It has to “speak” and be “social”. Vehicles can warn other vehicles that they are close, yet not in sight, around a corner, say. To run autonomously vehicles have to coordinate precisely and develop a “social behaviour” like in the case of platooning (for energy efficiency, as demonstrated in the European Truck Platooning Challenge). For this vehicles have to speak and react instantly. The road operator is responsible for traffic management and hence may want to listen into its roads and the traffic there. In the future the road operator may take a role similar to that of an air traffic controller for roads. Road operators play a key role avoiding radio interference between ITS-G5 and tolling systems.

The European Truck Platooning Challenge was held in 2016. (Photo: MAN)

Therefore we need a clear recognition and acceptance of ITS-G5 as the road safety connectivity standard for vehicles, since parts of the system will require certification. The sooner this is recognised, the sooner cars will get safer and autonomous. It is the only technology that fulfils technical requirements for safety: such as speed or the independence of network coverage, whilst at the same time going hand in hand with cellular technologies needed for other ITS applications. With this recognition issues such as security, privacy, interoperability and freedom of radio interference can be addressed and solutions for product certification found, finally allowing the autonomous vehicle to drive autonomously and safely.

Only an inclusive view of the autonomous driving will deliver the levels of safety, security and privacy a vehicle requires to become autonomous.

Date: Sep 28, 2016
Author: Richard Lax
Source: https://www.2025ad.com/in-the-news/blog/its-g5-driverless-cars/

The Future of the Diesel Engine and Clean Diesel

Posted on October 4, 2016


In light of the VW diesel scandal and subsequent allegations against various other automakers, the diesel engine is coming under ever more intense scrutiny. Rather than an isolated incident whereby VW was the only OEM to install ‘cheat’ devices to circumnavigate emissions tests, various commentators are now referring to an industry-wide problem. The manufacturers in question of course vehemently deny any wrongdoing, and it will be some time perhaps before all questions are answered.

In the meantime however, the reputation of diesel engines is on a downward curve, and public suspicion has led to a drop in sales and share prices of those companies either affected or implicated. Diesel is a much more common fuel type in Europe than the US, where diesel vehicles make up just a small percentage of the market, but it remains to be seen how these various scandals will affect the market in the long term, and the very future of diesel engines and clean diesel in an increasingly environmentally conscious world. Let’s recap on the stories that have hit world media over the last year in relation to diesel emissions.

Volkswagen

VW is the only place to start and it is the company at the centre of the whole affair. Once the scandal broke it didn’t take long for the German carmaker to admit that some 11 million of its vehicles were fitted with software designed to ‘cheat’ on emissions tests and produce results that met regulations but were wholly inaccurate in real world conditions. The US Department of Justice quickly filed a lawsuit against the company, while other international regulators are conducting their own investigations.

In April 2016 VW agreed to fix or buy back 480,000 vehicles in America although details are yet to be announced as to how this process will work. The company set aside approximately 16 billion Euros to cover compensation, fines and legal costs, and according to Bloomberg, VW is due to submit a $10 billion action plan to US government and California regulators later this month to either fix the cars or take them off the road. No details of any deal have been made public yet, nor have any fixes been approved.

It is the start of a long road for VW though, and it has seen share prices drop by 6% since the preliminary agreement was announced in April. Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn resigned just a week after the scandal first broke, and his successor Matthias Mueller has introduced a sweeping strategy to focus on electric cars and automated driving which will include 10 billion Euros of investment up to 2025.

Opel

It isn’t just VW that have been implicated in what is now crassly known as Dieselgate, far from it. In May 2016 experts from Germany’s TÜV Nord said they had discovered defeat devices in diesel cars made by GM’s European arm, the Opel Group. This report goes against the German government’s initial analysis that no other automakers had used defeat devices like those found in Volkswagen vehicles, but nonetheless government officials asked Opel for an explanation of ‘irregularities’ in some of its diesel-powered vehicles.

There are some very subtle differences however, and Opel along with many other automakers have been found to be applying very liberal interpretations to EU regulations on emissions rather than applying similar cheat devices to those found in VW cars. Indeed, Opel admitted that the exhaust treatment of a diesel-powered Zafira would only be fully operational in a narrow temperature window of 20-30 degrees centigrade. The new report from TÜV Nord stated that tests and analysis of the engines computer code revealed that the exhaust treatment of the Opel vehicle would switch off:

  • When the engine runs at higher revolutions than 2400 rpm.
  • When the car goes faster than 145 km/h.
  • And when the barometric pressure is higher than 915 millibar (indicating an elevation of over 850 metres).

General Motors has strenuously denied any wrongdoing or the implementation of cheat devices, but it is indicative of how manufacturers have interpreted the EU loophole which states that exhaust treatment can be turned off at certain temperatures to avoid damage to the catalytic converter due to condensation. More details of the testing will follow and shed more light on whether Opel have remained within regulations.

Daimler

Previously, in April of this year, Daimler announced that it was to carry out an internal investigation into its emissions test process at the request of the US Department of Justice. A lawsuit had already been launched against the German company by a group of car owners in the US claiming that Mercedes-Benz BlueTEC diesel vehicles contained similar defeat devices to VW, although Daimler has dismissed the claims as baseless and said in a statement that it was cooperating with authorities fully.

Despite Daimler’s response, share prices fell quickly by 7% reflecting investors’ nervousness about another potential scandal.

Other News

Could these new developments simply be the tip of the iceberg? Several other OEMs are under scrutiny, including Nissan, Mitsubishi, Audi and Peugeot.

In May South Korean officials announced that Nissan had manipulated emissions on a diesel sports utility vehicle, and that they were preparing to fine the company and sue the head of Korean operations.

In April Mitsubishi Motors admitted to manipulating the fuel consumption data of its cars, with the scandal ending the carmaker’s independence as it is set to be effectively taken over by Nissan.

Meanwhile, also in Korea, the offices of Audi and Volkswagen were raided along with those of two PR companies amid the ongoing scandal. Johannes Thammer and Thomas Kuehl – presidents of Audi and Volkswagen Korea – were charged with violation of Korea’s clean air act, and could potentially face up to five years in prison if found guilty.

The offices of PSA Peugeot Citroën were raided in separate probes by investigators, and real world testing is being carried out in several countries including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and the US. The results of these tests when forthcoming threaten to deepen the scandal further.

What of the Future?

At present carmakers are understandably bullish about the continuation of diesel engines for the future through better technology and cleaner emissions, but the smaller passenger car may be one sector that suffers, while the ramifications will surely be much more widely felt in Europe than the US.

Diesels account for around half of all new vehicles sold in Europe due to better fuel economy and the price of fuel, but in the US it has never been overly popular partly because gasoline is that much cheaper. European regulations have tended to be rather more lenient than those across the Atlantic, too, but this will change when new standards are brought into play from September 2017.

VW appeared to have it cracked when they produced a four-cylinder diesel engine for small passenger cars, even as many other manufacturers moved away from diesel to concentrate efforts on hybrid vehicles and more efficient gasoline engines. Clearly we now know that the efficiency of the engine was masked by defeat devices and in real world conditions produced vastly more emissions. That could signal defeat for diesel-powered vehicles in small, affordable vehicles, but it is almost certain to remain popular in larger vehicles, freight vehicles and industrial vehicles.

On the other hand, continued development could lead to new and improved diesel engines that really do meet emissions targets, as well as providing efficiency and affordability. Mercedes-Benz has not yet given up on the idea, and recently announced a diesel engine that is the first to market to meet the new targets on emissions set for September 2017.

The carmaker says that this new engine achieves the standards due to an integrated approach that includes new stepped combustion chambers and further developed exhaust gas recirculation. The new four-cylinder OM 654 engine allows all components to be positioned on the engine rather than below the car floor, thus improving overall efficiency. The engine will be launched in the new E-Class, and is the first member of a new family of engines that will eventually be applied throughout the portfolio of all Mercedes-Benz cars and vans. The OEM has said that it will equip its entire range of diesel vehicles in Europe with this engine, including SCR technology, by 2019 at the latest.

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SCRi-System for Multicar Fumo – © Michael KR

Alternative Engine Types

Of course, emissions regulations are not the only threat to the diesel engine. The rapid development of hybrid and electric vehicles has initiated a real change of direction across the industry, and perhaps a big hint of how the future will pan out for European diesel vehicles is in Volkswagen’s Strategy 2025 Business Plan which highlights the manufacturer’s intentions across its Audi, Porsche, SEAT, Skoda and VW brands.

At Volkswagen’s New Year reception in Brussels Matthias Mueller outlined the group’s emphasis and investment in electric vehicle technology, with over 30 new e-vehicles set to be introduced by 2025. These new vehicles will use more efficient battery technology to enhance the range compared with the current line up, while greater investment will also be made in autonomous driving features as VW prepares to develop its own self-driving system.

These new vehicles will include standalone models as well as electric versions of current gasoline and diesel models, with Mueller quoted as saying, “We are using the current crisis to fundamentally realign the group. I strongly feel we now have the chance to build a new and better Volkswagen.”

The next Phaeton is slated to be a fully electric drive luxury saloon, which will inspire a full range of plug-ins, high-volume electric vehicles with ranges of 185 miles, and 48-volt mild hybrids. An ‘MEB Modular Toolkit’ will enable standardised electric and plug-in hybrid powertrains, allowing the technology to be used across all body styles and vehicle types in the VW range.

The company is forecasting that as many as 3 million of its vehicles will be electric by 2025, making up over a quarter of global sales of 10 million vehicles. Although VW has pledged to continue development in gasoline and diesel engines with the promise of greater efficiency, this step change is indicative of the general trend towards electrification.

Summary

The dieselgate scandal looks set to run on for some time, and no doubt more details will come to light in the coming months. For manufacturers the challenge is to produce economical diesel engines that can meet the more stringent EU requirements, and the very future of ‘clean’ diesel may well rely upon their success. In the short term diesel engines will continue to make up a large proportion of the European market, but in the long term diesel-powered vehicles may have to make way for more efficient and environmentally-friendly powertrains.

Contributor: Colin Pawsey
Date: 09/22/2016

AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES AND THE AUTOMOTIVE SECTOR

Posted on September 27, 2016

The driverless car is coming, but important questions remain. Will consumers actually want to cede control of their vehicles? Can autonomous cars be truly safe in a world of variable driving conditions and human error? Who is responsible for an automated car crash or accident?

Assisted driving has come very far, very fast. Almost every current vehicle model sold by the world’s top manufacturers, premium category not considered, has at least some ADAS functionality, with certain features even coming standard (ESC, Start-Stop, FCW). Autonomous driving is a near future and the solution for important issues – efficiency, comfort and safety, so everyone is racing to get a piece of the ADAS market. However, even with that huge disruption in the ADAS systems, to get there are five important topics to discuss.

The first Topic – Who is going to produce the future vehicle? Who has the knowledge?

Vehicle manufacturing is an industry well accustomed to collaboration. For decades now, one of the key ingredients in the success of any carmaker has been its ability to work with a large number of suppliers. That ability is going to be strongly tested from now until full autonomy with new market entrants. Even at their comparably modest level of assisted driving, today’s autos carry a raft of cutting-edge solutions and technologies. Therefore, in addition to traditional parts suppliers, carmakers now must collaborate.

Car manufacturers are facing new challenges. Digitalization, ADAS and new services are a “on and on” growing demand from consumers.

More important than ever in a new business model is to manage the direct customer relationship with a high degree of service orientation enabled by connectivity. Far from the traditional automotive business model, where OEMs traditionally retain the branding and the overall added value on the product, new technologies are pulling the role of OEMs away from the centre stage of the value creation in favor of solution providers, mobility integrators and in general to technology providers.

The auto industry business model will be transformed—and the collateral impact to other sectors could be significant as well. Like the Smartphone industry today, we see the auto industry reorganized into dedicated “hardware” OEMs, “software / systems” OEMs/suppliers, and integrated “experience” creators. Selling content to the occupants of the car (who now have nothing else to do) could be a significant new revenue stream.

Autonomous driving capability could change the auto industry in fundamental ways leading the industry with two paradigm shifts:

  • Shifting the “value” of the car from predominantly hardware to a software component as well, thereby allowing new players to enter and forcing existing players to reinvent themselves or cede share.
  • Introducing a new revenue model by being able to monetize the content opportunity within the car. In short term, the automotive industry structure is going towards PC/smartphone industry.

The value in the auto industry today is about the car as a holistic product. The OEM is the most important link in the supply chain as the biggest single contributor of content, which is why the OEMs have the most visible brands in the industry as well. The other parts of the value chain tend to be incidental to the automotive experience and do not usually have branding power. In a world of autonomous vehicles, we see the value in the auto industry coming from three different sources. The biggest impact within the auto industry from the move to autonomous cars is arguably going to be on the OEMs. The OEMs that have the most reliable and feature-rich autonomous capabilities in their cars are likely to be the ones that succeed, while the ones that do not will either be forced out of business or will have to reinvent their business models to be “hardware only” / assemblers while buying the autonomous systems from other OEMs/suppliers/third party players.

Even though Google is building a self-driving car, the main purpose is testing and finding out more about additional revenue streams. Consequently, Google will not compete with OEMs in building or selling cars but rather for the vehicle and consumer data generated in or by a car. This presents challenges to the new business model as traditional OEMs need to increasingly integrate hardware and software components into their vehicles.

The second topic – How the consumer will react to the future vehicles? Are they going to trust life on them?

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Image: Lexus

Autonomous driving vehicles will give passengers the chance to use their time efficiently while commuting.

The ability to drive autonomously, will transform vehicles into mobile data rooms, making virtual product features and services increasingly relevant.

With autonomous cars becoming present and constantly available in our daily life, the decision of choosing a car will present new priorities. Instead of being focused on brand image, total cost of ownership will become even more influential.

Automotive technology often moves faster than consumer acceptance. For example – Automatic transmissions would rob drivers the fun of driving.  Now, automatic transmissions are practically standard equipment.

Consumers as drivers are just beginning to become aware of technology that will bring self-driving (autonomous) cars to the roads over the next decade. Because of this there are some anxieties about these subject.

There is a strong belief that a part of the population who will benefit most from self-driving cars are people who are physically impaired. Many people believe autonomous vehicles will provide on-demand mobility for the elderly and handicapped.

At the same time, there is concern that the technology would be unreliable. Some people believe that more technology means more can go wrong. They feel anxious to be at the mercy of a “machine”, they are afraid of being guarded, because the sensors, such as cameras in the interior are there to ensure that drivers will not fall in sleep or become distracted. Millions of miles of testing to prove reliability of self-driving systems will be required to offset the concerns of many consumers.

While a part of people say that offering a self-driving car demonstrates the auto-maker cares about their safety. Another part believe that self-driving cars represent a major accident just waiting to happen when computers fail.

More enthusiastic drivers believe that a person can become too reliant on an autonomous vehicle and that their driving skills would deteriorate. Over time, this would lead to a less skilled and less experienced population of drivers causing trouble in emergencies.

On the other hand, any one that has experienced a situation in which an automatic brake system has avoided, successfully, an accident has confidence in aid systems to the driver.

The third topic – What are the technology requirement? The  technology already exists? How expensive it’s?

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Image: ZF

The technology to enable fully autonomous car capability already exists. Active safety systems that are commercially available today represent a basic level of autonomous driving. Fully autonomous functionality does not need much more incremental hardware.

Software and testing is where most of the work needs to be done. Autonomous cars use sophisticated algorithms to decipher the input received from sensory hardware to determine the course of action to be taken and how to execute that action. This will also need extensive testing to ensure every possible scenario has been accounted for.

The first step toward getting autonomous cars on the road is to get them to work. This may not be as large a challenge as some think because much of the technology already exists. However, a few things have become quite clear.

  1. The hardware is not the hurdle. Most of the technology needed to get fully autonomous cars to work in the real world already exists today and many fully functional prototypes have already been built and are being tested (Google, ubber, Volvo…). Active safety systems, which offer a very basic level of autonomous functionality, have been on sale for a few years and are just starting to enter the mass market. Full autonomous capability only needs automakers to walk further down that path.
  2. Software and LIDAR are essential. While the hardware situation appears relatively settled, much of the work development-taking place today appears to revolve around software and LIDAR sensors. Autonomous vehicles use incredibly sophisticated algorithms to interpret the sensory input coming in from the hardware to:
  • Interpret the car’s surroundings;
  • Anticipate upcoming events and predict the necessary reactions
  • Instruct the various hardware components of the car to perform necessary actions.

This exponential increase in the amount and sophistication of software needed to achieve autonomous capability is probably the biggest change in the functionality of the automobile.

  1. Practical considerations are the main impediment. While the engineers put the final tweaks on the hardware and software needed to deliver full autonomous capability in labs, the long lead time to commercial implementation is likely to be the result of practical considerations. Practical considerations:
  • Solving non-technical issues like liability and regulation.
  • Making sure that the hardware and software have accounted for virtually every possible real-life driving scenario. (The only solution for this is extensive testing in the real world and in simulations, which takes a lot of time and resources.

“Self-driving cars will need multiple detection systems including expensive infrared “lidar” technology if they are to be safe at high speeds. For autonomous driving, we will need three core technologies: picture processing camera technology, short and long-range radar and LIDAR. Laser or infrared-based LIDAR technology will help vehicle sensors pick up contours and contrasts of obstacles which normal cameras are unable to detect, particularly in low light situations. Lidar technology is currently too expensive to be incorporated in mass production vehicles, but investments into the technology will bring economies of scale will likely lower the costs to a manageable level” – CEO of German auto supplier ZF Friedrichshafen said today.

The fourth topic – Legal issues – Who is responsible for an automated car crash or accident? Vienna convention on road traffic. How to deal with different laws around the world?

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Image: Google

Legislation has a significant impact on the future of the automotive business. Nobody wants to stifle innovation, much less slow the consumer’s access to the benefits of innovation, but this new technology is moving faster than the government’s ability to regulate its use. We are now at a tipping point.

JUST A LITTLE BRIEFING WITH RESPECT TO CYBER SECURITY AND LATER TALKING ABOUT REGULATION INVOLVING THE AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE…

Media attention has highlighted numerous security and safety issues for the connected car. Innovation no longer starts and ends with a car’s mechanical components; electronic components now make up over 50% of the total manufacturing cost of a car. This clearly represents a source of worrisome security vulnerabilities.

Cars are run by networks of computers, wireless connections, and electronic control units (ECUs), offering the potential for hackers to access critical car controls including the steering and braking. Modern cars can easily connect to smart devices and the internet. This connectivity potentially exposes critical systems to hackers that could lead to remote attacks on cruise control mechanisms, braking systems, and other safety-critical operations.

It’s not just new cars that should be considered vulnerable to hackers. Older cars are increasingly connected using devices that are plugged into vehicle diagnostic ports and linked to smartphones. Once a smartphone is connected to the car’s network, both the automobile’s fundamental safety and the driver’s personal information can be compromised. Knowing this, it’s obvious that security and safety should be front and center in automotive software development.

Connecting cars to the internet brings a host of new convenience, entertainment and safety features to consumers, but this connectivity also opens up cars to remote hackers. Automakers and their suppliers are struggling to adapt their hardware and software architectures, their code and their processes to deal with this new threat to automobiles. Automakers and their suppliers do not YET have the skills, tools or processes to make a secure car (at least not yet been proved).

BACK TO REGULATORY…

Regulation and consumer acceptance represent additional hurdles for autonomous vehi­cles. However, once these challenges are addressed, autonomous vehicles present a tre­mendous value offering for consumers.

Many cars sold today are already capable of some level of autonomous operation and prototype cars capable of driving autonomously have been and continue to be tested on public roads in Europe, Japan and the United States. These technologies have arrived rapidly on the market and their future deployment is expected to accelerate since autonomous driving promises many benefits (improved safety, reduced congestion and lower stress for car occupants).

With the uptake of on-road autonomous driving being years rather than decades away, authorities will have to adapt existing rules and create new ones in order to ensure the full compatibility of these vehicles with the public’s expectations regarding safety, legal responsibility and privacy. Issues will have to be considered at a strategic level by authorities as autonomous vehicles arrive on our roads.

Many countries signed the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic that consists in:

  • Every moving vehicle or combination of vehicles shall have a driver.
  • Every driver shall at all times, be able to control his vehicle.

This potential barrier to the introduction of automated vehicle is about to be overcome as the convention is in the process of being amended. It will allow a car to drive itself so long as the system can be overridden or switched off by the driver. But further change might be needed to allow automated vehicles on the roads in many countries.

Self-driving cars seem a near-term possibility but their range of capabilities is unclear. Road safety is expected to improve with vehicle automation but this effect remains untested at a large scale and may not be immediate or linear. That is why some authorities are developing regulatory frameworks for prototype testing though little anticipatory action is taking place on potential use cases.
Automated driving comprises a diverse set of emerging concepts that must be understood individually and as part of broader trends toward automation and connectivity. Uncertainty on market deployment strategies and pathways complicates the regulatory task.

Uncertainty over liability for a driverless car crash is seen as one of the biggest barriers to adoption. Regulation is also slowed by unanswered ethical and legal concerns, particularly when it comes to liability for driverless car accidents.

“So the question becomes who is responsible and we think it’s unrealistic to put that responsibility on our customers. Volvo wants to remove the uncertainty of who would be responsible in the event of a crash. At the moment it could be the manufacturer of the technology, the driver, a maker of a component in a car.” explains Erik Coelingh, Volvo’s senior technical leader for safety and driver-support technologies. Mr. Coelingh also said that – Volvo would only accept liability for an accident if it was the result of a flaw in the car’s design.
Incrementally shifting the driving task to machines and algorithms and away from people will require changes in insurance and may have an impact on what information developers and manufacturers of autonomous vehicles share and with whom. Regulators and developers should actively plan to minimise legacy risks.

The last topic – Mobility – UBER, CABIFY, BLABLACAR… How all these companies can affect the world? Do consumers prefer owning a car instead of using mobility services?

 

5
Image: Uber

The introduction and adoption of new mobility services is related to several big-trends and push forces, such as, increasing constraints on resources, rapid urbanization, pollution and congestion. By providing more reliable, predictable, efficient, comfort and lifestyle, they are enabling a significant reduction of Total cost of ownership for the ever more sophisticated and highly informed customer (Z GENERATION) continuously striving for an optimization of his cost, time and quality of life in real-time.

The consideration of the total cost of ownership (TCO) will play the most important role in the customer’s decision whether to own a car or not. In contrast to the past, where the customer paid for traditional vehicle ownership even if the car was unused much of the time, future consumers will tend to pay for using mobility on demand.

This new world in which consumers continuously strain for an optimization of their time, cost and quality of life in real-time, TCO is all that counts and both image and lifestyle only play a minor role in the heads of the consumers.

In the entire Globe, the new generation of consumers (especially Z generation) have significantly less emotions attached to car ownership. The Millennials will be the driving forces of the adoption of new mobility services. Because of their lifestyle and transportation preferences, they will account for much of the expansion of new mobility services.

Conclusion

 The driverless car is coming, but important questions remain. That said, these are at the same time exciting but blur moment for the car industry, supply chain and technology suppliers associated with it. All of them have an important role in this new scenario since new ADAS features are coming in the immediate future and will require strategic alliance between IoT companies, OEMs and “mobility on demand” companies, before hands-off functionality starts to become standard. Once that happens, we will be within a few miles of true Level 5 autonomy. Therefore, although the end is still away from us (at least five to ten years), we must be patient and prudent with new features technologies and regulatory issues.
Murilo Cesar Perin Briganti

ADAS Technology Specialist
murilo.briganti@brightisd.com

 

 

Behind the wheel of Uber’s new self-driving car

Posted on September 20, 2016

On Monday, I found myself behind the wheel of a Ford Fusion driving down a Pittsburgh street lined with gorgeous Romanesque brick factories. The sky was a cloudless blue, the Allegheny River sparkled seductively through the trees, and I was able to drink in all the splendor of the day without distraction because I wasn’t actually driving the car. This was one of Uber’s new self-driving cars, and I was behind the wheel, admiring the view. That is, until the Ford SUV in front of me stopped without warning.

Time slowed down. My brain issued the signal to brake, but before my foot could respond, the car braked on its own. It was abrupt but gentle, the kind of stop that would have caused my wife to raise a disapproving eyebrow, but only slightly. There wasn’t enough time to be amazed. The driver of the SUV was waving for me to pass him, and while the self-driving Uber is festooned with sensors and cameras which it uses to “see” its surroundings, there was nothing in the car’s algorithm that could interpret the universal symbol for “drive around me.” The human — aka me — still needed to take control.

I was in Pittsburgh to take part in a brief, tightly scripted media frenzy ahead of Uber’s announcement today that a select group of customers can begin hailing rides from self-driving cars. It’s a significant moment for Uber and for the future of transportation, if you believe the futurists and Silicon Valley types who predict that driverless cars, especially those that can be hailed using your phone, will fundamentally change the way we get around.

For now, two Uber employees will accompany every trip to monitor the car’s self-driving capabilities — one behind the wheel and the other in the passenger seat with a laptop displaying the data and images gathered by the car’s sensors. Uber’s ultimate goal, though, is enabling customers to summon a car on demand with nobody in it.

The company says it plans to gather feedback from customers who opt into the trial and use it to make decisions about how to expand its self-driving program. It’s just a test run, but it marks the first time that self-driving cars are being deployed in a ride-hailing capacity.

 Max Jeffrey

Overall, riding in Uber’s self-driving car was equal parts thrilling and mundane. I was surprised by the level of skill with which the car drove itself, but also by how many times it dropped out of autonomous mode unexpectedly. (Other reporters I spoke to said that hadn’t happened to them at all.) A dinging sound would indicate when the autonomous mode suddenly disengaged. The engineers said it was impossible to say exactly why it happened without going back through the car’s data logs.

There were a few hair-raising moments, like when an oncoming tractor-trailer suddenly swerved into my lane of traffic, or when a woman in a blue-and-white striped shirt dashed out into the street in front of me. These were the kind of routine-yet-unpredictable situations drivers encounter every day, but this time it was a computer making the split-second decisions. Sometimes the car would kick out of autonomous mode, forcing me to take control; other times the car’s computer responded itself.

When I rode in the backseat, the engineer in the driver’s seat made it a point to keep his hands on the steering wheel. When it was my turn behind the wheel, I couldn’t resist the urge to rest my hands in my lap as the car steered itself. Fortunately, Uber’s self-driving team has been instructed to be more mindful than foolhardy reporters.

“We didn’t invent self-driving cars; they’ve been around for a long time,” said Anthony Levandowski, vice president of engineering at Uber and the co-founder of Otto, a self-driving truck startup recently acquired by Uber. “Even in the ’50s there were advertisements about families riding around in the back of vehicles, playing dominoes, and just driving down the highway efficiently and safely. I’m sorry to say there’s going to be no domino playing in these vehicles.”

The interior of the car was luxurious but minimalist. There was no exposed wiring, nor any fancy displays that you may find in a Tesla. There were three lights on the dash to indicate the mode you were in, and two buttons — one silver and the other red — on the console between the driver’s seat and passenger seat to engage and disable autonomy, respectively.

There was a tablet in the back so passengers could track the car’s progress, as well as take a selfie. It was a brilliant, if transparent, piece of marketing: who could be afraid of a car that lets you take a selfie?

Here's our Uber self-driving selfie.

 

Here’s our Uber self-driving selfie.

The exterior of the car showcased the full suite of Uber’s self-driving technology: a rotating LIDAR sensor on the roof, as well as front, rear, and side-mounted sensors to detect obstacles in close proximity. There are 20 cameras that watch for braking vehicles, crossing pedestrians, traffic lights, and signage; cameras and sensors to collect mapping data; and roof- and trunk-mounted antennae to provide GPS positioning and wireless capabilities.

(In addition to its Ford Fusions, Uber also has also inked a deal with Volvo to purchase a hundred XC90 SUVs for the next stage of its autonomous technology. Uber says the Volvos are still under development.)

A huge number of car and technology companies are working on self-driving cars, and Uber’s isn’t so different from the competition. But Uber is the first to make theirs publicly available. It’s a high-risk move for a company known for its devil-may-care behavior. There have been a handful of high-profile accidents involving self-driving cars, from Google’s fender bender with a bus to a fatal crash involving a Tesla in Autopilot mode. With its fleet about to deploy in such a highly visible way, Uber acknowledges that accidents are inevitable. The company says it will be transparent about its scrapes, no matter the severity.

 Max Jeffrey

Polls show that most Americans are still skeptical of self-driving cars, with over a third saying they would never buy one themselves. As such, the company sees three challenges ahead: technology, societal acceptance, and regulation. The federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is currently working on a set of guidelines and regulations for self-driving cars. Uber and its Silicon Valley peers are watching that process closely.

Over the course of the morning, there was a lot of talk about safety and innovation, but very little about the future of the millions of drivers across the world that are currently working for Uber. what happens to them? Do they have a future as testers in Uber’s self-driving cars? Unlikely, an Uber engineer told me; those jobs will probably go to employees with special training. Uber drivers are independent contractors with few protections or benefits. The faster Uber gets its driverless cars on the road, the faster all of those drivers will be out of work.

“It’s still very early,” the company said in a blog post today. “Self-driving Ubers have a safety driver in the front seat because they require human intervention in many conditions, including bad weather. Even when these technology issues get fixed, we believe ridesharing will be a mix — with services provided by both drivers and self-driving Ubers.”

 Uber

And what would passengers lose in a self-driving future? If all the Uber cars that I hailed in Pittsburgh had nobody in them, then I never would have met Verquan, the former lightweight boxer who is suing a film company for damaging his Nissan Altima; or Darlene, who keeps her Corolla immaculate; or Frank, the 70-year-old former clothing salesman who was born in Pittsburgh but grew up a few blocks from where I live in Brooklyn. I would never have heard their jokes or their stories or their small insights about life in Pittsburgh. The ride may be safer and cheaper with a robot driving the car, but what about these drivers and the jobs they rely on?

Verquan was unconcerned. “Nobody’s gonna ride in those,” he scoffed. But Frank, the gravel-voiced septuagenarian with a 4.4-star rating, was more circumspect. When I asked him what he thought about Uber testing its new self-driving cars in his backyard, he chuckled and shook his head. “I’m not worried about ‘em,” he said, “because what is what is, and I can’t change it.”

See Uber self driving car

Source: The Verge

Date: Sep. 14, 2016

THE 7 MYTHS OF AUTOMATED DRIVING

Posted on September 02, 2016

Much is said of what automated driving is and what it will change. Less is said about what it is not and what it will not change. Here, your fears of a future with robots ruling the roads are put to rest.

A comment from a reader of an automated driving article says: “OVER MY DEAD BODY will I let a robot drive my ‘67 Chevy Camaro.” Admirable devotion to their most prized possession indeed – but perhaps a little far-fetched. Or is it?

Indeed, our vehicles are evolving to unprecedented levels of intelligence and self-reliance; to a point where “the system” will be able to take care of driving as you sit back and relax. So, it is not the concept of non-human “drivers” that is far-fetched – but rather the image that this comment conjures up: a collection of nuts and bolts and circuitry in a quasi-human form saying “Must. Drive. Car.” as it clambers into the front seat. Or the fact that existing cars will suddenly be made autonomous – by virtue of some retrofitted “system” being enforced.

Although not all misconceptions about automated driving are of this magnitude, myths about the technology certainly abound. Here’s the top seven – and an attempt to put them right.

1: “YOU CAN BUY A FULLY AUTOMATED CAR TODAY”

Dreamy commercials and YouTube videos may lead you to believe otherwise but as of 2016, there is no real fully automated car on the market. A potentially fatal misunderstanding, as the Tesla crash in May 2016 reminded us: a beta-stage Level 2 vehicle was misunderstood to be a full-blown Level 3 car.

However, you can buy a car that can exhibit semi-automation in certain instances. Take parking for example: more and more premium cars are able to park themselves – with no driver in the driving seat. However, the driver is always watching close by from the outside. Still though, none of today’s production vehicles recognize all road signs and signals, communicate directly with other vehicles or allow you to cruise hands-free while engaged in another task.

That is not to say such technology isn’t in development. The road to Level 5 – fully automated driving – currently has two lanes. One takes the evolution approach where more and more advanced driver assistance systems are added to and developed until the car becomes fully automated. The other takes the revolution approach – heading directly to an autonomous vehicle.

Steering away from passenger cars for a moment, institutions may invest in other types of automated vehicles that are already available for certain protected environments like a university campus.

2. “AUTOMATED DRIVING MEANS THE END OF DRIVING FOR PLEASURE”

If your idea of a perfect Sunday is getting into your sports car and hitting those long and winding country roads for a few hours then don’t worry. Your keys will not be confiscated anytime soon! It is safe to say that the focus for the development of automated driving is certainly not one of denying people the pleasure of driving.

Driving – not only a means of getting from A to B. (Photo: Fotolia / EpicStockMedia)

Indeed, the vast majority of car manufacturers have even vowed to keep this passion alive by saying that the driver will have a choice of driving modes – automated for the tedious stuff and manual for the fun! So the real challenge is to develop driverless cars that are able to co-exist with manually driven cars in our traffic systems.

3. “AUTONOMOUS CARS WILL BE PROGRAMMED TO DECIDE OVER LIFE AND DEATH”

Of course, the idea of programming a machine to make life or death decisions raises difficult ethical questions. Take the “trolley problem” scenario: a conundrum where a run-away train is heading for five people who are stuck on the track. The controller of the train cannot brake but can divert the train onto another track where there is only one person stuck. It is a lose-lose situation that can easily be extended to a self-driving car. What if the car must go one of two ways and there are human lives at stake? What option does it take? Should it, for instance, choose to harm two elderly people over two toddlers?

An ethical crossroads indeed. However, experts see a way out: the goal is to develop autonomous cars that are able to prevent such rare scenarios from ever playing out. The car of the future must be connected to all the infrastructure, vehicles and people around in such a way that it will foresee potential dangers far ahead of time and thus avoid ethical dilemmas from happening. A challenge for sure – but not an insoluble one.

4. “AUTOMATED DRIVING REMOVES ALL HUMAN ERROR FROM DRIVING”

What a world it would be if this were the case! Alas…unfortunately it won’t be. As long as there is human input in a process, there will always be room for human error.

Smartphone use – a major distraction for drivers. (Photo: Fotolia / SENTELLO)

What automated driving will do is gradually take over more of the driving task to reduce this room. Even if vehicles become fully autonomous, they will need to be programmed – by humans! So no; automated driving is not the cure for us making mistakes. However, it will go a long way towards eliminating the horrific consequences of making them while driving.

5. “STATISTICS PROVE IT: HUMANS ARE BAD DRIVERS”

Road traffic accident statistics are worrying: 90% of all fatal car accidents are caused by humans. Even one death on our roads is a tragedy. But relatively speaking, their incidence is actually extremely low (e.g. in 2015 in the U.S. there were 7.1 fatalities per 1 billion km driven). A testament to how good we really are as drivers, as experts confirm. Good indeed – but there’s room for improvement. And that’s where automated driving comes in.

The technology will complement the impressive human skill set by eradicating the incidents that are the result of our weaknesses (for instance, a driverless car will never get distracted by a smartphone). And it will do so while reducing emissions and making driving a lot more comfortable. So don’t feel too put out: right now,driverless cars are still learning how to master complex driving tasks from humans. And it will take a long time until it’s the other way round.

6. “AUTOMATED DRIVING IS BEING DEVELOPED MAINLY FOR THE CONSUMERS MARKET”

Today, you may be led to believe that automated driving is all about individual cars for the end consumer. While private passenger cars have been stealing most of the headlines, in reality, commercial applications are much more likely to be the key drivers of the revolution.

Driverless trucks are about to hit our roads. (Photo: Volvo)

Take truck platooning for example – where a number of automated trucks equipped with driving support systems closely follow one another. The trucks are driven in convoy by smart technology. This is set to have a huge impact on the transport industry in the future in terms of safety and cost. Some 4,000 people die each year in the US alone from trucking accidents: platooning could reduce that significantly since the room for driver fatigue and error is lessened. Not to mention cost: companies can cash in on savings from not having drivers in all trucks as well as reduced fuel consumption.

Another application is driverless public transport systems for urban spaces – like this impressive vision for Singapore. And lest we forget, Uber have already started testing autonomous cars in their endeavor to meet CEO Travis Kalanick’s vision of a driverless fleet by 2030. Why? Because no drivers means freeing up 75% of the revenue!

7. “IF I’M READING THIS, I WON’T LIVE TO SEE FULLY AUTOMATED DRIVING ON THE ROAD”

This one is a little harder to debunk. Why? Because it depends what age you are when reading this! But really, it depends on semantics. What do people mean when they talk about fully automated driving?

The 2017 Volvo XC90 will be partly autonomous. (Photo: Volvo)

These days, they’re mostly referring to Level 4 automation – which we are on the brink of achieving. This would see production cars that are able to drive autonomously on highways, for example. But once you get off the highway, you’d have to take over manual control again. To those who think bigger, those who imagine a driverless world, in which you could even summon your autonomous car to pick you up after a big night out, we’d have to say: stay tuned! That scenario requires reaching Level 5. Driverless cars would have to be able to master all traffic scenarios without a human present. Achieving that goes well beyond technical challenges and requires multiple other challenges to be resolved.

Putting a timeline on this becomes somewhat less of an exact science! Right now, we can say that Volvo, for instance, is unleashing a fleet of XC90s which will drive autonomously in certain use cases in 2017. BMW claims that it wants to bring the fully automated BMWi Next into series production as early as 2021. So let’s hope whoever’s reading this will be around to see that! As for a driverless world, where no humans are required on board at all: while Silicon Valley likes to make you believe this scenario is just a heartbeat away, major players in the car industry are saying that this will take 15 years at least.

So like with any revolutionary technology, there is uncertainty regarding the future. Uncertainty breeds rumors, myths and a search for answers – but it also breeds curiosity, hope and excitement. It is exactly for these reasons that 2025AD was created: to start a dialogue, to  discuss and take into account fears, reservations and new ideas – and to make sure people are getting a chance to voice their opinion when it comes to automated driving. So go ahead and tell your fellow enthusiasts and decision-makers what you personally think about it – the stage is yours!

SEE: THE 7 MYTHS OF AUTOMATED DRIVING

SOURCE: AD2025

Carmakers waking up to other ways of making cars pay – Part II

Posted on April 13, 2016

Car-sharing

Just as ride-sharing was predated by taxicabs, car-sharing’s predecessors are car rental firms like Hertz, Avis, and Alamo. These are large companies with giant vehicle fleets and customers that usually the vehicles usually for several days at a time and, sometimes, for considerably longer periods. Reservations usually would be made days or weeks in advance and the vehicles picked up either at airports or special downtown locations. Car-sharing, on the other hand, takes place on the spot with little, if any prior arrangement other than being previously vetted via the downloaded app. The other thing that makes car-sharing different from “car rental” is that they are mostly used for single, point-to-point rides. Using their smartphone app, a customer can locate a parked vehicle, unlock it, and drive it for as long as they want, then park it, get out and the transaction is completed. They pay only for the capability they use. The smartphone app extracts payment usually on a minutes-used basis.

Dr. Susan Shaheen, co-director of the University of California at Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center and a leading researcher on car sharing and the ‘sharing economy,’ sees the growing trend towards vehicle-sharing as a very good thing. “Our research shows that each shared car takes between nine and thirteen vehicles off the road,” she says. “These include vehicles that get sold and those whose purchase is postponed. Households with more than one car that engage in car-sharing will usually get rid of at least one vehicle.” With this reduction of vehicles on the road, she says, comes a sharp reduction in emission of greenhouse gasses.

Compared with the number of vehicles involved in ride-sharing, the number involved in car-sharing is still quite small. A recent TSRC study conducted during the fall of 2014 put the number of car-sharing cars in the US at a mere 19,115.  It is, however, roughly double the number that was in operation five years earlier. Even so, those vehicles were shared by a whopping 996,000 users. It’s steady, though certainly not explosive, growth. Shaheen expects that will happen soon. “Right now a lot of things are beginning to converge,” she says. One being the way smartphones and downloaded apps are facilitating point-to-point car-sharing, which she says is a “big growth accelerator now the technology makes possible point-to-point mobility”.

A lot of the people involved in car- and ride-sharing are younger and well-educated and living in urban settings,” Shaheen says. “As far as we’re concerned, it’s already been accepted by the Millennials. Our question is when is it going to start reflecting Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers?”

But while ride-sharing can be made to work in nearly any metropolitan area, car-sharing requires an alchemy of very specific, favourable conditions to succeed. In San Francisco last autumn, at almost exactly the same time that Yellow Cab’s crisis was grabbing media headlines, DriveNow, a car-sharing joint venture between the BMW Group and Sixt AG, very quietly suspended its electric vehicle car-sharing operation in San Francisco. DriveNow had proven to be a very successful concept in Europe where they’ve been operating a fleet of 3,000 electric cars in a number of European cities, including Berlin, Vienna, Copenhagen and London. They’d hoped to use San Francisco as a beachhead to enter the North American market. The problem was, they had not been able to get a change in parking permit regulations that would allow their cars to be parked on the streets without having to feed parking meters. In San Francisco, as in many American cities, parking and parking meters is a lucrative ‘rice bowl’ for certain municipal parties that they are loathe to part with, even if it might be for the greater good of getting cars off the street. It was enough to strangle DriveNow’s efforts.

“We fully expect to return once the city reforms its parking policies to allow for one-way car-sharing,” said DriveNow CEO Richard Steinberg. “In the meanwhile, we are focusing our efforts on new cities where our transportation solutions can flourish.” DriveNow was hoping to make Seattle the second city in its North American strategy. DriveNow and other car-sharing companies were seeking legislation from the city government for up to 2,000 free floating parking permits that would allow them payment-free access to parking meter spots as well as in restricted neighbourhood parking zones.

A ride-sharing company that has been successful is Car2go, a subsidiary of Daimler AG. Much like DriveNow, Car2go’s originated in Europe but, instead of making their bridgehead in San Francisco, they started their North American presence in Austin, Texas. They have since spread to over a dozen North American cities, including San Diego, Seattle, Denver, Toronto, Vancouver, Brooklyn, Arlington, and Washington, DC.

“We’re looking at cities with a robust public transportation infrastructure,” says Josh Moskowitz, regional director at Car2go. “Along with that is the right kind of population density and urban environment containing destination centres.” In order to be a good fit, the candidate city also needs to be a place where the people are used to taking public transportation and not necessarily having their own cars. One of the reasons for this, he says, is because many rides begin or end nearby public transit hubs, such as subway stations.

“The key to success is on-street parking,” Moskowitz adds. “The best advertising is the vehicle itself, because all the vehicles have the logos on them prominently.” In order to do that, they need to have cooperation from the city government and other major stakeholders. They need to be able to park either in restricted residential zone or in places where there are parking meters without having to feed the meters.

“We only go to cities in which the mayor and city government and major stakeholders are interested in working with us,” says Moskowitz. “Each city is unique and it’s a different conversation in each city. Austin has been a fantastic city to start off in.  They welcomed us with open arms.”

Moskowitz says most users want the vehicles for a point-to-point ride. As long as it it’s done within the operating area, that’s fine. If, on the other hand, the driver is in Brooklyn and wants to take to vehicle to Manhattan, they’re responsible for bringing it back to Brooklyn. He believes the operation will soon extend to Queens and, ultimately, to Manhattan, although he would not hazard a guess when that might take place.

Despite that, as Susan Shaheen claims, car-sharing takes cars off the road and keeps others from being bought, OEMs see it as in their interest to get behind it. GM president, Dan Ammann, put it this way during a recent conference call: “We see car-sharing as much more of an opportunity to GM than a threat. Cars used by single owners or families sit idle 95% of the time. Vehicles that are shared are used more and, therefore, will turnover more.  Higher vehicle turnover means increased turnover for carmakers like GM.” Amman estimated that 5-6M people currently use ride-sharing and car-sharing worldwide. He said he expects the number will expand four- or five-fold by the end of the decade.

For OEMs, the advantages of having a car-sharing arm are obvious. In every city where the car-share operates, they have several hundred vehicles on the ground and generating revenue. Moskowitz says Car2go never enters a market with less than 200 vehicles. If successful, the number quickly expands to easily twice that number.  Since the vehicles being used are often electric, or special vehicles, such as the Daimler Smart Car that Car2Go uses, it also introduces the customer base to a type of car that they might otherwise dismiss without further thought. Car2go exclusively uses Smart Cars, though currently in Vancouver, they are experimenting with a small number of higher-end Mercedes. According to Moskowitz: “People so closely associate us with Smart Car, that more than once people have gone into a Daimler showroom where Smart Cars were on display, and attempted to rent one.”

Car-sharing might be in its infancy but all signs indicate the OEMs will waste little time establishing, ramping-up and making it operational wherever feasible. Many OEMs either have some pilot car-sharing programme being stood up or they are re-imagining themselves away from being simply car manufacturers.

In addition to investing $500M in Lyft, GM has recently launched its own car-sharing service called Maven. It’s starting with 21 spots in Ann Arbor, Michigan. At the same time GM is folding into Maven its existing car-sharing pilot operations in New York and Chicago. At the same time GM has been acquiring talent and key intellectual property recently defunct ride-sharing service, SideCar. While announcing Maven, Julia Steyn, GM’s vice-president for urban mobility, predicted that 30M people will be using car-sharing within the next few years.

The Ford Motor Company is rebranding itself to “Ford Mobility,” with the new “FordPass” brand as an umbrella for mobility services. They have launched what they are calling their Smart Mobility Initiative where they are offering incentives, including financing to 14,000 Bay Area Ford owners to make their vehicles available for car-sharing by the day, hour and week. All this, though, is being overshadowed by the rumour that Ford is secretly working with Google to develop a driverless car.

Shortly after announcing GM’s half billion dollar investment in Lyft, Ammann stated that he expects automated vehicles will be first deployed through a ride-sourcing platform father than directly to consumers. In a sense, the driverless car is as much at the heart of the rise of ride- and car-sharing as is the Millennial shift from ownership to capability. Ride-sharing and Car-sharing might now be two very separate enterprise categories but they likely converge once driverless cars become fully operational. Recently US Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox announced that the upcoming FY2017 Federal budget will contain a $4Bn funding proposal designed to accelerate development of safe vehicle automation, through a number of real world pilot projects. It’s a clear sign that driverless cars will be operational sooner than later.

It’s likely the OEMs recognise the need to have their sharing capabilities up and running in time to meet it because the real game changer isn’t going to be getting people to buy self-driving cars as much as it will be to get them to use self-driving cars that they don’t own.

See Carmakers waking up to other ways of making cars pay – Part I

Source: Automotive

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