Automotive Electronics

Deep coverage at the system, semiconductor and sensor levels, as well as the broad view of whole value chain. Highly detailed forecasts for automotive electronic system, semiconductor and sensor demand, analyzed by region and vehicle segment.

December 17, 2013 16:45 Kevin Mak

Ian Riches, Director of the Automotive Electronics Service at Strategy Analytics, discusses the outlook for auto makers worldwide and Volkswagen’s strategy that is working best in Europe. He speaks on Bloomberg Television's “The Pulse.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/video/volkswagen-playing-it-best-in-europe-riches-iG_PBb7WQF6vNX7mmfEeBA.html


November 25, 2013 14:10 Kevin Mak

Some 4,010 visitors attended the 27th Electric Vehicle Symposium at Barcelona, compared to around 5,000 visitors to the previous EVS26 held at the larger Los Angeles Convention Center in May 2012.

  • EVS was originally founded as an academic circle that presented research papers on electrified transportation projects. 
  • But as a sign of the growing importance of electrification in automotive, EVS27 saw more research papers being presented by major auto makers and suppliers.  These papers include Hyundai on its enhancement of clutch control that has increased the efficiency of its full hybrid powertrain system and Honda on the development of its new full hybrid powertrain system. 
  • Among the exhibitors were auto makers, such as BMW with its i3, Nissan with its e-NV200 now being assembled in Barcelona, Renault with its ZE range and the Volkswagen Group with the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, SEAT Leon Verde Concept and Volkswagen XL1 plug-in hybrids, as well as new OEMs, such as GreenGo with its Chinese-assembled iCarO neighborhood electric vehicle. 
  • Also exhibiting were major suppliers of electrification systems, such as Lear with its chargers, Maxwell with its ultracapacitors for stop-start, Saft with its new 48 volt batteries for mild hybrids, Yazaki with its charging connectors and Tier 1 vendors, such as Valeo.
  • But most importantly is the gathering of non-automotive corporations at the Show that are also needed to ensure the future success of the plug-in vehicle market – namely power companies that can form charging infrastructures, public authorities and city planners that coordinate transportation policy where plug-in vehicles can be used to lower traffic congestion and pollution, communication providers that can enable consumers to use smartphones to hire electric vehicles and to pay for electric vehicle charging.

 

An interesting feature of EVS27 was the presence of Cummins and John Deere, which could both potentially be entering the light vehicle electrification market.

  • Cummins displayed its modular CorePlus hybrid system.  It uses the same 90 kW hardware for various levels of electrification, but targeting mild hybrid trucks, consisting of an integrated starter-generator and power electronics module with control software. While the vendor is an active supplier to buses and heavy and medium duty trucks, it is also seeking new business from the light truck segment.
  • John Deere displayed information on its new 644K Hybrid Wheel Loader, essentially an excavator with a stop-start system, at the Show.  It is marketing its motor inverters for hybrid powertrain applications on all truck classes.
  • What the above shows is a growing interest among heavy duty truck vendors to enter the light vehicle market and the growing competition this will mean in electrified powertrains.
  • Strategy Analytics has published a more detailed Insight report on EVS27 and the entry of these heavy duty truck vendors in the electrification market in the light vehicle segments: Heavy Truck Players Attempt To Enter Light Vehicle Electrification Market.


Among the exhibitors and speakers was Qualcomm, which presented a further update on its inductive charging technology.

  • The recent decision by the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) to adopt 85 kHz as the frequency for wireless charging.  This is the same frequency as used by Qualcomm in its development of inductive charging systems.
  • Further details of the forthcoming Formula E electric vehicle racing series were also given, including Qualcomm’s involvement in providing telemetry data communication and inductive charging for the pace cars in the first season, starting in September 2014, and for racing cars in the second season. 
  • Strategy Analytics has published an Insight report on the update from Qualcomm and how this could affect the potential for inductive charging to be adopted and Qualcomm’s position as a potential player in the automotive market: FIA Formula E and SAE J-2954 Standard Advance Qualcomm's Position in Wireless Charging Electric Vehicles.

 

A Viewpoint report on the current state-of-play in OEM electrification strategies has also been published: OEM Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Strategies: Emissions Mandates Will Grow Demand.  It reports on:

  • The tightening mandates that are forcing more auto makers to develop or to accelerate the development of electrified powertrains, with emphasis on more accurate driving tests and the likely requirement of reducing nitrogen oxide and particulate matter emissions and not just carbon dioxide;
  • The incremental improvements that are being made until a breakthrough battery chemistry will appear in the long-term;
  • The state-of-play of rival alternative powertrain systems such as hydrogen fuel cells; 
  • The potential threat posed by the new electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors on current players, and;
  • The state-of-play of electrification technologies. 
  • It includes a data file with the latest Strategy Analytics system demand forecast for different hybrid and electric vehicle powertrains.
[updated with report links]

September 4, 2013 19:01 rlanctot

The acquisition of Nokia’s devices business by Microsoft highlighted the key role played by operating system software and maps. The Microsoft acquisition demonstrated the importance of vertically integrating hardware and OS in a post-iPhone era. But Microsoft's ambivalence toward including HERE in its acquisition raised questions over the role and value of map data.

Microsoft will be an important licensee of HERE, most notably its navigation assets. But Microsoft clearly chose not to acquire those assets, including HERE’s automotive grade map.

Microsoft’s lack of interest in HERE highlights the growing interest in OpenStreetMaps. OpenStreetMaps is the crowd-sourced alternative to HERE, TomTom and Google maps. Founded by Steven Coast, OSM has devotees around the world who continue to contribute, raising the quality of OSM’s offering along with the interest level of navigation companies.

Most recently Coast left Microsoft to join TeleNav.  TeleNav has been working hard to take advantage of OSM as a potential alternative or enhancement to the company’s existing map partners TomTom and HERE.  Navmii is another OSM partner, with its own OSM-based navigation app and automotive ambitions.

HERE has near monopoly status as the sole provider of what it defines as an automotive grade map.  TomTom, AND and a handful of local map providers around the world also offer navigable, automotive grade maps.  But no other organization in the world gathers as much road attribute information as HERE or has a data gathering fleet the size of HERE’s.

In fact, while competitors, such as TomTom, have pared back their data gathering resources, HERE has stepped up its efforts – expanding the quantity of information gathered, the miles of roads driven (by the company’s True II survey vehicles) and the frequency and flexibility of map updates.  HERE’s data gathering was enhanced by the acquisition of Earthmine and its camera-based road surveying technology now widely deployed.

While respecting and using HERE’s map data (HERE claims upwards of 80% share of in-dash navigation systems), car makers and their suppliers have been increasingly tempted to tap OSM’s map resources as a base level of data upon which to build their own crowd-sourced maps.  More than one OEM is exploring the build-your-own map proposition by combining OSM data with connected car probe data a la Waze.

Waze famously built its own map and traffic data from user probe inputs leading up to its near-billion-dollar acquisition by Google.  Car makers are eager to leverage their own probes, vehicle connections and sensor and camera inputs to create an in-house alternative to HERE’s map.

Between Google and OSM, the pressure on map pricing is intense.  And Apple is also thought to be considering tapping into OSM which, again, will pressure both TomTom and HERE.

HERE has chosen to buck the trend by enhancing its data gathering and linking map data to advanced safety systems and powertrains.  TomTom has taken a page from OSM’s playbook by leveraging its probe network to enhance its map data.

The challenge for OSM is to overcome existing limitations in its map offering including the lack of TMC location information for linking to traffic incident reports and the lack of road attribute information, such as turn restrictions.  These are not insurmountable obstacles (ie. OSM is thought to be working on using lat./long. data in place of TMC location referencing) but car makers must be honest with themselves regarding the scope of the effort.

The issue of map quality was highlighted recently by a class action lawsuit filed against BMW in the U.S. over its navigation systems, which are based on TomTom maps.  According to a report on the Topclassactions.com Website:

“The BMW class action lawsuit claims that the optional navigation feature, which costs $1,800, is faulty and cannot be fixed. Plaintiff Karen Morris says that the feature gives wrong directions, resets without warning and misidentifies locations. She accuses BMW of knowing that the technology was defective based on its own testing, industry testing and complaints from consumers and dealers. 


“ ‘BMW’s failure to disclose the propensity of the BMW navigation system to fail and malfunction is especially egregious in light of the safety risks resulting from driving with an unreliable navigation system that directs drivers to unsafe terrain or hazardous road conditions, distracts or confuses drivers, or otherwise suddenly fails to properly work or function at all, thereby placing drivers at greater risk of accidents and harm,” the class action lawsuit says.

“According to the class action lawsuit, Morris purchased a new 2012 BMW 5 series car in August 2012 and paid $1,800 for the BMW Navigation System Professional. Allegedly, BMW provided her with a vehicle warranty covering four years and 50,000 miles. She claims that the navigation system took her on long detours, directed her to the wrong locations and instructed her to travel in the opposite direction of where she was going.

“She took her car to a BMW dealer in Las Vegas to complain about the faulty navigation system. According to the class action lawsuit, employees verified the problem and found that other cars had similar issues. They informed her that they had no way to repair the problem but suggested that she update the system with a 2014 map upgrade.

“Morris alleges that she requested a refund from BMW, but she was told that the problem was caused by the map and was not an issue with the navigation system. According to the class action lawsuit, the representative told her that it wasn’t BMW’s problem. Morris claims that she would not have paid for the optional navigation feature if she had been aware of the problems associated with it. 

“In her class action lawsuit, Morris alleges violation of New Jersey consumer fraud law, federal and state laws governing warranties, violations of Nevada’s deceptive trade practices law and unjust enrichment. She seeks injunctive relief, damages, restitution and attorneys’ fees. She is bringing the BMW navigation class action lawsuit on behalf of herself and a proposed class of “current and former owners and lessees of model year 2012 or 2013 BMW vehicles purchased or leased in the United States that came equipped with the BMW Navigation System Professional.’ “

BMW declined to comment on the lawsuit.  This analyst has had his own unsatisfactory experiences with BMW navigation maps in a 2013 3 Series.

Car makers seeking to take advantage of what OSM has to offer will be watching advances in OSM closely along with the progress of the BMW class action.  For now it looks as if Microsoft has chosen a wait-and-see approach to its long-term map strategy.  HERE, meanwhile, continues to gather data, expand its database and speed its map updating.  Only time will prove whether HERE is able to upgrade or preserve the value of its maps or simply slow the erosion in their value.


August 29, 2013 15:31 rlanctot

Watching “Iron Man 3” on multiple United westbound flights recently it suddenly hit me like a bolt out of the blue – what consumers really want is wearable transportation.  We spend all our time as gurus and industry analysts carrying on about the disruptive impact of Tesla, Google and Apple, but we’ve missed a fundamental paradigm shift in our thinking about cars and all other forms of transportation.  What if we could bring our wheels with us?

I know, I know, we can’t have 200M Tony Starks flying around.  If that were to happen we’d need an entirely new level of vehicle-to-vehicle communication to prevent collisions.  But the idea of bringing your wheels with you wherever you go is a powerful one.  I wish I had my own wheels with me right now – rental cars can be expensive!

Imagine if it were true, though!  (“Honey!  Have you seen my car?”  “It’s in the hall closet where you left it last night!”  “Thanks!”)

The reality is that we are tantalizingly close to this possibility and that possibility resides in our pockets or the palms of our hands.  Today’s smartphone has the power to bring all of our personal attributes with us into any moving vehicle transforming any vehicle into our own personal space.

Companies like Covisint, Airbiquity, Panasonic and others are diligently working to enable a smartphone-based experience that will render portable all of our personal information, preferences, appointments and applications to be brought to life remotely in different vehicles – even, perhaps, in public conveyances.  The technologies that will enable this Tony Stark-like experience are wired and wireless connections and cloud-based applications that will create the secure portability of one’s personal identification along with communications policies and protocols and commerce – all voice-driven and maybe even interfaced to the user’s thoughts.

This prospect is just far enough off on the horizon that the initial manifestations – USB ports and Bluetooth connections in rental cars – are but crudes hints at what is possible.  But combine seamless connectivity with proliferating dashboard and head-up displays and ongoing advances in speech recognition and, yes, thought control of vehicle systems (Freer Logic) and you begin to get the idea that wearable transportation – the combination of portable technology with transportation – is not nearly as farfetched as Robert Downey Jr. propelling himself into space in a wearable rocket ship.

Now excuse me while I check my Nokia 920 after-burners – don’t want to flame out during re-entry this morning.


August 26, 2013 03:52 rlanctot
I am speaking to the National Associate of Insurance Commissioners tomorrow, Monday, in Indianapolis, IN, on the subject of distracted driving and on behalf of Strategy Analytics and Global Mobile Alert – a company with patents governing the use of location technology and wireless communications to mitigate driver distraction. 
Strategy Analytics surveys show self-reported daily smartphone use in cars while driving in the U.S. declining in each of the past three years - but still a problem encompassing writing and reading texts, and making and receiving calls.  And that is not the limit of app use while driving. 
(http://tinyurl.com/nydqqb4 - Majority of US Smartphone Owners Use Apps while Driving)
 
Insurers have a clear vested interest in the emerging problem of driver distraction and how it can be solved.  The broad message is that the problem can be solved with technology and that laws should support and guide the progress and adoption of life-saving technology.
Unfortunately, legislators and regulators have been erring recently on the side of bans, regulations and laws that have created confusion among consumers and challenges for law enforcement.  As an example, 12 states have bans on handheld phone use, five have partial bans; three states have no texting ban, six states have a partial ban and 41 have complete texting bans.
The first step to a simplified scheme for mitigating distracted driving in the U.S. ought to be the adoption of a do-not-touch-your-phone-while-driving directive from the Federal government.  In the absence of such clarity, a fragmented landscape of texting and handsheld phone bans has spread across the country. 
To contend with this legal hodge-podge, the four leading wireless carriers in the U.S. are heavily promoting a public service campaign intended to discourage mobile phone users from texting while driving.  The campaign is called “It Can Wait” and features public service announcements that include celebrities and victims of distracted driving incidents discouraging the use of mobile phones for texting while driving and encouraging mobile phone users to take a pledge not to text and drive.
The campaign is unique in the world because of the regulatory environment in the U.S. since states pass the laws governing the use of mobile devices in cars.  The Federal government also passes laws, conditionally manages highway funds, and promulgates guidelines and mandates.
Federal involvement in regulation in the U.S. can include everything from Congress to the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Communications Commission.  The texting and driving problem – blamed by NHTSA for an estimated 3,000 annual fatalities in the U.S. – raises questions regarding smartphone integration in cars impacting both the automotive and wireless industries, both of which support substantial lobbying operations in the U.S. capitol.
The lobbying organizations represent the interests of the two respective industries, both of which are struggling to come to terms with the relatively recent phenomenon of smartphone use in cars, generally, and texting, in particular.  The regulatory agencies are under pressure from crash victims and the general public to find ways to mitigate the impact of smartphone-related driver distraction that has emerged in the past few years as a source of crashes and fatalities around the world.
In fact, the issue of driver distraction has even impacted public transportation, with mobile phones implicated in multiple train and even bus crashes around the world.  There is no question that an urgent problem exists.
The safety of the driving public in the U.S., as in other nations, is influenced by the decisions of car makers, wireless carriers, insurance companies, handset manufacturers, and app developers as well as regulators and legislators.  In many countries, though certainly not in all, regulatory authorities have banned the use of mobile devices by drivers.
Multiple organizations in the U.S., and even the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), have recommended the complete jamming or disabling of mobile phones in cars.  NHTSA has taken the path of encouraging states to ban both handheld use of phones and smartphone texting by drivers. 
The good news is that NHTSA has not gone so far as to throw the baby out with the bathwater by opting for mobile phone jamming in cars.  NHTSA continues to work with car makers and their suppliers to develop voluntary guidelines, not only because they can have more immediate impact than rule-making, but also because they recognize that solving the problem is a work in progress.
In this context, the It Can Wait campaign is not unlike the warning on packages of cigarettes and other consumer products – smoking (and texting) can kill.  Clearly the wireless carriers have taken this pre-emptive step to head off onerous regulations and to make unequivocal their commitment to safety.
The underlying feeling is that an outright ban on the use of smartphones in cars will only motivate consumers to use their phones illegally.  A ban will not halt the problem.
Unfortunately for all involved – car makers, carriers, consumers and regulators – no single in-vehicle connectivity system has emerged as a safe and simple solution to smartphone connectivity.  Each car maker is pursuing its own path, undermining the potential for a national education campaign around universal smartphone connectivity.
A simpler do-not-touch-the-phone-while-driving law would have the added benefit of making the requirements for in-vehicle system interfaces fairly clear cut for car makers and app developers alike.  Even the carriers would benefit.
(In addition to laws that specifically mention mobile phone use in cars there are laws against all forms of distraction in the car which are routinely enforced and can include drinking coffee or applying makeup.  In fact, reckless driving is usually up to the discretion of the enforcement officer and could be interpreted to include texting while driving.)
Opinions vary about the degree of danger associated with looking at or touching mobile devices in moving vehicles.  In many countries enforcement is lax regarding limits on the use of mobile devices by drivers.
The concerns regarding distraction also apply to embedded navigation systems and other on-board apps as well.  In many cars and in many countries it is impossible to pair a Bluetooth phone or enter navigation destination information while a vehicle is moving.
NHTSA is working on the third generation of its set of guidelines for the design of in-vehicle systems to mitigate distraction.  The fact that NHTSA has progressed to a third generation of these guidelines is but one indication of the degree of difficulty to the challenge facing the agency as it tries to regulate mobile device use and mitigate distraction.
Car makers and wireless carriers are genuinely concerned about the problem and the It Can Wait campaign reflects a broad-based effort to raise awareness and stop the mis-use of smartphones in moving vehicles.  The problem for both the car makers and the carriers is that smartphone integration in cars is rapidly becoming a powerful selling point for new cars – creating a scenario where an integrated smartphone can either be part of the problem or part of the solution.
The challenge for the industry is complex.  Car makers are only just beginning to understand how to leverage connected smartphones to sell cars.  Honda, Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota, among others, have all begun using smartphone integration in their cars as a prominent selling point – including Chevrolet advertising the integration of Apple’s Siri voice recognition capability in the new Sonic.
The ads walk a fine line between promoting smartphone use without encouraging reckless or dangerous applications, such as texting.  But the industry is at a critical crossroads where smartphone integration is a powerful marketing tool, but one that requires educating consumers on how to connect their smartphones and use them safely.
A properly integrated smartphone will surrender control of applications to the vehicle’s interfaces.  The problem lies in the fact that connecting smartphones in cars is a non-intuitive process.  Multiple car makers report that usage of smartphone connections, outside of Bluetooth hands-free phone connections, is minimal.
For the auto makers to successfully and safely integrate phones, they must make the process simpler while training consumers and dealers in how to connect phones in cars.  Unfortunately, most of the early smartphone integration initiatives focused on applications such as Twitter and Facebook thereby highlighting the dangers of smartphone connections contributing to driver distraction.
Car makers have wised up.  The focus has recently shifted almost exclusively to navigation and streaming audio applications, both of which are more suited to the driving task and less likely to contribute to distraction.
Navigation and location-related applications, in particular, are increasingly emerging as key elements to building a location-aware connected car experience.  Car makers are beginning to understand that location awareness – enabled by vehicle connections (either embedded or smartphone-based) can help mitigate distraction and enhance safety.
A car with a connection is more likely to have up-to-date maps, traffic and weather information, all of which can contribute to driving safety.  At the core of these development activities is the objective of creating a location aware experience in the car and connected smartphones are especially well suited to achieving this objective.
Location awareness in the car is essential for a variety of purposes, not the least of which is safety.  The original location aware system in the car is the car radio which delivers local traffic, news and weather as well as emergency notifications and even local advertising messages.
Smartphone connectivity introduces the possibility for:
            Hyper local traffic and weather
            Crowd-sourced road condition information
            POI information – fuel, parking, tolls, food, lodging
            Advertising
            Roadside assistance, automatic crash notification, and event data recording
In fact, a properly connected and integrated smartphone is capable of managing the driver’s workload, limiting or managing voice and text communications, and alerting the driver to hazardous driving conditions.  In fact, Global Mobile Alert is designed to interrupt in-vehicle communications to alert drivers to intersections, school zones and railroad crossings - along with a pull over to text notification to the driver with an auto-response. 
The company also holds patents for wireless communicating signal light phases to cars.  (Global Mobile Alert is open to making its patents available for tests and trials.)
Car makers and carriers should be focused on solving the smartphone connectivity challenge with the primary goal of yielding control of the device to the car.  The best smartphone interfaces in cars disable or block use of the device’s screen – thereby removing any temptation to touch or use the device directly.
We have the technology to solve the problem of distracting driving, all that remains is to adopt the appropriate regulatory framework – ie. do not touch the phone while driving.  Technology and creative engineers in the wireless and automotive industries will solve the rest.

August 9, 2013 21:57 rlanctot

General Motors has begun advertising the integration of Siri in the Chevrolet Sonic. The ad is a work of art (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4aVDp-OQaA) on a par with the most clever advertising output from Apple, which is a good thing for GM which is hoping some of Apple’s cachet rubs off on the Sonic.

Siri does not have a great history of excellent performance when used in a car, which raises questions regarding the efficacy of this integration and the ROI for GM.  If Siri doesn't boost sales or customer satisfaction scores, this may be a brief experiment. 

One has to salute GM for its willingness to take a risk here.  If Apple showed even a hint of being a more reliable partner, this analyst would be more enthusiastic, but it is painfully clear that automotive industry priorities are anything but a priority to Apple.

First, Siri is a hold-the-phone-to-your-mouth speech recognition technology and is not optimized for use in cars generally or in the Sonic in particular. Automotive grade speech recognition engines are tuned to individual cars and their particular aural characteristics – and most, though not all, take advantage of echo cancellation and noise reduction to enhance speech recognition.

The best speech recognition systems – a space dominated by Nuance – take into account automotive specific use cases to improve recognition by limiting or better organizing the recognition process. Systems such as Dragon Drive from Nuance or even less sophisticated versions make assumptions about what kind of questions or information needs are most likely to arise in the car to improve the chances and speed of recognition thereby mitigating distraction.

Even speech recognition systems from Nuance don’t get it right every time, but the chances of Siri mitigating distraction by enhancing speech recognition in a noisy vehicle cabin is slender indeed.  Integrating Siri is an invitation to confusion, dissatisfaction and disappointment – and that only accounts for the iPhone owners.  Owners of mobile phones from other suppliers are completely out of luck.

Which brings me to the second dimension of failure inherent in any Apple integration.  The integration of Siri in cars falls into the overflowing bucket of gimmicky automotive solutions intended to borrow some sales and marketing pizzazz from the world of technology.  Similar short-sighted strategems have included:

Google Search – BMW and others

Google Earth – Audi

Google Maps – Tesla

Apple docking cradle – BMW

Apple iPhone dock – VW

Every one of these solutions is a failure at some level for not taking into account the special circumstances of in-vehicle integration.  Google Search works – awkwardly – in appropriately equipped BMWs, but does not take into account the driving direction or route of the car – hence some results may not be in the direction of travel.  There is a clear lack of contextual awareness.

Google Earth is an impressive and expensive implementation in AudiConnect equipped cars in the U.S., but this solution seems to be more of a proof of concept than a real value proposition to Audi drivers.  Google Earth is a show-offy feature that adds nothing to the safe or efficient use of the car – and requires a $15 monthly subscription besides.

Google Maps in Tesla’s Model S is another impressive and no-doubt expensive implementation.  The live map is delivered to the 17” display in the car via a 3G embedded modem.  Tesla has only recently acknowledged its intention to provide some caching capability to overcome the tendency of the map image to pixilate or disappear entirely.

The Apple docking cradle for selected BMWs was no doubt another expensive engineering and design proposition.  In the end, the cradle – costing $250 – was only suitable for use with the iPhone 4 and only enabled access to audio or video files (projected into the head unit) purchased from the iTunes store.

BMW’s iPhone dock, in other words, allowed Apple to open an iTunes kiosk integrated in the center console.  No matter, any iPhone docked in the BMW cradle had a tendency to overheat undermining the cleverness and expense that went into creating the device.

And, finally, there's the iPhone dock for the so-called iBeetle.  According to a Mashable report the iBeetle models – in Applefied color schemes – will launch in the beginning of 2014 following their debut at the Shanghai auto show.

Writes Mashable:  “When the iPhone is connected to the docking station or synced wirelessly to the dashboard, it unlocks various features via the iBeetle app.  For example, it can read Facebook and SMS messages out loud, and, in addition to syncing with iTunes, you can switch back and forth with Spotify.

“Another features is Postcard, which sends the current location of the iBeetle to friends as a digital message. Besides the car's location, the postcard also displays engine temperature gauges, a chronometer and a compass.”

As with Apple’s announcement of its iOS in Car docking station, nowhere is there a mention of enhanced navigation, traffic data or safety – to say nothing of distraction mitigation.

Bottom line, companies such as Google and Apple do not have automotive priorities at heart or in their plans.  To put it more clearly, Apple and Google have no idea what is required to support an auto maker shipping cars around the world.  Google wants to sell advertising and search results and Apple wants to sell phones, tablets, etc.  Those are the buttons they want to push and it pushes my buttons every time.  Does it push yours too?


August 8, 2013 08:57 rlanctot

The back-up camera mandate should be implemented. A simplified do-not-touch-your-phone law should be promoted. And DSRC modules should be mandated on commercial and emergency vehicles. Those are the results of a survey of attendees at the recent Telematics Update V2V conference in Novi, Mich., regarding US Department of Transportation priorities.

 Respondents were asked to vote on 10 To-Do items previously recommended for incoming U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and detailed in a Strategy Analytics blog (tinyurl.com/meud4m7).  Perhaps it is not surprising that these respondents nearly universally agreed that commercial vehicles and emergency vehicles ought to be prioritized for deployment of modules enabling dedicated short range communication (DSRC) messaging.  But DSRC-based V2V technology was not the only thing on their minds.

 Respondents strongly agreed that anti-texting laws and hands-free phone initiatives were probably doing more to confuse drivers than they were to mitigate distracted driving.  For those reasons, 61.5% said they agreed that a do-not-touch-your-phone law to simplify the rules and the enforcement of anti-distraction laws was a worthy task for the incoming Secretary.

 But the biggest headline-grabbing support of 84.6% and 92.3%, respectively, was voiced for the deployment of DSRC for commercial and emergency vehicles.  The complete results appear following the verbatim comments (below) where respondents offered their own priorities for the new DOT Secretary.

 “Congestion mitigation (congestion pricing, traffic information, V2I, etc.) … high levels of congestion as we see in San Francisco and other cities is getting worse and will have a greater negative economic impact.

“Collision mitigation technologies for heavy trucks  (as in #5).

 “ITS (information hotspots) similar to the ITS hotspots in Japan – in-vehicle signage and traffic information.

 “#7 (above) is a key element of research – can DSRC and LTE play together well (as in) spectrum sharing etc.  We are (encouraging) the wireless community to come to the Novi CVTB V2I Test bed and try LTE and DSRC first as a simcast of messages on both channels.”

 

“Reorganize US DOT to improve efficiency.  As an example, there are a minimum of three organizations with DOT that have commercial vehicle oversight and rule-making authority. There should only be one.

“Reassign all policy and governance for the Connected Vehicle program from the JPO to the FHWA office of policy.  JPO has had this in their hands for the past 5+ years and have not moved the ball.  The technical people are making decisions that will require a lot of work to modify if the policy people don’t follow the same path.  They should be working together and with the industry.”

 

“The total benefit for back-up camera systems as a visual-only warning mechanism have not been sufficiently compared to back-up object detection systems that incorporate automatic brake control.  Whichever of those two approaches shows the greatest likelihood of saving lives should be what is legislated.

“DSRC systems have not yet been sufficiently studied as an approach to improve existing active safety mechanisms.  This study should be performed, and if the results prove positive, it should be considered whether to mandate those integrated active safety mechanisms whenever DSRC may be mandated.

“As a subset to #4 (above), I would urge DOT to encourage/facilitate an industry discussion about legal liability in accidents involving autonomous systems.  Start the discussion now before a headline-grabbing accident or class action lawsuit has everyone declaring ‘Not our fault!’ and expending all their energies on protecting themselves.”

 

“Provide the metropolitan area with a means (public transport, emergency, taxi, …) to upgrade roadside units with DSRC.

“Mandate DSRC for cabs in major cities.

“Provide new infrastructure plan with networking capability.

“Generate green and SDC lane on highway.”

 

“Release Safety Pilot results/data ASAP (the lack of information is causing everyone to adopt a wait-and-see approach).

“Ensure that all new highway developments/upgrades have DSRC fitted (the cost is miniscule compared to the cost of the road).

“Ensure that all new traffic light deplyments have DSRC fitted (the price of RSEs woud tumble in the face of such opportunities).”

 

“Research programs, initiatives, incentive programs focusing on driver distraction countermeasures via technological solutions (e.g. voice interfaces, improved HMIs, lockouts).

“Focus on improvements to the nation’s crumbling infrastructure (roads and bridges).

“Focus on driver fatigue/drowsiness as a safety area (like LaHood did with driver distraction).

“Much greater focus on commercial vehicle safety research; greater funding allocations to FMCSA and FTA research programs.”

 

And the complete results:

 

#1 – Mandate: Do Not Touch Your Phone While Driving

Yes: 61.5%      No: 23.1%       Don’t Know: 15.4%

#2 – Endorse California legislation AB 397 for the creation of a VIN-based Next of Kin Notification database.

Yes: 46.1%      No: 15.4%       Don’t Know: 38.5%

#3 - Implement the back-up camera mandate.

Yes: 69.2%      No: 15.4%       Don’t Know: 15.4%

#4 – Provide a legislative framework and guidelines for states to register and license self-driving cars with the sole requirement that drivers must be in the driver seat and responsible for control of the vehicle.

Yes: 53.8%      No: 38.5%       Don’t Know: 7.7%

#5 – Initiate a process for mandating the installation of DSRC modules on commercial vehicles in FMCSA Classes 6, 7, 8.

Yes: 84.6%      No: 0               Don’t Know: 15.4%

#6 – Require the installation of DSRC modules on all emergency and service vehicles.

Yes: 92.3%      No: 0               Don’t Know: 7.7%

#7 – Add LTE and LTE Advanced modules to all current DSRC tests.

Yes: 38.5%      No: 38.5%       Don’t Know: 23.1%

#8 – Highlight elements of Next Gen 911 research focused on the acquisition of crash scene information including text, video, data and voice via smartphones.

Yes: 61.5%      No: 7.7%         Don’t Know: 30.7%

#9 – Highlight app development intended to improve the functioning of all transit including public transportation, traffic information, schedules, traffic, car and ride sharing.

Yes: 84.6%      No: 7.7%         Don’t Know: 7.7%

#10 – Roadside Bluetooth installations should be required to add DSRC.

Yes: 53.8%      No: 15.4%       Don’t Know: 30.7%


July 12, 2013 13:53 Ian Riches

There is currently huge interest in the field of "autonomous vehicles", with there now looking a realistic prospect that some form if self-driving car could be on the road within the next 15 years or so.  The "Google Car" is gaining an ever-growing number of column-inches in the press, and OEMs (e.g. Audi and BMW) and suppliers (e.g. Continental) are already positioning themselves in this space.  There is also change at the software level, with a third-party supplier, Elektrobit, recently announced as Daimler's solutions-provider for advanced safety products.

The field of ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) is one of the fastest growing in automotive electronics, with radar, lidar and camera-based systems now appearing on mainstream, moderately-priced vehicles.

The automotive industry, although largely more measured than that of consumer electronics, is still not immune to hype cycles.  It is thus definitely worth having a realistic look at how autonomous vehicles may emerge onto our streets, and what some of the obstacles that remain are.

Our current forecast modelling only goes out to 2020, and going out to 2025 and beyond is more in the realm of future-gazing than modelling.

Having said that, we can draw some useful data points and thus projections from our current model.  Looking at the latest forecast data, the percentage of light vehicles worldwide fitted with all of autonomous cruise control, lane departure warning and blindspot monitoring was less than 1% in 2010 and is projected at around 5% in 2015, rising to 9% in 2020.

A simple linear projection of this trend puts the percentage of vehicles with all three of these technologies (and thus the prospect of being partially/fully autonomous) at around 13% in 2025 and 18% in 2030.  This is likely to be an underestimate, as we would expect growth to pick up as technologies get cheaper and more legislation is enacted mandating a certain level of driver support.

However, there’s a big difference between a car with multiple advanced safety technologies and an autonomous vehicle!  Thus, my gut feel at present is that these percentages are much, much more likely to be upper bounds on the market for autonomous vehicles than lower bounds.  A lot will depend upon the following factors:

  1. Early market experiences:  A high-profile accident (or worse, series of accidents) in the early stages of introduction could stop the market in its tracks
  2. Government support: The legislative framework for autonomous vehicles varies widely across the globe, and is not always as supportive as the industry would like.
  3. Supporting technologies: V2V and V2X will likely have a large role to play in any forthcoming autonomous vehicles, and despite many years of work, these types of solutions are typically highly fragmented, with differing approaches and technologies in different market places
  4. True consumer demand: I’m not convinced that current surveys are getting to the heart of consumer wishes for autonomous driving.  I suspect that some equate autonomous driving with having an electronic chauffeur – with the inference being that they can truly ignore the driving task, and get on with work/play/sleep (perhaps even sitting in the rear seat) while being whisked to their destination.  I’m not seeing that  being the product on offer in 2025.  The autonomous car in that timeframe is much more likely to be like a current Boeing or Airbus.  They have highly automated capabilities – but the pilot/driver must always remain in post and ready to take control.  I do wonder where they lawyers will find all the space to put their warning stickers!

 

Taking all of the above into account, my current assessment is that we’re are likely to see around 15-20% of cars globally in the 2025 to 2030 timeframe that are highly automated – that is they can offer significant support to drivers in multiple different driving situations.  However, the number that are truly autonomous – that is you can sit in your drive and program it to take you directly to the movie theatre, airport or vacation destination will be more in the low single figure percentages.  These products will likely only really emerge from 2025 onwards, and even then perhaps only initially offer full autonomous driving in certain situations – such as highway driving - or in areas with a certain degree of V2X support.

We’re certainly on a journey towards the autonomous car.  However, we’ll get there in small bite-size chunks.  We’re at stage one at the moment, with individual systems offering support in individual driving situations (highways, parking, lane-keeping).  We’ve been in this stage for the best part of 20 years, since the introduction of autonomous cruise control in the mid-1990s.  We’re now moving into stage 2, where these systems become linked together and integrated to fill in some of the gaps between the scenarios in which the car can support the driving task.  I see this stage as dominating from now until at least 2025.

It’s at that point and beyond that true autonomous driving may emerge.

A full list of Strategy Analytics ADAS reports can be accessed by clicking here.


April 5, 2013 10:18 Kevin Mak

Threat to Charging Infrastructures – Emergence of New Super-Efficient, Conventionally-Powered Compact Models

The global banking crisis of 2008/9 resulted in many governments transferring debt from the banking sector to the private sector. This has resulted in widespread cuts in public spending, including investment plans for charging infrastructures for electric vehicles, especially in Europe.  As a result of the ongoing financial crisis, consumer demand for pure electric vehicles in certain European countries could potentially be dampened by the lack of charging points.

  • The Republic of Ireland is one example of a recent slow-down in implementation.  According to the government plan, some 1,500 charging points and 40 fast-chargers were to be in place by the end of 2011 – but by October 2012, some 860 charging points (around 57 percent of the plan) and 30 fast-chargers were installed.  As one of the European governments under pressure to limit public spending, it is unlikely that further funds would be made available to complete the plan, especially when electric vehicle sales have not met expectations – at just 192 units since 2009.  The cost to Electric Ireland in installing the current network has estimated to be around €3.9m (US$5m).
  • Better Place has responded to the lack of demand for electric vehicles by curtailing its infrastructure operations in countries such as Australia and the US and concentrate efforts in Denmark and Israel.
  • The only recent announcement to build new infrastructure has been from the UK government.  However, such an investment is limited to covering 75 percent of the total cost of construction by private vehicle purchasers at their homes, local governments for use by apartment residents and at railway stations and government facilities. 
  • Very few European countries have announced a charging infrastructure plan.  Major public infrastructure investments are limited to just France and Germany.

The resulting recession from the crisis has also made European consumers even more aware of fuel efficiency in vehicle purchases, but it has also lowered tax revenues among European governments.

  • As a means of meeting greenhouse gas emission targets, European governments encourage consumers to purchase vehicles that emit less CO2, by way of purchasing subsidies and taxes (called bonus-malus in France for example) or from a varying annual road tax system (as in the UK for example).
  • Other incentives, such as free entry to congestion charge zones, are also offered to low CO2 emitting vehicles, to limit congestion and air pollution in city centers.
  • As European consumers try to save money by running vehicles that emit less CO2, then the level of purchase subsidies increase and the receipts from annual road taxes decrease.  Fuel sales are also decreasing in some countries, as drivers seek more efficient vehicles.  For example, in the UK, fuel stations sold 37.67 billion liters of fuel in 2007 but only 34.16 billion liters in 2012.
  • As European governments try to limit public spending, then the offering of purchase subsidies and annual road tax discounts are changed to models emitting even less CO2.

Consumers’ desires for more efficient vehicles have yet to benefit EV sales in any large-scale way.  A lack of charging infrastructure and relatively higher costs over conventionally-powered models of the same segment has limited the market.  In addition, a new generation of super-efficient compact models are now entering the European market, which offer consumers many of the benefits of an EV without the drawbacks of high purchasing cost, patchy recharge infrastructure and limited range.

  • Since August 2012, the French bonus-malus system now offers a €400 bonus (US$516) to vehicles emitting less than 90 g/km.
  • The London Congestion Charge Zone offers free entry for vehicles emitting less than 100 g/km.  Future plans to amend the system are being discussed, which include the lowering of the exemption limit to 80 g/km, adding a group of models for congestion charging that are currently entering the Zone for free.
  • The current UK annual road tax exempts vehicles emitting less than 100 g/km.  It is also likely that the tax exemption level will also be lowered to 80 g/km, as receipts from the annual road tax decrease further as British consumers turn to more efficient models that are taxed less.
  • While plug-in hybrids, such as the Opel Ampera (Chevrolet Volt) and Toyota Prius PHEV emit less CO2 (27 and 49 g/km respectively), they are costly vehicles that essentially use two powertrains.
  • Models benefiting from a change in government policy would be those sub-compact or compact hatchbacks that can be modified by adding stop-start systems, adjusting compact diesel engines with reduced torque and variable vane turbochargers, using manual transmissions with longer gearing (but could also use re-programmed automated transmissions, as on the Peugeot 208), modifying the accelerator pedal mapping, reducing weight, use low rolling resistance tires and better aerodynamic features, such as grille shutters, extended tailgate spoilers and wheel deflectors.
  • Included amongst these models are the new Toyota mini-hybrids, with the Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain modified to suit the smaller model.
  • But such modifications must not be at the expense of comfort and convenience features, such as power windows and air conditioning, nor mandated safety features, such as airbags.
  • Retail prices for these models are still at an affordable level, of between US$15,000 and US$20,000 (with sales taxes), and compare well against used cars that are more costly to run, as fuel economy of the efficient models reaches 60-67 mpg (US).
  • Examples include the Toyota Yaris Hybrid (79 g/km, T-Sprint 85 g/km), the Renault Clio dCi 90 Stop & Start ECO (83 g/km), the Hyundai i20 1.1 CRDi Blue (84 g/km), the Kia Rio 1 1.1 CRDi EcoDynamics (85 g/km), the Peugeot 208 Access+ 1.4 e-HDi Stop and Start EGC 70 (87 g/km), the Ford Fiesta Style ECOnetic 1.6 TDCi Start Stop (87 g/km), the Citroen C3 1.4 e-HDi (87 g/km), the Ford Focus ECOnetic 1.6 TDCi (88 g/km), the Opel Corsa 1.3 CDTi ecoFLEX (88 g/km) and the Skoda Fabia 1.2 TDI CR Greenline II (89 g/km).

The Strategy Analytics System Demand Forecast, to be updated later in April already includes this increased demand for stop-start systems and for full hybrid systems among Toyota’s compact segments.  But should the European Sovereign Debt Crisis end, likely to be some time in 2014, this growing demand is unlikely to fall away – it is more likely to accelerate deployment of stop-start and other fuel savings features in other regions and in other model segments in greater volumes.  The OEM Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Strategies Report will be updated in September 2013.

This analysis was conducted following recent updates to the EV/HEV Technologies Supply & Fitment Database and the Hybrid Technologies Legislation/Support Database.

 


November 7, 2012 15:02 Kevin Mak

On November 6th, Qualcomm briefed the automotive industry on its progress with the HALO inductive charging system for electric vehicles. This blog reports on this briefing, in particular the forthcoming trial of the HALO system in London, and updates on a previous Strategy Analytics post, Qualcomm Inductive Charging – A Possible Solution To Range Anxiety in Electric Vehicles

Demonstrations of the HALO system has shown how the system can bring about wider deployment.

  • The charging pad alignment system is highly tolerant, to within 300 mm between vehicle and base charging pads.
  • As well as parking bays, lane markings could guide EVs onto charging pads embedded near traffic lights and in other urban streets where traffic is likely to stop.  This can assist EV drivers who are part of a charging membership scheme, improving the user experience even further by allaying consumer range anxiety.
  • Sensing data for the alignment system is sent to a smartphone using a Bluetooth connection.  The driver will be able to see the alert on the mobile handset, mounted on the front windshield.
  • With this Bluetooth connection, the alignment system can potentially be used on any EV model, thereby reducing implementation costs.  Future systems are being developed with DSRC communication.
  • The alignment system can also be tailored to send data to the vehicle’s embedded HMI (Human-Machine-Interface) system, thereby widening HALO’s appeal to OEMs.
  • A number of safety systems have been deployed to allay fears about wireless charging.  These include Foreign Object Detection that can prevent charging if there are metallic objects in the way of the charging pads.  Without this safety feature, these metallic objects will heat up during the charging process.
  • Also, EMF (Electro-Magnetic Field) emissions outside the charging pads have been shown to be way below harmful levels. 

One of the partners in the London Trial is Chargemaster.
  • The choice of Chargemaster can be regarded as essential for the trial in gathering user data on preferred charging methods, usage times and locations.  The company, based in Luton, is one of Britain’s leading equipment manufacturers that support electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructures.  It is also one of the country’s leading EV charging operators, through its POLAR network with a current 2,000 charging points located in 40 major towns in the UK being extended to reach a total of 100 towns by 2013.
  • At present, the UK government subsidizes charging cost.  But from March 2013, these subsidies will end and that new business models for EV charging will have be formed, either as membership subscriptions of as a pay-as-you-charge method.  With the know-how and experience from Chargemaster, it may utilize the HALO system as a means of adding convenience.

However, details about the forthcoming London WEVC (Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging) Trial are sketchy.  But from what information that was released, Strategy Analytics believes the scope of the trial is too limited and that progress of the trial has been too slow for Qualcomm to effectively promote its HALO inductive charging system.
  • The trial is still in the planning stage and will not be in place until next year.
  • An estimated maximum of 50 vehicles will participate in the trial.  Strategy Analytics regards the sample size as being too small to yield enough data to analyze from.
  • Chargemaster’s CEO mentioned that there will be 6 Central London locations currently being prepared for the trial.  Again, Strategy Analytics regards this as being too small when there is the potential to bring inductive charging capability to all of POLAR’s conductive charging points, some 205 points located inside the M25 orbital expressway.
  • Renault is the only major OEM participant in the trial.  While the Renault-Nissan Alliance is the most EV-enthusiastic OEM group, there are other large OEMs with plug-in models that need persuading.  Also participating in the trial are Delta E-4 coupes, which are costly sports car models and are likely to fill niche markets only.
  • Addison Lee is the only fleet participant in the trial.  The company will only be using Citroen C1 EVs as minicabs.  EVs are likely to see growth as small, urban delivery vans – this segment is not participating in the trial.
  • Neither are any iconic London black cabs participating, which make up the majority of taxi journeys in the city.
  • Also no car sharing operator is participating in the trial. 
  • It must be noted that one of the earliest implementation of HALO has been on large buses in Genoa and Turin, in Italy.  With the partnership of the Transport for London transit authority, such a system could be trialed on a London bus.

So although inductive charging technology is more likely to be deployed on a wider scale, and thus achieve Qualcomm’s aim of raising economies of scale and mass market uptake of HALO, the limited scope of the London WEVC Trial will hamper efforts at promoting the wireless charging concept.