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February 15, 2018 News of the Day: VW Looks at Apple for Guidance With Electric Car Design, Audi & Porsche to Jointly Develop and Share EV Platform

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【Summary】February 15, 2018 News of the Day

Eric Walz    Feb 15, 2018 2:53 PM PT
February 15, 2018 News of the Day: VW Looks at Apple for Guidance With Electric Car Design, Audi & Porsche to Jointly Develop and Share EV Platform
author: Eric Walz   

Volkswagen Looks at Apple for Guidance With Electric Car Design

BERLIN — Volkswagen is looking at Apple products for guidance on how to style its new generation of electric cars, its top designer said, as the automaker aims to turn profits on battery-powered vehicles when they launch in 2020.

The U.S. tech giant has brought about a minimalistic design aesthetic with its iPhone, iPad and other products that set it apart from rivals such as Samsung Electronics and Sony Corp and helped make it the most valuable company in the world. VW wants to do the same with its electric vehicles.

For Europe's biggest automaker, adopting simplicity as the guiding principle for future styling of electric vehicles (EVs) marks a departure from the era before its 2015 "dieselgate" emissions scandal which tarnished the company's reputation. Before the scandal, VW's vehicle design conveyed the German group's engineering prowess and technological ambitions.

"We are currently redefining the Volkswagen values for the age of electrification," Klaus Bischoff, head of VW brand design, said in an interview. "What's at stake is to be as significant, purist and clear as possible and also to visualize a completely new architecture."

With regulators slashing emissions on a fast timetable, dieselgate has also energized the costly shift to EVs that is necessary to compete in China, VW's largest market, and to avoid future fines in Europe.

Previously lagging on electrification, VW has pledged 34 billion euros ($42.45 billion) of investment in EVs, self-driving technology and digital mobility businesses by 2022.

The core namesake brand alone will spend 6 billion euros on a new modular platform dubbed MEB designed to underpin over 20 purely battery-powered models such as the I.D. hatchback, I.D. Crozz crossover and the I.D. Buzz microbus.

Bischoff said VW will use the Geneva auto show on March 5-7 to give early guidance on what the new generation of EVs might look like, but declined to elaborate.

Audi, Porsche to Jointly Develop & Share EV Platform

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FRANKFURT — Porsche and Audi, Volkswagen's main luxury car divisions, plan to develop a joint platform for electric vehicles that will enable them significantly cut down on costs, German newspapers quoted their chief executives as saying.

Audi and Porsche may be considered rivals in some circles, especially when it comes to each brand's high-end sports cars, but the fact is they're both owned by the same company Volkswagen, and that means they're aligned when it comes to business needs. The two German manufacturers have revealed that they'll be working together to develop an electric car platform to be used in both brands' future models.

This news was shared by both Audi CEO Rupert Stadler and Porsche CEO Oliver Blume in an interview with Germany's Stuttgarter Zeitung. The relationship is not new, as both companies have been sharing the chassis between their Q7/Q5 and Cayenne/Macan SUVs for years now. The two executives added that the jointly developed platform will begin appearing in their EV models starting from 2021.

Fans of Porsche's flagship sports cars shouldn't worry, however, as the still-in-development electric Mission E will remain its own separate project. Audi, in turn, could also develop its own custom platform if the need arises, like maybe an all-electric R8, for example.

The CEOs admitted that saving money was the driving reason behind the joint development, as they said it would be roughly 30% more expensive for each brand to create their EV platform individually. Of course, we'll have to wait and see which brand debuts the platform first and in which models, but it sounds like in the years to come there will be several Audi and Porsche vehicles with the same tech under their designs and engines.

J.D. Power Releases U.S. Vehicle Dependability Report

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COSTA MESA, Calif., —  J.D. Power has released its  2018 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS), showing improvement in the reliability of cars for the first time since 2013.Overall vehicle dependability improves 9% from 2017, the first time the industry score has improved since 2013.

The study, now in its 29th year, measures the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100) during the past 12 months by original owners of 2015 model-year vehicles. A lower score reflects higher quality, and the study covers 177 specific problems grouped into eight major vehicle categories. The overall industry average improves by 14 PP100 to 142 PP100 from 156 PP100 in 2017.

"For the most part, automotive manufacturers continue to meet consumers' vehicle dependability expectations," said Dave Sargent, Vice President, Global Automotive at J.D. Power. "A 9% improvement is extremely impressive, and vehicle dependability is, without question, at its best level ever. For people looking for a new or used model, now is a good time to find that special vehicle."

Automakers need to improve their infotainment systems. In-vehicle technology continues to be most problematic, including  audio,communications, entertainment and navigation. This area remains a troublesome category for many vehicle owners, receiving the highest frequency of complaints. Of this, the two most common problems relate to built-in voice recognition and built-in Bluetooth connectivity.

Mass Market brands continue to close the gap with Luxury brands: The Mass Market average (143 PP100) is now just 7 PP100 behind the Luxury average (136 PP100). This is a result of many high-volume vehicles rewarding their owners with excellent long-term dependability.

J.D. Power finds that vehicle residual values can be significantly affected by better long-term quality.

"Strong dependability scores not only improve demand for used vehicles, but also are a contributor to higher residual values," said Jonathan Banks, Vice President of Vehicle Analysis and Analytics at J.D. Power. "Improving dependability ultimately supports new vehicle sales and provides a better perception of the brand."

Toyota's luxury division Lexus ranks highest in overall vehicle dependability among all brands, with a score of 99 PP100. This is the seventh consecutive year Lexus has led the VDS rankings. Porsche ranks second with 100 PP100.

GM's Buick ranks highest in overall vehicle dependability among mass market brands with a score of 116 PP100.

Infiniti has the largest improvement in rank, moving from 29th to 4th. Other brands with strong improvements include Nissan and Ford. Kia's fifth-place ranking is the brand's best-ever VDS performance. Dodge and Nissan also post their best-ever rankings.

Toyota Motor Corporation models receive six of the 19 segment awards, the most for an individual corporation in the study. These awardees are Lexus CT, Lexus ES, Lexus GS, Lexus RX, Toyota Prius and Toyota Tacoma.

The 2018 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study is based on responses from 36,896 original owners of 2015 model-year vehicles after three years of ownership. The study was fielded in October-December 2017.

Bloomberg Creates a Tesla Model 3 Production Tracker

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Tesla has received around 455,000 preorders for the Model 3, its mass-market electric car, leaving many people waiting to receive theirs as Tesla experiences production delays. Because of the uncertainty of just when people will actually receive their Model 3, tens of thousands of customers have gone as far as cancelling their Model 3 orders. However, Bloomberg may be able to help with this.

The company created a Tesla Model 3 production tracker. Using two data-gathering methods, Bloomberg's tool aims to figure out how many Model 3's reach the end of the Fremont, California, production line each week.

As of February 14, the tracker estimated 7,341 Model 3's produced, with 1,025 currently reaching the finish line per week. Anywhere close to that represents a healthy ramp-up from the 2,686 total vehicles it took Tesla about six months to make last year.

The first data point comes from searching batch VIN allotments that Tesla registers with the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. Bloomberg divides the batch amounts by the days between registrations to get an estimate of average production numbers.

The outlet admits the flaws in that system, like non-sequential VIN registrations, Model 3 VINs registered before the vehicle's been built, and the fact that Tesla could theoretically register VINs for all of the nearly half-million reservation holders at once.

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Bloomberg's second data point comes from scanning for VINs in social media postings and forums, and asking Model 3 owners to self-report their VINs. For security concerns, the site doesn't hold onto, or publish complete VINs. Bloomberg is accepting help from the public. People can enter a Model 3 VIN on the site if they spot it in person or in a photo.

Bloomberg will update the tracker regularly, and makes tweaks as it gathers better data. After the site overseers have "aligned the two data sets with Tesla's [last] reported production and averaged the results from the two methods," an approximate running tally appears. Tesla only reports production numbers at the end of a quarter, so the tracker's numbers will be adjusted to fit the declared tally.

Tesla's most recent goals were to be making 2,500 Model 3s per week by the end of March, and 5,000 per week by the end of June. Now you can watch the company work towards that goal in real time.

Back in 2010, Tesla became the first publicly traded carmaker to emerge in the U.S. in 54 years. Now its market value rivals Ford and General Motors, both producers of mass market vehicles.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has aggressive plans, he wants his electric-car company to become a dominant mass-production player. The Model 3 is Tesla's first step into the mainstream. However, Musk's plan only works if the company can figure out how to make exponentially more cars.

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