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August 17, 2017 News of the Day: Hyundai Previews Fuel Cell Concept SUV, Chargepoint Extends its U.S. Presence, GM's Maven Car Sharing Service Quietly Expanding, May Challenge Uber

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【Summary】August 17, 2017 News of the Day

Original Eric Walz    Aug 17, 2017 1:46 PM PT
August 17, 2017 News of the Day: Hyundai Previews Fuel Cell Concept SUV, Chargepoint Extends its U.S. Presence, GM's Maven Car Sharing Service Quietly Expanding, May Challenge Uber

SEOUL, South Korea -- Hyundai just revealed a near-production-ready version of its fuel cell SUV that will drop early next year in Korea, followed later by North America. Hyundai's new SUV, which the company has not named, promises increased range, performance, and durability over the outgoing ix35 Fuel Cell, known as the Tucson Fuel Cell here in the United States.

According to Hyundai, the power was increased by 20 percent over the outgoing model, and system efficiency will jump 9 percent. With the updated fuel cell system, the SUV should achieve a driving range of more than 580 km (360 miles) on a single charge, based on Korean testing standards.

Certain components increase aerodynamic performance on the new model. A tunnel inside the D-pillar in addition to wheels designed in a two-piece construction help boost aero efficiency.

The new Hyundai fuel cell SUV will offer advanced driver assistance technologies. More details are expected to be shared at the 2018 CES Show. The SUV will launch in Korea early next year, and after that, it will arrive in North America and Europe. Hyundai is also considering whether or not to bring the model to the Chinese market.

The new fuel cell SUV is just one green model Hyundai plans to introduce globally in the coming years. Hyundai confirmed that it will launch a Kona EV in the first half of 2018. It's unclear which markets will receive the new model, but it should offer a range of 390 km (242 miles) on a single charge, likely based on Korean testing standards. Meanwhile, a Genesis EV will arrive in 2021, and a new EV with a range of 500 km (310 miles) is slated to arrive later.
Hyundai says it's also committed to hybrids in addition to electric and fuel cell technology.

GM's Maven Car Sharing Service Quietly Expanding, May Challenge Uber

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General Motors' Maven car sharing and rental unit is expanding its partnerships in ride and delivery services as parent GM considers entering the on-demand mobility business now dominated by Uber Technologies and Lyft Inc.

Maven already has begun to pull away from Lyft, in which GM holds a 9 percent stake, with its own gig leasing business, officials said. Through Gig, Maven can provide GM vehicles directly to ride-sharing drivers who previously leased them through Lyft Express Drive and Uber Vehicle Solutions.

While executives say its future role has yet to be fully defined, Maven also has been assembling knowledge and expertise. This could enable GM to eventually offer on-demand mobility services, similar to those provided by Uber and Lyft, to a new generation of consumers who buy access to transportation by the hour.

Like other automakers keen to address the sharing economy, GM through Maven is testing a variety of on-demand services, from peer-to-peer car-sharing to fractional ownership. So far, opinion is divided on whether and how much such on-demand services will supplant the industry's traditional vehicle ownership model.

Asked if GM aims to create its own ride and delivery service, Maven boss Julia Steyn says, "You're on the right track. We are building this out step by step."

Maven focused initially on car sharing at its launch in early 2016, then quickly added third-party leasing services through Uber and Lyft.

The alliances are providing valuable experience and data, according to Peter Kosak, GM's executive director of urban mobility, helping Maven "to accelerate our deployment (and) learning" of new services.

Maven executives said they expect to bolster the Gig fleet next year with the addition of 2,000-3,000 Chevrolet Bolt EVs as more cities outside California add charging stations.

Maven is still relatively small compared with Uber, whose market value exceeds GM's. Still, Maven has expanded rapidly in the past 18 months. Its fleet of nearly 10,000 vehicles has accumulated 170 million miles and provided 17.5 million rides to Lyft and Uber customers, officials said.

Daimler & BMW May Combine Their Car Sharing Services With New Venture

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German automakers Daimler and BMW may be in talks to combine their car-sharing services Car2Go and DriveNow, the chief executive of car rental company and DriveNow partner Sixt hinted on Thursday.

Daimler and BMW have discussed merging their car-sharing businesses to better compete against ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft which have started offering pay-per-use mobility services which are more convenient than car ownership.

Asked whether Sixt was involved in merger talks with Daimler and BMW, Chief Executive Erich Sixt said: "At the last press conference I made clear that we are not involved. Today I can only say 'no comment'. This is of course a slightly different statement from the last one. Why things are dragging on is not down to us."

In May, Sixt had said it was not involved in any merger talks, but added that its 50 percent DriveNow stake had been valued at around 480 million euros ($560 million).

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When asked whether BMW was in talks to combine its car- sharing business with Daimler's, a spokeswoman for BMW said, "We are in constant talks with our partners and are of course evaluating the strategic options for our activities and stakes."

Demand for car-sharing services has taken off in a number of major cities including London, Frankfurt, Berlin, Milan and Helsinki, where customers can use free parking, a major cost and convenience factor.

Sixt said its DriveNow business had grown its customer base from 815,000 people at the end of 2016, to 950,000 at the end of June. As of August 2017, Car2Go had 2.7 million members, who have access to 13,900 vehicles in eight countries in North America and Western Europe and in China.

Chargepoint Extends its U.S. Presence With New Arizona Office

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., -- ChargePoint, Inc., the world's largest electric vehicle (EV) charging network, today built on its industry leadership and commitment to EV drivers by expanding its service and support operations with a new office in Scottsdale. Chargepoint operates more than 39,000 EV charging locations and is the largest EV charging network in the U.S.

The office strengthens ChargePoint's presence in the region and will help support its growing network of charging stations and users. Since getting its start in 2014, the ChargePoint Arizona team has grown by approximately 800 percent and invested more than $10 million in the area. As ChargePoint deepens its commitment to the region, it continues to invest heavily in jobs for the local community.

As ChargePoint continues to grow its presence worldwide, the Scottsdale office will serve as the center of global customer service and quality operations, managing and deploying support for North America while administering European support operations with direct regional support deployed in each country.

"The shift to electric mobility generates many benefits: cost savings for drivers, new marketing tools for businesses and significant environmental savings," said Pasquale Romano, President and CEO, ChargePoint, Inc.

"The explosion of jobs related to electric mobility is too often overlooked, but our expansion in Arizona, Europe and around the world reflects that the transition to electric mobility is well underway and represents a massive opportunity to create jobs and revitalize communities. We look forward to continuing to work with the local community in Scottsdale and hiring more people."

Plug-in vehicle sales in the United States continue to grow at record levels. In the Phoenix metropolitan area alone, EV registrations were up nearly 50 percent in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the same period last year. The number of ChargePoint charging spots in Arizona has grown more than 200 percent over the last two years.

ChargePoint has invested more than $10 million in Scottsdale since 2014. The latest half-million-dollar investment is underscored by a five-year commitment to the new Scottsdale facility, with the ability to double the number of jobs at the location in the future.

Toyota & Servco to Test Car Sharing Service

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PLANO, Texas -- Toyota and Servco Pacific Inc. (Servco) have partnered to test a new car-sharing technology in Honolulu, Hawaii. The suite of software and services is an important part of Toyota's Mobility Services Platform (MSPF) which will offer various functions to enable a more convenient mobility experience.

The car-sharing application will support driver identification and authentication, plus payment and fleet management for car-sharing businesses. It also includes a Smart Key Box (SKB), which lets users lock and unlock vehicles via a smartphone app. The application was developed in-house and is managed by Toyota Connected North America (TC), the global technology strategy business unit for Toyota.

"This new application demonstrates the power of combining Toyota's unrivaled global manufacturing and technology capacity with dealers' extensive local operations to provide consumers with more convenient options to move," said Shigeki Tomoyama, President of Connected Company, Toyota Motor Corporation.

"This successful launch of the MSPF represents the next generation in car-sharing platforms and is Toyota's global foundation for fleet management, car-sharing, and the future of mobility," said Zack Hicks, CEO of Toyota Connected North America. "Its powerful and flexible API based platform allows us to quickly adapt to new market opportunities and support deployment of locally-tailored mobility services."

Since January 2017, Toyota has been working with Getaround on the car-sharing pilot program in San Francisco, verifying the convenience and usability of the SKB.

Eventually, Toyota will also begin working with other dealers and distributors to tailor the core technology for their markets, aiming for safe and more convenient, customer-centric mobility services.

Launched in 2016, Toyota Connected was created to significantly expand Toyota's capabilities in the fields of vehicle data science, machine learning, and contextual data services development, and provides a wide range of data and computer science services across Toyota's global operations.

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