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November 8, 2017 News of the Day: Mineta San Jose International Airport Selects Proterra for the First Electric Airport Bus Fleet, Vespa Debuts New Electric Scooter With a 62 Mile Range

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【Summary】November 8, 2017 News of the Day

Eric Walz    Nov 08, 2017 12:13 PM PT
November 8, 2017 News of the Day: Mineta San Jose International Airport Selects Proterra for the First Electric Airport Bus Fleet, Vespa Debuts New Electric Scooter With a 62 Mile Range

Mineta San Jose International Airport Selects Proterra for the First Electric Airport Bus Fleet

BURLINGAME, Calif., — Proterra, the leading innovator in heavy-duty electric transportation, announced that the San Jose City Council today has approved the purchase of ten Proterra Catalyst E2 zero-emissions battery-electric transit buses and related charging infrastructure for use at the Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport (SJC).

The Council selected Proterra as SJC's battery-electric bus provider citing the company's sustainability, performance and operational cost-savings excellence.  This purchase marks Proterra's first airport electric bus deployment in the Silicon Valley area. The buses will be designed and built in California at Proterra's Los Angeles County manufacturing facility and are scheduled to be placed in service in late 2018.

"The addition of this all-electric bus fleet reflects SJC's continued commitment to delivering a world-class passenger experience and advancing our community's collective sustainability goals," said San José Mayor Sam Liccardo. "These electric buses can help us significantly reduce costs and greenhouse gas emissions, and represent a step towards our aspiration that an electric engine power every shuttle and bus on San Jose's streets."

With 12 million passengers annually, SJC currently provides on-site shuttle buses to transport passengers and luggage among the airport's short- and long-term parking lots, consolidated rental car garage and terminals, with a fleet of compressed natural gas (CNG) buses.  Funded in part by a $3.8 million zero-emissions vehicle grant from the Federal Aviation Administration, the new Proterra battery-electric buses will replace these older CNG buses, resulting in the elimination 3.1 million pounds of greenhouse gas tailpipe emissions over the lifetime of these vehicles.

Since the Proterra electric buses have no combustion engine, riders will enjoy a quieter, smoother, exhaust-free ride. In addition to traveler benefits, the operational cost of electricity, at $.19/mile, is substantially lower than diesel, at $.84/mile.  Combining this with greatly improved vehicle efficiency, at 21 MPG equivalent, vs. 5 MPG for their current CNG buses and reduced vehicle maintenance costs will result in an estimated savings of about $4 million during the 12-year lifetime of these ten new Proterra buses.

"This purchase builds upon initiatives SJC has put in place to address the concerns and interests of the community and the environment," said Director of Aviation John Aitken.  These include recycling and composting programs supporting a zero waste commitment by 2022, a 1 MW, 3.4-acre solar array powering the airport's rental car garage and a shift to airside electric service vehicles reducing emissions from operations.  Complementing these efforts, SJC's Terminal B received a Silver LEED certification—one of the first airports in the U.S. to receive the honor—for its innovative use of building materials to reduce energy use.

"As the community synonymous with innovation, Silicon Valley is the breeding ground for technologies that continue to change the way we live, work and play.  SJC's pioneering vision to transition their fossil fuel fleet to a zero-emission fleet underscores the area's spirit of innovation and matches Proterra's goal of providing clean, quiet transportation to all," said Popple.

Vespa Debuts New Electric Scooter With a 62 Mile Range

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MILAN — One of the most popular scooter names is ready to go all-electric. At the Milan Motorcycle Show, Vespa debuted the new Elettrica, Vespa's first electric scooter. The scooter is equipped with a 2 kW electric motor (equivalent to 2.6 Hp) and there is a boost feature as a power booster up to 4 kW or 5.3 Hp equivalent. This means it is equivalent to a conventional motor with a 50cc engine capacity. Vespa claims it will out-accelerate a standard 50cc gas scooter, thanks in part to an electric motor providing instant torque.

Buyers will be able to choose between a pure electric and range-extended variant. The standard Elettrica will pack a range of about 62 miles, and the optional gas generator will double that. It's estimated that it will take 4 hours to fully charge the Elettrica's lithium-ion battery.

The Elettrica will also carry Vespa's latest version of its Multimedia Platform. By connecting your smartphone to the scooter via Bluetooth, riders can access a digital dashboard, navigation services and trip states. It'll also let riders peruse the user manual and even warn them if road conditions are getting iffy. There's also a digital TFT display on the scooter itself.

While every Elettrica will come with this silver finish, buyers can choose between seven different trim colors. Vespa will start distributing the Elettrica in 2018, and it's not clear how much it will cost yet.

A Broadcom-Qualcomm Deal Could Challenge Intel on Connected Cars

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If Broadcom's unsolicited $103 billion bid for Qualcomm succeeds, it could set up a battle with rival Intel for dominance in the production of the next generation of communications chips, which will play a vital role in so-called connected cars, according to a report by CNBC.

Vehicles of every sort already are starting to add wireless chips to download everything from maps to entertainment, and in a few years nearly every new car may be connected. Self-driving cars, currently being tested will accelerate the move.

"The amount of chips per car is going to grow dramatically," said Egil Juliussen, a principal analyst for automotive technology at IHS Markit.

Chip makers are scrambling to create new mobile networks, the so-called fifth generation, which will link phones as well as cars, drones and even industrial devices such as smart street lights, which count pedestrians and send data to city planners.

Qualcomm long was the dominant communications chip maker for mobile phones, although computer chip maker Intel begun competing in the area. Both companies supply nearly half of Apple's iPhone communications chips.

Now they are working on designing 5G networks that will be up to 10 times as fast as wireless networks today, which are expected to start rolling out in 2020. Research firm IDC predicts 1.53 billion smartphones will be shipped in 2017 expanding to only 1.77 billion units in 2021.

Growing Market for Connected Car Chips

The market for modem chips for cars, by contrast, is expected to grow sharply. Tristan Gerra, a senior semiconductor analyst for Robert W. Baird & Co, said that this year, only about 12 million of the 90 million cars manufactured per year have internet connectivity. But connectivity will become ubiquitous on self-driving cars.

"You basically (will) have 80 million units per year that are going to get a modem," he said.

Qualcomm itself is trying to buy NXP Semiconductors, a maker of automotive chips from so-called "infotainment" system chips to camera systems, for $38 billion. It is unclear whether that deal will go through and whether Broadcom would take on NXP, but Broadcom has said it is willing to do so.

A tie-up between the three companies could create a formidable competitor in the automotive chip space, said IHS Markit's Juliussen. He views Intel and Nvidia, which make both make the main processors used in self-driving vehicles, as leaders in the young market, but a combined Broadcom-Qualcomm-NXP would be a strong third-place.

Intel has bought itself into relationships with autonomous car developers thanks to its acquisition of vision system maker Mobileye. Broadcom would get something similar with NXP, Juliussen said.

If Broadcom pulls off both deals, its market position in some areas could be dominant, said Cowen and Co analyst Karl Ackerman.

"[Broadcom] would basically own the majority of the high-end components in the smartphone market and they would have a very significant influence on 5G standards, which are paramount as you think about autonomous vehicles" and connected factories, he said.

Uber Chooses Los Angeles for UberAir Flying Taxi Service

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Uber says it will fly commuters over notorious Los Angeles traffic in flying taxis.

The ride-hailing firm announced Wednesday that Los Angeles will be one of the first cities served by UberAir, which it says will begin ferrying passengers across the region in electric aircraft in 2020.

Aviation manufacturers such as Embraer, Bell Helicopter, Pipistrel, Aurora Flight Sciences, and Mooney Aviation will supply and pilot the aircraft. Uber will operate the software that passengers use to book a trip and take a commission, much like with Uber rides on the ground.

"We're trying to work with cities in the early days who are interested in partnering to make it happen, while knowing that there will be pitfalls along the way," said Jeff Holden, Uber's chief product officer, explaining why the company chose Los Angeles and Dallas as the first cities to test the service.

"L.A. is a model city for this in that it's highly congested from a traffic perspective, and there's not a great mass transit relief on the horizon," Holden said.

Uber envisions UberAir as a commuter option, with fares comparable to taking an Uber car ride. The efficiency of electric aircraft brings "the price point down dramatically" compared with helicopters, Holden said.

Uber says it plans to eventually develop aircraft that fly themselves — removing the cost of a pilot and subsequently lowering fares.

By the 2028 Olympics, Holden said, the company believes Los Angeles residents will be making "heavy use" of UberAir. When the service is in full swing, he anticipates that "tens of thousands" of flights will be performed each day across the city.

The city of Los Angeles has shown initial support for the project, with Mayor Eric Garcetti saying L.A. is the "perfect testing ground for this new technology." However,  a spokesperson for the mayor said conversations about regulation, environmental effects and zoning had not yet started.

Designs for the aircraft, which differ from helicopters in appearance, technical features, efficiency and fuel consumption, are yet to be finalized. Alos proposed take-off and landing zones equipped with aircraft charging stations have not yet been built.

In a white paper published last year, Uber outlined the hurdles the company is likely to face, including infrastructure challenges, pilot training and certification, and air traffic concerns.

The company has taken steps to address some of those issues. It announced Wednesday that it signed an agreement with real estate developer Sandstone Properties to build take-off and landing hubs at Los Angeles International Airport and in downtown L.A., Santa Monica and Sherman Oaks in time for a 2020 launch.

The company has also partnered with NASA to develop new unmanned traffic management systems intended to enable appropriate air traffic control for aircraft flying at low altitudes in urban environments.

Despite the momentum behind the project, Jim Harris, a partner at Bain & Co. who leads the firm's aerospace and defense practice, said the regulatory timeline tends to be longer than companies expect.

Certification from the Federal Aviation Administration for commercial aircraft can include two years of rigorous testing. On top of that the company must ensure the safety and stability of the batteries that will power the aircraft. Finally, the company will need to win over hesitant passengers.

"When you have a pilot in the aircraft, you'll see consumer adoption pretty fast," he said. "But for some autonomous experiments, it's going to take awhile for consumers to be comfortable being in an air taxi without a pilot." Harris said.

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