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January 5, 2018 News of the Day: BMW Upgrades Traction Control on all of its Models, Bosch and Continental Acquire Stake in Digital Mapping Service HERE

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【Summary】January 5, 2018 News of the Day

Eric Walz    Jan 05, 2018 11:42 AM PT
January 5, 2018 News of the Day: BMW Upgrades Traction Control on all of its Models, Bosch and Continental Acquire Stake in Digital Mapping Service HERE

BMW Upgrades Traction Control on all of its Models

BMW vehicles are about to get a safety upgrade. BMW said will outfit all new models with an updated traction control system that can respond much more quickly than traditional systems. The feature was first presented on BMW's i3s electric vehicle.

BMW says the system in the i3s improves traction and stability when pulling away from a standstill, while accelerating out of tight corners, in poor weather, and while the car is recovering energy from braking. Unlike other systems, BMW's new system calculates the control process directly in the powertrain rather than in a remote unit that requires long signal paths. The result is a response that is 50 times quicker according to BMW.

The system was designed with electric vehicles in mind. Peter Langen, BMW's head of chassis development, points out that these vehicles demand more from driving stability systems because of their high levels of torque and quick responses. However, the new system also improves stability and traction performance in traditional combustion vehicles, no matter whether they are equipped with front, rear, or all-wheel drive.

BMW added a sportier variant to the i3 electric car for the 2018 model year. Known as the i3s, the model receives a more powerful electric motor that makes 184 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque, up from 170 hp and 184 lb-ft on the regular model. It also comes with a sportier suspension that lowers the car by 10 mm to improve handling.

Bosch and Continental Acquire Stake in Digital Mapping Service HERE

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Bosch and Continental have each acquired a 5 per cent stake in the digital maps service HERE, solidifying an effort from Germany's top carmakers to build a lead in self-driving car technology without relying on Silicon Valley.

The companies will be joining other shareholders Audi, BMW, Daimler-Benz, and Intel. The automakers bought the company for $2.7 billion from Nokia in 2015, then Intel then purchased a 15 percent stake of HERE in early 2017.

Technology group Bosch also aims to turn the company from a producer of maps for cars into a broader offering in the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution. It envisions creating indoor navigation maps for automating and streamlining goods "all the way to the production line".

Car parts supplier Continental said the initiative would support the needs of the car and mobility industries across all major markets.

HERE, whose highly accurate, high-definition, three-dimensional maps are already being used as an open platform to propel the development of self-driving cars.

"Bosch is more than cars," said Volkmar Denner, Bosch chief executive. "Industry 4.0, smart homes, and smart cities are rapidly growing areas of business for us, in which establishing and expanding data-based services will result in synergies with HERE."

Elmar Degenhart, chief executive of Continental, said: "Digital maps and location-based services are key innovations for the future of connected mobility."

Edzard Overbeek, chief executive of HERE, added that Bosch's presence "across the Americas, Asia and Europe" would help HERE to "further grow our business globally".

Bosch is the world's largest automotive supplier but is also a tech services and manufacturing company involved with sensors, software and artificial intelligence.

Continental is best known for making tires, but also develops automotive technologies and services for the world's biggest car makers. The company's 2016 revenue was €40.5bn.

Bosch has been working with a variety of mapping rivals in recent years and was rumoured to be considering a stake in HERE in early 2016.

It said on Thursday that it would continue working on "road signature" software, which aims to help self-driving cars navigate and understand traffic signs, with Dutch mapmaker TomTom, Japanese mapmaker Increment P, and three Chinese mapmakers: AutoNavi, Baidu and NavInfo.

In the past year, HERE's partnerships have expanded as the race to build self-driving cars and related platforms has accelerated against groups such as Waymo, the autonomous technology subsidiary of Google parent Alphabet.

Intel, the US chipmaker, purchased a 15 per cent stake in HERE a year ago and pledged to enable the mapping service to identify a vehicle's location "within centimeters".

Both stakes require antitrust approval.

Nissan's New Electric Leaf to Travel 225 Miles on a Single Charge

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The 2018 Nissan Leaf

Nissan's upcoming extended-range electric Leaf EV will be able to travel over 200 miles per charge, according to a set of slides obtained by the website PushEVs.

Nissan said it was planning a 200+ mile range Leaf for 2019 model, and based on a set of slides obtained by the website PushEVs, the car will be able to travel about 225 miles on a single charge. That puts it right around the range of a Chevy Bolt EV and a base Tesla Model 3.

PushEVs did not say how the slides were obtained, but the specs correspond with what was expected from Nissan. The slides show the new version of the vehicle will feature a 60 kWh battery pack, a 160 kW electric motor and a 11-22 kW onboard charger. The standard battery pack in the current Leaf is 40 kWh.

The changes will enable the Leaf to utilize a DC fast-charging rate of 100 kW, a speed that's necessary for Nissan to compete with Tesla's Supercharger network.

A Nissan spokesperson said they "can't confirm the speculative details that are circulating," as official specs for the 2019 Leaf haven't been released, however, Nissan did confirm the larger battery for the 2019 Leaf.

"We can confirm though that the 2019 Nissan LEAF will have a larger battery and a range of 200+ miles," the spokesperson said.

Tesla has the advantage of having the key charging infrastructure in place, but the price-point for the Leaf makes it an attractive purchase for those looking for a reputable and easily-serviceable EV.

Nissan's also introducing an updated ProPILOT semi-autonomous suite for the new Leaf ProPILOT adds adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping tech, but cannot perform lane changes. Nissan's simpler self-driving technology package can be added as an option at a cheaper premium than Autopilot.

The Leaf lacks the buzz surrounding Tesla's Model 3, but Nissan brings to the table the ability to roll out and sell the new EV in all 50 states by this time next year. Tesla reported on Wednesday that it doesn't expect to produce more than 5,000 Model 3s per week until the summertime. Even then, it still has 450,000 reservation holders patiently waiting for their Model 3.

The 220-mile range Leaf is better-positioned to compete with the Chevy Bolt, which reached 20,000 sales of 20,000 units in 2017. The new Leaf, once available, may be an option for those unwilling to wait for a Model 3, since the Leaf will be available much sooner.

China Plans Half of all New Cars to be ‘Smart Cars' by 2020

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BEIJING — China plans to push the development of smart cars and aims to make smart car production account for half of the country's total new vehicles by 2020.

The country aims to develop core homegrown technologies, gain global reputation for quality smart cars and become a global leader in smart cars by 2035, according to a draft plan released Friday by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

Smart cars are connected vehicles installed with new technologies such as big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence, according to the plan.

The country will cover 90 percent of its big cities and highways with a wireless network that can support smart cars by 2020 and ensure product supervision and information security.

It will also work to build a technological innovation system and integrated industry cluster for smart cars, and unveil relevant laws and regulations to encourage the sector.

The plan said the country would set up a national leading group with officials from the State Council to guide the innovation of smart cars and preferential policies, including tax cuts, to support relevant businesses.

The NDRC will seek public feedback on the draft plan from Jan. 5 to 20.


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