February 27, 2018 News of the Day: Hyundai Debuts Kona Electric SUV with 292 Mile Range, Pony.ai Launches Autonomous Vehicle Fleet in China & Partnership with GAC Group
【Summary】February 27, 2018 News of the Day
Hyundai Debuts Kona Electric SUV with 292 Mile Range
The Kona Electric compact SUV will make its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland next week. It's based on Hyundai's gasoline-powered Kona SUV.
With the standard battery, the Kona Electric will have a range of about 186 miles. With an optional high-capacity battery it could go as far as 292 miles. These figures are based on new European driving test designed to yield more realistic results than tests that have been used before.
The SUV will have a unique feature— paddles on the steering wheel that will adjust how much power the batteries will draw as the SUV slows and stops. Electric cars use "regenerative braking," drawing in energy to slightly recharge the batteries as the driver lifts off the accelerator and presses the brakes. Increasing regenerative braking makes the car slow more quickly.
Although Hyundai is introducing the Kona Electric SUV in Europe first, it is expected to be available in markets outside Europe, including the U.S. Hyundai has disclosed any pricing for its new EV. Prices for the gasoline-powered Kona start at about $21,000 in the United States. The electric version is expected to cost more.
The Kona will compete against electric cars like the Chevrolet Bolt EV the Opel Amera-e. General Motors (GM) markets each of these electric hatchbacks as compact crossovers.
Jaguar is expected to reveal the production version of its Jaguar I-Pace electric SUV at the Geneva Show. As a luxury product, the I-Pace will be considerably more expensive than the Hyundai Kona Electric.
Pony.ai Launches Autonomous Vehicle Fleet in China & Partnership with GAC Group
Earlier this month, Silicon Valley and China-based Pony.ai held a special event in China during which it launched its autonomous ride-sharing fleet, becoming the first company to offer self-driving car rides on city roads to the general public in China.
Event attendees were able to experience Pony.ai's fully self-driving cars on a 2.8km route (roughly 1.7 miles). The event took place earlier this month in downtown Nansha, Guangzhou, where the company has recently established its China headquarters.
In addition to trial rides, the event also consisted of a signing ceremony that solidified a strategic partnership between the young startup and China's second-largest carmaker, Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC Group).
Since Pony.ai established its presence in Nansha, the company's autonomous cars have already undergone rigorous road tests covering thousands of kilometers. Within the span of three months, Pony.ai's autonomous driving platform has already learned to deal with unique road scenarios such as congested city streets, inclement weather, and unexpected road behavior more typical of an urban Chinese driving environment.
These scenarios have pushed the Pony.ai team to further enhance and refine their algorithms, creating a more sophisticated AI system that is capable of handling more complex road conditions.
Various local government officials, Pony.ai partners, and key investors attended the event. District Secretary of Nansha, Mr. Chaolin Cai, experienced Pony.ai's technology for a second time when he participated in the launch event. As Director of the 2017 Executive Committee for the Fortune Global Forum in Guangzhou, Mr. Cai had visited Pony.ai's California office last September, during which he rode Pony.ai's autonomous vehicle for the first time and was highly impressed despite its relatively nascent state.
This launch's trial route was an opportunity for Pony.ai to showcase some of its technological progress. The route featured several challenging scenarios, including three consecutive lane changes on Phoenix Boulevard, large multi-lane intersections, and bridge-crossings involving sloped roads.
A number of Guangzhou citizens were able to experience a test ride with Pony.ai engineers. While on the ride, the engineers provided an overview of the technology, helping citizens engage more directly with the innovations that are revolutionizing the transportation system.
During Pony.ai's time in Guangzhou, the team has also developed a specific software module that enables the cars to handle inclement weather and heavy rain conditions. This technical breakthrough has enabled Pony.ai to achieve new levels of reliability and safety.
On the morning before the trial rides took place, Pony.ai and GAC Group, the second-largest automaker in China, established a strategic partnership to collaborate in four key areas. These four areas include further development of self-driving technology, autonomous vehicle operationalization, broader mobility development, and capital partnership.
President of GAC Group Xingya Feng expressed, "the current global automotive industry is in the process of undergoing profound change. Automotive products are rapidly becoming smarter, more connected, and more lightweight while harnessing innovations in alternative energy. Against an ever-progressing backdrop of smart mobility and intelligent transportation, I believe this partnership between GAC Group and Pony.ai will spearhead innovations in automotive and beyond. Leveraging unique advantages that both organizations bring to the table, this partnership will greatly contribute to the development of China's smart car industry as well as the Nansha district of Guangzhou."
James Peng, Co-founder and CEO of Pony.ai, agreed that "the combination of Pony.ai's world-class capability in software development and GAC Group's exceptional capability in vehicle technology and production will undoubtedly yield an unparalleled autonomous driving system." Harry Hu, COO of Pony.ai, adds: "this partnership between GAC Group and Pony.ai has the potential for meaningful global impact and influence. We look forward to working with GAC Group to deliver the most reliable, safe, and comprehensive autonomous vehicle experience to the public."
Pony.ai continues to work closely with the Nansha district, partners, and investors
Wenji Jin, Managing Partner of A-round lead investor Legend Capital, believes that Pony.ai will continue to stand at the forefront of this industry and create a leading brand. Fisher Zhang, Managing Partner at A-round lead investor Morningside Ventures, congratulated Pony.ai on being the first to officially introduce autonomous cars to the public in China.
"This is a cornerstone not just for Pony.ai but for the entire industry of Autonomous Vehicles, and I look forward to seeing what else the incredible team at Pony.ai has in store." he said.
Founding Managing Partner of Sequoia Capital China, Neil Shen, sent in a video to express his congratulations to the team. He congratulated the team on the significant strategic partnership with GAC Group as well as the historic milestone of the fleet's official launch. Shen said, "We at Sequoia believe that such a wonderful team will continue to surprise us as they make a name for themselves in this unique intersection of industries."
German Court Says Cities Should Ban Diesel Engines
The diesel engine was invented in Germany by Rudolf Diesel in 1897. Now, a German court has determined that towns and cities with poor air quality should prevent diesels from entering them.
The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig ruled Tuesday that cities in Germany have the right to ban some diesel cars that do not meet emission standards. The decision could fuel efforts to implement similar restrictions across Europe.
The court said that Stuttgart and Düsseldorf, which have some of the most polluted air in Europe, have the authority to implement limited bans that would prevent some cars from driving into the city center. But any measures must be proportionate.
The city of Stuttgart has a storied automotive history, and is the hometown of Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen Group brand Porsche. Düsseldorf and its surrounding area is also a major vehicle manufacturing hub.
Dorothee Saar, head of transport and air quality at the environmental lobby group DUH, said that bans could be introduced this year. DUH had been pressing the court to allow diesel bans in order to combat air pollution.
"This ruling gives long-awaited legal clarity that diesel restrictions are legally permissible and will unavoidably start a domino effect across the country," said Ugo Taddei, an environmental lawyer from ClientEarth who worked on the case. "Putting traffic restrictions on the most polluting vehicles is the quickest and most effective way to protect people from harmful air pollution."
The minister of transportation for the Stuttgart region, Winfried Hermann, said local clean air plans would be revised immediately and could include restrictions on highly polluting vehicles. The court said that Stuttgart should also consider restrictions on gasoline-powered cars that do not meet certain emissions standards.
The environment ministry in the Düsseldorf region said it was exploring other strategies to improve air quality and avoid diesel bans.
German automakers Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler have been bracing for new restrictions on diesels amid rising public concern over air pollution and its negative health effects. Volkswagen also admitted it had been cheating on diesel emissions tests, allowing its vehicles to emit excessive levels of nitrogen oxide.
Bans are likely to hurt demand for diesel vehicles in Germany, and deliver a blow to the country's massive auto manufacturing industry. About a third of cars in Germany run on diesel.
Volkswagen said that it was "unable to comprehend" the court's decision.
"It threatens to produce a regulatory hotchpotch in Germany, which is unsettling for millions of motorists," the automaker said in a statement. "How this decision can be implemented in concrete terms is currently still completely unclear."
VDA, the German automotive association, said there were other "intelligent measures" that could be used to meet air quality standards without resorting to bans.
The European Commission, which is the top regulator in the European Union, has threatened legal action against Germany and other countries over high levels of air pollution. Germany is home to 26 cities that frequently exceed EU air pollution limits, more than any other country in the region.
Diesel cars emit far more harmful air pollutants than gasoline, yet they've been popular in Europe for decades because governments offered tax incentives in the hope of reducing CO2 emissions. In the past, diesel engines were thought to be more fuel efficient.
Vehicles are responsible for around 40% of nitrogen oxide emissions in the EU, with the vast majority coming from diesels.
The case was brought to the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig by environmental group Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH), which sued the local authorities in Stuttgart and Dusseldorf to make them take action after air quality within their borders was found to be deficient.
Both NOx gases and carbon particulates were measured to be in excess of European Union limits. Diesel engines by design, emit these two pollutants. The judge found for DUH, and now the organization says it expects restrictions on the use of Euro 4 cars—which were sold as recently as 2009—later this year. It further says that bans on Euro 5 cars (sold until 2014) could follow in 2019.
Germany currently has 45.8 million cars registered, with just over 15 million of those burning diesel fuel and a majority of those built to the older Euro 4 and 5 standards.
Veniam Joins the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) to Help Move Data for Autonomous Vehicles
Veniam, the data networking company headquartered in Silicon Valley that delivered the largest commercial network of V2X mesh connected vehicles, announced today that it has joined the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA).
5GAA is a global, cross-industry organization of companies from the automotive, technology, and telecommunications industries (ICT), working together to develop end-to-end solutions for connected cars and transportation services.
As a 5GAA member, Veniam joins the industry group working on the future of connected mobility and automated transportation. Veniam brings to the group its intellectual property portfolio of more than 100 patents, in addition to real-world experience with fleets, telecom operators, mobility providers, and global automotive players.
"We are excited to welcome Veniam to the 5GAA consortium. With their strong expertise in mesh connected vehicles, we look forward to their contribution in defining and developing the next generation of connected mobility solutions," said Christoph Voigt, chairman of the 5GAA board.
"Veniam is very pleased to join the 5GAA and its diverse group of industry leaders. While building commercial networks of connected vehicles in Porto, New York, and Singapore, we developed many use cases, technical solutions, and ecosystem insights we feel would be valuable additions to these discussions," said Rui Costa, Veniam CTO. "We're excited to learn from fellow 5GAA group members as we work together to help improve the lives of millions of people by accelerating the shift toward safe, sustainable, and hyper-connected mobility."
Veniam has developed a unique perspective on the architectures, practical applications, implementation hurdles, and urban impact of a future filled with autonomous vehicles, and what it takes to move massive amounts of data between vehicles and the cloud.
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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