Self-Driving Cars

Volvo, Waymo form partnership to create self-driving electric robotaxis

Volvo is moving forward to electrification plans for its fleet.

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

Volvo Car Group and Waymo have announced that the tech company has become the "exclusive global L4 partner" for the automaker. The deal applies to Volvo Group's sub-brands including Volvo Cars, Link & Co., and Polestar.

"Fully autonomous vehicles have the potential to improve road safety to previously unseen levels and to revolutionize the way people live, work and travel," said Volvo CTO Henrik Green. "Our global partnership with Waymo opens up new and exciting business opportunities."

2020 Volvo XC90 Volvo has been testing self-driving capabilities on models in Sweden.Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

The "L4" in the agreement refers to Level 4 of the Society of Automotive Engineers self-driving standards. These standards are widely accepted as the measuring stick for advanced driving technologies. Under Level 4 guidelines, vehicles can operate without a driver, but only in a specific geographic location and in certain conditions. This means that you're more likely to see these self-driving vehicles in Las Vegas, San Diego, or Phoenix than in Detroit, Pittsburgh, or Boston.

Volvo joins FCA, Jaguar Land Rover, and Nissan-Renault in committing to Waymo technology. The company is a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc, the parent company of Google. It's origins stretch back to 2009. Seven years late the company would split from Google and become its own subsidiary. In 2018 the company launched a self-driving taxi service in Phoenix.

A previous plan for self-driving vehicle technology included Volvo partnering with Uber was scrapped after that company was embroiled in a public relations and technology nightmare when one of its vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in Phoenix. Uber continues to use Volvo XC90 SUVs to test its automated driving technology.

Volvo has already promised that the next-gen XC90 will have LiDAR sensors that enable it to drive hands-free under certain roadway and location restrictions. Similar technology is already available in Cadillac products (Super Cruise) and Ford has unveiled Active Drive Assist for its Mustang Mach-E and F-150. Tesla's Autopilot is, despite its name, not a hands-free system.

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Polestar currently operates four showrooms in the U.S.

Photo courtesy of Polestar

Polestar, an electric performance car brand, will be opening 15 new sales locations in the U.S. by the end of 2021. Called Polestar Spaces, the showrooms are more in line with what Tesla offers and less like a traditional auto dealership.

Each Polestar Space features minimalist Scandinavian-like design, pulling together the heritage of the company with a modern sales environment. Each location is staffed by non-commissioned Polestar Specialists. Test drives can be coordinated on-site or at home.

In the next few months, locations in Austin, Texas; Boston; Denver, Seattle; South Florida; and Washington D.C. will open. Those new showrooms will be established in connection with established retailer groups in the area. Additional information regarding the D.C. and Florida locations is expected soon.

2021 Polestar 2 The fastback Polestar 2 is a head-turner. Photo courtesy of Polestar

The second-half of 2021 will welcome the opening of additional showrooms in Atlanta; Central and South New Jersey; Connecticut; Dallas; Detroit; Minneapolis; Phoenix; and Orange County, California.

Specific showroom details are available at Polestar.com/Spaces.

"In 2019 we stated our goal of servicing 85% of the addressable EV market within a year of the Polestar 2 launch," said Gregor Hembrough, Head of Polestar in North America. "With these 2021 appointments, we will accomplish that and more- especially with our free pickup and delivery servicing within 150 miles of a brick-and-mortar Polestar location."

Polestar Spaces are already open in Los Angeles (Santa Monica) and Manhattan, plus two locations in the San Francisco Bay Area (Corte Madera and Santa Clara).

The automaker currently offers the Polestar 2 for sale in the U.S. AutomotiveMap recently had the opportunity to test drive the car for review.

It was recently confirmed that the Polestar Precept concept is headed to production. The concept version of the car is noted for its sustainable materials and minimalist design.

Additionally, Polestar and Koenigsegg are working on a project.

Further markets for expansion will be announced later in 2021.

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New Amazon Fire TV for Auto technology is debuting in the Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer.

Photo courtesy of Stellantis

The Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are set to be unveiled soon. Ahead of those debuts, Jeep has announced that those vehicles will be the first in the industry to integrate Amazon Fire TV for Auto.

Amazon Fire TV for Auto will give Wagoneer family occupants access to their favorite shows, movies, apps, unique vehicle features, and Alexa. It will communicate directly with the SUV's Uconnect 5 infotainment operating system. Just like in other Amazon devices, content syncs with an existing Amazon account. This means that customers will be able to pause a show in their home and seamlessly continue watching once they get into their vehicle.

"The all-new 2022 model-year Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are designed and engineered to set a new standard for American premium in the large SUV segment," said Christian Meunier, JeepĀ® Brand Chief Executive Officer - Stellantis. "Launching Fire TV for Auto as an industry-first technology to the Wagoneer lineup illustrates one of the many ways we intend to deliver class-leading technology and connectivity to our customers."

Amazon The screen for Amazon Fire TV for Auto looks very similar to what you'd see on a TV at your home.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

Amazon

Fire TV for Auto builds on the Fire TV experience that exists today with unique features that include:

  • Passengers can view Fire TV in high definition from the rear seats and the front passenger screen (a privacy filter disables driver viewing). When the vehicle is in park, the driver also can view Fire TV on the main Uconnect 5 screen
  • Touchscreen controls and support for compatible content can be downloaded on trips where wireless service is limited or to save on data
  • A Fire TV for Auto-specific remote provides control of the experience and includes push-to-talk access to Alexa, making it easy to find and quickly play shows
  • The remote includes a button that connects Fire TV with the new Uconnect 5 system for control of vehicle features, such as climate, maps and more

"We reimagined Fire TV for the automobile with a purpose-built experience that delivers the best in entertainment, anywhere you go," said Sandeep Gupta, Vice President and General Manager of Amazon Fire TV. "With Fire TV built in, customers can stream their favorite shows, see if they left the lights on at home with Alexa, and take advantage of unique controls through the Uconnect system."

Fire TV for Auto will be packaged with other connected services and made available in fall 2021 in Canada, Mexico and the United States.

This isn't the first time a Stellantis company has been on the cutting edge of in-vehicle tech. Jeep's stablemate, Ram, was the first to integrate SiriusXM 360L into a vehicle, its 2019 Ram 1500.

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