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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The teaser image of the 2027 Kia lineup includes numerous cars and SUVs.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Kia has revealed plans to launch seven new battery electric vehicles (BEVs) by 2027 in numerous segments. The first, code named CV, will launch in 2021 and serve as the kickoff to a new Kia design direction. The move is known internally as the “Plan S" strategy. Under Plan S, Kia's BEV line will include 11 models by 2025.

The announcement coincides with the company's stated goal of having 25 percent of Kia's global sales come from BEVs by 2029. To do that, the company plans to work to expand the world's electric vehicle (EV) charging network. Kia has sold over 100,000 BEVs worldwide since the company introduced its first model in 2011, the Kia Ray.

Kia Ray EV 2011 The Kia Ray was the company's first production EV.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Plan S includes a company-wide business transformation that will include production, sales, and services. Dealerships will likely be required too invest in equipment to handle the influx of EVs. In the U.S, Kia will increase the number of EV work bays at dealerships to 600 by the end of 2020 and increase the number to more than 2,000 by 2023..

The product plan includes a diverse number of models. The vehicles will include BEVs that are “suitable for urban centers, long-range journeys, and performance driving". They will be based on the company's new adaptable Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP). The platform will allow for best-in-class interior spaciousness, according to Kia.

Though subscription services have not gained widespread popularity in the U.S., the company is exploring the creation of subscription services, as well as EV battery leasing and rental programs. Other “second life" battery-related businesses may be part of the plan as well.

Kia also plans to add around 500 charging stations in North America, partnering with its dealer networks. Further, the company is seeking a partner in North America to support a larger infrastructure buildout.

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The new Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross used the Internet of Things to connect to the My Mitsubishi Connect app

Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors North Americ

Mitsubishi has enlisted Aeris and Dealer-FX to better connect owners to their vehicles. Using integrations with the Aeris Mobility Services and Dealer-FX ONE platforms, the My Mitsubishi Connect mobile app will now enable Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross drivers to view real-time service and maintenance needs, as reported by their vehicles.

The system will push timely notifications from the vehicle to the app and the owner's smart mobile device allowing them to act in a matter of seconds rather than trying to remember that a warning light cane in while operating the vehicle.

"Mitsubishi customers are dreamers, achievers, entrepreneurs – active in their communities and in their family homes, and their time is extremely valuable," said Mark Chaffin, Chief Operating Officer of MMNA. "The My Mitsubishi Connect app allows us to enhance their experience, be more efficient with their time and continue to demonstrate our commitment to delivering high quality, top value vehicles with leading-edge technology in the U.S."

This isn't the company's first IoT foray. When it debuted, Mitsubishi Road Assist+ was the first hardware-free, smartphone-based app provided by an OEM that allowed owners to realize the cost savings of usage-based insurance without having to own "connected car" with built-in telematics capabilities or aftermarket-installed telematics hardware.

Mitsubishi continues to grow its presence in the U.S. market. The company recently relocated its headquarters from California to the Nashville, Tennessee area near where Renault-Nissan- Mitsubishi Alliance member Nissan has its North American headquarters.

The company recently announced a partnership with the Nashville Entrepreneur Center to create the Small Batch - Big Ideas Entrepreneur Network, which gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to learn from Mitsubishi executives, among other benefits.

The My Mitsubishi Connect and Mitsubishi Road Assist+ apps are currently available on the Google Play store and the Apple's App Store for use on Android and iOS devices.

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