BUKIT LANJAN: British billionaire James Dyson to launch electric car in 2020?

Inventor, entrepreneur, art collector
Meet the man who breathed new, profitable life into the vacuum cleaner, hand dryer and hair dryer industries: inventor Sir James Dyson, mastermind of the eponymous global technology company, speaks to Dorotheum myART MAGAZINE about his passion for painting, the beauty of a Harrier jet and failure as opportunity.
Inventor and entrepreneur Sir James Dyson at his Malmesbury offices, Wiltshire with a bisection of an original Mini - homage to his design hero Alec Issigonis. (Photo: Adrian Sherratt)
BUKIT LANJAN: British billionaire James Dyson to launch electric car in 2020?

It has been an extremely exciting week of global news and updates for motoring enthusiasts.

The furious rush and quest for Artificial Intelligence (AI), hybrid and electric car advancement in technologies are telling.

In this blog post, Pulse Of Bukit Lanjan has compiled eight news stories related to car technology, all Tech news posted by The Star Online, for the convenience of readers.

However, Gerakan Deputy Speaker Syed Abdul Razak Alsagoff said there were four very significant exposes from the news. They are:

Ø James Dyson, the billionaire inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner, revealed a secret that his company was building a "radical" all-electric car for launch in 2020! And that he is committed to spend £2bil (RM11.3bil) on solid-state battery technology and vehicle design;

Ø Global miner BHP chief commercial officer Arnoud Balhuizen reportedly said 2017 looks set to be the "tipping point" for electric cars;

Ø Dubai has staged a test flight for what it said would soon be the world's first drone taxi service under an ambitious plan by the United Arab Emirates city to lead the Arab world in innovation. So, do we still need cars? and;

Ø Strangely enough, the Americans are fighting for and against self-driving cars in Congress! Do they want to lag in this car technology?

“With Dyson revealing his secret, does it mean the British are set to displace China as arguably the global leader in electric car production?

“And, Dubai’s tests for drone flying taxis is absolutely exhilarating! Is it viable and practical?” he asked.

To run a product manufacturing company in an age of vaulting technology, British inventor James Dyson says his job requires an open mind and a long product pipeline, appreciation for the implications of new materials and which problems can be solved by new capabilities. “They’re happening thick and fast now,” Dyson said. “We’re in a technology age. Dyson made the remarks at his company’s North American headquarters in Chicago last week. He spoke with Blue Sky Innovation during a gathering of his company’s executives and board members, on the heels of the company unveiling a new robotic vacuum in Japan. – Chicago Tribune (Sept 23, 2014)
Syed Razak, who is Gerakan’s nominee to contest N.37 Bukit Lanjan in the coming 14th General Election (GE14), said the furious evolution of car technology could not possibly be ignored by the Proton-Geely joint-venture outfit.

“Whatever develops or evolves from advanced car technologies, the wait for commercially viable production of electric cars may not be that long a wait! 2020 is just three years away, if the British deliver what they claim!” he added

Here is the compilation of eight news reports for motoring enthusiasts to chew on:

"James Dyson to build electric car by 2020

Wednesday, 27 Sep 2017
12:01 PM MYT

Dyson said a 400-strong team of engineers had already spent two and a half years working on the secret project. — Reuters

LONDON: James Dyson, the billionaire inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner, said his company was building a "radical" all-electric car for launch in 2020, with a commitment to spend £2bil (RM11.3bil) on solid-state battery technology and vehicle design.

Dyson said a 400-strong team of engineers had already spent two and a half years working on the secret project in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, developing the batteries that will power the in-house designed electric motor for the car.

He said on Tuesday he had not yet decided where the vehicle would be manufactured, although he had ruled out working with any existing auto companies. — Reuters

BHP, world's largest miner, says 2017 is tipping point for electric cars

Wednesday, 27 Sep 2017
9:00 AM MYT

Balhuizen said 2017 is the revolution year we have been speaking about and copper is the metal of the future. — Reuters

SINGAPORE: This year looks set to be the "tipping point" for electric cars, Arnoud Balhuizen, chief commercial officer at global miner BHP said on Tuesday, with the impact for raw materials producers to be felt first in the metals market, and only later in oil.

"In September 2016 we published a blog and we set the question – could 2017 be the year of the electric vehicle revolution?" said Balhuizen, a company veteran who runs BHP's commercial strategy, procurement and marketing from Singapore.

"The answer is yes...2017 is the revolution year we have been speaking about. And copper is the metal of the future."

Europe has begun a dramatic shift away from the internal combustion engine, although, globally, there are only roughly one million electric cars out of a global fleet of closer to 1.1 billion.

BHP forecasts that could rise to 140 million vehicles by 2035, a forecast it says is on 'the greener' end.

"The reality is a mid-sized electric vehicle still needs subsidies to compete... so a lot will depend on batteries, on policy, on infrastructure," Balhuizen said.

Electric cars are expected to soon cost the same as traditional vehicles – as early as next year by some estimates. But governments are also getting on board, with China's subsidies leading the way and Britain becoming the latest country to announce its all-electric ambitions in July.

Balhuizen said he expected the electric vehicle boom would be felt – for producers – first in copper, where supply will struggle to match increased demand. The world's top mines are ageing and there have been no major discoveries in two decades.

The market, he said, may have underestimated the impact on the red metal: fully electric vehicles require four times as much copper as cars that run on combustion engines.

BHP, Balhuizen said, is well-placed, with assets like Escondida and Spence in Chile, and Olympic Dam in Australia. BHP said last month it was spending US$2.5bil (RM10.52bil) to extend the life of the Spence mine in northern Chile by more than 50 years.

For oil, though, the impact of the electric car boom may take longer to be felt.

Balhuizen said in the nearer term, over the next 10 to 15 years, improvements in the internal combustion engine will be a more significant drag on demand.

Belt, Road

China's efforts to build a new Silk Road are another major factor influencing commodities demand in the near term, and BHP estimates the impact on steel alone at 150 million tonnes of new demand, Balhuizen said, mostly to be used in structures and reinforced concrete. Spending could top US$1.3tril (RM5.47tril).

China produced just over 800 million tonnes of steel in 2016.

There is little question Asia requires more spending on infrastructure – the Asian Development Bank estimates that Asia requires US$26tril (RM109.3tril) in infrastructure investment by 2030. Per year, that is more than double current spending, BHP said.

Belt and Road, as the giant initiative is known, is a "tremendous opportunity", he said, acknowledging that there was a risk that big slogans may struggle to translate to profit.

Along with the rest of the commodities universe, BHP has benefited from rising prices over recent months

The return of growth has not turned BHP away from its push for efficiencies, Balhuizen said, including with instruments like blockchain, although the focus remains on easier wins like e-documentation.

But efficiencies will not mean further reducing the portfolio of commodities for now, he said, brushing off criticism from some investors over BHP's oil assets.

"The diversity of our portfolio does create value. We get better credit ratings, we get a lower cost of debt," he said, pointing to applications in potash of techniques honed in oil.

"It is very tangible, very clear." — Reuters

Dubai starts tests in bid to become first city with flying taxis

Tuesday, 26 Sep 2017
1:00 PM MYT

The flying taxi developed by German drone firm Volocopter resembles a small, two-seater helicopter cabin topped by a wide hoop studded with 18 propellers. — Reuters

DUBAI: Dubai staged a test flight on Monday for what it said would soon be the world's first drone taxi service under an ambitious plan by the United Arab Emirates city to lead the Arab world in innovation.

The flying taxi developed by German drone firm Volocopter resembles a small, two-seater helicopter cabin topped by a wide hoop studded with 18 propellers.

It was unmanned for its maiden test run in a ceremony arranged for Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed.

Meant to fly without remote control guidance and with a maximum flight duration of 30 minutes, it comes with plenty of fail-safes in case of trouble: back-up batteries, rotors and, for a worst case scenario, a couple of parachutes.

Volocopter is in a race with more than a dozen well-funded European and US firms, each with its own science fiction-inspired vision for creating a new form of urban transport that is a cross between a driverless electric car and a short-haul, vertical takeoff-and-landing aircraft.

These include aerospace giant Airbus, which aims to put a self-piloting taxi in the air by 2020; Kitty Hawk, a company backed by Google co-founder Larry Page; and Uber, which is working with partners on its own flying taxi strategy.

"Implementation would see you using your smartphone, having an app, and ordering a Volocopter to the next voloport near you. The volocopter would come and autonomously pick you up and take you to your destination," CEO Florian Reuter said.

"It already is capable of flying based on GPS tracks today, and we will implement full sense capability, also dealing with unknown obstacles on the way," he added, saying developers aimed to initiate the taxis within five years.

In Monday's test flight, the device hovered upward about 200 meters and whirred for about five minutes over a windswept patch of sand astride the emirate's Gulf coast.

Attired in crisp white robes and headdresses, Sheikh Hamdan and his entourage clapped approvingly from a nearby viewing deck as the craft alighted.

The UAE has sought to distinguish itself in a region mired in war and strife as a high-tech, forward-looking society.

It plans to send an unmanned probe to Mars by 2021, the Arab world's first mission to space, and Dubai has in many ways led their showy march into the future by introducing the region's first driverless metro and robot policemen prototypes.

"Encouraging innovation and adopting the latest technologies contributes not only to the country's development but also builds bridges into the future," Sheikh Hamdan said in a statement. — Reuters

Tuesday, 26 Sep 2017
8:34 PM MYT

Self-driving car advocates launch ad campaign to prod Congress

A Velodyne LiDAR sensor is seen mounted on a self-driving vehicle. The coalition launched a website and will use targeted Facebook advertising, focusing on groups who could benefit from autonomous vehicles, such as disabled veterans. — Reuters 

WASHINGTON: A coalition of supporters of self-driving cars said that it will run ads this week in social media and Washington newspapers, in an effort to convince the US Congress to adopt sweeping legislation to boost the nascent industry. 

The ads are being placed by the Coalition for Future Mobility, which was formed in July by trade groups representing major automakers, along with other advocates for self-driving cars, as Congress began serious consideration of bills relating to autonomous vehicles. 

They want the Senate to pass a bill that would speed up the use of self-driving cars by easing safety regulations, and bar states from blocking such vehicles. The House of Representatives has already unanimously approved a bill. 

The Senate is considering a similar draft measure, but is divided over whether to include large commercial trucks, a dispute that could prevent the bill from winning approval this year. 

The House measure, which only applies to vehicles under 10,000 pounds (4,536 kg), would allow automakers to obtain exemptions to deploy up to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards in the first year. The cap would rise over three years to 100,000 vehicles annually. 

As part of the campaign, major automakers will be contacting their employees and retirees, asking them to reach out to their members of Congress, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said. 

The coalition launched a website and will use targeted Facebook advertising, focusing on groups who could benefit from autonomous vehicles, such as disabled veterans. 

One of the print ads seen by Reuters features a man dressed in military fatigues sitting in a wheelchair. The ad says: "He fought for our freedom. Let's give him back his." That "will only become a reality if Congress acts," the ad says. 

The coalition includes trade groups representing automakers General Motors Co, Toyota Motor Corp and Volkswagen AG, as well as organizations including ride sharing firm Lyft Inc, the Telecommunications Industry Association, the American Council of the Blind and a drone industry group. 

Senate aides have been negotiating in recent days but have not reached agreement. A Senate panel could take up the issue at an Oct 4 hearing, aides say. 

Auto industry leaders say 3 million commercial truck jobs could eventually be at risk if self-driving vehicles replaced human drivers. 

Self-driving proponents say 94% of US car crashes are the result of human error and argue self-driving cars could dramatically cut the 35,000 annual road deaths. — Reuters

Ford, Lyft will partner to deploy self driving cars

Wednesday, 27 Sep 2017
2:00 PM MYT

Ford and Lyft teams will begin working together to design software to allow Ford vehicles to communicate with Lyft's smartphone apps. — Reuters

DETROIT: Ford Motor Co said on Wednesday it will collaborate with Lyft to deploy Ford self-driving vehicles on the ride services company's network in large numbers by 2021.

Ford and Lyft teams will begin working together to design software to allow Ford vehicles to communicate with Lyft's smartphone apps.

Ford self-driving test vehicles will be connected to Lyft's network, but at first, customers will not be able to use them, Sherif Marakby, Ford's vice president for autonomous vehicles and electrification, told Reuters. Ford will put human-driven vehicles on Lyft's network.

He did not say when Ford and Lyft expect to offer the first rides in self-driving cars.

"We're not building prototypes for the sake of building prototypes," Marakby said, adding Ford intends to ultimately put thousands of self-driving vehicles in use.

Ford's new chief executive Jim Hackett is scheduled to meet with investors on Tuesday to outline the Dearborn, Mich. automaker's strategy for boosting profitability.

Ford shares are down 1.65% so far this year, while Detroit rival General Motors Co's shares have risen 15.6%, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV shares are up 71%.

Hackett's plans to compete for revenue from mobility services, which include car sharing and ride-hailing, will be one area of focus for investors. The Lyft partnership fills in a piece of the puzzle.

Ford also is testing delivery services using self-driving vehicles and a van shuttle service. The self-driving vehicles Ford will deploy through Lyft will use software developed by Argo AI, a company in which Ford is investing US$1bil (RM4.22bil) over the next five years.

The company has said it will invest US$700mil (RM2.95bil) in a factory in Flat Rock, Michigan, to make it capable of building electric and self driving vehicles.

Lyft has said it will offer an open platform for companies to deploy self-driving vehicles on its network, and has partnerships with self driving vehicle technology startup Drive.ai and Alphabet Inc's Waymo self driving car unit.

GM has a 9% stake in Lyft, acquired for US$500mil (RM2.1bil) in Jan 2016. "Our relationship with GM has always been a non-exclusive relationship," Raj Kapoor, Lyft's chief strategy officer, told Reuters.

GM is also assembling the assets necessary to launch its own ride services using self-driving cars, building its Maven car-sharing unit and preparing to launch mass production of autonomous Chevrolet Bolt electric cars at a factory in suburban Detroit. — Reuters

Toyota's self-driving dreams hinge on startups

Tuesday, 26 Sep 2017
9:11 AM MYT

TOKYO: When it comes to cracking the code for self-driving cars, startups have an edge on big business, says computer scientist Katsuya Uenoyama.

That may sound like bravado coming from the co-founder of a venture with just 30 employees working out of a small office in Tokyo, but Toyota Motor Corp. apparently agrees. The automaker last week made a US$9.1mil investment in the initial public offering of Uenoyama’s firm, PKSHA Technology Inc. (pronounced pahk-sha), which is developing software that could one day help cars learn to hold a conversation with drivers.

“The digital needs of the manufacturing sector have become bigger and bigger, and that’s why we started working with Toyota,” said Uenoyama in a recent interview at his office near the University of Tokyo, where the 35-year-old received a PhD in machine learning.

Toyota’s investment in PKSHA, and another Tokyo startup called Preferred Networks Inc, comes as software starts to rival the motor as the most important thing inside a car, and automakers compete with the likes of Google to make vehicles that can drive by themselves. The market for artificial intelligence know-how is so hot that small firms, sometimes with no products, are attracting investment from corporate giants that simply want access to programmers and a pipeline to the latest research.

On its first day of trading, last Friday, PKSHA’s shares more than doubled, bringing its market value to US$667mil and making Uenoyama’s 38% stake worth about US$250mil, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Toyota owns 2.7%. The stock rose as much as 7.3% today.

Even without a marketing department, Uenoyama says PKSHA is on pace this year to double revenue from licensing its algorithms to nearly a billion yen, or about US$9mil.

Once known for taking pride in doing everything by itself, Japan’s biggest carmaker has been more open to collaboration ever since Akio Toyoda took over in 2009. An alliance with Tesla Inc fizzled amid a reported clash of cultures, but the automaker this year agreed to partner with Suzuki Motor Corp on things including electric vehicle technology and to build a US factory with Mazda Motor Corp. In June, Toyoda told shareholders that the almost 80-year-old company founded by his grandfather was considering all options including mergers and acquisitions to get more competitive.

In the autonomous car race, though, Toyota appears to be behind. General Motors Co, which last year spent US$581mil to buy San Francisco-based startup Cruise Automation, says it already has a driverless car ready for mass production. By sometime around year-end, Tesla is promising to stage a road trip from Los Angeles to New York using a car that will be able to navigate city streets and even park entirely on autopilot.

Toyota is aiming for 2020, with a more conservative goal of having vehicles that can steer themselves on highways, where driving is less demanding.

To speed up development, Toyota spent US$1bil in 2015 to build a Silicon Valley AI research lab, and is said to be considering opening a hub in Tokyo next year. In July, the automaker established a US$100mil venture fund to go out and find new technologies.
“AI is key to autonomous driving, but car companies aren’t very familiar with the technology, which is why they definitely need help from outside,” said Tatsuo Yoshida, an analyst at Tokyo’s Sawakami Asset Management Inc.

In August, Toyota sunk US$94mil into Preferred Networks, adding to an earlier US$9mil investment in the deep learning startup and becoming its biggest outside shareholder. In a statement, Toyota said the new money was meant to “accelerate joint research and development”.

At a recent public forum in Tokyo, a Toyota executive invited Preferred Networks’ co-founder Toru Nishikawa on-stage to narrate a video showing how his technology enabled toy cars to learn not to crash into each other. At first, the miniature Priuses could barely move around an obstacle course without colliding. After two hours of trial and error, though, they were zipping around as if they had professional drivers inside.

In an interview this month, Nishikawa said he’d chosen to work with Toyota rather than other carmakers because that was the “fastest path to safe autonomous driving.”

At PKSHA, Uenoyama wouldn’t provide many details about the company’s research, but he said Toyota is particularly interested in its voice recognition technology, which will be more important as the steering wheel becomes a thing of the past and talking becomes the main way drivers interact with their vehicles.

A spokeswoman for the automaker, Akiko Kita, said Toyota had invested because of PKSHA’s “highly advanced technologies in natural language processing and image recognition.”

Uenoyama said a four-year stint as a consultant in Silicon Valley convinced him that the world of manufacturing had become too bureaucratic given how fast technology was changing. After starting PKSHA five years ago, though, he realised this was a business opportunity.

“From an engineer’s point of view," he said last week at a press conference after his IPO, “the cars of the future will just be big computers." - Bloomberg

Diesel's disgrace brings hybrids-for-all in race to electrify

Tuesday, 26 Sep 2017
6:00 AM MYT
by laurence frost

 Despite incentives, neither battery technology nor charging infrastructure is ready for the mass electric-car uptake. — Reuters

FRANKFURT: Carmakers squeezed between carbon emissions cuts and falling sales of fuel-efficient diesels have used the Frankfurt auto show to spotlight a future generation of electric cars that will largely come too late to help them out of their bind.

But elsewhere at the show, suppliers like Valeo and Delphi are lifting the lid on a quicker fix: affordable 48-volt hybrids.

These "mild" hybrids, which add some electric power to existing petrol models without a costly redesign, are now being deployed without fanfare by brands from VW to Volvo.

It is diesel's disgrace and decline, executives and analysts say, that has finally set the stage for mass electrification. While diesel pollution problems became notorious with the Volkswagen test-cheating scandal, the subsequent shift to petrol is bloating carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, making the next round of European Union goals harder to meet.

"Our view is that 48 volts on a gasoline engine is an alternative to diesel," said Karin Thorn, vice president for vehicle propulsion at Volvo. "If and when the diesel market is dropping, something else needs to take its place."

Diesels are stalling already, in fact – and weaker second-hand values suggest the slump can only accelerate.

An attention-grabbing pledge by the Swedish carmaker to "electrify" its entire range by 2019, initially hailed as a bold step, now looks more like an industry-wide reality.

PSA Group, which had previously seen no need for 48V hybrids, now plans to introduce them "across the board" in response to diesel's faster-than-expected decline, the Peugeot maker's programmes chief Patrice Lucas told Reuters.

By quadrupling the 12-volt standard in conventional car electrics and allowing a beefed up starter motor to feed extra power to the drivetrain, complementing the combustion engine, carmakers can transform petrol cars into mild hybrids without redesigning the vehicle's architecture and factory tooling.

Enabling technology

The motor delivers a noticeable torque boost and recovers braking energy to recharge a battery - smaller and cheaper than those required by electric cars or "full" hybrids such as Toyota's Prius, which typically run at 100-300 volts. Total manufacturing cost comes in €500 (RM2,500) to €1,000 (RM5,000) below an equivalent diesel.

"It's the most interesting enabling technology and will comfortably replace diesel," said Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst. "It can do the job and it's already cheaper - you don't have to be an early adopter to buy one."

By 2020, the brokerage expects 48V cars to outpace European sales of full hybrids, including plug-ins that can be recharged with a cable and driven in electric-only mode. By 2025, it predicts, they will equip 55% of all cars sold.

The technology is surfacing first in luxury cars such as the Mercedes S-Class on show at the Frankfurt event – which runs until Sunday – before trickling down to the mass market, chiefly in Europe and China.

Volkswagen's next Golf, a benchmark in compact cars, will arrive with 48V electrics in 2019, and other models will follow, development chief Frank Welsch told Reuters.

"The technology has a lot of potential and will make hybrids more affordable for the masses," Welsch said. Renault, Japanese affiliate Nissan and Hyundai are among other mass car manufacturers with 48V in the pipeline.

In 2021, the key EU emissions goal drops to 95g of CO2 per km from its current 130g – a challenge exacerbated by the replacement of standard lab tests with on-the-road "real driving emissions" measurements.

Diesel headache

Despite incentives, neither battery technology nor charging infrastructure is ready for the mass electric-car uptake required to put a dent in average emissions by then.

The headache is compounded by the decline of diesels, which emit 15% to 20% less CO2 than petrol alternatives. Fortunately, 48V hybrids deliver savings in the same bracket.

Their simplicity also lets carmakers adjust their fleet emissions on shorter lead times than typically required to redevelop a drivetrain, which may help to avoid stiff EU fines of 95 euros per excess gramme of CO2, per vehicle sold.

Among suppliers, Valeo stands to benefit most with a 40% share of mild-hybrid orders, Citi analysts predict. Continental and Delphi are also well positioned.

Paris-based Valeo expects some carmakers to effect more abrupt U-turns than PSA's – in some cases installing 48V systems without waiting for model facelifts. Innovation director Guillaume Devauchelle declined to name names.

"These solutions will become market standards," Devauchelle said, adding that tougher rules on nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution from diesels would deepen their cost disadvantage.

Later 48V hybrids will squeeze out more efficiency by shifting the electric motor lower down the transmission, below the engine. Valeo has electrified Magna's Getrag gearboxes and GKN differentials.

"What automakers are finding is they need more than just advanced combustion engines to reach the fleet average reductions," said Mary Gustanski, Delphi's engineering boss.

The supplier is combining 48V hybrids with cylinder deactivation that cuts engine capacity when less power is required, for additional savings. The system is in development with one European and one Chinese carmaker, Gustanstki said.

The coming profusion of 48V cars should outsell pricier, higher-voltage hybrid incumbents such as the Prius, as market projections show – a prospect Toyota takes in its stride.

Thanks to a quarter-century of hybrid investments, the Japanese carmaker can meet future CO2 targets with ease, global planning chief Didier Leroy said in Frankfurt.

"We're in a different position," Leroy said. "We don't have to rush to find a temporary solution - we don't need to develop 48V to be competitive." — Reuters

Tesla shifts to Intel from Nvidia for infotainment

Wednesday, 27 Sep 2017
10:18 AM MYT

Tesla's Model 3 and new versions of its other cars will get the new Intel processing modules. — Reuters

The giant information and entertainment screens in Tesla Inc's cars will now be powered by chipmaker Intel Corp after the electric carmaker replaced Nvidia Corp for that function, Bloomberg reported.

Tesla's Model 3 and new versions of its other cars will get the new Intel processing modules, Bloomberg reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Tesla and Intel declined to comment and Nvidia did not immediately respond to a request for comment. — Reuters"



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