The cat-and-mouse game that defines existing vehicle security features could use an overhaul and the recent resurgence in artificial intelligence technologies is just the thing to deliver it. Today, the networks on wheels that are modern cars use anti-virus and other common software security technologies that identify known threats and try to quarantine some of the unknown ones. But this isn’t ideal in a dynamic area where new threats continually pop up.
Blockchain technology, the foundational infrastructure of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, is a timestamped ledger of transactions distributed over a network of computers. If each auto part were assigned a unique code, blockchain would enable auto manufacturers to track each step of the production and transportation process through a secure database updated by suppliers in real time.
Donald Trump has pledged to revitalize the mainly white working class that elevated him, a tough task given an aging U.S. workforce, dwindling options for people with little education and years of stagnant pay. Trump has said he’d slash taxes, strong-arm U.S. trading partners, end commitments to environmental rules and make it easier to drill for oil.
In January this year, senior diplomats from around the world formally announced the lifting of sanctions against Iran. In principle this put a definitive end to 37 years of various degrees of sanctions imposed on the country.
Let’s have a look at the past. ILIA Corporation, a management consulting firm in Iran wrote in a very interesting report explaining all the challenges Iran is facing, and give us some clues.
1. Iranian Automotive Industry: Past to Present
The benefits of developing a domestic automotive industry are significant. The worldwide automotive industry is estimated to have a total cash flow of more than 2,790 billion USD with a total production capacity of approximately 90 million and it employs more than 48 million people (directly and indirectly). Accumulated this would make up for the 7th biggest economy of the world.
The first Ford Model T’s arrived in Iran in the 1930s and by 1955 annual imports had soared to approximately 10,000 units. Nowadays the domestic Iranian automotive industry is estimated to have a yearly nominal production capacity of 2 million cars. It employs more than 1.5 million people (directly and indirectly) making up for 12% of the countries workforce.
Furthermore it has a daily nominal production capacity of 10 million components whilst drawing input from sixty related industrial fields. With total sales of 12 billion USD it makes up for approximately 19% of the total industry, as well as for approximately 2.5% – 3% of Iran’s GDP. The Iranian automobile industry makes up for 1.2% of world production, and currently holds rank 18 to 20.
Several national brands exist, such as IKCO, SAIPA, Pars Khodro, Kerman Khodro, and Bahman that produce a variety of different models (such as Samand, Tiba, Dena, etc.). IKCO and SAIPA are the biggest automotive manufacturers and together own more than 79% of the total market share.
Iran also looks at its automotive industry as an important sector for exporting its products to neighboring countries. In 2012 Iran exported 520 million USD worth of automobiles and car components. The situation for car and component manufacturers worsened in the following years, leading to a diminishing export value by 2013 to 263 million USD. In 2014 Iran’s share of exporting automobiles and car components was announced to be at 243 million USD. There are several reasons for the drop, however, experts concur that the key reasons are low quality and at the same time a high price.
Currently the Iranian automobile import market is ranked on 75th place worldwide, making up for less than a percent of the global automobile and component importing market share. In 2010, its market share was 0.2 percent with a total value of 2.5 billion USD. During 2011 the market share did not change, however, the total value of it increased to 2.9 billion USD. Economic sanctions were a big setback for Iran’s automotive industry, especially at a time when the industry was ready for major expansion. Since the year 2012 the production output decreased by approximately 50% (from 1.4 million to 0.7 million), whilst at the same time the price of cars increased radically by about 300%.
2. Sanction: Situation and Impacts
Over the past years sanctions have had a serious effect on Iran’s economy and its people. Since 1979 the United States has led international efforts to utilize sanctions in order to influence Iran’s policies, including Iran’s uranium enrichment program which Western governments fear is intended for developing the capability to produce nuclear weapons. Iran counters that its nuclear program is for civilian purposes, including generating electricity and medical purposes.
Prohibitions and / or restrictions on: The import, purchase, transport, financing and insurance of Iranian crude oil and petroleum products; Transfers of funds between EU and Iranian banks and financial institutions; EU based sales, supply, export, transfer, purchase, import or transport of equipment or technology in relation to crude oil.
The US sanctions on Iran relate to:Iranian petroleum industry; Imports from Iran; Exports to Iran; Dealing in Iranian-origin goods or services; Financial dealings with Iran.
Despite the fact that Iran’s economy has been suffering from the effects of intensified international sanctions since 2007, different industrial sectors have shown deviating levels of instability. Since 2010, the Iranian total passenger car production dropped considerably, as a direct effect of the sanctions impact on the automotive sector.
3. How Iran’s auto industry became the new domestic political football
Alireza Ramezani in al-monitor.com reports : „At the last Paris Auto Show, Renault Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn and Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, Iran’s Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade, signed on a strategic agreement for a joint venture car-plant, where Renault is a majority shareholder. Iran Khodro and Saipa, Iran’s largest automakers, are other members of this agreement.“ Iranian hard-liners have launched a new attack on the administration of President Hassan Rouhani, this time focusing on the country’s automotive industry. At an Oct. 25 parliamentary hearing, the Industries and Mines Committee grilled Industry, Mines and Trade Minister Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh over a deal he made recently with the French automaker Renault.
A new joint venture plant is being set up in Iran for making the Logan and Duster models. The Renault Kwid is currently under consideration for manufacturing in Iran, as the French carmaker eyes the potential of the Iranian automobile market (Iran is projected to be a 2 million-vehicle market by 2020). The JV plant will have an initial production capacity of 150,000 vehicles per year, and will adapt an existing plant in Tehran. Initially, this plant will make the Renault Symbol sedan (Renault/Dacia Logan) and the Renault Duster beginning in 2018.
However, both Iran Khodro and Pars Khodro (a subsidiary of Saipa) are looking to manufacture the Renault Kwid. Bernard Cambier, Renault senior vice president and chairman-Africa-Middle East-India Region, in a recent interview to WardsAuto, stated that the Kwid, if made in Iran, will be “very successful”.
Nematzadeh also came under fire over a controversial decision that critics say led to the import of 400 BMW, Toyota, Volvo and Honda vehicles manufactured in the United States, in contravention of guidelines barring the import of American-made cars. On Oct. 26, the Student News Network (SNN) published a report criticizing the import of US-made cars but did not refer to the hearing. Citing a number of pundits, SNN argued that the import had been unwise, because Washington’s “hostile” policies have for decades been damaging for Iranian consumers. “Cars that are made in the US, irrespective of whether their brand origin is American, European or Asian, create value added for American companies and boost employment in the US. We should not use Iranian money to create jobs for Americans,” Hassan Karimi Sanjari, an automotive expert, said in an interview with SNN.
A day before the hearing, Donya-e Eqtesad, Iran’s leading economic daily, had reported that authorities had banned the import of European cars produced in the United States. The Industry, Mines and Trade Ministry, however, has not yet officially announced such a ban.
Another concern among parliament members was the direct involvement of Nematzadeh’s ministry in the car market. Nematzadeh said that his ministry seeks to attract foreign investment in the automotive sector to upgrade manufacturing technology and provide Iranians with high-quality cars at competitive prices. He called Renault an “appropriate partner” that could can help Iran finish a key automotive development project given the company’s 12-year presence in Iran. Members of parliament called on Nematzadeh to obtain a guarantee from French automakers, including Renault, Peugeot and Citroen, that they will not repeat their “wrong behavior” of the past, Bastani said, referring to how Renault and Peugeot had pulled out of Iran in 2012 when economic sanctions intensified.
A German business consultant who counsels a number of European and Asian carmakers operating in Iran told Al-Monitor that such guarantees are difficult to come by. “It doesn’t matter what type of contract you sign with a foreign company. If Iran comes under the same serious sanctions as before in the future, none of the European automakers will stay in the market,” the consultant said. “Stability is super important,” he stressed, while criticizing how numerous actors have a finger in Iranian market policy although such decisions need to be made by the Rouhani administration alone.
Of note, in the last few months IKCO and SAIPA have resumed cooperating with Peugeot and Citroen. That three major partners in Iran’s automotive industry are French has raised concerns among some lawmakers about the future of the industry in the event of renewed external pressure. Under the IDRO-Renault contract, Renault is committed to producing 75,000 cars at Bon Roo, the manufacturing site previously owned by SAIPA before IDRO seized it as part of a debt settlement. The French company is also committed to investing in the site to double annual production in the next phase and eventually achieve an output of 300,000 vehicles a year in five years.
Domestic automakers also complain that under current regulations, manufacturing vehicles whose technology is not yet fully localized is not economical, pointing out that producing such low-quality cars as the Tiba, Samand and outdated Peugeot 405 and Pride models makes much more sense than manufacturing the more advanced Logan (Tondar 90), which requires foreign parts.
An open question : Will the US elections rebuff the game?
In gulfbusiness.com, Erika Masako Welch explains : Iran opening up to the world is arguably one of the most prolific global business opportunities of our generation. For the majority of the largest European and Asian companies (excluding China), this marks a much-awaited opportunity to return to Iran, where many had investments, manufacturing facilities and large-scale operations prior to the financial sanctions made against Iran in 2011.
Chinese and American companies view the current situation as more of a threat, and for different reasons. Chinese firms have greatly benefitted from the international sanctions on Iran over the past few years, which provided a window where an inflow of Chinese products flooded the market without much foreign competition. The lifting of sanctions will see an inevitable curtailing of Chinese dominance in this market.
For American companies, the situation is more complicated. Although US companies’ foreign subsidiaries are technically allowed to engage with Iran, there is still a minefield of regulatory, transparency and legal challenges that have left many hesitant to take even preparatory steps. Furthermore, the fact that 2016 was a US Presidential election year, and the mounting layers of uncertainty of the future government’s policies towards Iran have left the majority of American companies unable to decide.
Trump’s surprise victory is posing a potential threat to investments by Renault and PSA in Iran. During his campaign, the real-estate tycoon pledged to unpick the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as well as a breakthrough nuclear pact with Tehran, saying both were among the worst deals ever made.
Next article : Trump’s Election may or may not damage global auto trade?
Here is a great article from cbinsights.com
With expectations rising around the promise of driverless vehicles, 15 investors and executives sound off on the future of mobility and the auto industry.
Auto tech is drawing more attention than ever as venture capitalists, startup founders, and industry stalwarts aim to profit from the evolution of the trillion-dollar automotive sector. Private markets investment into auto tech is on pace for a record year, and numerous corporations have laid out plans for the development of autonomous vehicles.
To understand sentiment around the suddenly-dynamic auto tech space, we gathered 15 perspectives, from Silicon Valley investors and startup founders to regulators and big auto executives. If we have missed any viewpoints that you think are worth highlighting, please let us know in the comments.
Mark Fields, the Ford veteran who succeeded Alan Mulally as president and CEO of the company in 2014, recently penned a Medium post laying out Ford’s path to fully autonomous vehicles. Fields also used the post to announce a flurry of startup investments and M&A to propel Ford towards that goal. Most notably, Fields announced that the company would diverge from the stepping-stone path of many automaker peers, joining Google and others in racing directly to full autonomy.
“As little as four years ago, our approach was aligned with the thinking of most automakers today, which is taking incremental steps to achieve full autonomy by advancing driver assist technology. This is not how we look at it today. We learned that to achieve full autonomy, we’d have to take a completely different pathway.
So, we abandoned a stepping-stone approach and created a dedicated ‘top down’ engineering program to deliver fully autonomous vehicles and the new mobility solutions and business opportunities that a fully autonomous vehicle could deliver.”
Uber’s CEO cited the advent of self-driving vehicles as an “existential threat” in rationalizing the ride-hailing company’s aggressive moves in the space and purchase of Otto. He also expressed optimism around employment prospects in the driverless future.
“So, if we are not tied for first [in driverless], then the person who is in first, or the entity that’s in first, then rolls out a ride-sharing network that is far cheaper or far higher quality than Uber’s, then Uber is no longer a thing … But this is a years thing, not a decade thing.
I don’t think the number of human drivers will go down anytime soon. In fact, I think, in an autonomous world, it goes up. In absolute figures. Of course, in percentage, it’s down. But then you also think, what about the tens of thousands of jobs that are necessary to maintain that fleet?”
Amid the first fatal accident involving an Autopilot-driven Tesla, the head of the US NHTSA strongly backed self-driving technology. He emphasized that the safety of autonomous vehicles would be carefully evaluated, but the agency would not wait for perfection. The administrator also expressed his agency’s neutrality on the varying development approaches for the technology. These stances have since been backed by the NHTSA’s official guidance policy.
“Of course we have to do everything we can to make sure new technology does not introduce new safety risks, but we also can’t stand idly by while we wait for the perfect … If we wait for perfect, we’ll be waiting for a very, very long time. How many lives might we be losing while we wait?
The federal government is not here to pick the winners and losers of this technology. We are neutral on the question of incremental technological development versus skipping to full automation. Our mission is not to design the future, but instead lay the framework, a framework that will speed the development and deployment of technologies with significant lifesaving potential. We are open to anything that fulfills that mission.”
Josh Kopelman, who came in fourth in the CB Insights and New York Times ranking of the top 100 venture capital professionals, discussed autonomous vehicles in a Medium post last August. He likened the current state of automotive technology to the “300 baud phase” of consumer internet, and laid out several areas of investment interest despite giving a relatively conservative timeline for autonomous transport.
“I have a teenage daughter, and in a few years, she’s going to get her driver’s license. (Which terrifies me.) And while there have been incredible advances in autonomous vehicles over the last few years, I’m certain that she’ll still need to learn how to drive — the technology and regulatory environments just aren’t changing that fast. That said, after spending some time over the past few months looking at the autonomous vehicle landscape, I’m also equally certain that in 35+ years (when my daughter might have a teenage child), my grandchild will not know how to drive.”
Amidst all the hype surrounding autonomy and next-generation mobility, Bilal Zuberi instead weighed in on automotive interiors and the suppliers that provide such systems. He is bullish on the ability of startups to upend the byzantine option packages and lackluster technology commonly associated with today’s cars.
“Everything inside the car may be up for grabs. Consumers have endured crappy technology inside cars for too long, and have survived ridiculous prices to get various ‘upgrade packages’ installed … But a radical transformation is coming and a gigantic industry of inside-the-car components and systems that has been dominated by Tier 1 suppliers may be up for grabs.”
Lee Hower has penned a series of posts on the future of auto tech. Like Josh Kopelman, he is excited by the prospect of fully autonomous vehicles, but also holds a more conservative outlook on their timetable given the scale of the “nearly unbounded” driverless problem.
“It isn’t because of lack of interest or investment in vehicle autonomy … That said, there’s no way you will be able to buy / rent / hail a fully autonomous vehicle in the next couple of years. Level 4 autonomy on public roads is a nearly unbounded problem… driving on a highway at 60+ mph or being able to self-park is a totally different challenge than navigating a poorly marked, chaotic urban downtown. Autonomous vehicles that work anytime, anywhere, and in any conditions are still quite a ways off.”
Upon announcing Andreessen Horowitz’s $3.1M seed investment in George Hotz’s comma.ai, Chris Dixon highlighted the democratization of deep learning knowledge as a key driver of autonomous vehicle development.
“WhatsApp was able to build a global messaging system that served 900M users with just 50 engineers, compared to the thousands of engineers that were needed for prior generations of messaging systems. This ‘WhatsApp effect’ is now happening in AI … I tested [George’s] car, and, along with some of my colleagues and friends with AI expertise, dug into the details of the deep learning system he’d developed. I came away convinced that George’s system is a textbook example of the ‘WhatsApp effect’ happening to AI.”
The co-founder of Parse and Scribd was an early investor in Cruise Automation, the self-driving tech startup acquired by GM in March 2016 for upwards of $1 billion. Tikhon is bullish about the opportunities for investing in autonomous transport startups, citing the wide array of existing stakeholders that may be hungering for M&A opportunities.
“With a company like Cruise, worst-case scenario, especially for a seed round, is that you are going to 5X your money because there are so many acquirers. You just have to hope they don’t want to sell too early because they’ll likely be getting a lot of M&A offers along the way — not just from the usual suspects like Apple, Google, Tesla, Uber, but also all the car manufacturers … GM plus Cruise is certainly worth more than GM alone, with another billion in the bank.”
The GGF team at Kleiner Perkins sees the future of transportation revolving around the themes of “Shared,” “Autonomous,” and “Electric,” with the three trends converging to create a positive feedback loop of innovation, and the car itself becoming less critical.
“Automotive executives often forcefully and convincingly contend that they will not become handset makers to companies like Apple and Google, who want to own the ‘brains’ inside the cars. The reality is they have a choice to make: Would they would rather be BlackBerry, which continued to try and own the hardware and software in a walled-off OS to the detriment of its customers (market cap $4 billion) or Foxconn, which is now a key manufacturer of the iPhone (market cap $89 billion)?
Is Detroit still relevant? Yes. Are Geneva [auto show] and CES [consumer electronics show] also relevant? Yes. Is the car itself relevant? Not as much.”
In April 2016, Playground Global participated in a Series A round to Nauto, an auto tech startup focusing on advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), connected vehicles, and data. Bruce, the co-founder of the hardware incubator, sees this area — driver assistance as opposed to driverless systems per se — as a “sweet spot,” where startups can monetize and amass data on the road to full automation.
“We all realize autonomous driving is the future, but how do we get there? Working with OEMs is a good strategy; it’s just a long, hard path to revenue. But it’s a nice insight Nauto has — the automotive industry wants to work with proven leaders in the field. [So] the company just said we have to get millions of miles of experience. The only way to do that is to have people behind the wheel.”
Despite potential upheavals on the horizon for established automakers, Mary Barra has characterized ongoing trends as opportunities for GM. Rather than brushing off increased interest in autonomous driving, connectivity, and ride- and car-sharing models, the GM CEO pledged to embrace these trends. Indeed, the 107-year-old company has backed up Barra’s remarks with aggressive acquisitions, investments, and R&D spend.
“We are moving from an industry that, for 100 years, has relied on vehicles that are stand-alone, mechanically controlled and petroleum-fueled to ones that will soon be interconnected, electronically controlled, and fueled by a range of energy sources. I believe the auto industry will change more in the next five to 10 years than it has in the last 50, and this gives us the opportunity to make cars more capable, more sustainable and more exciting than ever before.”
Additionally, in a May 2016 statement, the head of General Motors’ foresight and trends unit Richard Holman credited Silicon Valley companies for “[forcing] the issue” in the development of autonomous vehicle technology, a rare hat tip from Detroit to the technology industry.
The former Hyundai and Truecar executive has emphatically backed Google’s ambitious self-driving plans. Unlike many other driverless developers, Google believes the safest route is to eschew incremental advances and move directly to total autonomy.
“The industry has been making continuous incremental gains, but for self-driving cars to reach their full potential we need to focus on nothing short of full autonomy … Aiming for full autonomy not only reaches the most people, our team believes it’s also the safest approach. Having this audacious goal was what drew me to the Google self-driving car project.”
The BMW board member acknowledges that the German luxury automaker has technological ground to make up in the race towards autonomous vehicles, which likely drove its tie-up with Intel and Mobileye. Froehlich invokes fears that legacy car manufacturers will become contract OEMs delivering “metal bodies” — in the vein of electronics-manufacturing businesses — while tech companies control the brains of the vehicles.
“For me it is a core competence to have the most intelligent car. We have some catching up to do in the area of machine learning and artificial intelligence … Our task is to preserve our business model without surrendering it to an Internet player. Otherwise we will end up as the Foxconn for a company like Apple, delivering only the metal bodies for them.”
One of the most vocal proponents of auto tech and autonomous vehicles, Elon Musk is unsurprisingly optimistic about both the substitution of human drivers with technology and his company’s ability to deliver on that promise.
“I think [autonomous cars are] just going to become normal. Like an elevator. They used to have elevator operators, and then we developed some simple circuitry to have elevators just come to the floor that you’re at, you just press the button. Nobody needs to operate the elevator … Autonomy is really about what level of reliability and safety do you want. Even with the current sensor suite we could make the car go fully autonomous, but not to a level of reliability that would be safe in, say, a complex urban environment at 30 miles per hour where the lane markings aren’t there and children are playing and things could be coming at you from the side. In order to solve that you need a bigger sensor suite, and you need more computing power … But, and this may sound a little complacent, I almost view it as a solved problem. We know exactly what to do, and we’ll be there in a few years.”
Toyota’s top executive, a driving enthusiast who has opposed autonomous vehicles in the past, has recently begun to embrace the concept as rivals have accelerated development. He has also speculated on the broader implications of self-driving research in the fields of robotics and AI.
“I personally went through a big change in my thinking. I believe there is a point in Toyota participating in the field of autonomous driving. And we’ve got the resources to do so … I have hopes that what we are studying now could be used beyond the automotive business … [Freedom is] an element that cars should never lose. No matter what, cars need to win the love of their users.”
Morocco Automotive Industry has grown substantially in recent years thanks to the Casablanca Industrial Zone and the Tangier Med Zone, and Kenitra Free Zone, offering fiscal incentives and modern infrastructures.
Morocco has aggressively marketed itself as the new regional automotive hub for global automotive players. According to a 2013 report by PwC, the Moroccan Kingdom will be among the top-20 largest vehicle producers in the world by 2017. Renault, Delphi, Lear, Leoni, Yazaki, Faurecia, Sumitomo, and Hirschmann Automotive are some examples of key investment projects in recent years. These companies are not just providing employment, but are also supporting a thriving automotive SME sector. According to Moulay Hafid Elalamy, Minister of Industry, the auto industry’s local integration rate is projected to reach 65% over the coming years, suggesting significant growth prospects for local industry.
A €246.9m agreement was signed with Canadian supplier Linamar, which plans to open Morocco’s first engine component production facility, creating around 1000 jobs. The plant will supply leading international automakers, including Ford, Volkswagen and Peugeot Citroën, whose new factory in Kenitra is expected to come online in 2019, producing around 200,000 vehicles per year.
The auto industry features prominently in the country’s Industrial Acceleration Plan 2014-20, which aims to improve Morocco’s trade balance, increase the industrial sector’s contribution from 14% to 23% of GDP and create 500,000 new jobs through the development of “ecosystems”, or productive industrial clusters.
RENAULT INVESTMENT PLAN
Morocco’s car industry attracts more and more investors. Renault, which owns 80% of the Casablanca plant, is the only manufacturer in Tangier. Indeed, with the Strait of Gibraltar separating Morocco and Spain by just 13 km, the Moroccan industrial policy is clearly to develop its auto sector fast.
Renault Group plans to invest more than $1 billion. The manufacturer announced their brand have produced 288,053 cars in 2015, an increase of 26% in Morocco. Renault manufactures four models in Morocco. The Sandero is the most produced with 143,049 units. They account for half of the production. In terms of numbers, the French group announced 9,653 employees in total in its two plants as well as in its commercial network, an increase of 20.6% in one year.
According to Medias24.com, french car parts supplier Valeo plans to invest 50 million euros in a new industrial center in the port of Tangier. Production, which will take place inside the Tangier Automotive City (TAC), will supply Peugeot-Citroën in Kenitra and Renault Tanger Med. Construction work is expected to begin in coming weeks and should be completed during 2017, the port authority said.
The new CEO of Renault Morocco, Marc Nassif, made a deal with the Moroccan government for the creation of an ecosystem with suppliers in the kingdom and a target of 65 % local sourcing against 40% today; a project that should require 900 million euros investment by 2023. Renault wants to increase its industrial influence in Morocco. According to Renault, Morocco is one of the countries that have made most progress in the area of industrial manufacturing. Renault ecosystem means that around Renault plants, in Tangier and Casablanca, many other companies are coming to invest and make the parts that will shape a Renault car, the Minister of Industry added on Reuters.
Renault Tanger Méditerranée
On 9 February 2012, in Morocco, phase 1 of the Renault Tanger Méditerranée plant was inaugurated in the presence of King Mohammed VI of Morocco and Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Phase 1 will see the construction of 36 buildings, including 180,000 sq. m of industrial buildings (drawing, sheet metal work, painting, assembly, bumpers, exhausts, seats, etc.); 20,000 sq. m of service buildings (administration, cloakrooms, training-center) and utilities (energy and biomass plants, physical-chemical facilities, service station). In phase 2, the industrial buildings will be extended by a further 125,000 sq. m and the services buildings by 4,000 sq. m (cloakrooms).
Jacques Prost, the former CEO of the brand said “Renault factory in Tangier aims at increasing its production capacity to 225,000 vehicles annually.” Marc Nassif explained to Usine Nouvelle: “We carried 240,000 vehicles last year, I told you we should be at 10% more this year, about 270,000 units.
RENAULT AND SUEZ GROUP PARTNERSHIP
Environmental services firm, SUEZ and Renault Group have renewed a deal for the global management of waste from the car manufacturer’s two production plants in Tangier and Somaca. According to SUEZ, the three years contract is clearly helping Renault to improve its performance in Morocco. This new contract stipulates that SUEZ will collect and sort the waste, then dispatch it to different facilities for material recycling or treatment. Thanks to this contract, SUEZ said that it is positioned as a ‘standard‐setter’ in the management of industrial waste in Morocco, with the ambition to achieve a ‘zero waste’ objective at Renault’s factories.
“Our plant in Tangier, Morocco is the first factory in the world to produce zero CO2 emission and zero industrial wastewater. Through our partnership with SUEZ, we are consolidating our environmental initiatives”, commented Marc Nassif. Marie‐Ange Debon, group senior executive VP of SUEZ, in charge of the International Division added: “As Morocco prepares to host the COP22, this waste recovery system shows how industrial manufacturers are committed and key players in the sustainable management of resources and the fight against global warming.”
In our next article, we will continue our Automotive industry tour with Iran.
Carlos Ghosn and Renault-Nissan
The Renault-Nissan alliance is in the process of hiring a core team of at least 300 technology experts, with expertise in software and cloud engineering, data analytics, machine learning and systems architecture, for its newly-created Connected Vehicle and Mobility Services group.
Carlos Ghosn explains on linkedin :
The global auto industry prepares to enter in the technological innovation. Thus, automotive players’ investment such as The Renault-Nissan Alliance in digital automotive innovation are intended to be established. As they are launching at competition with some non – automotive firms such: Apple, Uber, Google … and some technology startups which is also initiating in this field, They launch in the technology experts’ engagement around 300, for their new project in digital automotive. So, this give to all job seekers an opportunity to join their dynamic and innovative team to make a change in the numeric automotive’s world image. The Group was already extended the firm up to Paris, and plan to build a startup within the most diverse multinational car group in which career opportunity are offered. Moreover, their lead in the global market is enhanced, marked with their “Mobility for All” strategy: the zero emissions and zero fatalities which help the consumers to integrate the mass – market at affordable prices. This strategy’s concept includes partnership with suppliers in and outside the traditional automotive industry. Then, the global auto industry’s new innovation give an important opportunity to a new talents and skills in helping the Alliance to create a change and bright image in automotive history.
The rise of smart manufacturing
On Automotive World, Xavier Boucherat wrote a great article about how Industry 4.0 has evolved from a disparate set of high-flown ideas around connectivity into a real practice that is saving the automotive industry money and creating new business opportunities.
It goes by many names – Industry 4.0, smart manufacturing, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) – but whatever you call it, the idea of connected manufacturing is becoming increasingly pervasive. Indeed, it’s risen to such prominence that 2016’s Hannover Messe, where Industry 4.0 was the central theme, was opened by two of the world’s most powerful leaders – Barack Obama and Angela Merkel.
The pair visited a number of stands demonstrating the latest Industry 4.0 applications for industrial analytics, energy management, predictive maintenance and smart logistics. But what’s interesting to note is that whilst the potential impact of Industry 4.0 is often compared to previous technological leaps forward (mechanisation, electrification, digitalisation), many of the projects use technology that’s already widely available. The difference lies in the problems they’re used to solve, e.g. data-mining, and the problems they create, e.g. cyber security threats. Should we view this as a revolution, or an evolution?
Bosch, one of the companies credited with coining the term Industry 4.0 at the Hannover Messe in 2011, is clear on this. “It’s definitely an evolution,” says Werner Struth, Member of the Board of Management and Industry 4.0 specialist. “That’s an extremely important point.” Industry 4.0, he says, is now a reality that’s built up over the course of recent years, and no longer a disparate set of abstract concepts. There are now several examples of Tier 1s like Bosch co-operating with automotive customers by means of Industry 4.0.
In terms of manufacturing, says Struth, sensors are the key enabler that will help realise the biggest benefits. A production system fitted with sensors, he explains, can provide continuous status updates which can then be compared with a ‘digital twin’ – a simulation of the system that runs at 100% efficiency. Through this, deviations can be quickly flagged, and trends can be more easily identified. Struth points to a concrete example: Bosch has achieved a 25% output improvement for its automatic braking system (ABS) and electronic stability programme (EPS) production with the introduction of smart, connected lines.
One OEM that has led the way on sensor-equipped manufacturing that can take advantage of data is Audi. The manufacturer’s tool-making division has designed self-learning technology for stamping operations on press lines. These can automatically adjust to optimise how much material is fed into a press. Pulling too little material over the tool can result in component tearing, whilst excessive material can impact on stability. Sensors measure the force exerted on steel or aluminium blanks, and adjust pressure by raising or lowering stamping dies when measurements fall outside a certain window. This also contributes to sustainable production by lowering the number of reject parts.
Trends and behaviours
As Industry 4.0 develops, it will be able to better respond to the pressures faced by OEMs. Trends such as lightweighting and electrification remain huge topics prior to the arrival of Euro VII and more stringent CAFE regulations. One of Bosch’s current customers is an EV manufacturer, for which it makes iBooster brake systems. “We have full control not just over the data from our production system, but our customer’s production system, and the components as they are used in the field.” The data returned shows the effect of the brakes on the vehicle, and how effectively they work.
Stefan Assmann, Head of Bosch’s Connected Industry Innovation Cluster, explained this gives Bosch valuable insight, “now just into how we thought our product was used, but how it is really used, and through this we can learn how to simplify design, because we get a sense of where it has been over-engineered, or under-engineered.” Similar applications in future could wield further efficiency gains.
As well as responding to demands from OEMs, Industry 4.0 could also offer ways to address changing customer behaviour. Assmann says increased demand from customers for customisation and quick delivery is one of the key drivers behind Industry 4.0. “People love things like Amazon because they offer it the next day,” he says, “and it might be in the future that no two cars are quite the same.” By connecting customers directly to manufacturing facilities, the time between making these requests and receiving a finished vehicle could be reduced.
Industry 4.0 could also open up new business opportunities, particularly for super suppliers. Equipment reliability within plants is of greater importance than ever, with some facilities running nearly round the clock. “Machines have failures, and some will be due to breakdowns brought about through wear and tear,” says Struth. “If you set up a condition monitoring system, again paired with a digital twin, you can make predictive maintenance strategies.” This opens up opportunities for suppliers in the fields of data collection, storage, and alert services. “This is a new service model that can be delivered to customers to improve their productivity, and reduce their costs.”
Bosch’s Feuerbach plant in Stuttgart, which produces CP4 common rail pumps for diesel injection systems, is using a number of applications such as the production data system. This is connected to a worldwide network that monitors output at a CP4 plant in the Czech Republic, and will later include plants in Bangalore and China. When production drops or rises at any workstation in these plants, they can immediately get in touch with one another to figure out the cause.
The same data services will be required for preventive maintenance on connected vehicles in the field, which could potentially let a factory know when it will need a part replacement. OEMs like Volvo Trucks have been leading the way on this. The OEM has previously suggested the preventive maintenance could cut unplanned truck standstills by as much as 80%. The amount of data required will be huge, and could even be collected on a region-by-region basis as different conditions could affect different parts of a vehicle.
Letting your guard down
Like many, Struth identifies data security as the biggest threat accompanying Industry 4.0. Within the Internet of Things (IoT), there is no such thing as 100% security, he concedes. “The risk isn’t necessarily as big within a closed loop, such as in a factory. Here we can easily achieve a high level of security,” he says. “But as soon as I want to connect with my business partners to shared data, and deliver data to the Cloud, we have to make sure that we have state-of-the-art architecture.”
Peter Brooke, director at Deloitte’s Supply Chain Practice, points out that this could become particularly tricky for OEMs looking to move data across borders. “There is still work to be done, particularly when we talk about the dispatch of data to foreign countries,” he says. “Many manufacturers use China as a base, and there are several issues in the Far East, including the threat of intellectual property theft.” The risk of data sets being stolen increases as they are shared across suppliers, he continues, which in turn means competitors and other bodies, such as nation-states, may be able to see products.
Example : Machine learning and automotive
Machine Learning contributes in automotive domain problem resolution. The potential of automotive data and the power of its associated analytics have again a progression to provide. The automotive ecosystem could get profit from automotive applications: “Big Data Analytic”.
- Product feature, design and performance improvements:
It must be based on vehicle and Head Unit perspective, including: customer feedback in social media, head unit perspective, vehicle and sub-systems performance for the future product design’s guide, failure analyzes.
- Vehicle Health Reports maintenance prevention.
- Prevision parts and distribution for OEM service channels and dealership service centers through warranty claims and failure reports analysis.
- Vehicle user experience global improvement through personalization; which might be in application preference and in HMI theme terms. And smart personal assistance; which can be in assistance term for productivity enhancement and personal convenience providing.
Thus, Machine Learning is designed to deal with desired system/program behavior providing’s difficulty. It’s a scientific machine for automotive applications, containing algorithms and techniques such as:
Supervised Learning, which is used for data classification and regression; and which is already with training data set and a predetermines finite set defined by a human.
In its part, the learning algorithm consists of these data’s classification development as the following:
Unsupervised Learning, where the learning algorithm’s task is to find hidden relationships between data elements in unlabeled training data.
Semi-supervised Learning, labeled and unlabeled data use for training. It is between unsupervised learning and supervised one.
Reinforcement Learning, where the learning algorithm discovers training data sets by a trial and error process.
Machine Learning contributes in automotive domain problem resolution, but requires again involvement in data and algorithm’s field. These include collaboration with business teams and experienced data scientists.
For sure, the global auto industry prepares to enter in the technological innovation. Then, the global auto industry’s new innovation give an important opportunity to a new talents and skills to create a change and bright image in automotive history.
History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.
– Winston Churchill
A few weeks before…
Here we are. It’s done. When? How? We don’t know yet, but the UK will have to leave the European Community. But first, let’s go back in time a few weeks before.
According to the UK’s motor industry, represented by the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT): 88% of large motor industry businesses were against leaving the EU, while 73% of smaller and medium sized enterprises wanted to stay. 77% of the industry as a whole agreed Europe was best for business.
Nothing surprising. Let’s remember what the automotive industry was saying before the vote: Tony Walker, Toyota’s deputy managing director, suggested his company’s investment in the UK could be hindered if the country left Europe. “Toyota has two manufacturing plants in the UK. We export nearly 90% of our UK-made cars, the vast majority to EU countries. After a careful assessment, we believe some tariffs or tariff barriers, leading to a loss of efficiency in business as well as a loss of harmonisation in vehicle regulation. Leaving would open up a very uncertain future of technical difficulties and increasing costs. We support thousands of jobs in our manufacturing operations and more widely in our supply chain and distribution network. We manufacture vehicles, engines and parts and nearly 90 per cent of our UK-built vehicles are exported.“
Mercedes-Benz boss Dieter Zetsche said that a Brexit would cause „tremendous damage“ to his firm’s European plans. Dr Ian Robertson, a member of BMW’s Board of Management, added: “Our experience shows that the free movement of components, finished products and skilled workers within the EU is extremely beneficial to British-based business. But Even if we left EU, the regulations of the EU will still apply“.
PSA Peugeot-Citroen boss Carlos Tavares said: “ The business risk comes from a loss of revenue around currency and trading. The situation is that if the pound weakens and hits profits, then prices will rise to compensate.“ Nissan boss Mr. Carlos Ghosn : „We have a rich heritage in the UK with 30 years of manufacturing and engineering presence, and remain committed to building and engineering cars in the country. Last year we produced more than 475,000 vehicles in the UK – 80 percent of which are exported. The relative size of the pan-European market compared to the UK market means it would be hard for us to compete alone.“
What is the car market situation in the UK?
“Leaving would put many of these jobs at risk.”
– Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive
2015 in U.K in numbers
Mike Hawes reminds us that 77% of cars built in the UK were exported last year, with 57% of those going to European customers. 1.3 million British-built cars were exported last year – the highest on record – and the industry accounted for a significant 11.8% of all UK exports, worth £15 billion to the economy. The industry employs 800,000 people.
The UK is home to over 30 companies manufacturing cars, vans, trucks, buses and engines, with a collective desire to increase local sourcing. The UK is also home to 33 of the EU’s 221 manufacturing plants – only Germany has more (41). The $20.65 billion U.K. auto industry ships about 80% of vehicle production overseas, with almost 60% of exports destined for the rest of the EU, according to SMMT.
The carmakers produced a total of 1.58 million vehicles in 2015, a 10-year high for UK manufacturing. The British car industry reached record export levels in 2015, shipping more than 1.2 million vehicles out of the UK. Of those, approximately 700,000 headed to countries within the European Union. The UK’s car industry made 1.6m vehicles last year, its best year in a decade, setting it on course to produce a record number by 2020.
Nissan, the country’s second-largest auto producer, builds 475k or so cars in the UK but the vast majority are sent abroad. Toyota built 190k cars last year in Britain, of which 75% went to the EU and just 10% were sold in the country. According to ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers Association) figures, 1,539,456 passenger cars were produced in the United Kingdom in 2014. That was around 10% of EU production. Only Germany (36%) and Spain (12%) had a higher output.
What are the carmakers reactions to UK Brexit result?
Marcus Williams in automotivelogistics explains that the result is bound to have long-term consequences for the car sector.
Toyota – (170,000 cars last year; exports almost 90% to Europe) “Going forward we will closely monitor and analyse the impact on our business operations in the UK, and how we can maintain competitiveness and secure sustainable growth together with the UK automotive industry and other stakeholders.”
Honda – (140,000 cars a year) “At this moment, it is not clear what conditions and rules will ultimately replace the UK’s membership of the EU. We will therefore carefully monitor developments. We continue to prepare for the production launch of the tenth generation Civic from our Swindon plant.”
Nissan – (UK’s largest car plant; employs 7,000 people; exports 80%), declined to comment. In the short term, the pound’s crash against the euro will helps its operations “very significantly”. In the longer term, the viability of UK production will depend on whether the country can negotiate tariff-free access to the EU, Morgan Stanley analyst Harald Hendrikse said.
Tata Motors „Jaguar Land Rover“ – (Britain’s largest car producer at half a million vehicles) “Europe is a key strategic market for our business, comprising 20% of global sales, and we remain absolutely committed to our customers in the EU. Today is just business as usual. We are a British business with a strong manufacturing base in this country, we call Britain home and we remain committed to all our manufacturing sites and investment decisions. The EU would not exact revenge on Britain with punitive tariffs as this would be ‘cutting off European noses to spite their faces,’ said JLR’s top global strategy boss Adrian Hallmark.
Ford Motors – (3 plants making engines and transmissions) “We would expect that the combination of a softer industry and a weaker sterling would have an adverse impact on our operations in the long term. While Ford will take whatever action is needed to ensure that our European business remains competitive and keeps to the path toward sustainable profitability, we have made no changes to our current investment plans and will not do so unless there is clear evidence that action is needed.”
BMW „Mini and Rolls-Royce“ – (sells 11% of its vehicles in Britain) “We cannot say what this means for our UK operations until those future regulatory and legislative arrangements are agreed.” Speaking for the German automotive industry, Matthias Wissmann, president of the VDA, said : “Now it is more important than ever for Europe to stand together to avoid a possible domino effect. Every possible measure must be undertaken to enable the continued free movement of goods and services between the U.K. and the other EU countries.“
PSA – (8% market share), the French group is one of the automakers that has the most to lose with Brexit. First, because it imports all the cars it sells in the United Kingdom. PSA has no factory on site. The cars that are sold are assembled on the continent and come across the channel by ferry boats.
And now? Will the concerns of manufacturers prove to be true?
In recent weeks all automotive manufacturers and suppliers have sessions of decline on the stock market. You’ve heard and read that everywhere. It will take a long time to negotiate Britain’s exit. Exit or extension of the withdrawal period must be approved by the remaining members.
What about sales and European automotive logistics sector?
“In recent months we have seen some industry commentators believe that UK new car sales could top 3m in the coming years,” said John Leech, head of automotive at KPMG UK. “The vote to leave the EU means that this has become highly unlikely and I now forecast that new car sales will fall to 2.5m cars in 2017. I still anticipate that UK car production will grow by double digits in 2016 to 1.7m cars driven principally by EU exports buoyed by the weak pound.”
Analyst firm IHS Automotive also saw that the decline in UK sales that was anticipated following the past few years of growth could be exacerbated by the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. Ian Fletcher, principal analyst told Automotive Logistics, that while it was still early to make any certain forecasts the company expected see a decline in domestic sales for 2017 of between 7.5% and 8.5%, “ well beyond where we initially expected it to be”.
IHS also expected a decline in production, not just in the UK but across wider Europe. “There could not only be an impact from the withdrawal in UK sales but there could also be a secondary effect from a dip in GDP in the Eurozone,” said Fletcher.
Justin Cox, head of European production forecasting at analyst firm LMC Automotive, presented data at the ECG General Assembly in Italy in May that suggested ‘Brexit’ could cause a recession and a medium-term reduction in GDP output. Forecasts for a 450,000 unit annual decline in UK vehicle sales would be felt across businesses that range from German and Spanish component and vehicle assembly plants, to Belgian and Dutch ports handling vehicle exports by short-sea shipping
Cox admitted that the trading terms for any potential new UK deal with the EU remained highly uncertain, making it difficult to assess the full impact for the automotive supply chain. However, uncertainty and slower economic growth would likely hit light vehicle sales substantially, he said, hurting a sector that is expected to be approaching a cyclical peak anyway.
And the drop in sales would fall most heavily on EU plants, which Cox said could lose around 320,000 units (excluding UK plants) of annual production by 2018, compared to LMC’s baseline forecast. In this scenario, Germany would be the hardest hit, with its plants losing 130,000 units, followed by Spain, which could lose around 60,000 annual units; France, the Czech Republic and Poland could also see notable declines. Total non-EU imports could drop by around 80,000 units per year.
Justin Cox also points to the deep integration between UK vehicle manufacturing and the European supply chain, not only for finished vehicle exports (of which more than 50% go to the EU), but for component imports and engine production as well.
What about the European Free Trade Area (EFTA)?
John Creamer underline on aftermarketnews.com that The U.K. and EU automotive industries are highly integrated such that industry support for accession of the U.K. into the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) or some other arrangement to maintain the status quo ante is likely to be strong. EFTA is one-half of the European Economic Area, which aligns non-EU members with the European Union in a free-trade zone. In this regard, a route exists for the U.K. to maintain the competition and trade benefits of its former membership in the EU while existing outside the Union.
In order for trade deals, there needs to be clarity on how business will be conducted, not least because carmakers make long term investments and production cycles run anywhere between five and ten years.
“The problem will be when the plants start competing for new vehicles,” said Analysts. “That will be a factor. They will probably have an indication as to where the trade deals lie at that point and potentially then we will see some sort of changes in the way the automotive industry is run in the UK.”
What those consequences are is hard to gauge at this early stage, although import and export tariffs are likely to be affected. Mike Hawes said: „Government must now maintain economic stability and secure a deal with the EU which safeguards UK automotive interests. This includes securing tariff-free access to European and other global markets, ensuring we can recruit talent from the EU.“
Lee Sheppard, contributor on Forbes.com explains : „Britain’s biggest export to the EU is automotive parts, and auto parts are exempt from the WTO accords, so Europeans would be free to discriminate against them with tariffs. European exporters are also worried about sales to British customers. The British buy a lot of German cars“. Brexit could cut automaker earnings by more than 8 billion euros ($8.9 billion)„, said Evercore automotive research head Arndt Ellinghorst.
That is why Automakers today called for tariff-free trade to be maintained between Britain and the EU after the UK voted for a Brexit, amid warnings that sales and production will be hit in Europe’s second-biggest auto market after Germany.
What about European manufacturers?
Jonnaert secretary-general of the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) : “Clearly we have an interest to keep this internal market for automotive as much as possible alive, you can imagine that. The UK is a big manufacturing hub for the automotive industry. You could say there is no British manufacturer anymore, but there is a lot happening when it comes to automotive in the UK,” said Jonnaert, noting that especially Japanese car companies have production plants in the UK. “These days a lot of companies operating there have a very integrated model. Their supplies for parts come partly from the UK, but also partly from the continent.”
The vote to leave the EU has affected share prices at the carmakers with plants in the UK, and the significant fall in the pound is also likely to lead to an increase in the price of imports. With about 85% of new vehicle sales in the UK being imported, that could hit sales. Vehicle exports, which have been at record levels, should get a boost, however with 50-60% of car components typically imported, supply chain costs could rise sharply.
Indeed, While automobile manufacturers have claimed that its usual business for the companies as of now, it is the auto component manufacturers who have now expressed their worry. United Kingdom remains a major hub for some of them like Robert Bosch GMBh and ZF.
Bosch has been active in the UK since 1898. With sales of approximately 2.7 billion pounds (3.7 billion euros) in 2015, the U.K. is currently Bosch’s second largest European market after Germany. In total, Bosch employs some 5,300 associates at 40 locations (including seven manufacturing locations) in the United Kingdom.
Dr.Volkmar Denner, CEO of Robert Bosch said, „We are currently examining the effects of leaving the EU on our business. In addition, we have already put precautionary measures in place. For example, we have significantly raised our hedging ratios in order to counteract a possible depreciation of the British pound. We currently do not have any plans to scale back our capital expenditure in the United Kingdom.“
ZF, the third biggest auto component manufacturer, is also a major supplier to British luxury car manufacturer Jaguar and Land Rover. It has over 3,000 employees under it in 9 locations around Great Britain. ZF generated close to 1.9 billion Euros in sales, last year.
Experts suggest that it is more likely that Europe based manufacturers will likely be less affected than companies that use the UK as a base in Europe for their operations.
Wait and see…
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the UK motor body SMMT, said the pressure was now on the UK government “to secure a deal with the EU which safeguards UK automotive interests”.
„During the past 40 years, the British economy has gradually integrated and aligned with that of the Continent. The connections between the U.K. and the EU are legion. Reinventing or severing them will involve hundreds of thousands of decisions and actions whose collective impact cannot be accurately assessed within days of the Brexit vote“, said John Creamer, founder, GlobalAutoRegs.com
Everything will depend on decisions that Europeans will take on the Great Britain future status. So far though, these negotiations will not happen until the UK government triggers the article 50 procedure.
In the coming weeks we will develop several articles on partnerships between automotive companies and technology start-ups, and we will study the effects on profiles of talents?
“We are in a global war for talent,” Renault-Nissan spokeswoman Rachel Konrad said. From startup financings and acquisitions to partnerships with Silicon Valley giants, big auto is leaving no stone unturned as it rushes to secure its future.
Let’s have a look of the situation with a good summary done by cbinsights.com.
Note that the web links have been modified by EuroTriade to redirect you on the latest news of the companies concerned.
The flurry of May 2016 activity featured three ride-hailing and ride-sharing tie-ups in a single week, with Volkswagen and Toyota making corporate minority investments in Gett ($300M) and Uber respectively. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) struck a partnership with self-driving pioneer Google, putting to bed rumors of the tech giant partnering with other automakers such as Ford.
BMW took a different tack, participating in a $5.1M round to the much younger Scoop through its i Ventures arm. Although not included here, Apple also made waves by committing $1B to the Chinese ride-sharing leader Didi Chuxing during the same month.
These moves follow GM’s January 2016 purchase of Sidecar‘s assets and its $500M minority stake in Lyft, the latter partnership has already put self-driving Chevy Bolt vehicles on track to be trialed with Lyft within a year. Even before 2016, GM’s Opel brand invested in Germany-based flinc through the GM Ventures unit. Daimler’s moovel subsidiary acquired myTaxi nearly two years ago in September 2014.
The venture arms of BMW, GM, and Volvo have also steadily invested in startups working in key fields of auto tech. These CVCs have deployed multiple funding rounds to fleet automation and telematics companies, such as RideCell, Telogis, and Peloton. Beyond these, BMW i Ventures has invested in the connected car app Zendrive, while Ford acquired the in-car software startup Livio in September 2013 to improve the connectivity of its vehicles. Last week, Porsche said it had created a digital unit to seek technology partners and products.
And Renault-Nissan will begin hiring at least 300 tech experts this month, joining other automakers in trying to lure staff away from Silicon Valley. Most recruits will be software engineers with experience in vehicle connectivity and mobility services, a category that includes car-sharing, the Renault-alliance said.
If you have not already read it, please have a look at our previous article on Software Engineer:
For an overview of the situation in the US, read this excellent article from Cromwell Schubarth, technology Reporter at the Silicon Valley Business Journal :
“Some of the biggest companies in Silicon Valley were started in a garage, so it seems only fitting that the region is getting seriously involved in automobiles.”
Next article : Automakers in a global War for talents – Part 2
Germany ready to change its traffic laws
The German government has just adopted on April 13 a bill adapting the traffic rules to automated driving. The A9 motorway in Bavaria has already been designated as a test. But an essential requirement was set: passengers will be able to take the wheel at all times. Systems must comply with EC technical regulations, and must be designed to be replaced or deactivated by the driver. Automated driving is „the biggest revolution in mobility since the invention of car“ said German Transport Minister, Alexander Dobrindt, to Süddeutsche Zeitung, and „we want to bring this technology on the road.“
At the last Frankfurt Auto show, US secretary of transportation Anthony Foxx said he expects driverless cars to be in use all over the world in 10 years. Tesla founder Elon Musk has predicted his firm will have approval for its automated vehicles as early as 2019. And many other manufacturers plan to launch driverless cars in the near future, including Toyota who wants to be selling such vehicles by 2020.
Alexander Dobrindt also intends to reform the definition of a driver, definition needed to determine which of the machine or man, is responsible for an accident. The European Commission will also think about this idea of „responsibility“. In addition, the Federal Minister Dobrindt founded with his european transport minister colleagues a working group to continue the development of international rules for automated and networked driving until the next G7 ministers‘ transportation meeting in September in Japan.
European Industry 4.0: What action plan?
As a next step, the Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is committed to adapting international rules specific to the driverless car. The goal is to Provide Europe with an independent internet platform for B2B, clarify ownership of all data on these platforms and creating European centers of excellence: these are what Günther Oettinger, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society wants to include in a future European strategy for the industry 4.0.
Günther Oettinger explains on the European Commission website: today a further significant step forward has been made to digitise the European industry, with the help of key industry leaders, senior representatives of social partners, research organisations and ministries. A roundtable was recently organised with top executives from suppliers of digital technologies as well as of manufacturing, chemical and aeronautic sectors. In total more than 70 high-level representatives of Member States, national initiatives, associations, and industry including SMEs. The objective was to present and discuss concrete ideas of a „Digitising European Industry“ action plan.
The project’s overall strategy aims at establishing a link between national and regional initiatives like Industrie 4.0, Smart Industry, Industrie du Futur, High Value Manufacturing, etc.
The action plan is based on four strands:
- Securing easy for all industrial companies, and especially SMEs, wherever they are located in Europe and for any sector;
- Aiming for European leadership in digital industrial platforms based on European strengths in important areas of manufacturing and engineering like automotive, aeronautics and energy; an European „cloud“, whose aim will be to place the EU in the „global top 3“ of high performance computing.
- Preparing European’s workforce to benefit from the digital transformation – by promoting digital skills across Europe and its regions, at all levels of education and training;
- Identifying smart regulatory solutions for smart industry – finding the right policy approach to challenging issues like liability and safety of autonomous systems, ownership and use of industrial data, and the emergence of the Internet of Things.
Next steps until spring are to present a policy document and to go public with the plan at this year’s industrial fair in Hannover.
But are all europeans on the same page?
Differences remain within EU executives. The most liberal of Commissioners as Finland’s Jyrki Katainen, charged with European „competitiveness“ or Margrethe Vestager, the Competition Commissioner, seem to question the added value of an European industrial strategy 4.0. A project of Commissioner Oettinger „closely linked to the agenda of the German government’s agenda,“ says the industrial side. Another goal for sure is to ensure that Germany will be the main supplier for automated driving system and become the market leader.
So the strategy has yet to be clarified on several sensitive subjects. Thierry Breton, the CEO of Atos, would talk of data’s location in Brussels. France and Germany are pushing the EU to impose a European data storage, but all their European partners are not on the same page.
Also, who will be owners of the data transmitted by the connected objects and thus the windfall expected from its analysis: manufacturers, service companies or „platforms“? The European Commissioner promises a ’smart regulation‘, without specifying whether if it will be statutory or contractual.
New laws? And who will be responsible for a driverless car accident by the way?
On the scientificamerican website, Corinne Iozzio explains that when a computerized driver replaces a human one, experts say the companies behind the software and hardware sit in the legal liability chain—not the car owner or the person’s insurance company. Eventually, and inevitably, the carmakers will have to take the blame.
Self-driving pioneers, in fact, are starting to make the switch. Last October, Volvo declared that it would pay for any injuries or property damage caused by its fully autonomous IntelliSafe Autopilot system, which is scheduled to debut in the company’s cars by 2020. The thinking behind the decision, explains Erik Coelingh, Volvo’s senior technical leader for safety and driver-support technologies, is that Autopilot will include so many redundant and backup systems—duplicate cameras, radars, batteries, brakes, computers, steering actuators—that a human driver will never need to intervene and thus cannot be at fault. “Whatever system fails, the car should still have the ability to bring itself to a safe stop,” he says.
Mr Coelingh told the BBC: „Everybody is aware of the fact that driverless technology will never be perfect – one day there will be an accident. „So the question becomes who is responsible and we think it’s unrealistic to put that responsibility on our customers.“ Carmakers such as Volvo, Mercedes and Google are confident that they will have these technologies—and many more—so buttoned up that they will be able to take the driver out of the operation and liability picture almost entirely.
The fate of the future action plan should be decided in the coming weeks. So stay tunes with AK’s blog.