Monday, August 10, 2020

Amazon acquiring Zoox, a self-driving startup

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The e-commerce giant Amazon has moved another step in the field of autonomous vehicle, with the purchase of Zoox, a California-based company working to design self-driving ride-hailing vehicles.
The Financial Time reports that the deal is worth $1.2 billion.
“Zoox is working to imagine, invent, and design a world-class autonomous ride-hailing experience,” said Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s CEO, Worldwide Consumer. “Like Amazon, Zoox is passionate about innovation and about its customers, and we’re excited to help the talented Zoox team to bring their vision to reality in the years ahead.”
“This acquisition solidifies Zoox’s impact on the autonomous driving industry,” said Aicha Evans, CEO of Zoox. “We have made great strides with our purpose-built approach to safe, autonomous mobility, and our exceptionally talented team working every day to realize that vision. We now have an even greater opportunity to realize a fully autonomous future.”
“Since Zoox’s inception six years ago, we have been singularly focused on our ground-up approach to autonomous mobility,” said Jesse Levinson, Zoox co-founder and CTO. “Amazon’s support will markedly accelerate our path to delivering safe, clean, and enjoyable transportation to the world.”
Zoox will continue to exist as a standalone business, according to Amazon’s announcement, with Aicha Evans, Zoox CEO, continuing in her role, as well Jesse Levinson, Zoox co-founder and CTO. They will continue to lead the team as they innovate and drive towards their mission.

The Plan Moves II of Spain

Since mid-June, in Spain it has been in force the Plan Moves II, according to which the Government makes 100 million Euros in all available for the purchase of ecologic vehicles by private citizens, enterprises and Public Administrations.
Programa de Incentivos a la Movilidad Eficiente (this is the meaning of the Moves acronym) intends to boost the sales of pure electric vehicles, electric with range extender, hybrid plug-in or with fuel-cell powered by hydrogen.
However, their autonomy in fully electric modality must exceed 30 or 90 kilometres. The latter models and those based on fuel-cell technology, in particular, will benefit from an incentive amounting to 5,500 Euros or to 4,000 Euros without scrapping.
Hybrid plug-in with electric autonomy included between 30 and 90 kilometres will instead enjoy a tax relief of 2,600 or 1,900 Euros, depending on whether the buyer provides or not for the scrapping of his old four-wheeler.
Incentives concern only the models with list price under 43,000 Euros or, in case of eight-seat minivans of public administrations or of no-profit associations, 53,000 euros. Furthermore, it is worth considering the discounts agreed by manufacturers with Madrid, up to 1,000 Euros.

FCA+PSA=Stellantis: spotlights on the electric car

The name of the super-group that will definitely take shape during the first 2021-quarter from the merging of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) with PSA is Stellantis.
A logo that will complete the graphics chosen for the name is expected to be soon presented in its turn.
Until now, it is certain that the two historical brands will still exist and coexist with the new one, and likewise all the brands of cars and models that the two multinationals represent. From Citroen to Vauxhall, including Opel, Peugeot and DS; and from FIAT to Maserati, besides Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Jeep, Dodge and Abarth.
The name chosen is of Latin origin: the verb stello means to brighten with stars, and in numbers stars seem to smile to the newborn star of the automotive production.
In the sector and on a global scale, it ranks fourth by firepower, with sales amounting to 8.7 million cars, over 400,000 workers in all and about 200 billion Euros of turnover.

«Solutions for the sustainable mobility»

The development of electric vehicles and more in general the research of «solutions for the sustainable mobility in next decades» are among the targets declared by the giant originated by the 50:50 merger of the two partners. Another goal is to gain better ranking on international scenarios, to full detriment of other market leaders, gaining ground in China, too.
Concerning the e-mobility, PSA has planned for the current year the presentation of seven hybrid plug-in and as many electric models; FCA has worked at the electric 500 and at three PHEV but it is programming to have zero emission clones of all fleet models next year.
Moreover, synergistic operations in the ambit of the battery production are under study, due to both the Italian-American vendor’s intention of giving birth to a specialized line at Mirafiori, and due to the announced inauguration of two new specific poles in the European plants of Groupe PSA. Since the beginning, they have thought the contribution of the latter’s platforms in the implementation of EV, in their manifold declinations, would be decisive. Not fortuitously, summer has diffused rumours about the SUV by Alfa Romeo, whose release is supposed to have been planned in 2022. The car is based on the electric version (eCMP) of Multienergy Common Modular Platform, operating since 2019 and at the origin of the electric models of Peugeot 2008 and 208, of Corsa and Mokka, DS3 Crossback and Tense.
(Roberto Carminati)

e-SMART, electric mobility project for the European public and freight transport

It is underway the Italian operating table of e-SMART, the European project of e-Mobility Smart Grid For Passengers and Last Mile Freight Transport in the Alpine Space, for the support to electric mobility in the freight sector and in the public transport. Presented with the coordination of RSE, it aims at starting the cooperation among Public Administrations (PA), research bodies, electric mobility players and the producers/providers of energy through the creation/promotion of “LIVING LAB”. Such instrument, based on an approach of comparison and systematic start of integrated innovation and research projects, intends to facilitate a wider diffusion of the electric mobility and of its innovative modalities. The analysed ambit, in particular, concerns the promotion of electric mobility systems applied to the local public transport (LPT) and to the freight transport within urban areas, or last mile logistics (LML).

Green new deal and Manufacturing center. Turin electrified by the Relaunch Decree

The project for the establishment at Mirafiori of a Manufacturing Technology & Competence Center (MTCC) has received a remarkable boost and obtained more concreteness due to the publication in Official Gazette of the so-called Relaunch Decree, dated May 20th 2020. The initiative started in March 2019 with the signature of an agreement by Turin University and Polytechnics, the city Administration and Trade Chamber and by the Piedmont Region.
Roughly one year later, the centre planned in Turin industrial pole New Economy, former Fiat Mirafiori, has obtained a funding amounting to 20 million Euros with the LD. As reported also by other sources, the aim is creating an ambitious structure – National Centre for research, innovation and technological transfer in the mobility and Automotive field, this is the institutional denomination – with a broad scope. Focused, without ifs and buts, on the automotive world, it aims at interpreting its most innovative trends especially in the sustainability issue, developing research activities on electric and autonomous guide vehicles. On the other hand, the article 49 of the document has clarified that this first financing tranche, already planned for 2020, is part of Green New Deal and Territorial Plan 4.0 programmes «to favour ecologic transition processes in public and private sustainable mobility sectors, as well as the industry’s competitiveness».
MTCC intends to constitute a reference reality, one of the biggest and most important in Europe, dialoguing and collaborating with Italian and foreign institutes, with private enterprises and with other similar entities by vocation. Its targets are the study and the experimentation of new manufacturing lines and alternative transport models, besides the development of artificial intelligence applications. Clearly, the allocation of this resource tranche was favourably welcomed by the Industrial Union of the Piedmont capital: «This first tranche of 20 millions», the president Dario Gallina stated, «is a first important step for the start and the implementation of an international pole specialized in automotive and a relevant acknowledgment for our territory, whose fundamental role of technological transformation, in a sector with historical vocation of our city, is understood. The resources allocated by the Government, networked with regional ones, can exert a multiplier effect for our growth, based on new technologies and on education, the pillars on which building a virtuous course that involves big and small businesses».
The ball is returned to regional authorities, precisely, because the hope is that the 30 millions, set aside by the Region itself for the implementation of recovery policies, will be soon released.
(Roberto Carminati)

Electric vehicles, the revolution is French

Goal declared by the French President Emmanuel Macron is making France one of the main protagonists, or even the absolute primattress of the European e-mobility scenario. To reach this ambitious achievement, the tenant of the Eliseo has recently announced the allocation by his Government of a total of eight billion Euros that, in intentions, are at least partially intended for boosting the sales of light zero-impact vehicles.
Like elsewhere, the slowdown that affected the automotive panorama even before the advent of the Coronavirus emergency has made its effect felt in transalpine territory. Here, according to some estimates, in March and April registrations reached the -90% negative peak overall, although electric cars seem to have limited damages, stopping the fall around -66%.
Therefore, the institutional financing is aimed at reviving the fate of industry in general and, however, Macron explicitly anticipated that in the next five years the Country is expected to be able to produce at least one million of full-electric or hybrid models yearly.
Until next December 31st, the Government’s incentive in favour of the purchases of electric vehicles by private buyers will rise from 6,000 to 7,000 Euros and other provisions have been drawn up to full benefit of corporate and commercial fleets – they will take advantage of a 5,000 Euros bonus – and plug-in. The latter will benefit from funds up to 2,000 Euros, provided that they can travel for 50 kilometres minimum driven by the electric power supply only and their list price does not exceed 50,000 Euros.
Clearly, the plafond is not likely to be accessible to all, since it will be limited to the first 200,000 models bought in the frame of this programme. However, there is something else. The French executive has fixed in 12,000 Euros the incentive in favour of all those who are going to scrap their old car to shift to a completely electrified four-wheeler.
A race to facilities is to be budgeted, since in 2018 a similar initiative, but based on a 2,500 Euro incentive, had resulted in the exhaustion of 45% of the available amount in less than five months. Going back to the project recently baptised by Emmanuel Macron, it was blessed by big French automotive companies PSA and Renault-Nissan – the latter beneficiary of an anti-crisis loan worth 5 billions by the Government – that, besides working at the respective development roadmap of electric vehicles, are planning the production of dedicated batteries in partnership with Total Group.
(Roberto Carminati)

Byd is coming in Europe

The Chinese giant is about to land in Europe with its SUV Tang EV600. The debut of BYD in the Old Continent, in the segment of passenger cars, after making itself renowned with buses and professional vehicles, will take place in Norway, the motherland of electric mobility, through RSA distributor, which will take care of sales, after sales service and spare parts.
The car is a sport utility with permanent four-wheel drive that offers an autonomy of 520 km thanks to lithium batteries, and provides 5 or 7 seats for almost 5-metre length.
Isbrand Ho, managing director of BYD Europe, stated the Norwegian market is the natural choice to start this expansion process but, in the long term, the goal is expanding the sales of electric cars also in the rest of Europe.

Enel X triples its recharge spots in Europe

Enel business line dedicated to the development of innovative products and digital solutions, Enel X, has tripled the network of public recharge places of electric vehicles in Europe, rising from 10,500 already operating to over 30,000 points.
All over the world, Enel X counts about 100,000 total recharge spots of electric vehicles.
The project has been implemented through the eRoaming connectivity in synergy with Allego, the Dutch operator of the recharge net of electric vehicles, with Robert Bosch GmbH and with the German company Innogy. This implementation involves also simplification: in the ambit of Hubject electric mobility platform, the users of JuicePass app of Enel X will be allowed recharging, without having to stipulate new contracts in the recharge stations managed, in a network of over 19,500 points in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
With the aim of favouring the electric mobility, the company is planning to enlarge its network, from the current 100,000 points to about 736,000 within 2022, including both private and public.
(Lara Morandotti)

The road that charges electric vehicles

Is Wireless Electric Roads  the future of global electric transportation? Israeli startup Electreon Wireless is developing a solution, creating roads that can charge electric vehicles as they drive. Wireless Electric Roads (ERS) is the platform of the future for charging EVs on the go – decreasing the size of the battery and load on the grid, smoothing operation and eliminating visual hazards.

Wireless ERS combines dynamic, semi dynamic and static charging, providing the optimal solution to any use case.
The first step of the company was an electric road in 2019, when in the coastal town of Beit Yanai in Israel, has successfully charged a Renault Zoe inductively while driving. This was achieved along a 20-metre long section of track equipped with coils embedded in a section of the road.
During the test, ElectReon proved an energy transmission of 8.5 kW with an efficiency of more than 91%.
Electron Wireless has another project planned for a small area in Tel Aviv this summer, before implementing a test in Sweden by the end of 2020.

Deadlines extended for Ecobonus 2020

In Italy, the Ministry of the Economic Development has extended the deadlines for the reservation of Ecobonus 2020 until December 2020, providing further 20 million Euros to buy cars with low Co2 emissions.
This decision was taken due to the success of the first 40 million Euros allocated for the Ecobonus 2020 and soon run out. Moreover, the fund dedicated to the Ecobonus was enhanced by the Relaunch Decree with resources amounting to 100 million Euros for 2020-year and 200 millions for 2021, which add up to the 70 millions already allocated by the Budget Law 2019 for next year.
The provision is aimed at favouring the sustainable mobility, through State funds up to 6,000 Euros resulting in the purchase of electric or hybrid vehicles with low CO2 emissions.